I'm A Hair Care Expert & Here's My Routine For Healthy Hair Growth
I've gone through my fair share of awkward hair-growth phases. As someone who spent their formative years consistently changing up the style and shade of their hair, I've definitely had a few bad cuts that I was eager to grow out.
For the past several years, I've kept my hair long and natural—I've found it's the easiest style for my wavy texture. And even if I'm not concerned about growing it longer, I'm certainly still very invested in the hair growth itself. See, no matter what length you keep your hair, you should care that your hair is growing in healthy and strong.
Well, recently I spoke with curly hair expert Sunny, of the wellness and hair salon Lumiere Vive, on an episode of Clean Beauty School. She shared her favorite hair growth tips and how she encourages growth for herself. And I just couldn't help but share.
Her best tip is one we certainly preach here: "No. 1 is that your hair is a reflection of everything that's going on in your body," she says. "I know this sounds very cliché, but eating healthy and drinking a lot of water is my No. 1 tip for growing your hair. Because if you're not eating well and you're really not drinking a lot of water, your body and your hair is going to show."
Yes, there are many nutrients that are associated with hair health.
Protein and amino acids are most famously connected to hair, as it's made up of the protein keratin (which is made of amino acids like proline.)* Biotin is a B vitamin that is critical for cellular energy and is also thought to encourage keratin production—although the exact mechanism isn't fully understood.* Vitamin E helps with oxidative stress and free radicals, which can affect the scalp and follicle health.*
For more information on what nutrients to consume, check out our guide.
Try scalp oil
Scalp massages are an underrated—but very important—step in your care routine. They may seem indulgent, but in reality they're very easy to fit in daily or weekly.
I often encourage people to do them whenever it works best for them: in the shower while shampooing, in the middle of the day when they need a stress-relieving break, at night when applying a hair treatment.
Sunny says she likes to give herself a massage twice a week with stimulating hair oils. "There are numerous root serums that you can use for your hair that stimulate the growth," she says.
If you're looking for a place to start, here's a guide to oils that are good for the scalp and hair. "And you can massage it in to get your circulation flowing into your scalp. Typically I'll massage that oil into my scalp twice a week—every week."
Use a hair rinse
Sunny also mentions she loves a rice water rinse, a classic DIY ritual thought to strengthen the hair and scalp. A little information as to why we think it works so well (research hasn't been done on the treatment, so we don't know for sure how it works—instead we look to the water's properties to get an idea of the mechanisms).
Starch is the main ingredient in rice water. It forms a surface around the hair shaft to add strength, help trap water, and minimize the appearance of wear and tear.
The water is also thought to contain some of the good-for-hair actives found in rice generally, including antioxidants, minerals, and amino acids. The antioxidants are a vital part of hair health, as they neutralize free radicals, minerals and amino acids superficially strengthen the strand when applied topically, and it's also rich in an active called inositol, which studies have shown helps mend and repair hair1.
Read more about rice water hair rinses here.
Visit a specialist
Finally, if you're really struggling with hair growth—don't go it alone or Google yourself into a rabbit hole. See a professional! "I will always tell people if you're having trouble with hair growth to go see a trichologist because they can really evaluate what's going on with your scalp and give you real suggestions of what direction to go in," she says.
If you can't find one in your area, dermatologists are also trained in hair and can help. Of course, you can also talk to your hairstylist. The point here being that you're not alone in your hair-growth journey!
Alexandra Engler is the beauty director at mindbodygreen and host of the beauty podcast Clean Beauty School. Previously, she's held beauty roles at Harper's Bazaar, Marie Claire, SELF, and Cosmopolitan; her byline has appeared in Esquire, Sports Illustrated, and Allure.com. In her current role, she covers all the latest trends in the clean and natural beauty space, as well as lifestyle topics, such as travel. She received her journalism degree from Marquette University, graduating first in the department. She lives in Brooklyn, New York.