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From thinning to thriving? The lowdown on collagen and hair growth

Collagen supports your skin, your bones and, you guessed it, your hair. 

Written by
Gemma Kaczerepa
Medically reviewed by
Last updated
April 23, 2024
min read
From thinning to thriving? The lowdown on collagen and hair growth
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If you’re reading this, we’re guessing you’re looking for something to beat hair loss. Maybe you’ve given several treatments a go and are after an alternative, or perhaps you’re starting completely from scratch and wondering what can improve the situation.

Either way, this article is all about collagen — an essential protein that supports your skin, your bones and, you guessed it, your hair. But even though collagen is fundamental for your hair, can taking collagen supplements actually prevent hair loss or, heck, help it grow back?

Let’s find out.

What is collagen?

First up, let’s dive into what collagen is. In short, collagen is a type of protein. It’s actually the most abundant protein in your body, making up around 30% of its overall protein levels [1].

Collagen does lots of things to support your body, but its primary function is to give your body structure, firmness, and flexibility. It aids the formation of connective tissue and is found in your skin, muscles, tendons, ligaments, bones, cartilage, organs, and intestinal lining.

As far as your skin goes, collagen helps new skin cells grow, supports the replacement of old skin cells, and makes your skin robust and elastic. When it comes to your organs, it provides a protective layer. It’s also crucial for making your muscles and bones strong and it allows tendons, ligaments, and muscles to stretch.

What are the benefits of collagen for your hair?

There is a little bit of collagen in the outer layers of your hair shaft, but hair is mostly made up of keratin — the same stuff found in your nails. 

However, collagen contains a bunch of amino acids that actually help your body produce keratin. Collagen comprises 3 non-essential (meaning your body can naturally produce them) amino acids: proline, glycine, and hydroxyproline. That first one — proline — is the main element of keratin.

Plus, we know collagen is found abundantly in your skin, which means it’s in your scalp, too. So, it’s fairly safe to say that collagen plays a crucial role in the health of both your scalp and hair.

The thing with collagen is that your body makes less of it as you get older, particularly after you hit 60. The collagen that does remain in your body tends to be inferior in quality and it breaks down much more quickly.

As a result, your skin can get more wrinkly, your muscles weaker, your joints sore, and your hair thinner. A 2016 study found that the natural decline of collagen production as you get older results in the shrinkage of hair follicles as well as hair loss [2].

But if you replace that lost collagen — say, with a supplement — can you slow down any of these processes or even reverse them, particularly when it comes to thickening or regrowing your hair? We’ll explore that below.

Does collagen help with hair growth?

There are lots of collagen supplements on the market that claim to help with hair loss. However, the jury’s still out on whether collagen really can prevent, delay or reverse hair loss.

So far, there is some compelling evidence that the protein is beneficial. 

One study from 2022 looked at the effect of collagen peptides derived from fish scales on hair growth. The researchers found that the peptides showed promising results as far as preventing hair growth and supporting regrowth [3]. That being said, the study was performed on mice, not humans.

There’s also some evidence that marine collagen has antioxidant abilities, meaning it can fight the free radicals that can cause hair follicle damage and hair greying [4]. But, the research again hasn’t been done on humans — only in test tubes.

And as we know, many of the amino acids found in collagen allow your body to produce keratin, which is the building block of your hair. 

This is all to say that many experts agree there isn’t enough proof to conclusively say whether or not there are benefits to using collagen for hair growth. The research so far is definitely hopeful but more needs to be done.

To that end, you can probably take collagen supplements for hair loss but you may not find they deliver any benefits. You should also consider the potential side effects of consuming excess collagen, like skin rashes and digestive problems. Reach out to your doc if you’re unsure and want further advice before taking a collagen supplement.

What other ingredients are good for hair?

Given the research around collagen and hair loss is still quite limited, you’re probably wondering if there’s anything else that can promote healthy hair growth. The good news is, there is. 

Here are a few of our favourite nourishing ingredients.


Not familiar with biotin? You might know it as Vitamin B7. Whatever you want to call it, biotin is a crucial part of keratin production because it helps synthesise the protein. 

There’s also pretty solid evidence to suggest that biotin can reduce hair loss. A 2017 review of biotin use for hair loss found that if you’re prone to poor hair or nail growth (often a sign of biotin deficiency), biotin supplements can actually improve the situation [5].

Saw palmetto

Saw palmetto is a type of palm grown in the US and has been used since ancient times to treat a bunch of ailments. The extract — which usually comes from the palm’s berries — is included in several hair loss treatments. 

Much like collagen, the research around saw palmetto for hair loss is still relatively minimal. But, it’s certainly optimistic. There have been several studies over the years that have demonstrated saw palmetto’s ability to improve hair density, hair count, and hair quality, slow down hair loss, and block 5-alpha-reductase, which are enzymes related to hair loss.


Caffeine has become a popular ingredient in numerous skincare products, including those designed for the scalp. 

So far, there’s some research indicating that caffeine can support hair health in those who suffer from hair thinning in a number of ways. These include improving the function of the skin barrier and even promoting hair growth [6]. There’s also some evidence that caffeine hair loss treatments can be as useful as hair loss drugs [7].

If you’re looking to combat hair loss using all of these ingredients, Pilot’s Hair Growth Booster Kit incorporates them across several effective products. 

The kit includes biotin-packed Hair Gummies; Growth Shampoo & Anti-Dandruff Conditioner containing biotin, saw palmetto, and caffeine, along with other supportive ingredients like panax ginseng root extract, niacinamide, and zinc; and a Derma Roller that stimulates your scalp follicles and encourages blood flow to the area to support hair growth.

In short, it’s an all-in-one pack for strong and healthy hair.

How to treat hair loss

Beyond keeping your hair and scalp healthy, how else can you treat hair loss? These days, there are myriad treatments available that can slow down hair loss or even allow you to regrow lost hair.

Implement a few lifestyle changes

There are numerous lifestyle factors that can contribute to hair loss. By curbing or limiting them, you may notice an improvement.

Stress is a big one, and there’s good evidence to suggest that prolonged stress can contribute to hair loss. So, you might find that by keeping your stress levels in check you can help regrow your hair [8].

There’s also a strong link between hair loss and smoking, as well as hair loss and deficiencies in iron, zinc, niacin, selenium, and vitamin D [9][10]. Cutting the smokes and sticking to a balanced and nutritious diet may just reduce hair loss fairly noticeably.

Consider surgical routes

There are different stages of hair loss, and typically, the more severe stages are better treated using surgical methods like hair transplants and laser therapy.

Hair transplants really only work when there’s still some hair on the head. This is because the surgery takes healthy hairs from other parts of the scalp and plants them where hair is thinning or entirely gone.

Hair transplants can be incredibly effective, but they are expensive (we’re talking thousands of dollars). There are also a few risks involved, which you can read more about in our article about hair transplants.

Laser therapy is a slightly less invasive option. It uses gentle lasers to stimulate the hair follicles, lower inflammation, and encourage hair growth. But it’s still expensive and usually requires multiple treatments.

Try a clinical treatment

There are lots of different medical treatments available, including Pilot’s clinical hair loss treatment plan.

Your treatment is personalised, flexible and delivered (discreetly) to your door, and it also includes unlimited follow-ups with an Aussie pracitioner. In only a matter of months, many men using Pilot’s treatment notice stronger and thicker hair, reduced hair fall, and even increased hair growth.

Photo credit: Getty Images

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