18 Expert-Backed Ways for Quickly Growing Your Hair
While many people yearn for Rapunzel-length hair, growing and maintaining it takes a lot of effort. Maybe you want to your hair in long braids or are working on growing out that trendy bob, but for anyone who's tried to grow their hair and came up short, there could be many reasons why. Everyday habits such as straightening your hair, wearing a tight ponytail, or washing your hair every day can all contribute to dry, brittle, and thinning hair. However, if you've ever wondered how to grow hair faster, know that there are many expert-backed ways to do so.
To understand the basics of hair growth, you need to first know that the American Academy of Dermatology says that hair typically grows half an inch per month, so you'll need to wait six months to a year before you see any noticeable growth. With that being said, Anabel Kingsley, a consultant trichologist and brand president of Philip Kingsley, says that there are actions you can take to ensure hair grows to its best ability. The first thing you need to understand is that your hair grows in three stages: anagen, catagen, and telogen.
The anagen phase is the "active growth" phase, and each strand of hair will stay in the anagen phase anywhere from two to eight years. The catagen phase is the phase where hair stops growing, which lasts four to six weeks, and the telogen phase is when your hair falls out. As of right now, there is no proven scientific remedy to "turn on" the anagen "active growth" phase, which would allow hair to grow faster. However, keeping your hair healthy while it's in the anagen phase can extend the phase's length, offering each strand more time to grow before it's time to fall out.
Here are a few simple changes you can make to help your hair grow faster:
1. Keep your scalp healthy.
"A healthy scalp will help create an environment for healthy hair that grows out beautifully," says celebrity hairstylist and salon owner Paul Labrecque. While using a scalp scrub can be useful, far too often, scrubs contain aggressive ingredients which can lead to small scratches that can damage hair follicles during the process. Instead, we recommend using a purifying scalp treatment with ingredients such as tea tree oil and witch hazel to remove buildup, which weighs down the root of the hair.
2. Give yourself a daily scalp massage.
When you take care of your scalp, you are helping ensure that blood and nutrients can easily flow to the hair follicle, which in turn strengthens and minimizes hair loss. "Massaging the scalp for a minimum of four minutes daily will relieve tensions and tightness while improving blood circulation," says Kerry E. Yates, a Texas-based trichologist-in-training. Recent studies back this up and show that scalp massages can help to improve scalp health, increase hair thickness, and help with hair thinning.
3. Use a sulfate-free shampoo.
"[Many] mainstream shampoos contain harsh sulfates that leech moisture from your scalp and strands, increasing fallout, and making your hair more likely to break and split," says Steven D. Shapiro, M.D., a board-certified dermatologist. Sulfates are what create that foaming texture that makes you feel squeaky clean, and while they're great at removing dirt and oil, they tend to clean the scalp too well and strip it of moisture. Without your hair's natural oils to moisturize the scalp, the negative side effects typically include a dry, flaky, or itchy scalp.
4. Avoid over-washing your hair.
"Wash your hair every few days instead of every day," suggests Yates. "The daily use of cleansers—even with a sulfate-free shampoo—can cause dryness and scalp irritation." Instead, allow yourself a few weeks to wean yourself off of daily cleansing while your scalp adjusts to the new routine. At first, your scalp may overproduce oil to compensate, but with time you'll be able to go longer without washing. In the meantime, dry shampoo is your new best friend.
5. Use a hydrating hair mask twice a week.
To achieve long, healthy hair, you need to keep your existing hair in tip-top shape so it doesn't break off. To do this, include a moisturizing hair mask into your routine at least once a week. If you're into DIY masks, Michael Canalé, a celebrity hair colorist and founder of Canalé, says that his younger clients have been experimenting with rice water and castor oil as they help boost hair strength, texture, and growth. If you'd prefer a store bought option, look for products with ingredients such as coconut oil and avocado.
6. Nourish your hair with oils.
To keep hair strong and healthy, consider adding oils to your hair care routine. "Oils such as rosemary and geranium can boost circulation and promote hair growth—I recommend coconut oil because it contains fatty acids that help reduce protein loss from the hair," says trichologist Gretchen Friese. Our other favorite hair-healthy oils include grapeseed, avocado, and Argan.
7. Be cautious of using too much hair dye.
"Color is a responsibility," says Jamila Powell, CEO and founder of Naturally Drenched. If length is your goal, avoid bleaching your hair as the harsh chemicals in bleach open up the cuticle of your hair strands and cause significant damage—especially for those with darker hair. For a healthier alternative, use ammonia-free hair dyes and always consult with a professional.
