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How fast does hair really grow?
You’re born with all the hair follicles you’ll ever have. Your head alone has about 100,000 follicles. As you age, some follicles stop producing hair, which is what causes baldness or hair thinning.
In total, the growth cycle for each hair on your scalp can take 2 to 6 years.
How fast your hair grows depends on factors like:
- hair type
- overall health
- certain health conditions
Research is still exploring how hair growth is regulated at the cellular level in your body, and little is known about the possibility of speeding up hair growth.
Read on to learn about the science behind hair growth and how to use that knowledge for healthier hair.
Hair grows in three stages, and each strand of hair follows its own timeline:
- Anagen. The active growth phase of hair lasts 3–10 years.
- Catagen. The transition phase where hair stops growing lasts 2–3 weeks.
- Telogen. The resting phase where hair falls out lasts 3–4 months.
At any given time, the average scalp has
Can you increase the anagen phase for hair growth?
How long the anagen phase lasts depends on how long your hair is and if the cells in your follicle base are continuing to multiply and become hair cells.
Hair grows because matrix cells shed some of their structure as they reach the upper follicle. The shed structure combines with keratins to form hair strands that exit your skin’s surface.
Researchers are still looking into what triggers our bodies to switch on the anagen phase, and more studies are needed to know for certain what can be done to promote hair growth.
Still, there are steps you can take that may promote healthy hair during the anagen phase.
Hair is made up of keratin and dead skin cells.
While there’s no direct way to make your hair grow faster overnight, there are steps you can take to keep your hair healthy and long.
1. Keep up with vitamins and nutrients
While many companies promote vitamins or supplements for hair growth, they don’t always directly affect hair length. Your body requires a lot of energy to make your hair grow, so getting too few calories and certain nutrients can affect it.
Generally, it’s best to get your vitamins and nutrients from your diet. Still, you may also look into taking certain supplements — particularly if you have a deficiency.
Below are some of the nutrients commonly touted to promote hair growth and the science behind their efficacy:
|Omega-3 and DHA||may work||One |
|Zinc||may only affect those with a zinc deficiency|
|Biotin (vitamin B7)||may only affect those with a biotin deficiency||While biotin is often promoted for hair growth, there’s |
|Vitamin C||unlikely, and only supported by anecdotal evidence||The antioxidant effects of vitamin C may help prevent oxidative stress that can cause hair to gray and thin out. However, there’s no evidence that vitamin C directly influences hair growth.|
|Iron||may only affect those with an iron deficiency||Iron deficiency is |
|Vitamin D||may only affect those with autoimmune hair loss||Studies have found that people with alopecia areata commonly have vitamin D deficiencies, but more research is needed to determine if there is a definitive hair loss link.|
A note on supplements
Talk with your doctor before trying supplements like biotin, keratin, or other nutrients. They may interact with any medications you take and cause unintended side effects.
Best OTC Supplement for Hair Growth: HUM Hair Sweet Hair
If your doctor determines that you have a deficiency in certain nutrients that can relate to hair growth or hair loss conditions, you may consider asking them about the over-the-counter (OTC) supplement Hair Sweet Hair from HUM.
These vegan gummies contain vitamin B12, folic acid, biotin, and zinc, as well as fo-ti root extract to promote hair growth.
They cost $26 for a 30-day supply consisting of 60 gummies.
- Provides your daily needs of vitamin B12, zinc, folic acid, and biotin.
- The company says that 83% of customers reported faster hair growth after taking the gummies for 3 months.
- The gummies are easy to take and feature a pleasant berry flavor.
- The company says it may take at least 4–6 weeks to see results, which at least quadruples the cost of the monthly supply.
- It may not be efficient if you’re not deficient in any of the included nutrients.
Read more: Vitamins for hair growth »
2. Apply essential oils/carrier oils
Put a few drops of tea tree, rosemary, or lime oil into your shampoo or dilute it with jojoba oil.
- garlic extract
Avoid applying essential oils directly to your skin. Instead, dilute them in a carrier oil.
