By: Sarah Federico Beauty and Lifestyle Writer
Faster, longer, stronger: these three words define our healthy-hair-dreams. While it seems that some women were simply blessed with abundant locks, long and luscious is a state that continues to elude many of us. Despite our best efforts, it seems that our hair just likes to… Take. Its. Time. How much time? That depends on genetics.
The American Academy of Dermatology reports that hair grows an average of a half-inch each month, which amounts to six inches per year. Though this number does vary slightly from person to person, there’s no way to accelerate your baseline growth. “However much your hair grows per month, there’s not much that you can do to speed up this number,” says Anabel Kingsley, a leading trichologist at the Philip Kingsley clinic in London and New York. She continues, “you can certainly take steps to ensure your strands are growing at their optimal rate, are resilient against breakage, and don’t fall out before they should.”
So, we turned to the experts to discover surefire ways to encourage healthy hair growth. From inside-out care to regularly scheduled trims with your stylist, you can take simple steps to optimize your hair’s ability to grow longer and stronger. Here’s a step-by-step guide to growing your locks long.
Tip 1: Inside Out Care – Diet Counts
Just like your skin, your hair is counting on you to eat a healthy diet. “Protein and complex carbohydrates are key to maintaining a good hair growth cycle,” says Kingsley, “so make sure you are including both of these in your diet. I recommend a palm-sized portion of protein – think fish, eggs, lean meat, pulses and quinoa – at breakfast and lunch. These are the most important meals of the day for your hair, as that is when energy expenditure is greatest.”
Also, make sure to keep vitamin C levels high; this helps with iron absorption, which is necessary for hair growth. Hairstylist Luke Hersheson recommends taking a supplement, or alternatively, increasing your intake of fruits and vegetables such as kiwis, oranges, broccoli and Brussels sprouts.
Vitamins D, found in leafy greens and kale, and Vitamin E, found in almonds, sweet potato and avocado, can help to promote healthy hair growth too. “Vitamin D has a profound impact on the hair growth cycle as every hair follicle contains a vitamin D receptor hormone,” says Kingsley. Additionally, she also finds that vitamin D deficiency is very common.
Tip 2: Don’t Skimp on Scalp Health
Scalp health, is the beauty buzz word of the day, and for good reason, because the hair of your dreams starts with the skin on your head. Whether you know it or not, the bulk of your hair woes – slow growth, oiliness, plus dullness and dehydration – can be traced back to your scalp.
“Each hair grows from, and through, an individual follicle which surfaces on your scalp,” says Guy Parsons hairdresser and certified trichologist. “It’s essential that the follicle and the scalp are clean, clear, healthy and maintained. Follicles that are full of sebum or blocked by dead skin, dandruff or infection will have an impact on the quality of hair growth. In fact, permanently blocked follicles may eventually cease to produce hair at all. It’s essential that dead skin is removed by brushing or washing, but also by weekly exfoliation.”
For a balanced scalp, Parsons recommends that hair is washed every other day. “Some people prefer not to wash their hair at all, but the basic facts allude to the fact that regular washing is better.” Additionally, he suggests scalp exfoliation, which can help to remove built-up dead skin cells. “My recommendation is a [scalp] exfoliant once or twice weekly in cases where you are trying to clear built-up scalp debris. Look for something consisting of finely ground textures such as crushed shell. Use small, circular motions with your fingers to gently massage the exfoliant into your scalp, just as you would with a facial exfoliant. Be gentle but thorough,” Parsons concludes.
Tip 3: Split Ends Slow Hair Growth
The old adage is (mostly) true. Regular trims can keep strands looking healthy and full. While trips to your stylist won’t change your baseline growth rate, it can help you to sidestep mid-shaft breakage and thinning, which can make hair appear shorter and less dense. “I’ve had clients with such bad split ends that the hair actually got shorter as it grew out,” says Mark Townsend, Los Angeles based hairstylist. To achieve optimal growth and avoid breaking and splitting, aim for a quarter-inch trim every eight to twelve weeks.
Achieving longer lengths can feel like a no-win battle. But with a steady blend of persistence and science, you can restore your hair’s health, plus encourage it to grow-baby-grow. In no time flat, you can reach your hair goals – plus nurture the health and vitality of your strands from the inside, out.