Ways to Help Your Hair Grow Faster and Stronger

healthy hair. photo: onlymyhealth.com

Hair Growth Rate: How Quick is it Really?

Every individual is born with a set number of hair follicles, with an average of 100,000 on the scalp alone. As a person ages, some of these follicles may stop producing hair, leading to hair loss or thinning.

The growth cycle of each hair on the scalp can take anywhere from 2 to 6 years to complete.

The speed at which your hair grows is influenced by various factors including:

  • Age
  • Hair type
  • General health
  • Certain health conditions

Despite ongoing research into the regulation of hair growth at the cellular level, there is limited understanding of how to enhance hair growth rate.

Discover more about the science of hair growth and how to maintain healthy hair.

Read More: Coconut Oil for Your Hair: Benefits, Uses, and Tips

The Three Phases of Hair Growth

Hair growth occurs in three stages, and each hair strand experiences its own cycle. They are:

  1. Anagen: The active growth phase lasts between 3-10 years.
  2. Catagen: The transitional phase, during which hair growth ceases, lasts 2-3 weeks.
  3. Telogen: The resting phase, during which hair falls out, lasts 3-4 months.

At any given moment, the average scalp has 90% of its hair follicles in the Anagen phase, approximately 1% in the Catagen phase, and around 9% in the Telogen phase. The latter group accounts for the roughly 100 to 150 hairs that fall out daily.

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How to make your hair grow stronger

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Hair is composed of keratin and dead skin cells.

While it is not possible to instantly increase the rate of hair growth, there are ways to maintain the health and length of your hair.

- Keep up with vitamins and nutrients

Despite various companies advertising vitamins and supplements for hair growth, their impact on hair length is not always significant. A lack of calories and specific nutrients can negatively impact hair growth as the body requires a lot of energy to produce it.

It is recommended to obtain vitamins and nutrients through a balanced diet, but supplements may be considered if a deficiency is present.

Here are some commonly claimed to enhance hair growth and their scientific basis:

NutrientEfficacySupporting studies
Omega-3 and DHAmay workOne studyTrusted Source found that a mackerel oil extract lengthened hair fibers and promoted growth during the anagen phase. It’s important to note that this study was conducted on mice; there is currently no credible research done on humans.
Zincmay only affect those with a zinc deficiencyZinc deficiencyTrusted Source plays a role in hair loss, with lower levels common in alopecia areata — an autoimmune disorder that causes hair loss.
Biotin (vitamin B7)may only affect those with a biotin deficiencyWhile biotin is often promoted for hair growth, there’s not enough evidenceTrusted Source to show that it works if you’re not deficient.
Vitamin Cunlikely, and only supported by anecdotal evidenceThe antioxidant effects of vitamin C may help prevent oxidative stress that can cause hair to gray and thin out. However, there’s no evidence that vitamin C directly influences hair growth.
Ironmay only affect those with an iron deficiencyIron deficiency is commonly linked to hair lossTrusted Source. Common signs to look for are hair thinning or more shedding than normal.
Vitamin Dmay only affect those with autoimmune hair lossStudies have found that people with alopecia areata commonly have vitamin D deficiencies, but more research is needed to determine if there is a definitive hair loss link.

- Cool it Down

Reduce Heat Damage to Your Hair If you frequently style your hair using hot tools such as a blow dryer, curling iron, straightening iron, or hot comb, it can cause damage and slow down growth. 

To minimize harm: 

- Apply a heat protectant spray before styling. 

- Choose the lowest heat setting. 

- Styling quickly to minimize exposure to heat. 

- Avoid using heat styling tools every day.

- Let Wet Hair be

Avoid Brushing Wet Hair Wet hair is extremely stretchy and prone to breakage and cuticle damage when brushed. Additionally, using heat styling tools on soaking wet hair can result in bubbles in the hair shaft and cause extra damage. 

To prevent harm: 

- Let straight hair air dry before gently combing it with a wide-tooth comb. 

- For textured or curly hair, use a wide-tooth comb to detangle it while it is still damp.

- Take Care With Color

Minimize Damage from Chemical Hair Treatments Bleaching and other chemical hair treatments, such as permanents, can cause hair to become weaker and break more easily, hindering growth. 

To reduce damage: 

- Choose a hair color that is close to your natural shade, ideally no more than three shades lighter or darker. 

- This will reduce the amount of damaging peroxide required. 

- Always perform a patch test before using store-bought hair dye on your entire head.

- Meds Can Help or Hurt

Minoxidil is a medication that can be bought without a prescription and can help retain current hair and even regrow some lost hair, but it must be continually used to maintain the results. 

Prescription medications for treating hair loss include Aldactone (spironolactone) and Propecia (finasteride). Some medications, such as beta-blockers and amphetamines, may cause hair loss as a side effect. If this occurs, it is recommended to consult your doctor to discuss alternative options.

- Get a Trim

A haircut can help your hair grow by removing the weakest parts of the strands, which are the ends. If left untrimmed, these ends can break or split, causing split ends to travel up the hair shaft and making your hair shorter. 

However, it's important not to over-trim if you want to encourage growth. On average, hair grows approximately 1/2 inch per month, so it's recommended to have a 1/4 inch trim every three months or so.

- Stress Less

Severe stress can cause hair to enter a dormant phase, skipping the phase that promotes growth. This can increase the risk of developing a condition called alopecia areata, where the immune system attacks the hair follicles. It can also result in trichotillomania, an intense urge to pull out one's hair. 

Hair may grow back once the stress levels in one's life are reduced or managed effectively.

- Handle With Care

If your hair is prone to breakage, it requires additional care and attention. For instance, Black hair can be delicate and requires gentle care, including:

- Limiting washing to remove product buildup, which may be weekly or every other week.

