For many women, there are few things more alarming than losing your hair. For many, our hair becomes a large part of our identity, the way we express ourselves; it carries a feminine energy, and is an excellent accessory.
Today, a reported 30 million women struggle with hair loss. While it’s normal to lose anywhere from 50 to 100 strands of hair a day, more than that can indicate an underlying issue. The culprit is usually harmless and can be caused by anything from genetics to how you are styling your hair. There’s no magic hair vitamin or DIY hack that’ll give you Rapunzel hair overnight. Typically, even healthier hair grows on average of half-an-inch every month. The most important thing to keep in mind is the healthier your scalp, the healthier your hair, the longer and quicker it will grow. It’s gonna take a while.
If you’ve noticed your hair seems to be on the thinner side lately, or you’re trying to grow your hair out from the disastrous self-cut during quarantine, use some of the tips below to remedy the problem. If you don’t start seeing results within a few months, your healthcare provider may be able to diagnose if your hair loss is caused by other underlying medical conditions like thyroid issues, stress, scalp infections, androgenic alopecia, or simply aging.
Follow these 6 hair-growth tricks to nudge those leisurely hair follicles in the right direction.
1. look at your hair Products
Washing hair daily may protect against hair loss by keeping the scalp healthy and clean. The key is to use a mild shampoo. Harsher formulas may dry hair and cause it to break, leading to hair loss.
Avoid products with these ingredients:
- Sulfates– Sulfates are very strong detergents that work through a chemical reaction, in which they bind with the sebum on our scalp and with water. When you rinse out the shampoo, sulfates take all the oils and residue with them. But while cleansing, they can also damage the hair, make it brittle, and increase frizz.
- Parabens– They are used to prevent bacteria from growing in cosmetics and shampoos. Parabens can mimic the hormone estrogen and have been linked to increased growth of breast cancer cells.
- Sodium Chloride– Or salt, is used to make the shampoo thicker, however can make the scalp itchy and lead to hair loss.
- Alcohol– Most alcohols have a drying effect, and the higher up in the ingredients list they appear, the more alcohols the product contains. Some alcohols that are not as bad for dry hair begin with a “C” or an “S,” like Cetearyl alcohol and Stearyl alcohol. They can actually help your hair retain moisture. The ones that are bad if you already have dry hair usually have a “prop” in their name, like Isopropyl alcohol or propanol.
- Synthetic fragrances & colors– Products that have “fragrance” on their label can contain thousands of hidden chemicals that irritate the scalp and can cause hair loss.
- Diethanolamine (DEA) and Triethanolamine (TEA)– DEA and TEA are also emulsifiers and foam agents that reduce surface tension so water-soluble and oil-soluble ingredients can blend together. In 1998, researchers found a link between the topical application of DEA and cancer in animals, but the effects on humans are unclear. The European Commission has banned DEA in cosmetics.
2. Avoid Styling that is Damaging
Treat your hair with care when styling it. Be gentle. Avoid excessive heat from flat-ironing and blow-drying, as well as wearing tight pony-tails that can lead to shedding.
Chemical treatments, like perms or hair color, may also damage hair and scalp. Ask your stylist about alternatives, like organic hair dyes and others that don’t contain ammonia, peroxide, or para-phenylenediamine (PPD).
PROTEIN Hair follicles are made mostly of protein called keratin. Studies show that a number of women who struggle with hair loss have an underlying nutritional deficiencies, including amino acids that serve as the building blocks of protein. Researchers note that eating a diet rich in protein may help prevent hair loss. Healthy choices include foods like eggs, nuts, black beans, peas, fish, and seeds.
Dr. Marculis loves peanut butter. To start her day with a healthy dose of protein, she adds two scoops of Orgain’s Peanut Butter Protein Powder into her morning smoothie bowls.
VITAMINS Scientists have determined that vitamins A, B, C, D, iron, selenium, and zinc are all important to the hair growth and retention processes, specifically with cell turnover.
- Vitamin A is composed in part of retinoids, which has been shown to increase the rate of hair growth. This vitamin may also help with sebum production, keeping the scalp healthier and able to retain more hairs. Fill your plate with foods rich in vitamin A, such as sweet potatoes, sweet peppers, and spinach, just to name a few.
- Vitamin B Some sources have suggested that vitamin B12 may play a role in hair health. Getting enough vitamin B12 is essential for overall health. The Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion suggest that adults should get 2.4 mcg of vitamin B12 per day. Also, low levels of vitamin B7, or biotin, can lead to hair loss. A 2016 study in 541 females found a biotin deficiency in 38% of the participants who were experiencing hair loss. Always check with a doctor before trying supplements, as some can interfere with the effects of medication. Vitamin B complex contains B1, or thiamin, B2, or riboflavin, B3, or niacin, B5, or pantothenic acid. B6, or pyridoxine, B7, or biotin, B9, or folate and B12, or cobalamin.
