How To Make Your Hair Grow Faster: 15 Natural Hair Growth Tips For Long Strands
To really encourage length, you have to think of it in two steps: Stimulating growth and keeping the hair you do have healthy.
The latter involves many of your standard hair care lessons, but the former takes a bit more work: You have to go internal.
Here, eight science-backed tips to encourage hair growth—no matter your length goals.
Keep the scalp clean
If you're looking for hair growth, start at the source: the scalp. First off, an irritated scalp—caused by scalp tension, buildup, oxidative stress, and certain scalp conditions1—can lead to hair loss or thinning1.
In fact, a 2018 research review explains that oxidative stress, an imbalance of oxidants to antioxidants, plays a role in hair loss in adults1.
The accumulation of free radicals over time contribute to the hair follicle closing off, thereby limiting growth and eventually leading to shedding.
"This oxidative stress will affect the quality of your hair growth. It happens when you have product, dirt, and oil building up around your follicle opening—which is where your hair grows out of—and that buildup starts to slowly suffocate your hair root," says trained trichologist and hairstylist Shab Reslan.
First up, make sure you are regularly washing your scalp with gentle washes. "While shampooing, massage the scalp to increase the flow of blood, relieve stress, and stimulate hair follicles. It's a win-win!" says hairstylist Miko Branch. (Check out our favorite shampoos for thick hair here.)
And on that note, regular scalp massages have been shown to increase hair fullness2 in small studies, and in some self-reported cases, individuals who gave themselves daily scalp massages, over the course of months, saw hair loss stabilization or regrowth3.
While there are limitations to both studies (one being a small sample size, and the other being self-reported), the research suggests there is potential for hair regrowth with consistent standardized scalp massages.
How might this happen? Scalp massages encourage blood circulation to the area, which helps deliver vital nutrients and oxygen to the hair follicle. (Learn how to give yourself a tension-relieving scalp massage here.)
mbg pro tip
Supplements like collagen peptides and the essential B vitamin biotin have gained increasing popularity for their potential hair health and growth benefits*—but do they actually work? Let's get into it.
Let’s explore the essential micronutrient first. There is limited research4 on the use of biotin for hair growth in healthy and nutrient-replete individuals (i.e., including the B vitamin biotin).
That’s because it is well established at a mechanistic level that biotin sufficiency is important for healthy hair5, and that a lack of biotin can lead to hair shedding6.*
Inadequacy of this particular nutrient is not an issue most people will run into, as biotin deficiency is relatively rare in the U.S.
Of note: suboptimal biotin levels may be more common in pregnancy7 and in those with hair concerns. For example, a 2016 research investigation found close to 40 percent of women dealing with hair loss had biotin deficiency8, too.
And while biotin supplementation might not lead to long, luscious locks for people with healthy scalps and hair follicles, research suggests it may be beneficial for those with poor hair and nail growth.9*
As mbg’s vice president of scientific affairs, Ashley Jordan Ferira, Ph.D., RDN, explains, “While research is limited on biotin as a stand-alone supplement on hair growth, a 2015 publication10 reports on biotin supplementation via a multi-ingredient complex in a randomized, placebo-controlled trial in 30 women dealing with thinning hair—and the significant results observed included increased hair growth and less hair shedding.”*
Ferira expounds further, saying “To be clear, in this 2015 RCT study, biotin was part of a larger blend including marine bioactives from shark and mollusc powder, plus the minerals zinc and silica, as well as vitamin C from acerola cherries. Thus, extrapolating the study’s promising effects to biotin alone is simply not possible based on the research to date."
More research is certainly warranted for micronutrients and hair growth11 (and welcome for all the biotin aficionados out there!)
And what about collagen peptides for hair health? Well, to be clear: "Collagen is not a component of hair," Rachel Maiman, M.D., board-certified dermatologist at Marmur Medical, once told mbg. "But the main component of hair, about 95% of it, is the protein keratin."
This hair protein has a specific amino acid sequence including cysteine, serine, glutamic acid, glycine, and proline.
Since collagen peptides deliver these key amino acids, a targeted collagen hydrolysate supplement (e.g., one that is from a high-quality source such as grass-fed, pasture-raised cows) can help provide the body with the very building blocks of hair.*
Not sure if your particular collagen supplement is delivering on these amino acids? "Check out the collagen brand's amino acid profile to see the breakdown of these protein building blocks with more transparency," suggests Ferira. "This will inform proline percentage and all the other amino acid contributions too."
On top of that, robust research has demonstrated hydrolyzed collagen peptides' ability to encourage the body's natural production of collagen, promoting skin hydration, elasticity, and density12.
While these collagen-skin health benefits have not been researched for the scalp specifically, theoretically the positive impact could extend there (since the scalp is indeed skin!)*
As collagen supplementation research continues to grow, we believe the scalp and hair growth to be important areas where additional research would be very helpful.