8. Reduce your amount of heat exposure.
"A sleek, flat-ironed style is an entire mood—but it's important to think about the consequences as constant heat styling can cause unnecessary damage to your hair," says Brittany Johnson, licensed hairstylist and senior content manager for Mayvenn. Exposing your hair to constant heat from blow dryers and styling tools can deplete moisture and promote dryness, causing your hair to break off and shed faster than it can successfully grow out. To shield your hair from the heat, Johnson suggests using a heat protectant to prevent damage.
9. Limit sun exposure.
"Try to avoid exposing your hair to the sun as it damages your hair in the same way it damages your skin," says Dr. Antonella Tosti, M.D., a board-certified dermatologist with Monat. Try applying SPF onto your hair with the Supergoop! Poof 100% Mineral Part and Scalp Powder, which protects your hair and scalp from the sun while simultaneously absorbing excess oil.
10. Brush your hair when it's dry—not wet.
When your hair is wet, its cuticles open and are more susceptible to damage. Therefore, tugging and pulling can cause severe hair breakage, so instead, Totsi recommends brushing your hair once it's completely dry. Pro tip: Use a detangling product to make the process even easier on your hair.
11. Wear your hair in a protective style.
Using hairstyles that tuck away your natural hair gives your hair a break and a chance to retain length. For thin or wavy hair types, wearing your hair in a loose braid, especially when you sleep, is a great way to protect your hair from harsh elements, tangles, and breakage. For thick and coily hair, braids, wigs, and weaves can be a godsend. If you're getting a professional protective style, Johnson recommends making sure your hairstylist is well versed in the style you're getting to avoid tightness and tension around the hairline. "This can place strain on your scalp, damaging your hair follicles, and leading to a form of hair loss called traction alopecia," explains Dr. Shapiro.
12. Dry your hair with a microfiber towel.
As previously mentioned, your hair is its most fragile when it's wet, so aggressive towel drying can lead to damage, frizz, and static. A microfiber towel can absorb moisture much faster than your regular towel, making the drying process quicker and easier.
13. Sleep on a silk pillowcase.
To protect your hair from breakage, dryness, and tangles, Powell suggests sleeping with a silk or satin pillowcase as its super smooth texture helps reduce friction. Try the SLIP Pure Silk Pillowcases in one of eight colors and you'll notice an immediate difference.
14. Take a supplement.
We take vitamins for health, so taking a supplement to make hair healthier makes total sense. From adaptogens for stress relief to "hairbiotics" that support healthy gut flora, Nutrafol supplements go beyond your average biotin hair gummies for nutrition that nourishes from the inside to the outside. "We believe that hormones, stress, environment, metabolism, and nutrition are key factors that can shorten the growth phase, delay new growth, and cause new hair to grow thinner," says Dr. Melissa Anzelone, naturopathic doctor and Director of Clinical Education and Corporate Wellness at Nutrafol.
15. Eat hair-healthy foods.
If you prefer to get your nutrients the all-natural way, eating hair healthy foods can have a noticeable difference in the look and feel of your hair, too. "Eat foods that are rich in omega-3 fatty acids, such as salmon, flaxseed, and walnuts," says Dr. Shapiro. "The ideal diet for your hair should include foods that are high in protein, like eggs and almonds, and other hair-boosting foods include berries, sweet potatoes, and spinach."
16. Drink lots of water.
While a healthy diet is important, never underestimate the power of good old fashioned H20. "Hydration is essential to full, healthy-looking hair, so be sure to drink a full glass of water every morning and continue to drink water throughout the day," says Dr. Shapiro. "Getting plenty of water keeps your skin in good condition, including the skin on your scalp. This creates more optimal conditions for healthy hair growth."
17. Say no to smoking.
While it's no secret that cigarettes are detrimental to your overall health, many people don't know that excessive smoking can damage your hair and skin, too. "Besides the smell of smoke being super difficult to remove from hair, the toxins in cigarettes block blood circulation to your hair follicles," explains Johnson. "A limited supply of blood flow, oxygen, and nutrients mean less growth and, in many cases, noticeable hair loss."
18. Try to avoid stress.
"The hair grows in cycles every six months, and the more stress you are under, the more unbalanced these cycles become, potentially resulting in more hair loss," says celebrity hairstylist Seneda K. Ceka. Adding self-care practices into your routine can lower your cortisol, aka the stress hormone. So, take a break, stretch it out, breathe in the relaxation and try to exhale your troubles away.