Beauty vlogger Tati Westbook’s dream-come-true launch of her own beauty line, Halo Beauty, quickly turned into a nightmare soon after it went live. Her very first product, a supplement called the Halo Beauty Hair, Skin, and Nails Booster, caused serious backlash on the Internet over a controversial ingredient.
Beauty supplements themselves are somewhat controversial. While there is data behind some hair growth vitamins, “we really have no good data showing that any supplements truly help with skin,” Joshua Zeichner, director of cosmetic and clinical research in dermatology at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City, tells Allure. Since supplements aren’t regulated by the Food & Drug Administration, they even have the potential to be dangerous. Taking the wrong dose could have harmful side effects and certain ingredients can even impact the effectiveness of other medications.
It’s the latter that caused a firestorm around the launch of Westbrook’s first product, the Halo Beauty Hair, Skin, and Nails Booster ($40), a supplement containing saw palmetto, which is thought to boost hair growth. Unfortunately, it’s also thought to possibly interfere with birth control.
As a result, some of Westbrook’s fans are pissed. They’re not only calling out the controversy surrounding saw palmetto, but also what they think is a lack of science to back up Halo Beauty’s claims. “Where is the evidence of results? Before and after quantitative data for the clinical trials?” one user asked.
Where is the evidence of results? Before and after quantitative data for the clinical trials?
The science on saw palmetto isn’t conclusive. Technically, “there is currently no data showing that saw palmetto supplements have any interaction with prescription medications,” Zeichner says. While it may have a possible effect on testosterone, there’s no known effect on estrogen, he explains. In other words, “there is currently no data showing that saw palmetto will interfere with your birth control.”
But Leah Millheiser, a board-certified obstetrician and gynecologist and clinical assistant professor of obstetrics and gynecology at Stanford University, says that might be misleading. “I don’t agree with the blanket statement that saw palmetto does not interfere with hormonal contraception,” she tells Allure. “Saw palmetto does have estrogenic activity and may affect endogenous hormone levels.” So yes, it could potentially impact the effectiveness of the pill. In order to be 100 percent sure there’s no interaction, more research is needed.
I don’t agree with the blanket statement that saw palmetto does not interfere with hormonal contraception.
Westbrook took to Snapchat to slam the claims, as reported by Revelist. “I feel very misunderstood. I hate that my character is being thrashed,” Westbrook said. “Saw Palmetto is not going to get you pregnant. It’s not going to make your birth control not work,” she continues. “I am working with the best physicians, the best scientists, the best nutritionists. I have a team. I have advisors. We have talked about this formula through and through to get to this point.”
The controversy over Halo Beauty’s supplements underscores the importance of scrutinizing any supplement before you take it. Even if a supplement contains totally natural ingredients (like saw palmetto), that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s safe or that it won’t mess with other medications. “Always disclose all medications as well as herbs and supplements to your clinician to ensure that there are no contraindications or drug interactions,” Millheiser says. Even though there’s no definitive link between saw palmetto and birth control, potential side effects can still be important and should be addressed.
So, what’s the bottom line? In the case of saw palmetto, “my best advice is to discuss the supplement with your gynecologist to see what the right option is for you,” says Zeichner. Millheiser advises using a backup form of birth control if you’re taking a beauty supplement with saw palmetto.
Allure reached out to Tati Westbrook for further comments. We will update this story when we hear back.
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