While biotin has proven benefits for hair growth in people with biotin deficiencies, it doesn't have any effect on male pattern baldness. MPB is hormonal and genetic, and biotin, as a vitamin, simply isn't involved in the male balding process.
Biotin is one of several vitamins that play a role in the growth of healthier hair. While the science concerning biotin supplementation is mixed, it is believed by most current research that if a person is deficient in biotin, supplementation may be worthwhile — but we’ll touch more on that down below.
Over the last few years, biotin grew in popularity and the number of hair products that include biotin has gone from few to many. Data from Google Trends shows that twice as many people are searching for information about biotin today as in 2004.
But does biotin work as a treatment for male pattern baldness? Well, not quite. While biotin may have benefits for hair growth, it doesn’t treat the root causes of male pattern baldness -- genetics and hormones.
Below, we’ll explain how male pattern baldness occurs, how biotin affects hair growth, and why biotin isn’t necessary for treating male hair loss. We’ll also take a quick look at the real value of biotin and how it can fit into a supplement stack for improving your hair health.
Male pattern baldness can take several forms, from a receding hairline to diffuse thinning across your crown or entire scalp. With a few exceptions (which we’ll explain later in this guide), the key cause is always the same: sensitivity to dihydrotestosterone, more commonly known as DHT.
DHT is a byproduct of testosterone. When your body produces testosterone, a small amount is converted into DHT. This DHT can bind to receptors in your scalp and cause the hair follicles to deteriorate over time, resulting in a receding hairline or thinning hair.
Because the hair follicles at the front and crown of your scalp have the most receptors, they’re usually the first to be affected by hair loss.
Everyone has a different sensitivity level to DHT. This is why some men start to go bald early in life while others maintain a full hairline as they age. If you’re sensitive to DHT, you’ll eventually start to lose your hair regardless of your diet and vitamin consumption.
You can learn more about the role DHT plays in male pattern baldness in our guide to DHT and male hair loss. If you’ve noticed your hairline starting to recede or your hair beginning to thin, it’s probably (but not definitely) the result of sensitivity to DHT.
Since biotin is a vitamin, it doesn’t have any effect on the conversion of testosterone to DHT.
However, some research indicates that biotin supplementation may have an effect on hair growth, making it a useful addition to your hair growth supplement stack when used alongside a DHT-blocker like finasteride.
There’s only one circumstance in which biotin is effective at stopping hair loss: if you’re deficient in biotin.
Biotin deficiency is a very rare condition, meaning it probably isn’t the primary cause of your hair loss. On average, one person per 140,000 has a biotinidase deficiency, with symptoms usually observed within the first few months of life.
The symptoms of a biotin deficiency usually extend beyond hair loss. People that lack enough biotin often have red, scaly skin around their eyes, nose, mouth, and genitals. Other symptoms include seizures, lethargy, numb hands and feet, hallucinations, and depression.
One potential indicator for biotin deficiency is weak, brittle nails that crack easily. Low levels of biotin are also associated with a poor appetite.
As a general rule, you shouldn’t worry about biotin contributing to your hair loss. Biotin-related hair loss is extremely rare in men, making it much more likely that your hair loss is caused by a genetic and hormonal factor.
Biotin deficiency probably isn’t the cause of your hair loss, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t a good idea to take a biotin supplement.
Double-blind studies show that biotin is effective at helping people with thinning hair speed up and increase the rate of hair growth.
Interestingly, most studies on biotin are carried out on women, meaning the effects might not be the same for men. Even so, the research supports the idea that in both biotin deficient women and men, biotin supplementation yields results.
Biotin isn’t known to be toxic, meaning there are no negative effects to your liver or other organs from taking a biotin supplement. Study data also shows that people can safely consume biotin at much higher levels than the adequate intake (AI) without any health problems.
While biotin doesn’t have many nutrient interactions, it’s still worth talking to your healthcare provider before starting biotin if you currently take prescription medication.
One important fact to remember is that biotin is a water-soluble vitamin that needs to be taken orally in order to be effective. This means that the biotin you see in some hair growth shampoos is unlikely to have any real effect on the thickness and strength of your hair.
Because biotin supplements don’t fall under the jurisdiction of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and because biotin deficiency is considered rare in U.S. adults, there’s no official recommended daily dose of biotin.
Despite this, the FDA does have what’s called Adequate Intake (AI) recommendations for biotin. For adults ages 19 and older, the recommended dosage of biotin is 30mcg per day.
In short, no. While biotin has proven benefits for hair growth in people with biotin deficiencies, it doesn’t have any effect on male pattern baldness. MPB is hormonal and genetic, and biotin, as a vitamin, simply isn’t involved in the male balding process.
Like we said above, this doesn’t mean it’s a bad idea to supplement with biotin. Just don’t expect it to regrow your hairline and reverse male pattern baldness.
If you’re struggling with hair loss and wondering what products are proven to work, there are a few FDA-approved, science-backed options available to help slow or stop male hair loss.
One of these options is finasteride, which works by inhibiting the production of 5α-Reductase, an enzyme that converts your body’s testosterone into dihydrotestosterone (DHT), which is linked to hair loss.
The other is minoxidil, which is a vasodilator that encourages blood flow (and with it, nutrients) to the areas on your scalp that need it most.
We’ve covered both of these options in more detail in our blog, Minoxidil vs. Finasteride, including the science behind how they’re both proven to work.
The second you start seeing more hairs at the bottom of your shower drain every morning, it’s understandable that you’d want to try everything possible to stop whatever is happening.
Is biotin the answer? In all honesty, probably not. But the science also doesn’t indicate that it can be harmful — especially if you’re one of the rare people out there that’s actually biotin deficient.
Luckily, that doesn’t mean your hairline is a lost cause. You have options. Aside from minoxidil and finasteride, we’ve also taken a more in-depth look at other hair loss treatment options in our Guide to Male Pattern Baldness.
As always, if you want to act on your hair loss concerns, the best thing to do is consult with a certified healthcare professional.