- Vitamin C is an essential nutrient for damaged hair and thus, treats and prevents a variety of hair disorders which can damage the hair follicles and affect the normal growth of hair. A diet containing significant levels of Vitamin C can help combat alopecia and baldness in men.
- Vitamin D is metabolized in the skin by keratinocytes. These are skin cells that process keratin, a protein in hair, nails, and skin. When the body doesn’t have enough vitamin D, keratinocytes in hair follicles have trouble regulating hair growth and shedding.
- Iron The Journal of Korean Medical Science found that iron may not only play a role in hair loss, but it may cause hair to fall out in a fashion similar to that of genetic male- and female-pattern baldness. If you’re experiencing hair loss, you may notice more hair than usual in the shower drain or in your hairbrushes. In more advanced cases you may notice bald spots on your scalp. Most hair loss related to iron deficiency is not permanent. The best way to treat hair loss is to address the underlying cause of the problem. If you think your hair loss is related to an iron deficiency, consult a doctor to measure your iron levels. Your doctor will most likely order a ferritin level blood test, which measures the levels of a protein called ferritin that helps store iron.
- Selenium A scientific review noted that selenium is involved in creating hair. They report that newly forming hair takes up selenium after receiving trace elements from the blood. However, too much selenium can cause brittle hair and hair loss. The Institute of Medicine’s Food and Nutrition Board caps the safe daily intake of selenium at 400 micrograms for adults.
- Evidence supports a link between selenium levels, iodine deficiencies and thyroid function, especially in women. Selenium is more concentrated in the thyroid than in other organ in the body, and it is important in the production and metabolism of thyroid hormone.
- Zinc plays an important role in hair tissue growth and repair. It also helps keep the oil glands around the follicles working properly. Hair loss is a common symptom of zinc deficiency. Studies show zinc supplements reduce hair loss caused by zinc deficiency, however, there are some anecdotal reports that supplementing with too high of a dose can also contribute to hair loss. The recommended daily intake of zinc is 8 – 11 mg but the recommended daily dose of the mineral is 15 mg delivered as a chelate. While the recommended doses are put on the safe side of treatment, some hair loss experts advocate an upper limit of 25 mg. However, to prevent excessive zinc intake, zinc supplementation should not be taken at this upper limit for longer than 2 – 3 weeks.
- Saw Palmetto A study revealed that around 60 percent of participants taking saw palmetto experienced improved hair growth. The dosage in the study was 200 milligrams daily.
- Ginseng Ginseng has restorative qualities and is one of the most powerful adaptogens. It can improve appetite, digestion, tone skin and muscles, and restore depleted sexual energy. But furthermore, ginseng contains certain phytochemicals that may promote hair growth on the scalp.
- Gingko Is shown to be a nontoxic and effective treatment for a variety of disorders and deficits of mental function and memory. Experimental evidence shows that Gingko biloba increases blood flow throughout the body, especially the head. With 6 to 8 weeks of continuous usage, the increased blood flow could improve mental activity as well as hair growth.
4. Hair Masks & Massage
Castor Oil Hair Mask is rich in proteins. A study showed that castor could help reduce split ends, hair damage, and dandruff. Anecdotal evidence suggests that castor oil also increases hair thickness and length, although there is not much research to prove it.
- 2 tablespoons of castor oil
- 2 tablespoons of coconut oil (to make the mask less dense and sticky).
- Mix the ingredients.
- Massage the mixture onto your scalp and hair.
- Let it sit for 30 minutes and then rinse it off with cold water.
- Reduces frizz
- Encourages hair regrowth
- Prevents graying
Rosemary Hair Mask Rosemary extract promoted hair growth in mice studies. It has antioxidant properties that fight free radicals and promote hair health.
- 2-3tablespoons of well-chopped rosemary or 6 drops of rosemary essential oil
- 1 cup of coconut oil
- Simmer chopped rosemary in a cup of coconut oil fora few minutes. (Or add 6 drops of rosemary to the coconut oil and mix well)
- After it has cooled, massage the liquid into your scalp.
- Let it stay over night or for 30 minutes if in a rush and then wash it off with lukewarm water.
- Encourages hair regrowth
- Strengthens the follicles
- Fights off free radicals
ReGRO Your Hair Mask was cultivated to reduce scalp inflammation and strengthen the hair follicles to promote thick, healthy hair growth. The mask’s ingredients include
- Copaiba– Nature’s most powerful anti-inflammatory; reduces stress on the hair follicles.
