Hair grows at an average rate of half an inch per month, or about six inches per year.
While you may see ads promoting products that claim to grow hair faster, there’s really no way to make your hair grow faster than this average rate.
Instead, you should aim to avoid things that have been shown to slow down hair growth or cause breakage.
Genetics play a big role in determining how quickly and fully your hair will grow. Hair growth is also affected by:
- hair type
- stress levels
- underlying medical conditions
There are roughly 5 million hair follicles on the body. About 100,000 of them can be found on the scalp. Each hair strand on the scalp follows a pattern of hair growth according to three stages:
- Anagen. This is the active growth phase of hair, which lasts between two and six years.
- Catagen. This is the transition phase, when the hair stops growing. It lasts about two to three weeks.
- Telogen. This is the resting stage, when the hair falls out. It lasts about two to three months.
This process is the same for body and facial hair, except the three-stage cycle is shorter. This is why body hair doesn’t grow as long as the hair on the scalp.
A healthy lifestyle can go a long way in ensuring a healthy level of hair growth.
Get plenty of sleep
Sleep is an essential part of healthy living. Adults should aim for seven to nine hours of sleep per night. During sleep, growth hormones help speed up cell reproduction and can contribute to a healthy rate of hair growth.
Stress can have many negative effects on the body, including the hair. Excessive stress can lead to hair loss by disrupting the growth phase of the hair cycle and pushing the hair follicles into the resting phase.
Some healthy ways to lower stress levels include:
- regular exercise
- getting enough sleep
- listening to music
- going on vacations
- pursuing fun hobbies
Be gentle on your hair
Be gentle when brushing or styling your hair. Frequent twisting, twirling, or pulling on your hair can cause breakage. This can make it seem like your hair is growing at a slower rate.
- tight hairstyles like braids, ponytails, or cornrows
- perms and hair straightening chemicals
- hot straightening or curling irons
- bleaching your hair
If you must use chemicals or bleach in your hair, visit a salon and follow all aftercare instructions.
Smoking is associated with a range of health issues, including
Try scalp massage
Daily scalp massages may stimulate and increase circulation to hair follicles, which may lead to thicker hair. One
However, some temporary hair loss occurred after 12 weeks, before the hair started growing thicker. It’s also important to note that the men in the study used a massage device for the scalp massage, not their fingers. Rubbing the scalp with your fingers may actually contribute to hair loss.
A healthy diet should include a variety of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, and unsaturated fats. Try to limit your intake of sugary foods and drinks, as these calorie-dense foods add little nutritional value to your diet.
Certain vitamins and minerals have been found associated with healthy hair. The following food groups may play a part in keeping the hair healthy:
- foods high in iron, including certain beans, green leafy vegetables, iron-fortified cereals, lean beef, and eggs
- protein-rich foods like lean meat, eggs, and fish
Hair needs a variety of vitamins and nutrients for healthy growth. Sometimes, it’s difficult to get enough of these vitamins and nutrients from diet alone. If you’re not getting enough in your diet, supplements may help, but see a doctor if you think you’re deficient in vitamins.
If you have an iron deficiency, your doctor may recommend iron supplements. However, people with iron deficiency often have other nutritional deficiencies. It’s important to see your doctor for proper diagnosis and treatment.
The following nutritional supplements may be helpful:
However, there isn’t enough evidence showing that taking these supplements are helpful if you have a nutritional deficiency. It’s best to get these nutrients by eating a balanced diet that includes plenty of nutrient-dense foods.
To ensure healthy hair growth, make sure you’re taking good care of your skin and scalp. The goal of using hair products is to strengthen hair, support scalp health, improve hair thickness, or stimulate the hair growth cycle.
Avoid shampooing every single day, as this may dry out the scalp and strip it of its natural oils. Instead, shampoo every two to three days and use a good conditioner every day.
Conditioners minimize tangles and split ends and prevent breakage. Apply conditioner on the hair length while avoiding the scalp. Make sure to rinse it out completely after applying.
Always read the ingredients when purchasing a new product for hair.
Ingredients to avoid
In general you want to avoid ingredients that will eventually strip your hair of moisture or breakdown hair proteins. Some of ingredients to avoid include:
- polyethylene glycol (PEG)
Ingredients to look for
Look for shampoos that are free of potentially irritating ingredients, such as sulfate-free shampoos.
Some research suggests these ingredients may help improve the health and condition of your hair:
- fruit and seed oils, like coconut, avocado, argan, olive, and jojoba
- essential oils, like
peppermint oiland rosemary oil
- aloe vera
However, research is lacking and some of the studies were performed only in mice, not in humans. More research is needed to support the use of these ingredients for healthy hair.
As men age, it’s common for some hair follicles to shrivel and stop producing hair. This is referred to as hereditary hair loss, pattern hair loss, or androgenetic alopecia.
Male pattern baldness is an inherited trait. It affects more than half of men over the age of 50 to some extent.
This type of hair loss is permanent and the hair can’t be grown back. However, you may be able to slow down the hair loss with prescription medications. If male pattern baldness is a concern, speak with a doctor about the following options:
Keep in mind that once the hair follicle shrivels, the hair likely won’t grow back, even with treatment.
On average, hair grows at a rate of half an inch per month. The rate at which your hair grows is largely determined by genetics. There’s nothing you can do to make it grow faster than that, but you can do your part in avoiding the things that slow down hair growth.
Eating a healthy diet and getting regular exercise may keep your hair healthy and ensure it grows at the fastest rate possible. You can prevent breakage by using moisturizing hair products and avoiding harsh chemicals as well as tight hairstyles.