Healthy hair is underrated. We mean, in the world of chemically and color-treated hair being the new norm, we often forget the fact that we still have to keep our hair thick and alive. After all, lush shiny hair lends a lot of youthfulness to one’s look.
But what causes hair damage and what slows down hair growth anyway? Stress, aging, poor diets (yup), heat-styling damage, an inefficient hair care routine, and childbirth are just some of the things that contribute to keeping your follicles and scalp from working like their supposed to. If your roots need a little jumpstart, say no more. Here are 10 ways to help your hair grow a little faster.
Stop with the heat damage.
You know that saying, "leave a thing alone and it’ll grow on its own?" No? Well, we’re saying it now. In an ideal world, all hair should be air-dried after washing. But our worlds are rarely ideal and nobody has the time to air-dry (you don’t want to be that girl who steps into a meeting with her hair still sopping). So stick to the rule of one: Only one heat-styling method a day. This lets your hair rest a little.
If you have pretty manageable hair, make do with a blow dry. If you absolutely need to iron or curl your locks, make some time to air-dry the tresses out and then heat-style. Pro tip: Hair dries naturally better in an air-conditioned environment because the absence of humidity makes it less frizzy. Also, if you have second-day hair and it's loaded with stying product, it’s not a good idea to heat-style it in that state. Tempting we know, with all that hold and texture, but try to avoid it because it will only weaken the strands.
Watch your diet.
It’s no mystery that what you put in your body manifests to the outside of it. So if you’re eating junk—high fat, high sugar—or if you’re not taking in nutrient and vitamin-rich food, this may also be a cause. Try adding more protein and keeping it balanced. After all, hair is also keratin, a form of protein in the body.
Keep the scalp in top shape.
There’s a reason why hairstylists always check the scalp when you go in for a cut or color. Your scalp tells a lot about your hair health and whether it can withstand whatever you’ll be subjecting it to. That said, that "brush your hair a hundred times" adage holds some truth to it after all: The motion massages the scalp and encourages blood circulation in the area, plus it allows your natural oils to flow. Do this after a good wash and dry, and make sure you’re using a detangler brush as it keeps breakage to a minimum. You may also try massaging rosemary oil on your scalp after you shower. This essential oil boosts scalp health and stimulates the growth of healthy follicles.
Tip: Go for a scalp detox to remove product and oil buildup on the surface. The gunk may block the strands from growing. Use a clarifying shampoo once every three weeks or do a hair vinegar rinse once a week to clear buildup.
Be mindful of ingredients in your products.
This is more important than a lot of people think. Most of us feel that as long as the hair is washed, everything will be fine. But, ingredients play a big part in scalp and skin health—they are directly absorbed by your skin. First, stay away from shampoos with sulfates. Sulfates are actually a form of detergent, which makes the shampoo's lather so soapy! They do their job well of lifting dirt, but most times, they do it too well. They strip your hair of its natural oils and barrier, leaving it vulnerable to damage and a bit drier than it should be.
Second, skip the silicones in your conditioners and masks. These are difficult to clean from the hair and scalp, and in the long term, leaves product residue that sits on your scalp, possibly triggering flaking, irritation, and preventing any further growth.
Have a regular haircut schedule.
If your hair’s a bit on the limp side, or if you feel it’s stopped growing, this is the best time to chop it off to give your hair a little life and a little push. When your hair is long but not so great volume and texture-wise, it’s most likely ridden with split ends and breakage. It’s a major signal that it's time for a trim or even a huge chop. If you leave the split ends alone, the breakage may go up further on the strand. Yikes!
Sleep like a queen.
This tip may sound overrated or too extra, but reducing friction while you sleep (with damp hair, as most of us do—where is the lie, right?) reduces breakage by a lot more than we think! Switch to silk pillowcases which let you sleep, um, more smoothly. Plus it’s great for your face, too—it becomes less prone to breakouts and wrinkles.
Tie your hair better.
And by better, we mean looser. Keep it loose, and keep it low. High and tight ponytails are painful and do exactly what you’re thinking: They pull at the hair, cause breakage around the hairline, and cause breakage where it’s tied. Keep it at the nape, and tie it with a proper ouchless hair tie versus an elastic that pulls when you remove it. Keep it undone so it's more chic, too! Ariana Grande may not approve but your scalp will thank you later.
Avoid wearing hair extensions.
Try avoiding extensions or weaves, if you’re into those. All of the extra weight is equally extra damaging to the root of the hair—it can rip the tresses out. Use only when you need it, such as special occasions and remove as soon as possible. Massage the scalp afterward with a good brushing.
Styling and conditioning products are key, too.
When used sparingly and correctly, a little product goes a long way. Heat protectants are key if because you want to prevent your strands from splitting or frying at the ends.
Masks and conditioners, natural or otherwise, foster better hair health in general. Just make sure you rinse well and you avoid heat (again!) when you rinse. Cold showers may suck but are totally worth it.
Ask your dermatologist.
When all else fails, approach an expert, like your derma or maybe even a hair regrowth treatment center. There are such things as implants (using your own active follicles, replanted into your spot of choice), topical medicine, and procedures only your doctor can recommend and perform on you.