If you feel like your hair’s growth has slowed a bit, you’re probably not imagining it. Many factors come into play that can affect hair growth, including age, so it can be harder to keep those locks looking full and glorious.Everything from stress, hormonal changes (hello, pregnancy!), heredity, and over-styling can impact the health of our hair.
Hair on your head grows about 6 inches a year, according to celebrity hairstylist, Dominick Pucciarello. "What that hair growth looks like is dependent on hair type, but we can take preventatives to help stop hair from falling out—and help it grow faster," he says.
10 Natural Ways to Make Hair Grow Faster
My hair is super fine, so any breakage or shedding really shows! Here are 10 easy ways—both through food and supplements and with external treatments—to help your hair get its groove back.
5 Ways to Nourish Your Hair on the Inside
1. Healthy fats
You've probably heard about the good kind of fat found in certain foods. They're good for your health, helping to boost your heart health, metabolism, digestive health and lower your risk of diseases such as diabetes and cancer, per the National Institutes of Health. Healthy fats are also beneficial for your skin, nails and hair, notes Gina Rivera, stylist and founder of Phenix Salon Suites.
Omega-3 fatty acids (found in flax and chia seeds, fish and fish oil, walnuts, and basil) are especially good for keeping your hair strong, shiny, and growing well.
2. Vitamin D
Research, including one study published in the International Journal of Molecular Sciences, has linked lower vitamin D levels with decreased hair growth and hair loss. Unfortuantely, an estimated 40 percent of Americans are running low on this nutrient, so it's important to make sure to get enough sunshine. Take a supplement if you are deficient, as many people in colder climates are—especially in the winter months.
Organ meats, egg yolks, tuna, and salmon are all good vitamin D sources. If you’re vegan, you’ll probably want to supplement, as some mushrooms, fortified cereals, and juices are the only non-animal food sources.
The isoflavones in soy products have been shown to elevate levels of insulin-like growth factor I (IGF-I), which contributes to increased hair production [source]. Soy milk, edamame, tofu, and tempeh are all soy products—although be warned that soy might not be appropriate if you have certain pre-existing estrogen or thyroid issues, so it’s best to discuss this with your doctor.
4. Spicy foods
Capsaicin, the compound that makes peppers spicy, has also been shown to promote hair growth [source]. So go ahead and pile on the cayenne. All peppers have capsaicin, even bell peppers—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 have to get haircuts more often. 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 that contain the hair roots. Rivera recommend giving yourself scalp massages to increase blood flow and circulation. "A healthy scalp means health hair that grows faster," she says. 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 the 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 [source]. No worries if you normally rely on heat to get your favorite look, though—you can get lovely boho waves without heat!
If you do use heat, make sure to use hot tools that utilize infrared technology. "Infrared technology is known for locking moisture into the hair strands which makes it less dry and prone to breakage," explains Rivera.
9. Protect it 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 bamboo bristle brush that feels like I’m giving myself a scalp massage while also reducing frizz. This is no coincidence, as Rivera points out that a scalp massage may increase blood flow and circulation.
This article was medically reviewed by Dr. Gina Jansheski, a licensed, board-certified physician with over 20 years of experience in practice. Learn more about Hello Glow’s medical reviewers here. As always, this is not personal medical advice, and we recommend that you talk with your doctor before using this recipe to determine what’s best for you.