But lemme be your quick reality check: No matter what product, pill, or prayer you try, you can't do much to speed up how fast your hair grows. Even the healthiest hair only grows about half an inch every month, according to hairstylist Mark Townsend, and that growth rate is determined by your hormones—so, ahem, not something you can change, especially if your body is already functioning optimally (although, don't worry, we'll get into all of this below).
Meet the experts:
- Leo Izquierdo is a celebrity hairstylist and co-founder of IGK Hair, which includes all IGK hair products and IGK salons across North America.
- Mark Townsend is a celebrity hairstylist and creative director at Collective Labs, a hair-growth brand that specializes in topical and oral products.
- Dhaval G. Bhanusali, MD, is a board-certified dermatologist and founder of Hudson Dermatology and Laser Surgery in New York City. Dr. Bhanusali is also the founder of HairStim, a custom-compounded hair loss formula that's created and prescribed by your own dermatologist.
- Hope Mitchell, MD, is a board-certified medical and cosmetic dermatologist, as well as the founder of Mitchell Dermatology in Perrysburg, Ohio.
- Bridgette Hill is a certified trichologist and founder of Root Cause Scalp Analysis, a virtual platform that offers personalized scalp analyses and treatment plans.
- Dominic Burg is a certified trichologist and chief scientist at Evolis Professional.
- Adam Federico is a hairstylist, educator, and also the director of content at R+Co.
- Jasmine “Jazzee” Green is a hairstylist and natural-hair expert based in New York City.
See? We really did get all of the experts in on this, because we know you have approximately one-billion answers on how to grow your hair faster. Here comes the help, starting with:
1. Get a hair dusting to help hair grow
Okay, I know that the most stressful words to hear right now is to trim or cut your hair (why must you remove length to add length?! More on that later), so instead, let’s talk about hair dusting. Hair dusting is a technique in which you remove only the split ends, strand by strand. Despite what misleading hair products will tell you, split ends will never get better on their own; they need to be cut off, or they’ll keep splitting higher and higher until the strand of hair breaks off.
Now imagine that happening all around your head: a zillion little split ends tangling around other split ends and breaking off at random lengths. If you’re trying to make your hair grow faster, you’re already off to a bad start. Because as you’ll hear us say again and again, healthy hair = longer hair. So call up your hairstylist and make an appointment for a hair dusting (or, even better, a trim too) if you’re serious about growing out your hair.
2. Wear protective styles to keep hair healthy
Whether you’re trying to grow out your 4c hair or your 2a waves (ahem, find out your hair type if you have no idea what we’re talking about), you’re going to have the most success if you keep your hair in some sort of protective style. It sounds almost too easy, but the general ~equation~ for hair growth is time (ahem, patience) + hydration (like hair masks and deep conditioners) + low manipulation (which means cutting out the chemical treatments, coloring, and tight styles).
Hair that’s left down is prone to tangling up and drying out (especially at the ends), which is where protective styling is key. Opt for loose twists, rolls, and French braids that you can DIY at home regardless of your hair type, or ask your stylist for jumbo box braids or faux twists for a longer-lasting protective style, if you’re working with type-4 hair.
And if you are working with type-4 hair, listen up: “Don’t just braid your dry hair and call it good,” says Jasmine “Jazzee” Green, hairstylist and natural hair expert. “To prep, saturate your wet hair with a ton of leave-in conditioner, then blow-dry with a comb attachment until it’s 100 percent dry, stretching each section with your fingers as you work.” Yup, blow-drying natural hair. With heat. “Heat helps the leave-in penetrate your hair cuticle and stretch it, so it won’t shrink up and dry out as quickly in your protective style,” says Santiago.
3. Ask your doctor about hair-growth treatments
First things first: If you’re concerned your hair isn’t growing fast enough—and/or you’re experiencing hair loss and thinning—book an appointment with a trichologist (a hair expert) or a dermatologist before you try anything. They’ll be able to help you figure out what’s going on and prescribe you a treatment plan, which might include a topical solution or medication (the most common being minoxidil—the common ingredient found in hair-growth treatments like Rogaine).
Also, let’s keep it in perspective: “You lose about 50 to 100 hairs every day, which is about 0.001 percent of your total hair,” trichologist Dominic Burg, chief scientist at Evolis Professional, has told Cosmo. “Now, when you notice that amount doubling or tripling, that’s an indication that your hair cycle is too short.” Try not to worry though—there are a handful of common factors that contribute to hair loss (think: diet, stress, and hormones) and your doctor can walk you through all your options.
4. Massage your scalp with hair-growth oils
I never need an excuse to massage my scalp (who doesn’t love a massage?!), but the fact that massaging your scalp also helps increase blood circulation is a pretty good excuse. Hope Mitchell, MD, board-certified medical and cosmetic dermatologist and the founder of Mitchell Dermatology, recommends pairing a scalp massage with hair oils such as coconut oil (which acts as an antimicrobial and antifungal and prevents free radicals that damage the hair), jojoba oil (which has antifungal properties and is rich in vitamin E and omega 6 and 9 fatty acids), castor oil (which has ricinoleic acid and omega 6 fatty acids), and rosemary oil (which was shown to be as effective as to 2.5 percent minoxidil for hair growth) for the most benefit.
Of course, there’s no such thing as a magic oil that’ll grow your hair super long overnight (remember: half an inch a month is the standard), but there are plenty of ways a hair oil could contribute to healthy hair and a healthy scalp, so you don’t want to skip this step.
