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A watched pot never boils, and watched hair never grows. No matter whether you’re trying to grow out your locks after a regretful bob, or experiencing excess thinning and shedding, the quest for longer, stronger hair can be a frustrating one. A litany of different factors—stress, diet, hormonal changes, certain medications, medical conditions—can impact both the quality and quantity of your hair. It’s not surprising that the hair growth market is a saturated one, but the big caveat to keep in mind is that any product that claims to actually help you grow new hair is considered a drug and legally has to be regulated by the FDA. And on that note, there is only one ingredient approved by the FDA for hair growth, minoxidil, but more on that to come.
That being said, there are all kinds of great ingredients and products out there—both topical and oral—that can help create an optimal environment on the scalp for healthy hair growth, not to mention improve the overall strength and quality of your tresses. (Though as with any oral supplements, just make sure to check with your doc before taking one). The universal caveat with any of these? Be patient. “The challenges with your hair didn’t happen overnight, and neither will the fix. For new hair growth expect to see some positive changes after about four months,” says trichologist and founder of Colour Collective Kerry Yates. “You’ll notice what looks like little hair strands around the hairline and part line that may look like little baby hair or broken strands. That is your new hair popping out,” she says.
Ready to get growing? The best hair growth products below are worth adding to your routine.
Best Overall: Nutrafol Women Hair Growth Supplement
This supplement touts a long list of fans, including dermatologists, stylists, and Byrdie editors alike; it’s a go-to for our Email Editor Karli Bendlin. Yates is also on board: “I’ve seen positive effects from Nutrafol,” she says. The capsules contain a litany of different ingredients—everything from biotin to saw palmetto extract to collagen to plenty of vitamins and minerals—that work to target the root (no pun intended) cause of shedding and weak hair. You do have to take four capsules each day, and it will take at least a few months to see the effects, but results are impressive. Case in point: In a brand-backed clinical study, 84 percent of participants saw stronger, thicker, and faster hair growth after six months.
Best Budget: Sky Organics Organic Castor Oil
The Byrdie team is all about slathering castor oil onto the hair on their brows, lashes, and head to help boost growth, and here you get only 100 percent pure, organic, cold-pressed castor oil with no other additives. Work into your scalp as a treatment, or, for an easy and effective DIY mask moment combine with jojoba oil and peppermint essential oil. Apply onto wet hair, let it sit for 15 minutes, then shampoo and condition as usual.
Best Biotin Supplement: Sports Research 5,000 Mcg Biotin Supplements
Even those who may not know a lot about hair loss have likely heard of biotin touted as the ultimate solution. The B vitamin has been shown to improve the quality of both your hair and nails, though that’s really only applicable in those who are biotin deficient, to begin with. Still, most experts will agree that there’s no real harm in trying one to see if it will help. This particular one is choice, with a potent concentration of biotin in cold-pressed coconut oil for improved absorption.
Best Supplement: Zhou Nutrition Hairfluence Premium Hair Growth Formula
A diet deficient in essential nutrients and proteins can definitely exacerbate your hair growth issues, which is where a well-rounded supplement can come in. Enter this one, with not only plenty of biotin, but also other important ingredients such as bamboo extract, collagen, keratin, folate, and vitamins C, B12, and A, just to name a few.
Runner-Up, Best Supplement: Vital Proteins Hair Boost
The brand known for making ingestible collagen a mainstay just launched these capsules. One dose contains five times the daily value of biotin, plus ashwagandha, tons of vitamins, and an amino acid blend to help support the production of keratin, the primary protein that makes up our hair and nails.
Best Vegan Supplement: Briogeo B. Well Vegan Omegas + Biotin Supplement
It’s not hard to find a hair supplement on the market, but it is hard to find a vegan option. Many use omegas 3,6, and 9 fatty acids, which most often come from animal sources. Not this one, which sources the essential nutrients from algae, and also contains a potent dose of biotin. In a four-month clinical study, participants not only noticed less hair fallout when showering (because let’s be real, that’s always when you notice it), they also saw less scalp flaking, an added win.
Best Shampoo: Pura D'Or Original Gold Label Anti-Thinning Biotin Shampoo
Perhaps the easiest way to start working a hair growth-enhancing product into your existing routine? Swap out your shampoo, more specifically, switch it out for this formula. At work is a proprietary blend of a whopping 17 different herbs that work to help decrease thinning and promote thickness by reducing breakage. Also nice: It works for all hair types.
Best Conditioner: Viviscal Gorgeous Growth Densifying Conditioner
Add this guy to your shower stash, too. It has a proprietary complex of biotin, keratin, and zinc to promote healthy hair growth but also does its conditioning duties. By delivering weightless moisture, it ensures your already thin hair doesn’t end up looking any limper or flatter, and instead creates the appearance of added fullness.
Best Mask: Arvazallia Hydrating Argan Oil Hair Mask
We said it once, we’ll say it again—it’s going to take time to see the effects of any hair growth product. So in the meantime, use this mask weekly. By deeply hydrating and conditioning your mane, it instantly makes it look shinier, smoother, and overall healthier, while strengthening ingredients help ward off breakage that can exacerbate shedding.
