Are you longing for long hair, but can’t quite break away from breakage? Well, when it comes to hair growth, it’s important to get to the root of the problem.
Ok enough hair puns, it’s time for the facts. On average, hair grows about a quarter to half an inch per month (3-6 inches per year) and there’s really nothing you can do to speed up hair growth from the root.
However, you can improve the quality of your hair shaft, leading to stronger, healthier hair that’s less likely to break, split, or shed. In the grand scheme of things, this will make it seem like your hair is growing faster, and you’re bound to be thrilled with the results.
While there’s no be all, end all solution for the hair loss and breakage that are standing in the way of long, healthy hair, there are a number of steps you can take to nourish your hair and scalp from the outside in. Check out these hair growth tips for longer, fuller hair!
If healthier hair is what you desire, then a healthier body as a whole is the starting point. A big factor in your hair’s (and your overall) health is your diet.
According to doctors and dermatologists, hair loss and thinning are often signs of malnourishment or undereating. In order to produce full, healthy hair, our body needs a sustainable amount of key nutrients, and not eating enough vitamin rich foods will prevent this. Studies show a correlation between hair loss and deficiencies in vitamins B12 and D, biotin, riboflavin, iron, and various other nutrients.
Protein intake is also important for hair growth because hair follicles are mostly made up of protein. The general protein recommendation for adults is 50g/day, though if you are very active you may require more.
Protein deficiency is rare, but B12, D, and Iron deficiencies are all quite common, so make sure you are eating a full, well-balanced diet with a variety of fruits, vegetables, healthy fats, and proteins for a diverse nutrient intake.
A lot of “natural remedies” for hair loss are a shot in the dark with little research to back them up, however some natural oils show some promise aiding in hair growth. One such oil, emu oil, has been shown to promote hair growth.
Emu oil is rich in vitamins, antioxidants, and essential fatty acids which gives it anti-inflammatory properties. This paired with its small molecule size allows emu oil to penetrate the scalp and soothe any inflammation that may be causing hair loss.
One study found treating scalp with emu oil resulted in 20% increase in hair growth activity, compared to skin treated with corn oil, and another indicated that there was an average of 8% hair growth per month and 48% over six months.
An irritated scalp and skin conditions that affect the scalp like dandruff, psoriasis, and dermatitis can lead to hair loss and thinning. The shampoo you use can feed into that irritation, so make sure you choose a shampoo free of common irritants such as sulfates, fragrance, and parabens A gentle, hypoallergenic shampoo for sensitive skin is the best bet to cleanse your hair and scalp to soothe scalp conditions and not further hair loss.
Use a leave in conditioner
If you have dry, brittle hair, your in-shower conditioner may not be enough. Add a leave-in conditioner to your hair care routine to help keep your hair moisturized throughout the day.
Cut Back on Heat Styling
Using too much heat on your hair is a one way trip to split ends and breakage. Try air drying your hair, and try some heatless hairstyles. If you cannot live without your flat iron make sure to use a heat protectant before things get hot. (Hint: the Leave-in Conditioning Mist doubles as a heat protectant)
How to Wash Hair to Prevent Breakage
While you shower, the way you wash your hair can impact your hair growth. Try these tips to prevent hair breaks
- Don’t shampoo everyday. Stick to 1-2 times a week, and use a dry shampoo in between washes
- Only shampoo your scalp/roots so it doesn't dry hair
- Use conditioner to keep hair moisturized
- Use a natural bristle brush to detangle
- Air dry or use microfiber towel
- Consider adding a water filter to your shower head to filter out chlorine, heavy metals, and bacteria
Keep up with Your Trims
We know it seems counterintuitive to cut your hair when you’re trying to grow it out, but if you leave your ends untrimmed, they’ll run rampant with split ends which will lead to breakage. So it's kind of like your hair is desperately trimming itself, but instead of being cleanly cut by a sharp pair of scissors, it’s an uneven, straggly break.
Getting trims regularly will keep your ends healthy so you can reach great lengths. Because let's face it, nobody wants long hair if the bottom three inches are all dead and dull.
Aim to get a trim every 3-4 months, but if you notice yourself picking at split ends, then it’s probably time.
Silk Pillowcases or Bonnets
While you sleep soundly, your hair is constantly rubbing up against your pillowcases, and if they’re made of harsh fabrics they could be damaging your hair. Instead, opt for a silk pillowcase or bonnet. The slippery material reduces friction and allows your hair to slide around your pillow without friction.
Silk is also less absorbent than other materials like cotton, so it won’t absorb as much of your hair’s moisture which will help keep your hair hydrated, preventing breakage.
Your mental health can impact your outer appearance if it gets dire. While it’s uncommon, severe stress can lead to hair thinning, and if you have an autoimmune condition like alopecia, stress can worsen the symptoms. Trichotillomania, the irresistible urge to pull hair from your scalp, eyebrows, eyelashes, and other patches of hair, is another condition worsened by stress.
De-stressing is a different process for everyone. Some people choose to meditate or exercise, while others like to get lost in a book or tv show to unwind. Even a night out with your friends can be the thing you need to rid yourself of stress. Find a stress relief tactic that works best for you and do it whenever you’re feeling tense.
However, if your go to stress reliever is a cigarette, it may be time to look for another option. We all have our vices, but smoking restricts blood flow to the scalp so your hair follicle struggles to get all the necessary nutrients necessary for hair health.
Medical Treatments for Hair Loss
If you’ve exhausted the list of hair growth tips, and your hair is still thinning, it’s best to talk to a doctor for more intensive care. There are many treatment options ranging from topical medications to hair transplants.