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How To Make Your Hair Grow Faster: 8 Natural Hair Growth Tips For Long Strands

Woman Braiding Her Long Hair
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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.

1. Clean and stimulate the scalp

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 conditions—can lead to hair loss or thinning.

In fact, a 2018 research review explains that oxidative stress, an imbalance of oxidants to antioxidants, plays a role in hair loss in adults.

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.

Additionally, regular scalp massages have been shown to increase hair fullness 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 regrowth.

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.) 

Summary

Regularly wash your scalp with gentle washes. Research suggests regular scalp massages may promote hair fullness.

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2. Take supplements

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 research 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 hair, and that a lack of biotin can lead to hair shedding.*

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 pregnancy 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 deficiency, 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.*

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 publication 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 growth (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 density.

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.

As we learned when reading about scalp massages, a healthy scalp is the foundation to healthy, full hair.*

Summary

Supplements like biotin and collagen may help promote hair growth through unique mechanisms, however, additional research is warranted to understand their individual efficacy.*

3. 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.

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."

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.

Finally, be mindful of how you are shampooing and showering as hair is most vulnerable when wet.

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.)   

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.

Too-tight hairstyles, as noted above, cause friction. Wear one of these styles—like a braid for example—when working out to lessen the risk.

Summary

Too-tight hairstyles and harsh brushing may lead to friction, pulling, and breakage. Be gentler on your hair to protect it from physical stressors.

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4. 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 fascinating, 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.

Summary

Dry and brittle hair can cause breakage. A simple conditioner, hair mask, or oil concentrate can help trap in water and your hair's nutrients.

5. Use antioxidants

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 antioxidants, as they help combat oxidative stress and neutralize free radicals.

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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).*

You can also take advantage of topical antioxidants, in the form of hair oils, serums, or sprays, which are especially in combating oxidative stress that comes with UV rays or pollution. Just look for products that contain vitamins or other common antioxidants like vitamin E (aka tocopherol). 

Summary

Eat foods high in antioxidants and consider also leveraging an antioxidant-focused supplement to your diet. Vitamins C and E promote collagen production. These antioxidant nutrients also neutralize free radicals and combat oxidative stress, which helps protect and strengthen hair.*

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6. 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.

Summary

Protective hairstyles like flat twists, cornrows, and box braids can help promote hair growth and prevent breakage.

7. 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 hair—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 content.

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.

Summary

Avoid using hot tools regularly as it can cause decreased moisture in your hair.

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8. 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.

Summary

Regularly trimming your hair can help avoid breakage and lead to hair growth.

The takeaway

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:

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.

beauty & gut collagen+
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(122)
beauty & gut collagen+

beauty & gut collagen+

A powerful daily ritual for glowing skin and strong hair & nails*

beauty & gut collagen+

beauty & gut collagen+

A powerful daily ritual for glowing skin and strong hair & nails*

★ ★ ★ ★ ★
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
(122)
beauty & gut collagen+

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