If you feel like your hair’s growth has slowed a bit, you’re probably not imagining it. Our rate of hair growth slows as we age, so it can be harder to keep those locks looking full and glorious. Everything from stress, hormonal changes (hello pregnancy!), age, heredity and over-styling can impact the health of our hair.
My hair is super fine, so any breakage or shedding really shows! Here are 10 easy ways—both through food and supplements and through external treatments—to help your hair get its groove back.
10 Natural Ways to Make Hair Grow Faster
5 Ways to Nourish Hair on the Inside
1. Healthy Fats
They’re not just good for your heart, they’re good for your metabolism, digestion, skin and hair, too. Omega-3s (found in flax seeds, chia seeds, fish and fish oil, walnuts and basil) are especially good for keeping your hair strong, shiny and growing. Read more on healthy fats here.
2. Vitamin D
Lack of vitamin D is linked to decreased hair growth, so make sure to get enough sunshine and take a supplement (or invest in an ultraviolet lamp) if you’re deficient, as many people in colder climates are (especially in winter). Organ meats, egg yolks, tuna and salmon are all good sources. If you’re vegan or vegetarian, you’ll probably want to supplement, as some mushrooms, as well as fortified cereals and juices, are the only non-animal food sources.
The isoflavones in soy products have been shown to elevate IGF-I (Insulin-like growth factor I), which contributes to increased hair production. Soy milk, edamame, tofu and tempeh are all sources of soy—although be warned that if you have pre-existing estrogen or thyroid issues, soy can potentially make them worse, which could actually inhibit hair growth.
4. Spicy Foods
Capsaicin, the compound that makes peppers spicy, has also been shown to promote hair growth (in the same study that linked isoflavones with hair growth). So go ahead and pile on the hot peppers. Even bell peppers have capsaicin—just a smaller amount.
Keratin is a protein that makes up your skin, hair and nails, and biotin (a B vitamin) can help support it. If you experience hair breakage, slow growth or loss, give a biotin supplement a try. I’ve been taking supplements for the past couple of months and have definitely noticed a difference. Enough that I’m getting haircuts more often (the downfall of short hair). It’s worth it for the extra fullness though!
You can also get biotin in your diet by eating chocolate, egg yolks, nuts, pork or organ meats—but experts recommend not exceeding 2.5 mg of biotin per day.
5 Ways to Nourish Hair on the Outside
6. Take Care of Your Scalp
Keeping your scalp in tip-top shape will help your hair grow healthier and faster because that’s where the follicles are. Give yourself scalp massages to increase circulation, and try a DIY scalp scrub to exfoliate, stimulate growth and remove product buildup.
7. Use Hair Masks
We’ve got two DIY masks (banana-olive oil and pumpkin) to keep your hair and scalp healthy and nourished, or ask your stylist for a recommendation. I’m a huge fan of Davines’ Nounou hair mask, which makes your scalp feel amazing.
8. Avoid Heat Styling
Staying away from blow dryers, curling irons and straighteners will minimize breakage and damage to your hair. No worries if you normally rely on heat to get your favorite look, though—you can get lovely boho waves without heat! And if you do use heat, make sure to keep your hair healthy and moisturized so it can better hold up.
9. Protect from the Elements
Ward off heat, humidity and UV rays with an easy DIY sunscreen spray for your hair.
10. Use Gentle Brushes & Combs
I’ve switched to natural fiber brushes and wooden combs to avoid breaking hair while I brush. Bass makes a great wood bristle brush that feels like I’m giving myself a scalp massages while also reducing frizz.6