The explosive YouTube war between James Charles and Tati Westbrook is all because of vitamin supplements. Health experts say they can be a scam.

  • On Friday, beauty YouTuber Tati Westbrook posted a video to publicly end her friendship with fellow beauty YouTuber James Charles.
  • The fight erupted after Charles posted an ad to his Instagram for beauty supplement brand Sugar Bear Hair, a direct competitor to Tati’s supplement line Halo Beauty.
  • These supplement brands claim to help customers grow strong hair and nails, achieve glowing skin, and get a better night’s sleep, but the scientific evidence behind supplements is thin at best.
  • Taking too many supplements can also cause adverse health effects.
  • Eating a balanced diet is the best way to ensure you get all of the vitamins you need.
  • Visit INSIDER’s homepage for more.

On Friday, longtime beauty YouTuber Tati Westbrook posted a video that publicly ended her friendship with fellow beauty vlogger James Charles. In the video, Westbrook outlined her thoughts on how Charles acted inappropriately and betrayed her since they became friends in 2017.

The feud began when Charles posted an advertisement for Sugar Bear Hair, a beauty supplement company Kylie Jenner and other celebrities have created sponsored posts for in the past. Westbrook shared an Instagram video soon after, where she cried and said she felt betrayed. Westbrook has her own brand of beauty supplements called Halo Beauty that Charles supported prior to his Sugar Bear Hair post.

Both Halo Beauty and Sugar Bear Hair claim their supplements can help people improve their skin, hair, and nails because the pills and gummies are formulated with vitamins that support these goals.

But most vitamin-filled supplements don’t provide health benefits that a balanced healthy diet can’t already offer and in some cases, taking unnecessary supplements can even lead to negative side effects.

Supplements of all kinds – from hair growth gummies to herbal remedies and vitamin D pills – aren’t held to the same strict guidelines as other kinds of drugs in the United States. In reality, little scientific research exists to prove supplements are more than a waste of money.

The Food & Drug Administration doesn’t strictly regulate supplements like it does drugs

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) leaves supplement companies to determine the manufacturing and packaging practices for products on their own. The government also considers all supplements safe until proven unsafe.

Read more: YouTuber James Charles has lost nearly 3 million subscribers after his bitter beauty feud with Tati Westbrook

These loose guidelines allow supplement companies to claim their products can help customers achieve certain health goals, even if research doesn’t entirely back up their claims.

The science behind supplement efficacy is limited and inconclusive

Supplements and vitaminspuhhha/ShutterstockThe FDA doesn’t regulate supplements at the same strict level it does for food and drugs.

On the Halo Beauty website, the brand’s Kiwi Seed Booster supplement is described as “clinically proven to firm, hydrate, rejuvenate, and moisturize skin & reduce fine lines.” It contains 14 ingredients including vitamin C, biotin, and vitamin D.

Similarly, Sugar Bear Hair wrote that its gummies are made with “only the best ingredients available to ensure an effective product that looks great, smells great and tastes great too! Most importantly, everyone is saying ‘It works!'” The brand’s popular gummies contain 13 active ingredients, including vitamin C, biotin, vitamin D, vitamin B.

Research suggests consuming these nutrients in supplement form is ineffective and in some cases, harmful. In a study published in April, researchers looked at vitamin D supplements and found that the majority of the people taking them weren’t actually deficient in the vitamin. The researchers also found that these people had a greater risk of developing cancer or dying than people who didn’t take vitamin D supplements.

Another study found vitamin C and calcium supplements had no added health benefits for the people who reported using them, and a 2014 study of people who used vitamin B3 supplements to help them build up more “good” cholesterol ended up having higher risks for infection, liver problems, and internal bleeding than people who didn’t take vitamin B3.

Biotin, or vitamin B7, has become a buzzy beauty ingredient in recent years, but the FDA has warned against using the ingredient in supplement form. In November 2017, the FDA said that taking biotin could skew blood tests, which could make it difficult for doctors to correctly diagnose a patient. Biotin deficiency is also rare, so most people don’t need to consume extra biotin outside of their normal diets to reap its benefits.

Both companies also noted their products are made in FDA-approved facilities, but this doesn’t mean the supplements themselves are FDA-approved. A disclaimer about this differentiation is at the bottom of both companies’ websites.

Halo Beauty and Sugar Bear Hair did not respond to INSIDER’s request for comment.

“Consumers should expect nothing from [supplements] because we don’t have any clear evidence that they’re beneficial, and they should be leery that they could be putting themselves at risk,” S. Bryn Austin, a professor of behavioural sciences at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, previously told Business Insider. “Whether it’s on the bottle or not, there can be ingredients in there that can do harm.”

Outside of simply being ineffective, supplements can cause adverse side effects. Every year, around 23,000 Americans go to the emergency room due to a supplement-related incident.

“These findings suggest that people should be conscious of the supplements they’re taking and ensure they’re applicable to the specific vitamin or mineral deficiencies they have been advised of by their healthcare provider,” Dr. David Jenkins, the lead author of the study, told INSIDER.

A balanced diet is the best way to get all of your recommended vitamins

The best way to achieve long shiny hair, strong nails, and glowing skin is to eat foods where the relevant vitamins occur naturally.

“In the absence of significant positive data – apart from folic acid’s potential reduction in the risk of stroke and heart disease – it’s most beneficial to rely on a healthy diet to get your fill of vitamins and minerals,” Dr. Jenkins said. “So far, no research on supplements has shown us anything better than healthy servings of less processed plant foods, including vegetables, fruits, and nuts.”

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