Getting Rapunzel-like strands is no easy feat—ask anyone who’s gobbled down countless biotin pills and vitamin E supplements only to be greeted with the same lackluster strands. There are a lot of factors that contribute to hair growth (or lack thereof), but one of the most overlooked is physical stimulation—as in massaging the heck out of your scalp. Turns out giving yourself a scalp massage using some key natural ingredients can help retain length and, in turn, make your strands look more Blake Lively–esque. There’s also the whole egg-yolk-mask thing, and let’s not forget the sworn-by hot castor oil treatment.
With plenty of natural treatment options, achieving the hair of your dreams doesn’t have to feel so far-fetched. Just remember, there isn’t an ingredient or method that can actually make your hair grow faster from the root. Instead, you’ll want to follow the tips below to grow healthier, stronger hair that will reduce breakage at the ends and, in turn, promote length.
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).
To help us figure out how to make hair grow faster, we hit up the pros. Keep scrolling for some simple and natural ways to achieve healthy, longer hair.
How Does Hair Grow?
Here’s a fascinating fact: You’re born with all the hair follicles you’ll ever have — around 5 million to be exact, according to the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD).
Of those, about 100,000 follicles are on your scalp. When it comes to losing hair, the AAD says it’s totally normal to lose about 50 to 100 hairs a day.
Hair grows from a root at the bottom of a follicle under your skin. The blood in your scalp goes to the follicle and supplies oxygen and nutrients to the hair root, which helps your hair grow.
As your hair grows, it will push through your skin and pass by an oil gland. According to the AAD, it’s the oil from this gland that makes your hair shiny and soft.
14 Ways to Help Your Hair Grow Faster and Stronger
1. Cool It Down
Heat styling can break and damage hair. If you often get blow-outs or use a curling or straightening iron or hot comb, your hair may not grow as quickly as you’d like. If you must use heat:
- Spritz on a heat protectant first.
- Use the coolest setting.
- Work quickly so heat touches your hair as little as possible.
- Don’t use it every day.
2. Do a Scalp Massage
We spend so much time and money piling on hair products that it’s easy to forget where hair growth starts: namely, your scalp. “Just like good-quality soil is essential to grow healthy plants and flowers, a healthy scalp is the foundation for healthy hair growth,” says Bauman. “Research supports the idea that a scalp massage has beneficial effects on stress hormones, blood pressure, and heart rate.” A simple way to stimulate hair growth at home is to give yourself a scalp massage. This will increase blood flow to your scalp, enhance the strength of your roots, and help nutrients get to your follicle faster. You can give yourself a scalp massage with dry hair, but adding a nutrient-rich oil to the mix will only double the benefits. (Just keep it to once a week if you have oily roots).
3. Let Wet Hair Be
Wet hair is super-stretchy. If you brush it when it’s dripping, you could break strands or damage the cuticle, the shingle-like cells that protect each hair. Using heat tools on very wet hair can create bubbles in the hair shaft, making it extra fragile. If your hair’s straight, let it air-dry, then comb gently with a wide-tooth comb. For textured or curly hair, gently detangle with a wide-tooth comb while it’s damp.
4. Do a Hot Castor Oil Treatment
Castor oil is the unsung hero of the hair world—you might even be tempted to ditch your coconut oil for it after reading this. First of all, castor oil has anti-fungal and antibacterial properties to help combat scalp infections that prevent your hair from growing. Second, it’s filled with omega-6 fatty acids, vitamin E, proteins, and other nutrients that can penetrate your parched strands and seal your hair shaft to retain moisture. Third, it makes for an amazing hot oil treatment—massaging the oil into your roots will help your scalp drink up all of the nutrients and help promote hair growth.
To give yourself a hot oil treatment, massage the oil into your scalp and then apply it all the way to the ends of your strands. Pile your hair on top of your head, cover it with a shower cap, and blast your strands with a blow-dryer for 15 minutes. Feel free to jump in the shower and shampoo and condition as usual. You’ll notice softer strands instantly.
