When was the last time you had gelatin? It’s probably been a minute unless you’ve been influenced by TikTok’s latest #FoodTok obsession. IYDK, one user went viral for incorporating the ingredient into her daily routine and has been boasting about the improvements to her damaged hair and rapid nail growth ever since. But are the benefits of the TikTok gelatin trend actually a misconception? According to a registered dietitian, you might want to get your collagen elsewhere.
The trend began making its way around the FYP after TikToker Katie Du (@_ktdu_) started eating a cup of gelatin a day for 30 days straight to test out the benefits for herself. “I’ve tried every hair mask, hair serum, cold rinse, fermented rice water, collagen powder, etc to try to fix my hair...” the creator wrote in an April 6 TikTok. “But I realized my hair and nails were never stronger than when I was six to 11 years old.” This realization encouraged the user to “go back to the basics,” aka Jell-O, and thus, the 30-day challenge was born.
In an update posted after the month-long experiment came to an end, the creator compared two strands of hair, one from the beginning of the 30 days and one that had grown more recently. Du shared that the new strand had a much “smoother, more even texture” than the old one, and revealed her nails were growing much faster, too. Since then, the TikToker has been keeping up with her “daily dose of gelatin,” this time by dissolving a packet of unflavored gelatin powder in a hot beverage or dissolving it in hot water before pouring it into a cold drink.
Despite Du’s 30-day findings, though, having gelatin every day might not be as beneficial as the creator makes it seem. While the inspiration behind using gelatin to improve hair, nail, and even bone growth might be based in science, RD and Premier Protein Cereal Nutritional Consultant Jessica Jones explains that the evidence supporting the trend’s effectiveness is “limited.”
In case you need a refresher, gelatin is made from the collagen found in animal tissues. Collagen has been known to improve skin elasticity, increase hair thickness, and cause healthier nail growth, among other things, so it makes sense why the trend would be linked to these outcomes. However, the expert tells Bustle that “simply consuming gelatin may not guarantee a significant increase in collagen production within the body,” which likely means the trend won’t yield the same results for everyone. Sorry to be the one to debunk the myth.
Now that we know gelatin isn’t exactly overflowing with collagen, that still doesn’t explain why the creator may have seen improvements. The dietitian posits the results could have been “influenced by things like the Placebo effect, dietary changes accompanying gelatin consumption, or other lifestyle modifications that might contribute to the perceived improvement.”
If you were hoping gelatin would be the answer to all your hair and nail problems, the nutritional consultant suggests looking into taking biotin, vitamin E, and/or iron to target these issues. “If brittle nails are an issue, you might want to reach for biotin, a vitamin which shows more results with strengthening nails as compared to gelatin water,” Jones shares.
That being said, it’s important to remember that everyone responds to nutrients differently, so there’s always a chance your results may vary. To effectively address your own hair and nail needs, Jones recommends seeking “personalized guidance” from a healthcare professional or registered dietitian.
Jessica Jones, R.D. and Premier Protein Cereal Nutritional Consultant