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. On average, hair grows roughly half an inch each month, adding up to about six inches per year. Of course, a number of factors can affect hair growth, like age (we tend to shed hair as we get older), overall health (like vitamin deficiencies), and factors such as stress and daily habits (like smoking).
There are also several ways to contribute to hair growth, including physical stimulation—such as massaging the heck out of your scalp. Turns out giving yourself a scalp massage using some key natural ingredients can help retain length 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 and over-the-counter treatment options, achieving the hair of your dreams doesn’t have to feel so far-fetched. Just remember, there isn’t an ingredient or method that can actually make your hair grow faster from the root. To help us figure out how to grow healthier, stronger hair that will reduce breakage at the ends and, in turn, promote length, we hit up the pros.
Meet the Expert
- Meryl Pritchard is a holistic nutritionist and the founder of Kore Kitchen.
- Alan J. Bauman, MD, is a board-certified hair restoration surgeon and an advisory board member for the World Trichology Society.
Keep scrolling for 16 ways to achieve healthy, longer hair.
Give Yourself a Scalp Massage
We spend so much time and money piling on hair products that it’s easy to forget where hair growth starts: namely, your scalp. "Just like good-quality soil is essential to growing 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
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," he says. 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 yolk 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 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Add 1/2 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.
Do a Hot Castor Oil Treatment
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. Third, 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.
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 from smoking can seep 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 unnecessarily 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."
Great food sources of omega-3s include salmon, tuna, flaxseed, walnuts, and plant oils such as soybean and canola oil.
Limit Heat Styling
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, use a heat-protectant spray."
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 you should shampoo your hair per week varies. 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, dry shampoo can work wonders in soaking up excess grease as you await longer strands.
DIY a Cinnamon-Based Mask
Turns out cinnamon isn’t only good for sprinkling over your morning oatmeal. Thanks to its antimicrobial 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 on the roots. Let it do its thing for 45 minutes before rinsing.
Trim Your Split Ends Regularly
It might sound counterproductive when 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 shafts of your hair strands and cause even more breakage, which means the only thing growing will be your frustration. But if your stylist takes off too much length every time you go in for a visit, your hair won’t get longer, so make sure you clearly communicate your hair goals. 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 it turns out the brush you choose makes a difference. While a brush with metal bristles has its purpose, a wide-toothed 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 your hair is at its most vulnerable and fragile), comb through your knots before you wash your hair.
"In addition to slowing the progression of shedding by starting over-the-counter topical minoxidil extra strength, you can change to gentle hair practices to limit hair shedding," Young McMahan, MD, board-certified dermatologist with U.S. Dermatology Partners Waco. "Pulling hair back in tight braids or ponytails can both damage the hair follicle, which is where hair growth originates from, leading to worsening hair loss."
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.
It’s true that stress affects the body in more ways than one, and it can even 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 your stress levels to a minimum (easier said than done, we know) by doing an age-old Eastern medicine hand trick or setting aside a few minutes a day to meditate.
Sleep on a Silk Pillowcase
A silk or satin hair cover or pillowcase is better for the health of your hair than cotton, which will absorb all the moisture from 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
It’s true that keratin-based products can combat dryness and make hair appear shinier, but they can also strengthen the hair and prevent future breakage. 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.
See an Expert
McMahan advises those experiencing hair loss or shedding to seek an expert's help to determine the root cause of the problem.
"There are several types of hair loss or alopecia and several contributing factors that cause hair loss in females," says McMahan. "It is important to get an appointment with a board-certified dermatologist who is an expert at diagnosing the type of alopecia a person may be experiencing and get a treatment regimen that is tailored to the cause of each alopecia."
Ahead of your appointment, McMahan advises preparing a list of all your medications, including over-the-counter medications and a timeline of when you first began to notice hair loss, and be sure to note any illnesses, surgeries, or major medical events you may have had six months prior to the hair loss. This will help your provider narrow down the root cause and tailor a treatment plan to re-grow your hair.
Turn to Powerful Ingredients
McMahan says some people (i.e. those who are not pregnant or breastfeeding) can start an over-the-counter topical minoxidil (Rogaine) extra strength, twice a day.
"I warn all my patients that for the first month of topical minoxidil use there can be a paradoxical worsening of shedding which recovers if you continue using the medication," McMahan explains. "For all my alopecia patients I also recommend supplementation with 1500IU of vitamin D, 3500mcg of biotin, and 90mg of zinc gluconate."
How can I speed up hair growth in a week?
Speeding up hair growth can be a lengthy process. Between adjusting your diet and using new treatments, you can expect growth in a few weeks, at minimum.
Does hair growth slow when your hair gets longer?
Your hair may not stop growing at a certain length, but it could stop once a certain amount of time passes (aka the hair growth cycle). At that point, once it’s reached the end of the cycle, it may either break off or shed.
Which oil grows hair the fastest?
Experts recommend castor oil, especially as a hot oil treatment.
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