What’s the saying, that crusts make your hair grow faster, or is it thicker? Curlier? For every hair tip that turns out to be a myth, there are dozens of products – both homemade and shop-bought – that promise to give you thicker, longer and faster-growing locks.
Below we’ve outlined a number of hair growth tips from the experts (and of course, feel free to scroll down to read them) but we begin by explaining a bit more about the science of how to make your hair grow faster. This is because knowing exactly how your hair grows means you know exactly what you need to do to help it grow faster, without spending a fortune on products that don’t do as promised.
How fast hair grows depends on a number of factors, from lifestyle to genetics but, on average, hair grows half a millimetre a day, half an inch a month and around six inches a year, according to the American Academy of Dermatology.
As we explain in our What does conditioner do to your hair? article, hair is largely made up of three main components – protein, mainly a kind called keratin, along with natural oils that keep hair flexible, and water. It grows from the bottom of follicles, called roots, which consist of cell proteins.
The shape of these follicles is determined by your genetics, and this shape is ultimately what causes your hair to be curly or straight, or how well it grows. Oval-shaped follicles make hair grow curly; circular follicles make hair grow straight and so on, while it really is true that some people’s hair just won’t grow past a certain length because of these follicle shapes and their genetics. Sadly!
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Blood vessels across your scalp are involved in helping to produce these cells, which ultimately help the hair to grow through the skin. Once the hair is long enough to pass through the oil gland, and your scalp’s skin, it’s dead which is why it’s not painful to cut your hair, and why looking after your scalp and these follicles – rather than the hair itself – is key when looking to make your hair grow faster.
Science suggests we lose between 50 to 100 strands of hair every day and it’s not always even. Follicles periodically take a break – growing hair is tiring work – and each of the 5 million follicles across our entire body is working on different timeframes and are at different stages of growth. As we get older, some of these follicles stop working (or retire!) and this is what causes our hair to thin as you age.
As your hair grows, it gets heavier and pulls on these follicles until they can’t hold it any more and it falls out. Studies have found that round follices are stronger which may explain why people with straight hair tend to also have long hair, while people with short hair tend to have flatter follicles.
As a result, there isn’t a miracle cure, or product, for how to make hair grow faster – regardless of whatever marketing you read – but there are certain things you can do to help make hair grow faster or at least make it grow more healthy.
The number one way to help make your hair grow faster has nothing to do with the actual hair itself – you have to look after your scalp.
Robin Parker, Technical Director of Acheson & Acheson, beauty experts and manufacturer of premium skincare, hair care and other toiletries, told mamabella that when it comes to trying to grow your hair, the bottom line is taking care of your scalp.
Having worked on Grow Gorgeous’ rebrand and the focus on the Intelligent Haircare campaign, he told us “hair starts its relatively long life in the scalp and remains attached to it throughout, so it makes sense that looking after your scalp will help lead to healthy-looking hair.”
READ NEXT: What does conditioner do to your hair?
Parker explained that there is a rising trend toward using serious skincare active ingredients, such as ceramides in hair care and this is great news. “Ceramides have been shown to help improve the barrier function of skin and hence lead to a more moisturised, less flaky scalp,” he explained.
Washing your hair thoroughly is essential to remove dead skin cells, sweat and other pollutive effects of the environment, he continued and he recommends caffeine as a stimulant of the scalp, stating “it can potentially help with hair development” and that by combining these types of ingredients, “hair care formulations have never been so effective.”
We bang this drum quite a lot on mamabella but the best way to solve so many beauty woes is through your lifestyle and diet. It’s boring – and we don’t always follow our own advice while tucking into cheese on a Saturday night – but if you can make a few tweaks to your diet we promise you, you’ll see the benefits.
Just like with skincare for your face, adopting a healthy diet will help the skin on your head be healthy, too. Anabel Kingsley, one of the lead trichologists at Philip Kingsley told mamabella that both protein and carbohydrates are essential for growing your hair. That doesn’t mean a burger and chips – it means lean meats, beans, eggs, fish and pasta etc. This is because these foods contain biotin and cysteine.
Biotin, also known as Vitamin H, is part of the B-complex group of vitamins that help turn food into energy and is largely found in almonds, eggs, milk and cheese, pork, salmon and sardines, and avocado and cauliflower.
Cysteine is an amino acid that helps to make your hair grow faster and is found in poultry, eggs, red peppers, garlic, onions, Brussels sprouts, yogurt, oatmeal and broccoli.
It’s important to eat “at least a palm-sized portion of protein at breakfast and lunch to help ensure that your hair is receiving enough energy for growth”, Anabel explained, emphasising that “hair cells are the second-fastest-growing cells the body produces.” It is also important to keep up Vitamin C, D and E levels – as well as iron and zinc.
It is important to note that too much vitamin A can lead to hair loss – the opposite of what you’re trying to achieve!
In the same way that massaging your face helps improve your skin quality and firmness, massaging your scalp equally helps to increase blood flow which, in turn, helps get those all-important nutrients to your hair follicles faster. This then increases cell production, which boosts hair health and growth creating a virtuous cycle.
Experts suggest massaging natural oils into your scalp for a least five minutes at least once a week. Some either suggest doing it while your head is upside down to increase blood flow even further because your heart is higher than your head.
Having long and hot showers can damage your skin’s natural functions, ZO Skin Health UK told mamabella, particularly your skin’s ability to act as a protective barrier. Hot showers can even loosen natural oils from the surface and strip hair of its own protective oils by opening the skin’s pores. What’s more, consistent hot showers adversely affect the skins outer layer, the epidermis, which is full of substances that provide a tough defence against all the outside conditions, while retaining moisture.
Try, instead, to wash your hair with lukewarm water to close your pores and reduce the damage. Rinsing it with cold water also helps close these pores and protects your scalp from dirt and grease. When your pores stay closed, your hair is stronger and this should mean it grows better and you lose less.
There are hundreds of hair care products on the market, ranging in price but the best we’ve used are those from Grow Gorgeous.
The brand and its products are run by skincare and hair care scientists and specialists and its Original Hair Growth Serum should be a shelf staple in the bathroom for anyone wanting to grow their hair. The full range of products include serums that mix the brand’s signature complex with a blend of wheat sprouts, soy and Chinese Skullcap. These serums reinvigorate hair roots and improve the hair’s overall condition which will eventually lead to longer, healthier hair.
Sadly, they are not cheap. A 60ml bottle of the Original Hair Growth Serum comes in at a whopping £45 – so it will be an investment for many people – but you use so little of it each time that it will last a while and we really did notice a huge difference in a matter of weeks. It smells lush too!
Amira Arasteh is a freelance journalist and content creator. Find her making sense of beauty trends, tips and topics – when she’s not stuffing her face with the best food in London or travelling the globe