While research suggests there are health benefits, the FDA doesn’t monitor or regulate the purity or quality of essential oils. It’s important to talk with a healthcare professional before you begin using essential oils and be sure to research the quality of a brand’s products. Always do a patch test before trying a new essential oil.
For instance, add a few drops of essential oil into 1 ounce (29.6 mL) of carrier oil. Certain
Best Carrier Oils for Hair: Maple Holistics Pure Carrier Oils for Essential Oils
It’s always best to check with a dermatologist before applying essential oils to your hair and scalp.
Once cleared with a professional, this set of five carrier oils may be a good way to add moisture and shine to your hair without causing any allergic reactions that some essential oils might be associated with.
The set includes almond, avocado, castor, coconut, and grapeseed oils. If you’re new to carrier oils, this is a good way to try multiple types without investing in larger bottles of each.
You can purchase the set for $24.95.
- Each set includes five different carrier oils so you can try out a variety.
- They may help reduce frizz and dryness.
- They may promote moisture in your hair and scalp.
- There’s not enough evidence to prove that any oils can make your hair grow faster.
- Some customers note that this set contains different quantities of oils.
Read more: Does coconut oil work for hair growth? »
3. Try topical ointments
Topical ointments are generally recommended for people who experience hair loss and may help your hair grow.
Studies show that the below products promote hair growth and help treat alopecia, or hair loss:
- Topical melatonin. It may reduce hair loss and increase the anagen growth cycle, according to one review.
- Topical minoxidil 5 percent (Rogaine). Slows hair loss when used daily for 3 to 6 months.
- Prescription finasteride (Propecia) topical. According to one
preliminary review, this may promote hair growth and reduce the rate of hair loss in androgenetic alopecia, also known as male-pattern baldness.
Best OTC Topical Treatment: Women’s Rogaine 5% Minoxidil Foam
Considered the number one dermatologist-recommended brand of minoxidil, this OTC treatment by Rogaine is said to boost hair regrowth by supporting hair follicle and protein production.
This is a once-daily formula that’s gentle enough to use on color-treated hair. It may be combined with certain prescription treatments recommended by your dermatologist.
Note that Rogaine sells different minoxidil formulas marketed to men and women separately. Generally, they will set you back $45 for a 4-month supply.
- IT comes in an easy-to-use foam can with a dispenser tip for easy application onto your scalp.
- Minoxidil is among the most trusted and clinically studied hair growth treatments.
- The product is unscented and gentle on sensitive skin.
- It can take at least a few months for the product to start working.
- Separate formulas are marketed for males and females.
4. Take keratin supplements
Hair loss is a
Best Keratin Supplement: Nutrafol Women’s Hair Growth Supplement
Nutrafol is a well-known brand of hair growth supplements, with formulas available for men and women.
Their Women’s Formula contains both keratin and collagen protein to support hair strength for less breakage. It also contains other essential nutrients, such as biotin, zinc, and vitamins A, C, and D.
The price is $88 for a 30-day supply of 120 capsules.
- It’s a well-rounded product that offers hair-friendly proteins as well as some of the essential nutrients you might find in a traditional multivitamin.
- The ingredients are said to target your body’s stress responses to reduce stress-related hair loss.
- According to the company, 90 percent of customers see improvements in their hair.
- It may not be effective if you’re not deficient in any of the included nutrients.
- The price is relatively high, even for just a 1-month supply.
5. Use a topical protein treatment
Protein helps your hair grow and protects it from chemical and environmental damage. Some
Generally, it’s best to get protein from your diet instead of relying on supplements. Good sources include certain vegetables, nuts, yogurt, and foods like lean meat and fish.
If you style or apply heat to your hair often, using a protein treatment may help protect it. You can purchase these products online.
Best Topical Protein Treatment: Hi-Pro-Pac Extremely Damaged Hair Repair
This collagen-based cream for dry hair is designed to use after shampooing to hydrate, strengthen, and prevent further damage. Additionally, this product helps detangle your hair and prevent breakage, making it ideal for curly hair types.