5. Take Care With Color
Bleach and other chemical hair treatments like permanents weaken your hair, so it’s more likely to break before it grows to your longed-for length. If you choose a hue not too far from your natural color – say, three shades – you’ll need less damaging peroxide. Always spot-test store-bought dye before applying it to your whole head.
6. Avoid Smoking
Smoking is a personal choice, and we’re not here to judge, but we’d be lying if we said the act doesn’t affect your hair in some way. “Smoking restricts blood flow to the scalp and follicles, which, in turn, restricts the vital oxygen and nutrients that your hair and scalp need to be healthy,” notes Bauman. Also, the toxins from smoking can seep into the hair follicles and cause disruption.
7. Stop Demonizing Scissors
Let’s get this one out of the way first: Yes, trims sound counterintuitive and eating a spoonful of Jif every day seems like it’d be more effective, but you should continue to trim your hair sometimes. Trims get rid of accruing damage and the split ends that end up screwing you over in the long run.
Every eight weeks or so is the general benchmark, but it doesn’t need to be a strict, recurring appointment. Just keep an eye on your ends, especially if you have a coarse texture, or heat-style or color often, and make sure your stylist is only taking off what’s necessary when you see them — ask for a dusting (a baby trim)!
8. Study Your Shampoo Bottle
The secret to maximizing the hair-growth process is babying your hair at all times, including in the shower when its wet and vulnerable. “Use a very gentle, naturally based cleanser,” says Dr. Dominic Burg, a trichologist and chief scientist at Evolis Professional, “and avoid things like SLS and SLES, parabens, and silicones, which is often seen as ‘dimethicone’ on labels.” These harsh ingredients can build up on your scalp, clog your hair follicles, and sabotage your grand hair-growth plan, so go with something effective yet non-stripping, like the formulas below.
9. Meds Can Help or Hurt
Minoxidil is an over-the-counter medication that can help you hang on to the hair you have and even regrow some you’ve lost. But you must continue using it to keep up the results. Prescription meds to treat hair loss include spironolactone (Aldactone) and finasteride (Propecia). Hair loss may be a side effect of some medicines, including beta-blockers and amphetamines. Ask your doctor about alternatives if this happens to you.
10. Limit Heat Styling
You probably know this already, but any hairstylist will tell you the most obvious way to help your hair grow faster is to ditch your routine of hot tools. (Sad, we know.) “Blow-dryers and styling irons can certainly damage your hair by making it dry and brittle, which can lead to breakage and shorter hair length,” advises Bauman. “If you’re trying to grow your hair, I recommend air-drying your hair and avoiding any heat tools. If you do use a heat tool, I suggest using a heat-protectant spray.”
11. Stress Less
Serious stress can send hair into a resting phase, skipping the stage that coaxes it to grow. It may put you at higher risk for a condition called alopecia areata, where your own immune system attacks your hair follicles. It could also lead to trichotillomania, a strong urge to pull out your hair. Your hair might grow back when you reduce the stress in your life or find ways to manage it.
12. Handle With Care
If your hair breaks easily, it needs extra pampering. For example, Black hair tends to be fragile, so pour on the TLC:
Don’t over-wash. Just do it enough to remove product buildup. That might be weekly or every other week.
If you relax your hair, go to a pro. Be sparing with touch-ups. Get them only about every 2-3 months, and only to new hair growth.
Treat your hair to a hot oil treatment every couple of weeks.
13. Avoid Over-Shampooing
Rumor has it that over-shampooing can lead to broken, dry, and brittle locks, due to the cleanser stripping the hair of its natural oils. Depending on your hair type, the number of times you should shampoo your hair per week varies. Thicker, coarser hair types can get away without washing their hair for a few days, while thinner hair types may find their hair feels greasy even after one day. In such cases, a dry shampoo can work wonders in soaking up excess grease as you await longer strands.
14. Sleep on Satin
Crisp cotton linens feel good against your skin, but they might not be the best choice if you have fragile hair. Some people swear by wearing a satin bonnet to bed or sleeping on satin pillowcases. That won’t make hair grow faster, but it may reduce friction, frizz, and breakage. It feels luxurious, too.