If you wear your hair natural, you know that haircare is serious business. For folks with curly, kinky, and textured natural hairstyles, maintaining your curls and hair style is a big project — after all, your is a living part of you. It’s constantly growing, adapting, and changing, just like everything else in your bodies. Some might shrug off haircare as all aesthetics, but taking care of your natural hair is about way more than just the look.
Like every other part of your body, your hair needs certain nutrients as well as tender loving care to keep it healthy and strong. The problem is that so many of the best drugstore moisturizers and conditioners for curly hair don’t work as well for natural hair.
Kinky curly hair styles don’t always pair with just any old product; natural hairstyles need a special kind of love to grow thick, strong, healthy, and long. And while some things might work for some hair, so often those same products end up falling flat on textured hair styles. One of those products is Biotin — what is it, and will it help or hurt your natural hair?
What is Biotin?
Biotin is a water soluble form of vitamin B7. It’s an essential vitamin — Biotin works in the body by metabolizing carbs and fats — and it also produces keratin, which is the main protein that forms our hair and nails.
The idea behind Biotin — whether in products or pills — is to pump up your hair’s protective layer of keratin, keeping it from getting dry and brittle. Hair is more protein-rich, making it healthier and fuller and easier to moisturize. However, for all the protein benefits of Biotin treatments, products and pills with Biotin can end up throwing off the all-important protein-moisture balance, and potentially damage your natural hair.
Balancing Your Protein and Moisture
For most folks with natural hair, supplemental protein isn’t on your radar. That’s because most of the protein structure is still intact — it hasn’t been depleted through chemical or heat treatment. If hair has been relaxed, heavily conditioned, or otherwise processed, it might experience brittleness as a result of reduced protein. In those cases, Biotin pills can come in handy in strengthening and lengthening hair, especially if you’re making the switch from wearing your hair relaxed to wearing it natural.
However, it’s worth remembering that many haircare products for naturally kinky and curly hair contain some protein already, and over-saturating your hair with protein can leave it feeling gummy and tacky, and make some curly hair styles stiff or hard to clean comfortably.
Brands owned by Black women with curly natural hair often have products without any protein specifically for the purpose of correcting that protein-moisture balance like Miss Jessie’s Leave In Condish, or SheaMoisture’s Low Porosity Baobab & Tea Tree Oils conditioner. Moisturizing curly hair products with lots natural oils and shea butter help add bounce and volume to textured hair in healthier ways.
The Good and Bad of Biotin
Biotin is an essential vitamin for enhancing the strength and length of your hair, but that doesn’t mean it’s the best thing for you. Biotin treatments that load keratin proteins directly into your scalp and curls run the risk of overloading you with protein, vs boosting the health of existing hair keratin.
However, Biotin — whether in small quantities in products, or as Biotin pills and vitamin B7 supplements — might be helpful for cases of over-moisturizing. Believe it or not, there is such a thing as too much moisture; excessive deep conditioning treatments will make it hard for your hair to retain moisture naturally, leaving it limp, lack, and flat.
In those cases, you may need to add in proteins along with some gentle moisturizing to breathe life back into your curls. But those supplements have some negatives; one of the side effects of Biotin pills is its capacity to make you break out, leaving you with some new problem to handle.