It happened—your worst hair nightmare has turned into a reality. After what felt like years’ worth of patience to finally get to your desired hair length, a trim-gone-wrong has left you with much shorter locks than what you envisioned leading up to your appointment. Or maybe you have an all-important event coming up and *still* haven’t gotten to quite the length you were hoping to achieve that Pinterest board-worthy look. You need to know how to grow hair faster, and you need it now.
But, before you go into full-blown panic mode, here’s some good news: there are easy steps you can take to make your hair grow faster. Hint, hint: you can even find a few hair-growing products in your fridge.
Read on to see the best approaches to growing hair fast, according to three experts. You’ll be well on your way to Rapunzel-like strands.
Understanding The Natural Hair Growth Cycle
Before getting into your playbook for fast hair growth, it’s important to understand how the hair growth cycle works. For starters, according to Penny James, certified trichologist, IAT, hair only grows about 1/2 inch per month. “Our hair is in a constant cycle, starting with the growing stage, [known as the] anagen stage, [and] about 85 percent of our entire hair on our scalp is in this stage,” she explains. Next, James says around 1 percent of total hair is in the catagen stage, or resting stage. The remaining 14 percent of hair is in the final stage, telogen (AKA, the falling out.)
When new hair is growing, it starts in the dermis, or the middle of your three main layers of skin. This is where your hair follicle begins, and hair will ultimately appear out of the follicle on the scalp, notes James. But the follicle itself has its own anatomy: The base of the follicle is called the hair bulb, and above it sits the bulge. Both have key roles in growth.
“There are cells and stem cells that create the hair cells in the bulb region; the stem cells are in the bulge area of the hair follicle.” Adding to that, James says a hair bulb produces about 0.35 mm of hair per day. “The most important is our dermal papilla, which is a cluster of cells that communicate with blood vessels and is affected by any imbalances in the body.”
Who knew one strand of hair could have such complex anatomy that ultimately helps you serve up looks? So to keep that cycle moving along, what can you do? A lot, actually. Here’s where to start.
Stock Up On These Foods That Make Your Hair Grow Faster
Similar to how sticking to those good-for-you foods can work wonders for providing a clear complexion (see: blueberries, leafy greens, fatty fish), the same goes for growing out hair. As we’ve previously covered, nutrition plays a key role in hair growth. Gaby Vaca-Flores, RDN, CLE, the education specialist at HUM recommends foods like:
- Sunflower seeds
- Red meat
- Oily fish
James’ suggested grocery list also includes tofu, mushrooms, shellfish, nuts, seeds, broccoli, bananas, and avocados. “All [of the] above are amazing food groups high in amino acids and protein, [which is] all very important to keep the hair and skin healthy,” she explains.
Ensure you’re getting a variety of foods, too, says Martine Langsam, IAT, WTS. By munching on a mix of food groups and focusing on different colors of vegetables and fruits, you’ll get a full balance of your nutrients and your minerals. And, in turn, she adds, “your metabolic processes will work a whole lot better and efficiently, and you’ll get stronger hair growth.”
Reach for A Supplement (or Two) For Fast Hair Growth
Supplements are, unsurprisingly, key players in speedy hair growth. “To be able to nourish your hair correctly, you need to nourish yourself.” By doing so, James says this will help your hair stay in the correct hair cycle without interruption. “Our hair is an organ, in fact, it’s the smallest organ in our body so it becomes imbalanced easily when we neglect to nourish our body correctly.”
James says the best vitamins for hair growth include vitamins C, D, zinc, calcium, and B vitamins like B12, folic acid (B9), and biotin (B7). “These vitamins are very good for the nervous system, energy, and health of our hair,” she explains.
HUM’s Hair Sweet Hair contains biotin, folic acid, and zinc, B12, fo-ti, and paba, a combo formulated to support hair growth, maintain hair follicle health, and promote stronger hair. (Learn more about the powerful ingredient combination here.) The tasty vegan berry gummies promote strong, healthy strands.
Dr. Steven Shapiro, MD, also tells his clients to start with a good multivitamin to cover any potential nutritional deficiencies. Base Control is designed with essential nutrients to support women pre-menopause and fill any nutrition gaps.
James suggests consulting with your health care provider to make sure you’re not interfering with any medication prior to taking any of these supplements listed above.
Apply Topicals To Speed Up the Process
Topical-wise, there are some formulas on the market that work to amp up the speed of hair growth. “Generally, topicals will have nutrients in them,” Langsam explains. “And they actually penetrate into the follicle through the scalp, as long as you don’t have a lot of buildup on the scalp,” she explains. “Topicals will also have PHT blockers in them sometimes, and that’s specifically good for people who have female or male patterned hair loss.”
Adding to that, Dr. Shapiro says there are products out there that use topical vitamins for hair growth. “And when you get into topical vitamins, it has to get into the face of the hair follicle which is down in the fatty layer of the skin.” When you use topical nutrients, Dr. Shapiro warns there’s no guarantee it’s going to get to the hair matrix cell in order to stimulate hair. But, topicals are definitely worth giving a shot. With his clients, Dr. Shapiro uses a Women’s 2% Minoxidil Serum from his namesake brand that’s clinically proven and effective for nearly 60 percent of women, according to their website. This formula works to revive hair follicles to stimulate hair regrowth.
Similar to minoxidil, you’ve likely heard of Rogaine, which Dr. Shapiro says increases the circulation of the hair follicles. For best results, he recommends using it twice a day and says you have to be diligent with usage if you go this route.
Choose the right shampoo for your hair type
Unfortunately, according to James, there’s no magical shampoo on the market that’ll make your hair grow faster. However, she says the key is to find the correct shampoo for your hair type, which a trichologist can assist with. And, on top of that, she says the best way to make your mane look its very best is by shampooing daily or every other day, or if you have very curly, coiled hair, then shampoo once a week. “Use a brand that has been well researched for your hair type,” James adds.
Plus, Langsam suggests keeping your eyes peeled for a few ingredients when you’re shopping for hair products. “Some of the good ingredients specifically for hair loss are arnica, rosemary, lavender, grapeseed oil, and jojoba oil,” she says.
The Bottom Line
While there are not necessarily any products on the market that’ll instantly grow your hair at lightning speed, there are some measures you can take to encourage hair to sprout. By taking these easy steps above daily, you’ll boost your chances of longer locks in no time.
And in the meantime, James has a few at-home suggestions that will deliver ultimate shine to your hair at any length. While it might not make your mane grow, she suggests rinsing with apple cider vinegar. “Apple cider is acidic at about pH 2-3,” she explains. “When applied after shampooing hair, the acidic properties close the cuticle and give the hair a great shine.” To add to that, you can also try baking soda, she says, which has the same shine-enhancing effect.