2021 edit: i no longer subscribe to or support the “all-natural” label. more here.
my “grow it long, grow it strong!” post is by far the most popular post on this blog. i feel as though i always get comments and messages asking how to actually grow hair faster, in conjunction with healthier.
well. here is that post!
BUT, before everyone gets all super excited, let me make something very clear:
your hair growth and hair growth potential will almost entirely be based on your health, your diet, your lifestyle, and your genetics.
there. is. NO. magic. hair. growing. potion.
BUT… there are ways to STIMULATE growth to help “inspire” your hair to grow faster.
we could go really super in depth with this, but we’ll stick to the basics.
our hair is made up of two structures – the follicle, which resides in the skin, and the shaft, which is what is visible above the scalp.
generally speaking, hair grows about 1/2 to 1 inch a month. but not all your little hairs grow at the same rate or even at the same time! at any given point in time, any number of hairs will be in one of three stages of growth and shedding: anagen, catagen, and telogen.
- anagen – this is the active phase. the cells in the root of the hair are dividing rapidly. a new hair is formed and pushes the club hair (a hair that has stopped growing or is no longer in the anagen phase) up the follicle and eventually out. scalp hair stays in this active phase of growth for two to six years. some people have difficulty growing their hair beyond a certain length because they have a short active phase of growth. on the other hand, people with very long hair have a long active phase of growth. the hair on the arms, legs, eyelashes, and eyebrows have a very short active growth phase of about 30 to 45 days, explaining why they are so much shorter than scalp hair.
- catagen – this is a transitional stage, and about 3% of all hairs are in this phase at any time. this phase lasts for about two to three weeks. growth stops and the outer root sheath shrinks and attaches to the root of the hair. this is the formation of a club hair.
- telogen – this is the resting phase and usually accounts for 6% to 8% of all hairs. during this phase, the hair follicle is completely at rest and the club hair is completely formed. pulling out a hair in this phase will reveal a solid, hard, dry, white material at the root. about 25 to 100 telogen hairs are shed normally each day.
now that we know a bit about HOW hair grows….
what is needed to stimulate hair growth?
- scalp stimulation (scalp massage, anyone??)
- increased blood flow (through heat, stimulation, or sadly, irritation. we’ll get to the irritation part.)
- clean, healthy scalp (no chemicals & proper nutrients!)
- proper hair care (all these tips and more!)
- healthy diet with plenty of good fats, calcium, and iron (like the PBD).
supplements to support healthy hair growth:
- fermented cod liver oil – FCLO is fantastic. i could dedicate an entire post to it, so for the sake of time, here’s a great post on FCLO on a blog i absolutely love. i have this brand and highly recommend it. i know it’s pricey! and as gross as it might seem, it’s by far more economical to buy the gel and Not the capsules. i actually use the butter oil blend for other health reasons, so here it is if you’d like to check it out and do some research on which you’d like. there are tons of reviews on the various flavors, as well as ways to take it every day without gagging. call me weird, but i have no problem slathering mine on some wasa crackers with cheese and eating it just like that. i also mix it in with tuna and avocado for a tuna salad type deal. (i’m weird, i know…). i know a lot of people aren’t crazy about the intense fishy smell and taste. if you get the gel, it’s easy to suspend a glob of it in a cup of some juice and swallowing it that way.
- *fish oil – if you can’t spring for FCLO (it’s pricey, i know!), those fish oil pills you see in stores contain omega-3 fatty acids, ALA (alpha Linolenic Acid), DHA (docosahexaenioc acid), and EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) which nourish the hair follicles and sebaceous glands from the inside out.
- grass-fed gelatin – gelatin is a good source of protein, collagen and amino acids, all of which support healthy hair (and nail) growth. you can also apply gelatin as a mask to your hair as a natural way to help prevent/seal up split ends and other breakage. to use it as a mask, quickly blend 1 tablespoon gelatin (i have this one and it’s the only one i trust to be grass-fed), 1 cup warm/hot water, and 1 teaspoon acv. in the shower, after you wet or wash your hair, massage all over from scalp to ends, leave on for 5 minutes, then rinse with warmish cool water.
