How fast does hair grow?
On average, hair usually grows at a rate of half an inch (or just over one centimetre) in a month. That adds up to around six inches or 15 centimetres each year.
However, this growth rate is dependent on your age, your hair type and your overall health. It can also be impacted by diet, stress, hormonal fluctuations and hair care practices.
Is it possible to influence how fast your hair grows?
Let's start with a bit of science. Your hair grows in three stages: anagen (active growth lasting two to eight years), catagen (a transition period lasting four to six weeks) and telogen (a resting phase of two to three months in which the hair falls out).
On the average scalp, around 90 percent of the hair follicles will be in the anagen or growing stage. So can you boost the growth of your hair in this anagen phase? Well, most of the factor that control hair growth are out of our day-to-day control but there are steps that you can take to promote hair strength and prevent hair loss and thinning.
Tips for helping your hair grow
1. Fix your diet
Fixing the faults in your diet can help promote hair growth if you're experiencing hair loss due to poor nutrition. Getting the right balance of protein, vitamins and minerals is essential for a long and lustrous mane.
You are what you eat and given that your hair is made of protein, it's important to ensure you're getting enough of it in your diet.
If you're suffering from iron deficiency, your body can't produce the haemoglobin in your blood that carries oxygen to your cells for growth and repair. That's why one of the common symptoms of anaemia is hair loss. Speak to your GP if you think you might have an iron deficiency and in the meantime ensure you're eating the recommended amount iron-rich foods like red meat, chicken and fish. Vegetarians and vegans can up their iron intake by eating lentils and leafy greens. Another way to increase your iron intake is to include a source of vitamin C with your iron-rich food (like a squeeze of lemon juice, a glass of OJ or fresh capsicum in a salad) as this helps with absorption.
Omega 3 fatty acids are essential for scalp hydration and health. Our bodies can't make them ourselves so important to include sources like oily fish, avocado, pumpkin seeds and walnuts in our diet.
Not only is vitamin A essential for cell growth, it also helps with sebum production which keeps your scalp and hair moisturised. Sweet potatoes, carrots, pumpkins, spinach and kale are all high in beta-carotene, which is turned into vitamin A.
If you haven't already figured it out yet, your scalp is super important for health health. Zinc plays and important role in this so ensure you're getting enough whole grains, beef, pumpkin seeds, seafood and nuts.
2. Get regular trims
Yes, it seems counterintuitive but regular hair cuts will help your hair grow longer, faster.
"The follicles in your scalp determine how much your hair grows and cutting the ends of your hair doesn’t actually impact the follicles in your scalp," celebrity hairstylist Paloma Rose Garcia told Women's Health.
But leaving frayed ends will cause them to split higher up the strand leading to more breakage. Regular trims can help with this.
"If you’re trying to grow your hair long, I’d recommend a trim every three months at a minimum."
3. Use the right products
While there's only a few things you can do to make your hair grow longer from the top, there are more ways to prevent it breaking off at the bottom. Regular conditioning is essential, especially if you're colouring or using heat on your hair. Look for ingredients like keratin – a natural hair protein – which can make hair more damage-resistant.
Try to use a deep conditioning mask or treatment once a week. There are a number of home remedies in your kitchen that can do the job like coconut oil, jojoba oil, macadamia oil, almond oil and olive oil.
4. Care for your scalp
Yep, we're really drilling this one in. Care. For. Your. Scalp. Keeping your noggin hydrated and inflammation free is key to fast hair growth. One of the worst things you can do to your scalp (which so many of us are guilty of) is over washing. Shampooing too often will strip the scalp of its natural, hydrating oils and leave your hair dry, frizzy and prone to breakage. Choosing hair products with ingredients like peppermint and caffeine have been found to stimulate blood flow to the scalp which is great for your follicles.
And get handsy! According to a recent study, daily scalp massages are proven to increase hair thickness.
5. Consider supplements
You've no doubt noticed celebrities and influencers plugging the benefits of certain hair supplements but do these treatments actually work? Despite the hype, there’s not much science backing up the validity of beauty supplement claims.
Most experts say that supplements – which often use biotin, zinc, B-vitamins, omega 3s and collagen – can only boost your hair if you're seriously lacking in key nutrients. So it's important to see your GP or nutritionist if you feel like you may be deficient in a specific vitamin or mineral.
"If your diet is rich and complete, then you don't need supplements," hair expert Mr D'Souza told Women's Health. "But if you struggle to eat all of the above, it may be worth trying one that is rich in zinc and iron."
6. Cut back on heat styling
Take a break from daily blow drying, straightening and curling as constant heat styling can seriously damage your hair.
7. Brush better
Ripping through your wet hair with a brush will result in breakage. Start from the bottom and work your way up. Slowly. Invest in a natural boar-bristle brush, which can help stimulate your scalp's natural oils and spread them down the shaft for hydrated and healthy hair.
8. Try a silk pillowcase
Sleeping on a smooth surface like silk can reduce friction created from tossing and turning. Not only will this cut down on breakage, you'll also wake up with smoother, shinier hair in the morning.
What doesn't work
As we mentioned earlier, beware of tablets or products that promise longer hair, faster. These claims are often unproven. Your best bet is ensuring that you're eating a nutritious diet and giving your locks some TLC (i.e. put down the blowdryer).