Heat styling can break and damage hair. If you often get blow-outs or use a curling or straightening iron or hot comb, your hair may not grow as quickly as you'd like. If you must use heat:
- Spritz on a heat protectant first.
- Use the coolest setting.
- Work quickly so heat touches your hair as little as possible.
- Don't use it every day.
Wet hair is super-stretchy. If you brush it when it's dripping, you could break strands or damage the cuticle, the shingle-like cells that protect each hair. Using heat tools on very wet hair can create bubbles in the hair shaft, making it extra fragile. If your hair's straight, let it air-dry, then comb gently with a wide-tooth comb. For textured or curly hair, gently detangle with a wide-tooth comb while it's damp.
Bleach and other chemical hair treatments like permanents weaken your hair, so it's more likely to break before it grows to your longed-for length. If you choose a hue not too far from your natural color -- say, three shades -- you'll need less damaging peroxide. Always spot-test store-bought dye before applying it to your whole head.
Minoxidil is an over-the-counter medication that can help you hang on to the hair you have and even regrow some you've lost. But you must continue using it to keep up the results. Prescription meds to treat hair loss include spironolactone (Aldactone) and finasteride (Propecia). Hair loss may be a side effect of some medicines, including beta-blockers and amphetamines. Ask your doctor about alternatives if this happens to you.
How could a haircut help your hair grow? When you get a trim, what comes off is the ends, the weakest parts of the strands. If left as is, those ends could break or split. Split ends can travel up your hair shafts and make your locks even shorter. Just don't cut too much, if growth is your goal. Your hair grows about 1/2 inch a month, so you might aim for a 1/4-inch trim every 3 months or so.
Serious stress can send hair into a resting phase, skipping the stage that coaxes it to grow. It may put you at higher risk for a condition called alopecia areata, where your own immune system attacks your hair follicles. It could also lead to trichotillomania, a strong urge to pull out your hair. Your hair might grow back when you reduce the stress in your life or find ways to manage it.
If your hair breaks easily, it needs extra pampering. For example, Black hair tends to be fragile, so pour on the TLC:
- Don't over-wash. Just do it enough to remove product buildup. That might be weekly or every other week.
- If you relax your hair, go to a pro. Be sparing with touch-ups. Get them only about every 2-3 months, and only to new hair growth.
- Treat your hair to a hot oil treatment every couple of weeks.
Wearing extensions or a weave might seem like a handy shortcut to the long locks you crave. But don't wear them for more than 2-3 months at a time. And never pull them out yourself. It can harm your hair and scalp. If it hurts when your hair is styled into extensions, braids, weaves, or cornrows, they're too tight and will damage your hair. Ask for a redo.
Use conditioner every time you shampoo. It not only helps your hair behave and look better, it strengthens it and shields it from the sun's harmful UV rays. If you have fine hair, apply it to just the bottom of your hair to avoid weighing it down. For Black hair, coat the tips well to nourish those fragile ends.
When you want to shed pounds, make sure your hair doesn't go with them. Just as stress can trigger hair loss, so can sudden weight loss. For example, if you don't get enough protein, your body will use what it can get -- and hair growth is low priority. When your nutrition returns to normal, it'll grow back. But it's much better for you, and your hair, to follow a healthy, slower-paced diet plan.
There's no supplement proven to make hair grow faster. But if you're short on certain nutrients, it can affect your hair. Low iron causes anemia, which can trigger hair loss. Vitamins B and D factor big in healthy hair. So do zinc, omega-3 fatty acids, and the B vitamin biotin. Your doctor can test you for deficiencies. Ask them whether you should take a multivitamin or supplement and how much.
Crisp cotton linens feel good against your skin, but they might not be the best choice if you have fragile hair. Some people swear by wearing a satin bonnet to bed or sleeping on satin pillowcases. That won't make hair grow faster, but it may reduce friction, frizz, and breakage. It feels luxurious, too.
A few small studies have indicated that regular head massages might help hair grow in thicker. We need more research on this. But massages are known to help ease stress, and stress can contribute to hair loss. Besides, they feel great. Try a scalp massaging tool. Or gently press, stretch, and pinch your own scalp for several minutes each day.
Microneedling uses a roller with hundreds of fine needles to make tiny punctures in your scalp. It's shown promise in helping people with hair loss, especially when used with other treatments like minoxidil. Scientists think it helps the medications penetrate your skin. You can buy microneedling kits over the counter, but it's safer to see a dermatologist. Microneedling is complicated and can even make some conditions worse.
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- Cleveland Clinic: "Is There Any Way to Make Your Hair Grow Faster?" "Why Is My Hair Falling Out?" "The Best Vitamins, Supplements and Products for Healthier Hair."
- American Academy of Dermatology Association: "10 Hair-Care Habits That Can Damage Your Hair," "Coloring and Perming Tips for Healthier-Looking Hair," "African American Hair: Tips for Everyday Care," "Tips for Healthy Hair," "What Kids Should Know About How Hair Grows," "How to Prevent Hair Damage From a Weave or Extensions," "Hair Loss: Diagnosis and Treatment."
- Johns Hopkins: "Taking Care of Your Hair."
- Peer Journal: "The structure of people's hair."
- Mayo Clinic: "Mayo Clinic Q and A: Treating Hair Loss," "Beta blockers," "Can Stress Cause Hair Loss?"
- Harvard Health Publishing: "Hair Loss," "How Chronic Stress Leads to Hair Loss."
- Dermatology Practical and Conceptual: "Diet and hair loss: effects of nutrient deficiency and supplement use."
- Journal of Translational Medicine: "The management of very low-calorie ketogenic diet in obesity outpatient clinic: a practical guide."
- NYU Langone Health: "Diagnosing Hair Loss."
- Practical Dermatology: "Contemporary African-American Hair Care Practices."
- Eplasty: "Standardized Scalp Massage Results in Increased Hair Thickness by Inducing Stretching Forces to Dermal Papilla Cells in the Subcutaneous Tissue."
- Dermatology and Therapy: "Self-Assessments of Standardized Scalp Massages for Androgenic Alopecia: Survey Results."
- Journal of the European Academy of Dermatology and Venereology: "Microneedling for the treatment of hair loss?"