Getting Rapunzel-like strands is no easy feat—ask anyone who’s gobbled down countless biotin pills and vitamin E supplements only to be greeted with the same lackluster strands. There are a lot of factors that contribute to hair growth (or lack thereof), but one of the most overlooked is physical stimulation—as in, massaging the heck out of your scalp. Turns out giving yourself a scalp massage using some key natural ingredients can help your hair grow faster and in turn, make your strands look more Blake Lively–esque. There’s also the whole egg-yolk-mask thing, and let's not forget the sworn-by hot castor oil treatment. With plenty of natural treatment options, achieving the hair of your dreams doesn't have to feel so far-fetched. To help us figure out how to make hair grow faster, we hit up the pros: holistic nutritionist Meryl Pritchard and hair restoration surgeon Dr. Alan J. Bauman.
Meet the Expert
Keep scrolling for some simple and natural ways to encourage faster hair growth.
Do a Scalp Massage to Stimulate Growth
We spend so much time and money piling on the products that it’s easy to forget where hair growth starts: namely, your scalp. "Just like good quality soil is essential to grow healthy plants and flowers, a healthy scalp is the foundation for healthy hair growth," says Bauman. "Research supports the idea that a scalp massage has beneficial effects on stress hormones, blood pressure and heart rate." A simple way to stimulate hair growth at home is to give yourself a scalp massage. This will increase blood flow to your scalp, enhance the strength of your roots, and help nutrients get to your follicle faster. You can give yourself a scalp massage with dry hair, but adding a nutrient-rich oil to the mix will only double the benefits. (Just keep it to once a week if you have oily roots).
Rosemary oil has been used for centuries to stimulate hair growth. It dilates blood vessels and in turn stimulates your follicle to produce new growth.
Try an Egg Yolk Mask to Prevent Breakage
Bauman notes that on average, hair grows approximately a quarter to a half an inch per month, and while we can’t speed up this process, we can affect the quality of the hair shafts each follicle can produce (think: thicker, stronger, shinier locks). There are things we can do to "stimulate a higher percentage of hair follicles in the scalp, which will keep more hair in the growing phase and make your head of hair thicker, healthier and fuller." Unsurprisingly, this makes how you treat your hair crucial to natural hair growth. If your hair breaks before it gets past your shoulders, an egg mask will be your savior. Eggs contain lecithin and protein, which strengthen, nourish, and heal your strands. Plus, their high sulfur content might even help with dandruff.
To make the mask, mix two eggs with two tablespoons of olive oil. Add half a cup of water to dilute the mixture (and make it less sticky). Apply the mask directly to dry, brushed hair, and leave it on for up to 30 minutes. Then, shampoo and condition as usual.
Check Your Medications
According to Bauman, there are many prescription medications that are known to be associated with hair loss. "Some of the commonly prescribed categories of drugs that can exacerbate hair loss include antihypertensives (blood pressure), cholesterol or statins, hormone replacements like thyroid, birth control, testosterone, and certain antidepressants," he says. As a word of caution, you should always discuss these side effects with your doctor before stopping any medications.
Rinse With Cool Water to Strengthen Hair
Just like hot water can cause dryness on your skin, it can be damaging to your mane, too. Rinsing with cool water will help close up the cuticle and strengthen hair follicles pre-styling. Cool water is best if you can handle it, but lukewarm is the next best thing if you can't.
Do a Hot Castor Oil Treatment to Promote Growth
Castor oil is the unsung hero of the hair world—you might even be tempted to ditch your coconut oil for it after reading this. First of all, castor oil has anti-fungal and antibacterial properties to help combat scalp infections that prevent your hair from growing. Second, it’s filled with omega-6 fatty acids, vitamin E, proteins, and other nutrients that can penetrate your parched strands and seal your hair shaft to retain moisture. Thirdly, it makes for an amazing hot oil treatment—massaging the oil into your roots will help your scalp drink up all of the nutrients and help promote hair growth.
To give yourself a hot oil treatment, massage the oil into your scalp and then apply it all the way to the ends of your strands. Pile your hair on top of your head, cover it with a shower cap, and blast your strands with a blow-dryer for 15 minutes. Feel free to jump in the shower and shampoo and condition as usual. You’ll notice softer strands instantly.
Avoid Smoking for Healthy Blood Flow
Smoking is a personal choice and we're not here to judge, but we'd be lying if we said the act doesn't affect your hair in some way. "Smoking restricts blood flow to the scalp and follicles, which in turn restricts the vital oxygen and nutrients that your hair and scalp need to be healthy," notes Bauman. Also, the toxins caused from smoking can also reap into the hair follicles and cause disruption.