- Seeking professional assistance for hair relaxing treatments and limiting touch-ups to new hair growth, only every 2-3 months.

- Regularly treating your hair to a hot oil treatment every few weeks.

- Take Care With Extensions and Braids

Wearing extensions or weaves can seem like an easy solution to achieve long hair. However, it is recommended not to wear them for more than 2-3 months consecutively. Also, never attempt to remove them on your own, as it can cause harm to your hair and scalp. 

If you experience discomfort or pain when styling your hair into extensions, braids, weaves, or cornrows, it means they are too tight and will cause damage. In this case, it is recommended to request a redo.

- Get Into Condition(er)

It is important to use conditioner every time you shampoo your hair. Conditioner not only makes your hair more manageable and attractive, it also strengthens and protects it from harmful UV rays from the sun. 

If you have fine hair, it is recommended to only apply conditioner to the lower sections of your hair to avoid excessive weight. For Black hair, it is important to thoroughly coat the tips to nourish and protect the delicate ends.

- Don’t Lose Weight Too Fast

While attempting to lose weight, it is important to ensure that your hair does not suffer as well. Sudden weight loss, just like stress, can cause hair loss. This is because when the body lacks adequate protein, it uses what it can find, and hair growth is not a priority. 

Hair growth will return to normal once nutrition is restored, but it is better for both your health and your hair to follow a gradual and healthy diet plan.

- Don't Be Deficient

There is no evidence that any supplement can speed up hair growth. However, a lack of certain nutrients can have an impact on your hair. Anemia caused by low iron levels can result in hair loss. Vitamins B and D, zinc, omega-3 fatty acids, and biotin, a B vitamin, play an important role in maintaining healthy hair. 

Your doctor can check for any deficiencies and advise you on whether you should take a multivitamin or a specific supplement and in what quantity.

- Sleep on Satin

Crisp cotton bed linens feel soft and comfortable on your skin, but they may not be suitable for those with delicate hair. Wearing a satin sleeping cap or using satin pillowcases is a popular solution for some people. While this won't increase hair growth, it can help to reduce friction, prevent frizziness and breakage. Plus, it provides a luxurious sleeping experience.

- Give Yourself a Massage

A limited number of small studies have suggested that regular head massages may lead to thicker hair growth, but further research is needed. However, massages have been known to relieve stress, which can be a factor in hair loss. Additionally, head massages feel wonderful. You can try using a scalp massaging tool or gently press, stretch, and pinch your scalp for several minutes each day.

- Consider Microneedling

Microneedling involves rolling a device with numerous small needles over the scalp, creating small punctures. It has shown potential in treating hair loss, especially when combined with other remedies like minoxidil. It is believed to enhance the effectiveness of the medications by allowing them to penetrate the skin. 

While microneedling kits are readily available for purchase without a prescription, it is safer to consult a dermatologist. This procedure can be complicated and may worsen some conditions.

- Apply essential oils/carrier oils

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Using Essential Oils for Scalp and Hair Health

Add a few drops of tea tree, rosemary, or lime oil to your shampoo, or mix it with jojoba oil. A review found that these three oils can enhance scalp health, but there is limited evidence showing that essential oils can increase hair growth.

Another review found that lavender, chamomile, thyme, peppermint, and garlic extract may be beneficial for hair loss treatment. However, it's important to dilute essential oils with a carrier oil instead of applying them directly to the skin.

Please note that the FDA does not regulate the purity or quality of essential oils. It's advisable to consult with a healthcare professional before using essential oils and thoroughly research the brand to ensure the quality of their products. Also, it's important to perform a patch test before trying a new essential oil.

For example, mix a few drops of essential oil with 1 ounce (29.6 mL) of a carrier oil. Some carrier oils may even moisturize your hair, such as coconut, sunflower, mineral, and castor.

- Try topical ointments

Try topical ointments Topical ointments are generally recommended for people who experience hair loss and may help your hair grow. 

Studies show that the below products promote hair growth and help treat alopecia, or hair loss: 

• Topical melatonin. It may reduce hair loss and increase the anagen growth cycle, according to one review. 

• Topical minoxidil 5 percent (Rogaine). Slows hair loss when used daily for 3 to 6 months. 

• Prescription finasteride (Propecia) topical. 

According to one preliminary reviewTrusted Source, this may promote hair growth and reduce the rate of hair loss in androgenetic alopecia, also known as male-pattern baldness.

- Take keratin supplements

Taking keratin supplements may help improve hair health for individuals who are deficient in protein. A test-tube study showed that keratin might reduce hair loss, improve damaged hair, and increase hair thickness, however, more research is needed to fully understand its effects on hair growth.

- Use a topical protein treatment

To promote healthy hair growth, it is recommended to include protein in your diet, rather than relying on supplements. Good sources of protein include vegetables, nuts, yogurt, lean meat, and fish. If you regularly style or expose your hair to heat, using a topical protein treatment can help protect it from damage. These products are readily available for purchase online.

- Stimulate your hair growth with caffeine

Stimulate your hair growth with caffeine. Research has shown that caffeine has a positive effect on hair growth, with women being particularly sensitive to its effects on hair follicles. Although more research is needed, preliminary studies suggest that topical formulas containing caffeine may help reduce hair loss, especially when used in combination with minoxidil. Using hair products that contain caffeine as an ingredient may also be beneficial.

The Final Word

The majority of factors that influence hair growth cannot be influenced by your daily habits. The most important step you can take is to avoid hair loss and thinning due to poor nutrition by eating a well-balanced diet and drinking plenty of water. If you notice excessive or unusual hair loss, it is recommended that you speak to a doctor to rule out any underlying health conditions or nutritional deficiencies.

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