How to Grow Longer, Healthier Hair
Hair grows on average 4-7 inches per year. For those wanting to grow their hair long, this can make for a long wait. A variety of factors determine how fast the hair grows including age, gender, hormone levels, diet, and physical health.
Hair that is damaged will grow slower than normal, healthy hair. Why? Growth is slowed not only because of the hair damage itself, but because of the health of the scalp.
Those who color, process, and heat style the hair regularly also damage the scalp, leading to poor circulation, clogged pores and therefore reduced growth.
So, are there any ways to make hair grow faster? Evidence suggests there are some techniques you can try to help your hair grow a little faster than average. Use one or many of the suggestions below and you will find your hair grows fuller, healthier and likely quite a bit faster than usual.
Nutrients Needed for Long Healthy Hair
Proper nutrients are required in order for hair to grow properly. A healthy diet, supplemented with some key nutrients, can help you not only be healthier in general, but will result in healthier hair, skin and nails.
Essential Fatty Acids for Hair Growth
Essential fatty acids improve hair texture and help prevent breakage. EFA's also assist in the hair growth cycle. They help with blood circulation and cell growth. They can help promote a healthy scalp and may help increase nutrient absorption at the hair follicle. Deficiencies in EFA's actually lead to dry, brittle hair, breakage and hair loss.
Essential fatty acids are found in fish, nuts and seeds. You can also get them by taking a daily supplement of flax seed oil or fish oil.
B-Complex Vitamins for Hair Growth
Many people believe that “vitamin B” is one nutrient, but it is actually a group of vitamins, each with their own properties. B vitamins are water soluble, meaning the body doesn't store them and they need to be replenished regularly through diet and/or supplementation. B vitamins are responsible for hundreds of biological processes throughout the body.
B6 promotes healthy hair be keeping the scalp healthy. Biotin (B7) is used by the body to promote cell growth and produce fatty acids, both of which are important for hair growth and health. In fact, a deficiency of this vitamin can lead to thinning hair
Biotin is an extremely important vitamin as it is required by the body in order to produce fatty acids and promote cell growth. Although Biotin deficiencies are rare, they do happen and can cause hair loss, thinning and breakage.
Although B12 doesn't affect the hair directly, it is vital to hundreds of other functions in the body and poor health does effect hair growth. B12 deficiency is most common in vegetarians and vegans. A full spectrum B vitamin is a great supplement not only for growing healthy, shiny hair, but for maintaining overall health.
Vitamin C for Hair
Vitamin C improves scalp circulation and is vital for preventing hair loss. Vitamin C plays a vital role in the production of collagen, the building blocks of healthy skin and hair. A breakdown of collagen causes hair loss.
Vitamin E for Hair Growth and Health
Vitamin E contributes to the growth of capillaries, which improve circulation to the scalp and helps prevent hair loss. Increased circulation also helps promote faster hair growth in many people. If you hair is damaged to over-styling or chemical processing, vitamin E oil can be added topically as well to nourish the hair shaft and follicle.
Those with biotin deficiencies tend to suffer from excess hair loss. This supplement can be used successfully, but as with all vitamins you can overdo it without some caution. I have had great success with the Natrol brand. You can also find biotin as an additive in several natural shampoos and conditioners.
I mentioned this above, because it is one in a series of the B complex vitamins. I recommend a sublingual B complex vitamin if your diet is deficient in solid nutrients. (most Western diets are). Biotin however is available as a standalone hair and nail supplement so worth another mention here.
MSM is a supplement I use because I exercise regularly. It helps promote tissue repair and prevent injury. It is a natural form of sulfur found in many foods and it has a variety of health benefits, particularly if you are starting to feel the first twinges of arthritis or if you are susceptible to sport related injuries etc. One of the beneficial "side effects" to this supplement is that it prevents breakage and promotes hair growth, but I wouldn't take it primarily just for the hair. It is worth a mention though!
This is an herb with numerous health benefits. It is an antioxidant and has anti-inflammatory properties. It is also one of the best plant sources for silica. Silica is the connective tissue material that provides both strength and flexibility. It also gives hair and nails their strength. This supplement is great for the hair, but it can also fight inflammation in the body that leads to a host of other conditions. When I consider supplements; I look at the full range of benefits they can provide.
Kelp to Grow Hair
A little seaweed can go a long way towards longer, healthier hair. Kelp provides the minerals needed for hair growth. Kelp is a rich source of iron and the amino acid l-lycine, both of which directly affect hair growth. It is also a rich source of iodine. According to studies, conditions that relate to iodine deficiency can lead to thinning hair and shedding. The most common cause in women is hypothyroidism. If you suspect a thyroid condition may be causing your hair to thin or not grow, it is important to see a physician to treat that condition before taking supplements.
I've been using Ayurvedic oils regularly now on my scalp and hair and it has really made a difference. Not only is my hair growing faster, it is coming in thicker. Once I hit peri-menopause full force, one of the first undesirable symptoms was excessive hair fall. I was worried that my hair would thin so much there would be bare patches.