Trade Hair Growth Supplements for Healthy Fats
Sure, you can easily pop a hair growth supplement, but honestly, the word's still out on whether or not they're an effective way to help your hair grow faster. Plus, they can contain unnecessary large amounts of minerals and vitamins (ahem, biotin), which can actually wreak havoc in other ways (ahem, breakouts). For this reason, eating your way to longer hair is actually a smarter, nutritionist-approved way to make your hair grow faster. Vitamins and minerals occurring naturally in foods are easier for your body to utilize, and they'll naturally deliver a healthier ratio of nutrients—just the way Mother Nature intended.
According to Pritchard, getting plenty of healthy fats like omega-3s can jump-start hair growth. "Healthy fats are essential to hair health since our bodies can't produce omega-3 fatty acids on their own. Therefore, it's important to get these fats through our diet," she says. "They nourish hair follicles to give strands that strong, shiny, lustrous glow."
Limit Heat Styling to Keep Your Hair Healthy
You probably know this already, but any hairstylist will tell you the most obvious way to help your hair grow faster is to ditch your routine of hot tools. (Sad, we know). "Blow dryers and styling irons can certainly damage your hair by making it dry and brittle, which can lead to breakage and shorter hair length," advises Bauman. "If you’re trying to grow your hair, I recommend air-drying your hair and avoiding any heat tools. If you do use a heat tool, I suggest using a heat-protectant spray." We're partial to this brilliant spray from IGK which, true to its name, speeds up air-dry time, nixes the need for a hair dryer, and imparts lustrous hydration to boot.
Avoid Over-Shampooing to Let Your Hair Repair
Rumor has it that over-shampooing can lead to broken, dry, and brittle locks due to the cleanser stripping the hair of its natural oils. Depending on your hair type, the number of times to shampoo your hair per week will vary. Thicker, coarser hair types can get away without washing their hair for a few days while thinner hair types may find their hair feels greasy even after one day. In such cases, a dry shampoo can work wonders in soaking up excess grease as you await longer strands.
DIY a Cinnamon-Based Mask to Stimulate Circulation
Turns out cinnamon isn't only good for sprinkling over your morning oatmeal. Thanks to its anti-microbial properties, it poses hair benefits too, in the form of stimulating blood circulation and nourishing strands. Mix equal parts cinnamon and coconut oil and apply to your hair, focusing at the roots. Let it do its thing for 45 minutes before rinsing.
Trim Your Split Ends Regularly
It might sound counterproductive if you want your hair to grow longer, but regular trims get rid of dry, damaged split ends and are necessary for natural, healthy growth. If left untreated, split ends can work their way up the shaft of your hair strand and cause even more breakage, which means the only thing growing will be your frustration. If your stylist takes off too much length every time you go in for a visit, your hair won't get longer, so be clear about your hair goals when communicating with them. Depending on the condition of your hair, your hairstyle, and your daily routine, you could need a trim anywhere from every six weeks to six months. That said, the better you care for your hair on a day-to-day basis, the less often you'll need trims, and the longer your hair can grow naturally.
Brush Gently When Detangling
Nothing will test your patience like properly detangling the knots in your hair, but it's an important step in growing your strands faster and one that definitely shouldn't be rushed. If you have a tendency to quickly and haphazardly rip a brush through your hair and call it quits, you might want to reconsider. Not taking proper care when brushing can cause your strands to break off and split—pretty much the opposite of hair growth. When it comes to brushing your hair, think: slow and gentle.
And, turns out the brush you choose makes a difference. While a brush with metal bristles has its purpose, a wide-tooth comb, a detangling brush, or a paddle brush with rounded bristles are all better options for gently combing through knots and causing minimal breakage. Almost as important as what you use to brush your hair is when you choose to do so. Instead of detangling after the shower (when the hair is most vulnerable and fragile), comb through your knots before you wash your hair.
When going after the knots in your hair, work your way from the ends up rather than from the roots down to prevent the tangles from worsening.
Eliminate Stress to Avoid Hair Loss
It's true that stress affects the body in more ways than one, but when it comes to hair, it can be the cause of hair loss for some. "Usually, it takes severe, traumatic stress or chronic stress over time to cause hair loss," says Bauman. "Some autoimmune diseases of the hair and scalp that cause patchy hair loss, like alopecia areata, can be precipitated or aggravated by bouts of stress." Keep stress levels to a minimum (easier said than done, we know) by doing the age-old Eastern medicine hand trick or setting aside a few minutes a day to meditate.
Sleep on a Silk Pillowcase to Avoid Tangles
A silk or satin hair cover or pillowcase is better for the health of your hair versus cotton, which will absorb all the moisture out of your strands and lead to tangles and breakage. While this won't necessarily speed up the hair growth process, sleeping on a silk pillowcase generates less friction and gives hair a softer surface to rest on.
Use Keratin-Based Products to Fill in Breakage
It's true that keratin-based products can combat dryness and make the hair appear shinier, but it can also strengthen the hair and prevent future breakage from occurring. The protein, which is protective in nature, douses hair in essential oils and nutrients it needs to thrive, making an ideal environment for healthy strands to grow.