Hair grows in three stages, and each strand of hair follows its own timeline:
At any given time, the average scalp has 90 percent of the hair follicles in the anagen phase, about 1 percent in the catagen phase, and about 9 percent in the telogen phase. The last group accounts for the approximately 100 to 150 strands of hair that fall out every day.
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:
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.
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.
In one review, researchers found that these three oils can improve scalp health. Still, there is a lack of studies proving that any essential oil will make your hair grow faster.
Another review found that the below essential oils may benefit hair loss treatment:
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 carrier oils may even help moisturize your hair:
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.
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:
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.
4. Take keratin supplements
Hair loss is a common symptom of protein deficiency, so taking protein supplements — including keratin — may improve hair health in those who are deficient. Besides this, not much is known about the effects of protein, keratin, and vitamins on hair health.
One test-tube study found that keratin might decrease hair loss, treat damaged hair, and increase hair diameter. Still, more research is needed to better understand how this nutrient might support hair growth.
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.
5. Use a topical protein treatment
Protein helps your hair grow and protects it from chemical and environmental damage. Some studies have indicated that a low protein intake could be associated with reduced hair growth.
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.
6. Caffeinate your follicles
Caffeine has been shown to promote hair growth, with women being more sensitive to its hair follicle effects.
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.
Read more: Saw palmetto for hair loss? »
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.
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.
Keep reading: Why is my hair falling out? »