There is something really quite satisfying about growing your hair out enviably long. It feels like an accomplishment; a true test of willpower that you didn’t succumb to those urges we all get for a drastic haircut. It shows the world that you have patience and that you can grow something beautiful (even if you did manage to kill that succulent on your windowsill). But, boy, is it boring growing out your hair. Unless you’re genetically-blessed with fast-growing strands (yes, that is a thing) then it really is as dull an activity as watching paint dry.
And sometimes, it feels like no matter how patient you are, your hair never grows past a certain length. Technically, on average, hair grows half an inch in a month—snails move faster than that. If monitoring the whereabouts of your ends has left you frustrated, then you’re in the right place. Who better to counsel us on how to grow our hair faster than a trichologist—someone who specializes in all matters of the scalp? We called on Annabel Kingsley, brand president for the Philip Kinglsey Trichology Clinic, and the brand's consultant trichologist, Elizabeth Cannane-Phillips, for their best tips on how to make your strands grow longer, faster, stronger.
Give these a whirl and people will be calling your Rapunzel in no time.
1) Identify What's Slowing Your Hair
If you have a sneaking suspicion your hair isn’t growing as quickly as it could be, then there are three areas worth investigating. “Oftentimes, hair does not grow at the rate it is capable of or, very commonly, it is falling out before it reaches its optimal length,” says Kingsley. “This is often down to a poor diet. Stress is another factor to consider, as high stress levels can also impact your hair growth cycle. Breakage can also prevent hair from growing past a certain length. It is therefore important to treat your hair with TLC.”
Protein is your friend—Cunnane-Phillips suggests you factor it into your breakfast and lunch. “Because hair is a non-essential tissue, it is not prioritized by the body," she explains. "By adding these vital nutrients early and often, the message is there’s enough to go around." She goes on to share that good examples of healthy proteins are eggs, lean meats, ham, fish, and low-fat cottage cheese.
If you suspect stress is to blame: Kingsley tells us, “I suggest my clients try to manage stress levels with weekly sessions of yoga, Pilates, mindfulness and/or meditation.” We've got more ideas on how to feel less stressed in under one minute right here.
If you suspect your haircare routine is to blame: Treat your hair a little more gently. "Use a low to medium heat setting, not a high one, when you style," Kingsley suggests. "Apply heat protectant products when your blow-dry and, in the summer, protect your strands from the sun with products containing UV filters.”
2) Care for Your Scalp
Treating your scalp is a little like tending to a garden’s soil: it helps the plants (a.k.a your hair) grow. Using a scalp scrub or mask will ensure that there is no product build-up that could impair growth, while a scalp massage can help relieve tension and boost circulation to the hair follicles.
“Scalp massage also helps active ingredients within topically applied products to penetrate," says Kingsley. "For instance, if you have a flaky or irritated scalp, it can be very beneficial to gently massage a targeted, soothing anti-microbial scalp mask into your scalp once to twice a week."
To massage the scalp, Cunnane-Phillips shares this guide:
Employing the use of both hands, start at the temples and gently but firmly massage the scalp in a circular motion. Avoid friction and intense rubbing back and forth, as this has the potential to roughen the cuticle and be too irritating to the skin, which is why this is best done with a mask on the scalp. Continue the motion through the hairline and move back towards the crown ending at the nape of your neck. Repeat twice!
Click here to shop some of our favorite scalp products.
3) Swerve Split Ends
Once split ends set in, the only way to get rid of them is with a trim. So if you have them, make sure to get them snipped off pronto. If you want to preserve the length, ask your hairdresser just to tackle the split ends; this technique is also known as "dusting," because the ends that wind up on the salon floor look like dust.
Now your hair is free of split ends, Kingsley recommends these three tips to avoid them returning:
Choose a gentle hairbrush: "Your brush, being a tool you use every day, is very important. Avoid boar bristle and metal pronged brushes, as these can tear into the hair cuticle and result in split ends. Regardless of hair texture, choose a brush with rounded plastic prongs and a vented, cushioned base. These are gentle on both your hair and scalp. You can cater the size of your brush to the length and thickness of your strands. For instance, if you have long and coarse hair, pick a brush with a larger surface area."
Always brush correctly: "Start at your ends and gradually and gently work your way up. Starting at the top can snap through tangles, splitting strands."
Use a weekly pre-shampoo conditioning treatment: "This will help to strengthen your ends and prevent splits from forming."
4) Supplement for Length (and Strength)
Supplements are a great way to support hair growth, especially if your diet is sometimes lacking (no shame here, we're all super busy).
"Philip Kingsley’s Tricho Complex dietary supplement contains an exceptional mix of vitamins and minerals, specifically selected with the unique needs of the hair in mind," says Cunnane-Phillips. "It promotes healthy hair growth and corrects nutritional deficiencies that can disrupt the hair growth cycle and lead to increased shedding and hair loss. It contains iron to boost ferritin levels that, when low, can lead to hair loss; biotin which is a member of the Vitamin B family and known to promote healthy hair growth; and L-Lysine, an essential amino acid that cannot be produced by the body."
Kingsley recommends all her clients take a daily protein supplement, "as hardly anyone eats enough protein from a hair growth standpoint. Look for one containing all ‘essential’ amino acids (proteins your body cannot make on its own). I love our PK4 Soy Protein Boost ($45)."
"In terms of multi-vitamins, most women of menstruating age will benefit from a daily iron and Vitamin B12 supplement – especially if your periods are heavy," she adds.
We asked a bunch of pro hairstylists for the hair vitamins they recommend to all of their clients.
5) Get Ingredient Savvy
When it comes to shopping for hair care products, Cunnane-Phillips suggests taking a look at the ingredient list for the following 3 ingredients:
Silicone Quaternium-16: "This offers intense conditioning, heat protection, adds body and volume, while being an excellent detangler."
Hydrolyzed Elastin: "This strengthens and adds elasticity to hair. It is vital for dry and damaged hair to help prevent breakage."
Panthenol: "It conditions and moisturizes, improves water retention and boosts shine."
6) See a Doctor
If you have tried all the above and nothing seems to be working, then it might be worth visiting your doctor.
"Don't put off that physical any longer," says Cunnane-Phillips. "I always advise women to prioritize themselves the way they do everyone else in the family. Have your doctor ensure that there are no underlying health factors at play. You want to eliminate any thyroid or other endocrine disturbances and discuss if there are any recent changes to your menstrual cycle."
So there you have it. Get strategic, treat your hair with care from the inside-out, scalp to tips, and you'll have stronger, longer hair in no time.