- biotin -this vitamin helps improve keratin’s infrastructure, and overall helps your body process energy and transport carbon dioxide from your body’s cells. as a general rule of thumb, the dose is 2.5mg a day. any more than that and your body will pee it out (graphic but true!).
what can we use to help our hair to grow faster?
- scalp massages – massaging your scalp for 5 or more minutes a day leads to improved blood circulation. that means your hair follicles are receiving more essential nutrients and oxygen, keeping them healthy and promoting hair growth!
- unrefined coconut oil – unrefined coconut oil is a beauty gold mine. you can use CO by directly massaging it onto your scalp and into the length of your hair as a hair mask. it’s a great moisturizer, strengthener, shine enhancer, and scalp nourisher. it’s abundant in vitamin E, vitamin K and iron, which are all essential for keeping your hair strong (and shiny!). CO also protects against hair damage from the swelling and shrinking it goes through due to water absorption. AND since our hair is made up of protein, the lauric acid (a fatty acid) in it binds hair proteins, protecting our hair from breakage. talk about a magical oil! no-poo-ers – please remember that the bs/acv routine will not take CO back out of your hair. either use a low-poo or forgo this option.
- cayenne pepper – here’s the irritation section of hair growth. by irritating the scalp, you can increase blood flow, thereby increasing oxygen and nutrients to the scalp, thereby increasing hair growth. unfortunately this burns so you have to be VERY careful about using ANY irritant, whether it be pepper, onions, or mustard. this particular method calls for equal parts cayenne pepper powder and olive oil (think 3 teaspoons to 3 teaspoons). it’ll make a thick paste that can be rubbed onto your scalp (please use rubber gloves), and left on for 10-15 minutes. you can do this every time you wash your hair. *no-poo-ers- the bs/acv routine will NOT take the olive oil back out of your hair. since i’m water-only, i found that a teaspoon to a teaspoon and a half mixed into enough water to make a runny paste did the trick. you can also mix 2 to 3 teaspoons of cayenne pepper powder with a raw egg and apply the goo to your scalp (instead of using oil or water). it gets hot, so be prepared. everyone’s tolerance level is different, so start SMALL and work your way up if you feel the need to. don’t overdo it!! and DO NOT get it on your face or anywhere near your eyes or other mucus membranes!! i got it inside my nose (changing my nose ring while i was waiting for the time to pass…not pickin boogies) and it buuuurned! haha.
- onion juice – onion juice first acts as a scalp and hair follicle clarifier, then promotes the production of a natural antioxidant called catalase. catalase promotes thicker, healthier hair follicles, increased hair growth in currently bald/balding spots, and gray hair prevention. to use onion juice, blend up a peeled and quarted onion, and strain the pulp. apply the juice to your scalp a little at a time so it doesn’t run everywhere, and leave it on for 30 to 60 minutes. rinse very well! it’ll stink!
- eggs/sugar/mustard powder – this mix acts on the same principle as the cayenne pepper – irritation. the sugar and mustard powder heat up your scalp and irritate it, and the egg nourishes your scalp and gives your hair a good dose of protein. to use, mix 2 tablespoons dry mustard powder with 2 teaspoons sugar, 2 tablespoons warm water. then mix in your egg yolk. apply the runny mix to your scalp, and let it sit for 15-45 minutes. rinse very well, and avoid getting it on your face/eyes/etc.
*favorites: massages and unrefined coconut oil masks. they both feel amazing, and have always given me amazing results!
*least favorite (by far): the eggs/sugar/mustard mix. let’s just say my scalp burned SO bad and my eyes wouldn’t stop watering cuz they really, really stung. it wasn’t pretty. i know i’ve seen a few people swear by this method, but i don’t know crunchies. besides the pain, it’s incredibly MESSY. i’m gonna search for a picture i took of my…ahem… experience with this mix. it’s hilarious now, but at the time i thought my eyes would pack up shop and leave me.
anyone have any other healthy hair growth tips?