It will set you back $7.75 for a tube.
- It’s promoted to treat damaged hair.
- It srengthens your hair to promote effective growth.
- It’s more affordable than other protein hair treatments on the market.
- It may not add shine and luster like alternative oil-based products.
- The product contains wheat, which some people need to avoid if they have a wheat allergy or sensitivity.
6. Caffeinate your follicles
Caffeine has been shown to
While more studies are needed on caffeine as a hair growth promoter, preliminary research has shown that topical formulas may decrease hair loss, especially when combined with minoxidil.
Using hair products with caffeine as an ingredient may also help.
Best Caffeinated Hair Product: Alpecin C1 Caffeine Shampoo
This highly rated shampoo from Alpecin combines caffeine with niacin and zinc to promote fuller-looking hair and a thicker texture.
It also contains castor oil for strength and shine. While sold worldwide, Alpecin C1 is considered the most popular caffeine shampoo in Germany.
The cost is $12.45 per bottle.
- Ingredients like caffeine and zinc may promote hair growth.
- Castor oil can provide shine to thinning hair.
- The effects of caffeine are said to last for 24 hours.
- It may take up to 3 months to work.
- Some customers report that their hair looks better after use, though they don’t notice increased growth speed.
Many factors can affect hair growth, including:
- genetics or family history of hair loss
- hormonal changes
- lack of adequate nutrition
- certain medications including chemotherapy
- recent weight loss of 20 pounds (9 kg) or more
- trauma that damages follicles
- certain diseases or conditions
Women who are pregnant may feel that their hair is growing faster. Meanwhile, those who have just had a baby may feel like they’re losing hair faster than normal.
During pregnancy, the hormone estrogen causes you to have a higher ratio of hair follicles in the growing phase. After the baby is born, hair follicles return to the resting telogen phase, making it appear like you’re shedding hair.
Any concerns regarding reduced hair growth, extremely damaged hair, or any significant changes to your hair should be addressed with a doctor. They can check for possible nutrient deficiencies and recommend specific products that may help.
If you’re experiencing unexplained and/or severe hair loss, you should schedule a checkup with your doctor, as certain health conditions can cause hair loss. In such cases, treating the underlying cause may help reverse hair loss issues.
Boosting hair growth entails healthy hair habits along with an overall healthy lifestyle. Some of the ways you can promote hair growth include the following:
- Get enough protein in your diet.
- Avoid extreme or yo-yo dieting and large calorie deficits.
- Choose hair products tailored to your hair type.
- Take regular breaks between thermal styling tools.
- Protect your hair from the sun, chlorine, and other elements.
Can you wash your hair every day?
This depends on your hair type.
While oily and straight hair may require daily washes, you may not need to shampoo daily if you have dry or damaged hair.
If your scalp is slightly oily but your ends are not, try a dry shampoo in between washes.
Does weather affect hair growth?
While there’s a theory that hair grows faster in the summer months and sheds more in the winter, the evidence is anecdotal at best.
Any unusual hair loss should be addressed with a doctor, no matter the time of year.
How long does it take to speed up hair growth?
This may depend on the severity of any underlying hair loss conditions, as well as the treatment method.
For example, minoxidil topical treatments for hair loss may take 3 to 6 months to work, while the correction of any nutritional deficiencies can vary in duration.
Does your hair grow slower as it gets longer?
If it seems like your hair growth is slowing down as it gets longer, this is likely due to the cycle your hair is in.
Keep in mind that, while the exact timeline varies, the total cycle for each hair on your scalp is between 2 and 6 years.
Most of the factors that control hair growth are out of your day-to-day control.
The best step you can take is to prevent hair loss and thinning caused by poor nutrition. In other words, be sure to eat a balanced diet and stay hydrated.
Consider consulting your doctor if you experience unusual or significant hair loss. They can check for underlying causes like certain health conditions or nutrient deficiencies.