Best Oil: The Afro Hair & Skin Co. Bloom Omega Healthy Hair Oil
Healthy hair starts with a healthy scalp, and you can’t have a healthy scalp without having a hydrated scalp (following our logic here?). Oils can be great, but it’s a tricky situation because what you don’t want is oils that are too heavy and are going to clog the hair follicles, potentially exacerbating shedding. Enter this treatment, which uses a blend of carefully-chosen oils—camelina seed oil, thistle oil, and more— to hydrate both hair and scalp. Also nice: It works equally well as a styler.
Best System: KeraHealth 360 Hair Health Plan
For those looking for a one-stop-shop, this kit is choice, addressing your hair woes from the inside and out. It comes with an oral supplement, strengthening shampoo and conditioner, and (our fave) a scalp energizer, AKA a hand-held nubby brush that boosts circulation in your scalp and feels like an amazing scalp massage. Just be patient, since it can take up to three months to see results.
Best Leave-In: Bosley Professional Strength Follicle Energizer
Leave-in products are great because they can actually sit on the scalp for enough time to really start to make a difference where it matters (at the roots). There’s plenty to choose from, but we’re partial to this pick, as is Yates. “Bosley treatments support scalp health and their ingredient mix helps to support healthy hair follicles,” says Yates. More specifically, it contains saw palmetto, a plant-based extract that works by blocking DHT, a hormone thought to make hair follicles shrink. Apply a few drops to your fingertips and massage into the scalp on any areas where your hair is thinning or shedding, think along the hairline or at your part.
Best Gummies: SugarBearHair Hair Vitamins
Not into swallowing pills? A yummy gummy, like this one, makes it easy to incorporate a hair growth supplement into your routine. You’ve likely seen these all over Instagram, and they have a glowing reputation according to customers. These vegetarian gummies contain many of those important hair-boosting vitamins and nutrients, though as an FYI for ingredient purists, they do contain added artificial color.
Best for Bald Spots: Rogaine Women's 5% Minoxidil Topical Aerosol Hair Regrowth Treatment
As we said, minoxidil is the only FDA-approved ingredient shown to actually cause new hair growth. So, if you’re dealing with some serious hair loss—like, can actually see your scalp kinda hair loss—most doctors will tell you it’s your best OTC option. Work this foam into your scalp once a day (it’s not messy or drippy so you can style as usual) and give it about three months to do its thing. Just keep in mind that you do need to keep using it in order to maintain results.
Best Postpartum Option: Hairtamin Mom
Hormonal changes, particularly the ones that occur postpartum, (we recognize that not all pregnant individuals are women), are notorious for triggering sudden shedding. That’s why we think it’s so brilliant that this brand came up with a supplement specifically for postnatal hair issues; it can also be taken as a prenatal. The vegan- and gluten-free supplement contains no artificial flavors, colors, or sugar. What it does have is plenty of hair-improving vitamins and nutrients, everything from turmeric to zinc to biotin to antioxidants and more.
Best for Curly Hair: Aunt Jackie's Curls & Coils The Perfect 911 Damage Repair Kit
You really can’t talk about addressing hair growth if the condition of your existing hair isn’t good to begin with. If your curls have taken a beating, reach for this kit. With a co-wash cleanser, conditioning mask, hydrating butter, and styling whip, it has everything you need to stop breakage and undo damage. In and of itself that can go a looong way in helping to slow down shedding.
Best Liquid: Curls Blissful Lengths Liquid Hair Growth Vitamin
This liquid formula promotes hair growth and scalp health with Curls' proprietary blend of bioactive coenzymes, vitamins, and antioxidants. An added bonus? Thanks to organic blueberry extract, it also has a yummy flavor. Just take between one and three tablespoons each day and, according to the brand, you'll start seeing optimal results in two to three months. Many online reviewers certainly did, though, with several reporting thicker, stronger strands, as well as a more hydrated scalp.
Hair loss is a complicated (and annoying) issue that’s tough to treat. That being said, the Nutrafol Women Hair Growth Supplement consistently earns rave reviews, from consumers, beauty editors, and hair pros alike. If you like to go just the supplement route, the Zhou Nutrition Hairfluence Premium Hair Growth Formula is another good option. Otherwise, opting for a complete system that contains both topical products and/or supplements is a good move; we’re partial to the KeraHealth 360Hair Health Plan and the Philip Kingsley Trichotherapy Regime. And finally, remember that there’s only one ingredient approved by the FDA to *actually* re-grow new hair, minoxidil, which you can find in the Rogaine Women’s 5% Minoxidil Topical Aerosol Hair Regrowth Treatment.
What to Look For In a Hair Growth Product
Mention of the "anagen phase"
Also known as the growth phase of the hair cycle, you want to choose products that talk about using ingredients or have a formula that will help extend this phase, advises Yates.
A full system
Hair loss is a complex issue, often caused by a variety of causes. Opting for a complete system with products that address it in multiple ways can help ensure the best results, especially if there’s also an oral supplement involved. “Ingestible supplements work wonders with hair support when you’re experiencing a nutritional imbalance,” notes Yates.
Aside from minoxidil, there’s really no one magic ingredient that can help treat hair loss. For most hair growth products, opting for formulas that combine multiple ingredients that can work in different ways is a good way to get the type of effects you’re looking for.