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The process of growing out your hair is long and winding to say the least. It's a journey that requires trial and error and a ton of patience, which admittedly can be frustrating when you want nothing more than longer and fuller-looking hair. If you're someone who feels like you've tried all the hair oils, serums, and DIY masks in hopes of boosting hair growth but still aren't yielding the results of your efforts, we've got you covered.
There are many factors that impact how fast (or slow) hair grows, but the first step is knowing what those are so that you can help kick-start the process of getting longer hair. Ahead, dermatologists offer up their best advice (and product recommendations) on exactly how to make hair grow faster and achieve the hair of your dreams.
How to Make Hair Grow Faster
1. Eat a balanced diet.
The saying “you are what you eat” holds true as it relates to your hair. Studies show that the vitamins and minerals obtained from food have an important role in the hair follicle growth cycle. The health and strength of your strands can act as a reflection of what's happening inside your body and highlight any vitamin deficiencies that might be affecting how fast your hair grows.
Eating a balanced diet with proteins, fruits, vegetables, and carbohydrates can ensure that you're getting the necessary vitamins, minerals, and nutrients necessary for hair growth. Jenny Sobera, M.D., a board-certified dermatologist at Village Dermatology in Alabama, recommends eating a diet with foods like salmon for the omega-3 fatty acids that can promote hair growth, berries for their antioxidant properties that can strengthen hair, and vitamin A-rich sweet potatoes, which studies find is also helpful in the production of healthy hair. If you suspect any concerns with your hair are related to diet, consider visiting a doctor to do a blood test and check for any vitamin deficiencies that might be contributing to thin hair or hair loss.
2. Shampoo regularly—but don't overdo it!
There's a lot of confusion out there about how often you should wash your hair. Some folks lather up daily, while others go a week (or more) between shampooing. The truth is, going too long between washes can result in clogged pores and stunted hair growth—but so can over-cleansing, which strips the scalp, causing the hair follicles to produce more sebum to counter the dryness.
So, how often do you need to shampoo? According to the American Academy of Dermatology, it depends on how much oil your scalp produces. You may want to shampoo daily if your scalp gets greasy quickly, whereas those with dry or color-treated strands may be able to go a little longer. Whatever your schedule, it's always a good idea to use a clarifying shampoo at least twice a month to deeply cleanse your scalp and maintain a healthy environment for hair growth.
3. Use dry shampoo sparingly.
Dry shampoo fans may be sad to learn that while occasional use of dry shampoo is okay, it should never become a part of your daily routine says celebrity hairstylist and owner of Los Angeles-based salon Petite Mason Lana Grand.
"Oil, dirt, and impurities accumulate on the scalp daily and need to be removed to ensure the scalp and hair follicles remain clear and balanced,” Grand explains. “Dry shampoo can absorb some oil, making hair look cleaner, but it won't actually remove impurities." When in doubt, try limiting yourself to using dry shampoo once a week at most, recommends Grand.
4. Sleep on a silk or satin pillowcase.
One of the easiest ways to upgrade your hair game is to sleep on a silk pillowcase, says Sobera. "The decreased friction from a silk or satin pillowcase can help reduce hair breakage and improve overall hair quality,” she says. That's why you should do yourself a favor and treat yourself to this ultra-luxe bedding item.
5. Get your hair trimmed regularly.
While cutting your hair won't make it grow faster—regular trims do go a long way (pun intended) in keeping hair healthy and in turn can help you achieve length, says Grand.
"Once a hair strand splits at the end, the damage will only progress. Left untouched, a split end will continue all the way up the hair shaft, damaging the entire strand beyond repair," she says. "So, even though regular trims won't make your hair grow faster, they will absolutely help to eliminate the thing that prevents length retention.”
Grand recommends trimming half an inch every two-and-a-half to three months.
6. Try taking a hair vitamin.
If you need a little extra help in getting in all of your daily vitamins, a supplement could help offer nutrients that give your hair a boost in the growth department.
"Viviscal is my favorite hair growth supplement, and my patients love it, too," says Sobera. "It's a scientifically formulated supplement taken twice daily to promote healthy hair growth from within."
7. Limit heat styling.
Allowing the hair to air dry is always best—especially when trying to grow it out. Heat styling your hair can damage the strands and prevent healthy hair growth. If you must use heat (or you just don’t feel like having damp strands), make sure to prep the hair with a heat protectant formula and use your tools on the lowest setting possible.
"Make sure the heat protectant is one of the first things to touch your hair after washing it," reiterates Grand. "Heat damage can cause your strands to snap, which affects the length you worked so hard to grow."
8. Avoid color treatments.
The damage that comes with the chemical processing of dying one’s hair color could compromise hair growth. So while you may want to jump on the platinum blonde bandwagon or darken your locks come fall, consider your priorities before switching hues. If you can't resist a change, the American Academy of Dermatology recommends staying within three shades of your natural hair color and dyeing the hair darker—rather than lighter, which generally causes less damage.
9. Moisturize and protect with a hair mask.
In addition to regular shampooing and conditioning, Grand suggests incorporating a deep conditioning treatment into your routine once to twice a week. This will help add moisture to the hair and keep your ends stronger and healthier so you can hold onto your length.
10. Try using products containing Minoxidil.
Minoxidil, the active ingredient in Rogaine, isn't just for those who have experienced hair loss. It can also help hair grow longer and possibly faster.
"Minoxidil promotes hair growth by causing more follicles to enter the "growth" (or "anagen") phase [in the hair cycle]. Researchers believe this is through stimulation and release of growth factors," says Sobera. "It's very effective, but has to be taken consistently to maintain results."
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