- Rosemary– Rosemary is one of the first essential oils people choose to promote hair growth and reduce hair loss. Rosemary oil stimulates new hair growth and can be used to treat androgenetic alopecia.
- Tea Tree- Rids scalp of the buildup of chemicals and dead skin. This keeps your hair healthy and moisturized, which can help it grow at its normal rate and prevent it from falling out.
- Lavender – Stimulates hair growth. Some individuals state their hair also grew thicker and faster than normal.
- Ylang Ylang– Improves hair texture and reduces hair breakage. The aroma assists with anxiety, frustration, stress and fear.
- Peppermint- Is a vasodilator and increases circulation improving hair health, hair growth and prevent some hair loss. Peppermint also imparts a freshened smell and tingly sensation on the skin and scalp.
- Castor Oil– Is rich in ricinoleic acid—a type of fatty acid found to fight inflammation. When applied to the scalp, it’s purported to enhance the health of the hair follicles and, in turn, promote hair growth (as well as protect against hair loss).
- Massage into scalp twice a week for 6 weeks to see results. It’s that simple.
- Reduces scalp inflammation
- Strengthens hair follicles
- Stimulates new hair growth
- Increases blood circulation to scalp
- Fights free radicals
- Prevents scalp build up
5. Manage Stress
Any number of stressful situations can trigger hair loss, including pregnancy, chronic illness, injury, relationship issues, financial concerns, poor nutrition, surgery, medications such as antidepressants, and even jet lag. To counteract stress and protect your hair, try these tips:
- Learn and practice relaxation techniques (such as deep breathing, meditation, or yoga) regularly
- Get regular exercise, which helps manage stress and its effects
- Spend time with positive people — isolating yourself can make stress worse
- Seek professional help from a therapist
- Eat a healthy diet and take a multivitamin if your doctor recommends it.
Hair loss from stress doesn’t have to be permanent. If it continues, talk to a doctor.
6. Medical Treatments
- Laser Therapy- Low-level laser therapy, also known as red light therapy and cold laser therapy, irradiates photons into scalp tissues. These photons are absorbed by weak cells to encourage hair growth. It’s widely accepted that the procedure is safe, tolerable, and less invasive than hair transplant surgery. The theory of laser treatment for hair loss is that the low-dose laser treatments invigorate circulation and stimulation that encourages hair follicles to grow hair. You can purchase a laser system to provide treatments in the comfort of your own home.
- Platelet Rich Plasma- PRP (platelet-rich plasma) therapy for hair loss is a three-step medical treatment in which a person’s blood is drawn, processed, and then injected into the scalp. Some in the medical community think that PRP injections trigger natural hair growth and maintain it by increasing blood supply to the hair follicle and increasing the thickness of the hair shaft. Sometimes this approach is combined with other hair loss procedures or medications. There hasn’t been enough research to prove if PRP is an effective hair loss treatment. However, PRP therapy has been in use since the 1980s. It’s been used for problems such as healing injured tendons, ligaments, and muscles.
- Minoxidil- Minoxidil solution and foam are used to help hair growth in the treatment of male pattern baldness. It is not used for baldness at the front of the scalp or receding hairline in men. The foam and 2 percent minoxidil solution is also used to help hair growth in women with thinning hair.Minoxidil belongs to a class of drugs known as vasodilators. It is not known how minoxidil causes hair growth. This medication is not used for sudden/patchy hair loss, unexplained hair loss (for example, if you have no family history of hair loss), or hair loss after giving birth. However, when you stop using the product, the hair will return to the point where it would have been, not back to where it was when treatment started, as untreated hair thinning is a progressive problem.
As you can see, there are many ways to help grow your hair faster, but it may take some time for you to see the fruits of your labor. Don’t get discouraged! Focusing on putting more love into your hair and the way you take care of it on a daily basis will go a long way. As hair typically only grows about a 1/4 inch to 1/2 inch every month, patience is key. If you’re experiencing difficulties growing out your hair after giving our recommendations a try, contact your doctor to make sure there isn’t an underlying issue.
Dr. Heaven Marculis, OTD, OTR/L received her B.A. in Psychology with a concentration in science from the University of South Florida. She went on to receive both her Master of Occupational Therapy and Doctorate of Occupational Therapy from the University of St. Augustine for Health Sciences. Dr. Marculis specializes in Complementary & Alternative Medicine with a Reiki Master/Teacher certification and is the founder of Boundless Breath LLC.