TL/DR: Do collagen and biotin work?
Protect it from physical stressors
This doesn't necessarily encourage growth, but it does protect the hair length you already have. Physical stressors—caused by daily wear and tear, harsh brushing, or the shower—leads to breakage.
And while the occasional snapped strand is perfectly normal, having breakage-prone hair can make achieving your length goals nearly impossible.
Avoid tight hair styles
A few things to consider when addressing physical damage: Too-tight hairstyles can cause friction and pulling, so consider using soft hair ties.
You should also consider switching up your style regularly so you're not putting pressure on the same spot day in and day out.
For example, "You never want to repeatedly do the same thing to your hair," says hairstylist Levi Monarch. "Sometimes I see people with thinning at their part, or it might even look like the hairline is receding in that area, and one thing I always recommend is to flip the part. Not only is it healthy for your hair, but it will completely change your look and add volume."
Finally, be mindful of how you wear it when you work out: Since most of us keep the hair out of our faces when moving, we often pull it tight. Wear one of these styles—like a braid for example—when working out to lessen the risk.
Another way to protect it from physical stressors is how you brush it: You should always brush from the tips up—starting from the root is a recipe for frayed ends. And always use a detangler when combing dry hair, especially for those with curls and waves.
Finally, be mindful of how you are shampooing and showering as hair is most vulnerable when wet. Often folks try and detangle during the shampoo stage, but you're better off waiting for conditioner. Conditioner can coat the hair fiber so there's more slip—making getting out tangles much easier and less damaging.
Plus: If you wash too aggressively you can cause knots and tangles that are difficult to get out (learn how you should actually be washing your hair, here.)
Keep it moisturized
"The hair on your head is probably the driest thing on the body, and if you are trying to grow it longer, you need to keep it moisturized," says hairstylist Anthony Dickey. "If your texture is naturally drier, it is even more essential to keep hair hydrated. Dry hair turns to brittle hair and brittle hair breaks."
The research as to why moisture is so important for hair is fascinating13, too: If your hair is dry and brittle, you likely have open cuticles.
"Your cuticle is your outermost layer of hair; it's the protective layer of your strand," says Monarch.
When cuticles are open or lifted, it means they are not sealed down; this allows moisture to escape easier. (Some people are just more prone to this, while others may have open cuticles from chemical hairstyling, like coloring).
However, conditioning agents can actually help seal the cuticle down.
This not only helps trap in water and your hair's nutrients, but a closed cuticle means less friction between the strands—which in turn, also means less breakage.
Everyone's hair needs are going to be different, of course, so for some a simple conditioner will do the trick, while others will need weekly hydrating hair masks and oil concentrates.
Hair ages just like the rest of your body: This is why people experience hair thinning as they get older. The stress of oxidants (those free radicals we mentioned earlier) limits the speed at which your hair grows.
One way that research has shown to help hair aging is antioxidants14, as they help combat oxidative stress and neutralize free radicals.
Firstly, make sure you eat a colorful diet full of plant foods, which are naturally high in antioxidants. You can also leverage targeted antioxidant nutrient or bioactive supplements to complement your healthful diet.*
"Your body needs adequate nutrients to support healthy hair," says registered dietitian Jessica Cording, M.S., R.D., CDN, "Vitamin C, for example, plays a really big role in promoting collagen production and that helps strengthen hair."*
This is why mbg's beauty and gut collagen+ supplement contains not only high-quality collagen peptides, but also the antioxidant vitamins C & E, turmeric, sulforaphane glucosinolate, and more bioactives (hyaluronic acid, L-glutamine) and micronutrients (hello, beloved biotin).*
Use topical antioxidant protection too
Wear protective hairstyles
While any tip on this list is applicable for any hair type, those with textured, natural hair also likely need to wear protective styles from time to time.
"The journey going from short to long hair can feel daunting," says Branch. "But protective hairstyles are wonderful for growing hair out, transitioning between two different hair textures (i.e., textured versus straightened), minimizing the daily hair routine, covering the ends of hair, and safeguarding natural hair against harsh seasonal elements and damaging environmental factors."
A few examples she recommends: flat twists, cornrow ponytails, and box braids.
"But switch these out every two weeks and give yourself breaks between them," she says to avoid scalp tension, since chronic too-tight hairstyles can cause hair loss.
"Protective styles are simply those that help those with kinky, coily hair to prolong their time between wetting and re-styling so you aren't causing regular damage," says Dicky.
He also notes that the prep is just as important as the style.
For example, if you have a really tight texture, blow-dry the hair first and load up on leave-in conditioners so the hair is sufficiently hydrated. If you have a looser curl type you can style the hair while damp.