5. Try caffeine treatments to grow hair
Turns out caffeine is a really excellent ingredient if you’re trying to grow your hair longer. And, no, I’m not talking about drinking an extra cup of coffee every morning—I mean adding a caffeine-spiked hair product to your styling routine. According to dermatologist Dhaval G. Bhanusali, MD, caffeine not only helps stimulate blood flow to your scalp (which is v essential for hair growth), but it also counteracts DHT, the hormone responsible for hair loss.
Heads up that you won’t see a difference in your hair density or length right away though—caffeine usually takes two to three months for results to kick in—and it's definitely not guaranteed to grow your hair faster. Like most of the products and at-home ingredients on this list, it's one of those "hey, it can't hurt" options. So start using one of these shampoos, scalp serums, or leave-ins ASAP if you’re after longer, thicker hair:
6. Focus on scalp care for hair growth
If you’re trying to grow your hair fast, you need to pay attention to your scalp. “The two most important layers of the skin in relation to the scalp are the dermis and the epidermis—the dermis contains our hair follicles, glands, nerves, blood vessels, collagen, elastin fibers, and fat cells,” says Bridgette Hill, trichologist and colorist at Paul Labrecque Salon and Skincare Spa. “Introducing proper scalp care into your hair care routine will impact the rate of hair growth and the health of your hair fiber.”
When you take care of your scalp, you’re actually ensuring that blood and nutrients can easily flow to the hair follicle, which then helps minimize shedding and loss, says Hill. So, what exactly does scalp care look like for you? Well, for starters, you’ll want to invest in a scalp oil, serum, or mask with scalp-stimulating ingredients like peppermint, tea tree, or citrus-based oils to help increase circulation and “decongest” the scalp.
BTW: While you’re at it, go ahead and buy a scalp shampoo too (think: something clarifying if you’re dealing with buildup, something lightweight and hydrating if you’re dealing with excess oil). Hill suggests giving yourself a proper shampoo once a week, i.e. where you apply the product directly on your scalp—not just your hair—letting it sit for five minutes before rinsing and conditioning. Pro tip: A hair-color applicator bottle can help easily distribute the shampoo through your scalp.
“Also, remember that consistency is key,” adds hairstylist Adam Federico. “Work yourself into a scalp-care routine and stick with it. Remember that when it comes to hair health, you’re playing the long game.”
7. Trim your hair to maintain length
Okay, so we already talked about hair dusting, but know what's even better than that for growth? Trimming. Yes, I know—but we gotta talk about it. Even though experts are divided on the concept of trimming your hair to make it grow faster, one thing’s for sure: If you’re after long, healthy-looking hair, frequent trims are nonnegotiable
Living with frayed, split ends will eventually cause your hair to break farther up on the strand, which will not only make your hair look way thinner but, you know, also keep it from ever getting longer past a certain point.
“Your hair will actually be shorter un-cut than it would be if you were to get consistent trims,” Townsend says. He suggests asking your stylist to take just an eighth of an inch off your hair every 10 to 12 weeks to prevent split ends before they even start.
8. Consider hair-growth vitamins
For the record, hair supplements are not a miracle cure (and usually won't even work unless you're actually deficient in vitamins), and they definitely shouldn’t be taken without talking to your doctor first. I know, sorry, but hair vitamins aren’t actually regulated by the FDA, meaning they can contain any ingredients they want and can also claim whatever they want.
If you already follow a somewhat balanced diet, your body is typically already loaded with the hair-strengthening ingredients you’ll find in supplements (think: biotin, folic acid, vitamins D, A, C, and E), and doubling (or tripling!) your dose won’t actually make a difference. “Your body only keeps what it needs and then it gets rid of the rest,” says Burg.
That said, if you think you might be vitamin deficient, you could be a solid candidate for supplements, ask your doctor. You’ll want to make sure you’re taking the right amount (and type) of vitamins and that they won’t interact with any medications you’re currently taking. If you’re in the clear, these are some of the internet’s favorites:
9. Load up on conditioner to avoid hair breakage
Consider conditioner your new best friend if it isn’t already. “It’s shocking to me how many people skip conditioner when showering, which is the worst thing you can do for your hair—especially when you’re trying to grow it long,” Townsend says, explaining that over time, coloring and heat styling cause the hair strands to get thinner at the bottom, which can lead to more breakage and shorter lengths.
So to restore your hair back to good health, load up on conditioner, which helps replace the lipids and proteins inside the hair shaft as well as seal the outer cuticle. Basically, it’s your first defense against the damage that threatens your long-hair goals. And always, always rinse with cold water. “Cold water lays down the outer layer of your hair more smoothly, which helps prevent moisture loss, snags, and heat damage,” says Townsend. “You only need to do it for a few seconds, but this one extra step can make a huge difference over time.” Yeah, cold showers suck, but anything for longer hair, right?
10. Brush and detangle hair gently
Brushing or combing your hair is essential for all hair types at some point each week, but just keep in mind that aggressive, excessive brushing can cause physical damage to your hair that will prevent it from ever looking longer. Basically, if you can hear the sound of the brush crunching through your hair, you’re being too rough. And be especially careful when your hair is wet and more susceptible to breakage.
“When you detangle wet hair, be sure to start from the bottom and work your way up slowly,” says Townsend. “We often instinctually brush from the scalp down, but that just pushes small tangles into one large knot and can cause you to lose a lot of hair.” Sounds obvious, but I'm willing to bet you've anger-brushed your hair at least a few times in your life, when you knew you were supposed to be gentle.
by CHLOE METZGER and BROOKE SHUNATONA.
Do you want to see more?
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