Those days are over, since starting a regimen of oiling my scalp and hair twice weekly, my hair fall is greatly reduced and there has been a surprise benefit also - an abundance of new growth. I am returning to the hair I had in my 20's again and this is after only a couple of months. Bonus - the products I'm using are natural and not expensive.
Argan oil and coconut oil are readily available in most stores and provides nice results, especially in preventing breakage. I run a few drops of argan over my hair daily to prevent fly away hairs and static in the dry, winter months and I use coconut oil as a deep conditioner.
What I am most impressed with however, are the results from using Indian Ayurvedic hair oils. Bhringraj oil by Biotique is inexpensive and available online. It uses 100% pure botanical oils including Amla, Tesu flower, Mulethi stem and Brahmi plant. All of these oils not only promote new and faster growth, they also slow greying and hair fall. I guess I shouldn't have been so surprised - Indian women have some of the most beautiful hair on Earth.
After two months my hair has grown an astounding 4 inches by using this oil, the matching shampoo and taking my daily supplements. I do also eat a healthy diet, so I'm sure oils and supplements alone aren't doing it, but I have seen such a dramatic difference; I had to add a section here to share it.
The one drawback to the Biotique for me is the smell. Fortunately, you use the oil before you shampoo so the smell doesn't stay in the hair. It smells like super sweet fruit loops to me. In the reviews you'll see some women love the scent and others don't.
Techniques to Promote Hair Growth
There are several different techniques you can use to help promote hair growth while preventing excess loss and damage.
Coffee Scrub and Rinse
You are forewarned this can be messy. Take used coffee grounds and use these to scrub and stimulate the scalp. You can also spray old coffee into the hair (only if your hair is dark or it may stain). The caffeine in the coffee is said to promote faster growth. The acids in the coffee clarify the hair and scalp and lead to a nice shine.
I have done coffee scrubs and rinses before. If you are using the grounds, I recommend making a paste out of them and a bit of olive or coconut oil. Wet your hair with coffee first, then scrub the scalp with the grounds. I would recommend doing this over the tub as the grounds tend to fall all over and make a mess. I leave them on for about ten minutes and then rinse. Coffee grounds can be a bit difficult to rinse out.
Although this technique is a bit of a pain, I feel it really does work to make my hair nicer and since I've been doing this and using my own homemade shampoos and conditioners my hair does grow faster. Whether it's the coffee, or simply the fact that I use no chemicals on my hair anymore, is difficult to say. Coffee does make the hair shine and I love the smell. I spray coffee into my hair once or twice a week. The scrub with the grounds I do much less often because it's messy.
You can do scalp massage every time you shampoo, or before brushing your hair out at night. Stimulating the scalp helps nourish the hair and promote growth. Invert your head to promote good circulation and using your finger tips, rub the whole scalp from the nape of the neck forward towards your forehead. Use a circular motion and repeat this a few times. You don't need to do this more than a few minutes per day to see improved scalp health.
A couple of times a week, use leftover morning coffee or a couple of tablespoons of apple cider vinegar to cleanse and clarify the scalp and promote growth. It's the equivalent of exfoliating the skin; it removes build up and helps the scalp to breathe.
Twice a week you'll also want to do the oil massage I mentioned above as well. The coffee and vinegar clarify; the oil nourishes and moisturizes - giving your hair what it needs to grow in healthy and vibrant. To consolidate your routine, you can do these rinses/massages in succession.
Be very careful brushing or combing hair when its wet, especially if it's long. Wet strands are the most fragile and break easily. Wait until your hair dries a bit and then brush it gently when it's damp and not dripping. Shampoo only when necessary, and use homemade or a very gentle all-natural shampoo made without phlalates and sulfates that strip and damage the hair.
Unless you are working out and sweating like mad every day; there is NO need to shampoo the hair that often. It damages hair and depletes the natural oils from your scalp that your hair requires to be healthy.
Brush long hair with a natural bristle brush, or better yet a wooden brush, to help distribute oil evenly throughout the hair and keep it healthy. Gentle brushing avoids breakage and helps nourish the hair down to the tips.
Wood brushes are harder to find and you may need to look online or visit a beauty supply store, but the wood bristles absorb hair oils over time and help redistribute them throughout the hair.
Avoid Over Styling
I have natural waves, instead of applying a lot of mousse or “curl sprays” or whatever, I spray my hair down with a bit of sea salt water and use my fingers to style it. I never use blow driers and I don't even own a heat appliance. My hair has never looked better or been healthier.
It is a myth that we need all these sprays, gels, and contraptions to have healthy hair. My next experiment is going to be working to develop a natural hair gel. When I come up with something that works - I'll be sure to post it.
Healthy long hair is only possible when you lay off a lot of the chemicals and omit heat all together. Ponytails, braids, etc. are all great alternatives to heat styling every day.
Take Time to Unwind
Stress is harmful to the body and it wreaks absolute havoc on the hair. Stress responses in the body can slow hair growth and also lead to breakage and hair loss. Get some regular zen time in addition to a proper diet and exercise and your healthy habits are sure to show not only in your long, healthy hair, but in your outlook as well.
Did I miss something? Feel free to comment below if there are any tips or techniques you've found to be successful.
© 2013 Christin Sander