Give daily heat styling a break
If you are looking to strengthen and grow your hair, you cannot use hot tools daily.
Heat styling works by breaking down the hydrogen bonds in hair15—that's how it restructures and restyles your hair pattern (be it straightening curls or adding curls to straight hair). And when you do this too much, it can lead to suboptimal moisture in the hair.
One study found that regular styling with hot tools significantly decreased moisture content16.
If you do use a hot tool, make sure to use a heat protectant that can stand the heat: Look for something that will protect up to 400°F (how hot some blow dryers and irons can get) or if you use natural oils, the higher the smoke point, the better.
Use hair growth serums
Many serums include naturally derived ingredients to help stimulate the scalp, which, in turn, deliver vital nutrients and oxygen to the hair follicle. However, you need to find a high-quality hair serum with the right ingredients to expect any actual change.
Look for these ingredients
- Rosemary oil: Rosemary oil has been clinically studied for hair growth with promising results. See, rosemary is a fabulous herb for stimulating circulation on the scalp.In fact, a 2015 randomized comparative trial found that rosemary essential oil was just as effective17 as minoxidil (the active ingredient in many commercial hair-growth products) for reversing hair loss caused by androgens—also known as male- or female-pattern baldness—after six months.
- Peptides: Peptides are chains of amino acids linked together by peptide bonds, and amino acids are the building blocks of proteins, such as keratin the protein that makes up your hair. There’s some data that shows these may encourage hair growth18.
- Saw palmetto. This is a plant extract with antiandrogenic properties that may help with hormone-related hair loss.19
While this may sound extreme, platelet-rich plasma injections are incredibly effective at hair growth. “They are done by drawing a patient's blood, spinning it down to separate regenerative platelets, and injecting those back into the scalp," explains board-certified dermatologist Reena Jogi, M.D. The resulting platelet-rich plasma contains growth factors that promote hair growth in the base of the follicle. "This results in decreased shedding, increased growth phase of the hair follicle, increased density of the scalp hairs, and increased thickness of the hair follicles themselves," Jogi explains.
We must note that it’s very expensive, but it works: One randomized, placebo-controlled human trial found that after three sets of injections, the patients had significant improvement in hair density20. If you're interested, consult a board-certified dermatologist who can walk you through your options.
Yes, stress can cause hair loss. "Significant stress can lead to shedding and hair loss," board-certified dermatologist Christine Shaver, M.D., FAAD, of Bernstein Medical Center for Hair Restoration in New York City tells mbg about stress hair loss.
Stress hair loss can be traced back to the stress hormone cortisol, which triggers your hair to enter its resting phase. It can also take a while to show up, so you may not see the shedding until three months after the stressful event.
If healthy hair growth is your goal, it’s vital that you prioritize stress management. (Not just for your hair, but for you!) Here’s our best stress management tips.
Get regular trims
A common hair care tip that holds some truth to it: regular trims can help you get the long hair of your dreams (sort of).
Hair growth stems from the follicles on our scalps, not the ends of our hair; that said, shearing off dead ends doesn't actually affect the follicles up top.
However, what it does do is it helps keep breakage at bay. Breakage, of course, will get in the way of your length goals.
"When you have split ends, what happens is the hair slowly splits up the shaft, which leads to slower growth,'" says celebrity hairstylist and Biolage brand ambassador Sunnie Brook.
Regular trims are the only way to eliminate those frays (read: you cannot heal or restore dry, broken hair) and thus ensure healthy strands.
Not sure what your trim schedule should be? Here's some guidance.
mbg pro tip
How do I speed up hair growth?
You can speed up hair growth by keeping your scalp clean, focusing on hydrating the strands, use a hair growth serum (look for ingredients like rosemary and peptides), practice daily scalp massage, and try to avoid breakage.
Why is my hair not growing?
Slow hair growth can be caused by age, stress, lack of sleep, diet, and hair habits (like tight hair styles and not keeping your scalp free of buildup). If you are concerned about your hair growth, visit a dermatologist or hair professional, like a trichologist.
There are are a few key ways to promote healthy hair growth. Luckily, the simple practices we rounded up above like avoiding hot tools, washing with a moisturizing shampoo and conditioner, or taking a high-quality hair supporting supplement are a few good places to start. We've already rounded up our favorite hair growth serums, supplements, and other products, but our overall favorites include:
- Vegamour GRO Hair Serum
- Act + Acre Conditioning Hair Mask
- Ceremonia Scalp Massager
- Virtue Flourish Shampoo
- Living proof Scalp Care Revitalizing Treatment
Editor's Note (June 20, 2022): An earlier version of this article incorrectly cited a scientific study that claimed how supplementing with biotin and collagen can support hair growth. Upon further scientific review, we have updated the information to reflect the study design and findings with greater accuracy for the most up-to-date information.
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.