We'd be lying if we said we hadn't Googled "how to make your hair grow faster" more than a couple of times.
But it's also important to separate the wheat from the chaff when it comes to the results hitting your feed. For example, that most contentious of ingredients, castor oil (opens in new tab). There is no evidence that it can take your hair to Rapunzel-like lengths. Zip. Nada. Castor oil can however, keep dry strands well-moisturised, which potentially stimulates healthy hair growth (although not more hair growth).
That is true of many haircare ingredients that have been mystically elevated to the status of 'hair growth miracles' or stop thinning hair (opens in new tab).
"The rate at which hair grows, and the length to which it will grow, is genetically determined," says Anabel Kingsley (opens in new tab), consultant trichologist and Philip Kingsley brand president. "For most, this is 0.5 inches a month, with a growth (anagen) phase that lasts between 3-7 years. Everything from a poor diet and vitamin/mineral deficiencies, to high stress levels and hormonal imbalances can negatively affect the growth of your strands."
So the not-so-good news is that you can't actually speed up hair growth. But you can create the optimal conditions for strands to reach the length they ought to without being damaged.
Ahead are Kingsley's top tips...
1. Wash your hair daily or every other day
"Hair growth is reliant on scalp (opens in new tab)health – after all, your scalp is your hair’s support system. Try to shampoo regularly, leaving no more than three days between shampoos. Daily cleansing to every other day is best – your scalp is simply an extension of the skin on your forehead and benefits from similar care."
2. Boost circulation on the scalp
"Use a daily scalp toner or serum to optimise the condition of your scalp. Once a week, apply an exfoliating scalp mask to boost circulation and also look for one containing zinc to control excess oil."
3. Switch from a boar bristle brush to a paddle brush
"While boar bristle brushes provide great traction and control when styling, they are also very scratchy and can remove sections of your hair's outer cuticle (its protective layer). Try to limit your use of them for special occasions only. Also avoid brushes with metal prongs. These have the tendency to get very hot when you heat style and can burn both your scalp and hair. A brush with rounded, plastic prongs and a vented, cushioned base is the most hair-friendly of brushes. "(opens in new tab)
4. Rethink your diet
"A healthy balanced diet will, without a doubt, encourage healthy hair growth. As hair is non-essential tissue, it is the first part of you to be deprived of nutrients when your diet is lacking."
- Protein - Hair is made of protein, perhaps making this the most essential nutrient for hair growth. Eating at least a 120g portion of protein that contains all essential amino acids at breakfast and lunch - think fish, eggs, poultry, quinoa or nuts - is ideal.
- Iron - Ferritin (a stored iron) is needed by the body to produce hair cell protein. Ferritin deficiency commonly causes increased hair fall and a shortening of the anagen phase of the hair growth cycle. This means hair may not be able to grow as long as it is capable of. If you eat red meat, try to do so two times a week. If you do not eat red meat, you should consider taking a nutritional supplement containing iron. Although dark, leafy greens such as spinach contain iron, it is ‘non-haem iron’ – and this is harder for the body to break down and absorb.
- Whole grains - Complex carbohydrates provide you with slow-release energy. Being the second fastest growing cells the body produces, hair cells need a consistent energy supply.
5. Avoid heat styling
"Heat causes moisture loss. Our hair’s elasticity and strength are largely reliant on its water content, so this can cause dryness, brittleness and breakage. If you’re wedded to your styling tools, make sure you use a heat protective styling spray or serum on your mid-lengths and ends – preferably one that protects at least to 185 degrees. Hold your blow-dryer approximately 12 inches away from your hair - start at a medium heat setting and reduce to low as you go."(opens in new tab)
6. Download a mindfulness app
"Stress can wreak havoc on your hair growth cycle and your scalp. One reason for this is that stress can raise androgen (male hormone) levels, which can worsen or trigger female pattern hair loss if you have a genetic predisposition towards it. Androgens can also increase your scalp’s production of sebum (oil) and lead to flaking and itching. Plus stress can make it harder for your body to absorbs nutrients."
Fiona Embleton is a beauty writer who is now Acting Beauty Editor at Stylist. She is obsessed with Isabel Marant and cats.
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