How to make your hair grow faster and stronger, according to a hair and scalp expert

If you feel like your hair isn’t growing fast enough, you aren’t alone. We asked a consultant trichologist to explain the different factors that affect hair growth and how to make it stronger in the process.

Have you ever looked at your hair and felt it grows so… slowly?

While some of us may frequently reach for the scissors to combat speedy regrowth, others may find their lengths don’t seem to grow much, even over the span of a few months. 

From stress and diet to treatments and hairbrushes, we know there are a number of things that can affect the growth rate of our hair.

So, we asked Anabel Kingsley, consultant trichologist and brand president at Philip Kingsley, to talk us through the steps and actions we can take to give our roots a little boost, while also making them stronger. 

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What is the average hair growth rate?

“On average, hair grows half an inch a month, or six inches a year.”

Can you actually speed up the growth of hair?

“There are definitely effective treatments that help to encourage hair growth. Bear in mind that any treatment or regime will take time; you can expect to see results at a minimum of six weeks but, more realistically, true and noticeable changes to hair growth occur from the three-month mark of starting something new. This is in part due to the rate of hair growth, but it is also due to the individual growth cycles of hairs.

“It is also important to realise that there is also no ‘one size fits all’ treatment. It very much depends on your individual internal environment and your lifestyle. For instance, diet, nutritional deficiencies, hormone levels, genetics, general health and stress levels can all influence hair growth. You need to assess what areas need addressing, and act accordingly.”

Does frequently trimming your hair help it to grow?

A trim will not make your hair grow faster, but it will help to improve and maintain the quality and density of your ends.”

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How does scalp circulation help hair growth? 

“Hair grows best from a healthy scalp. Cleanse (ie shampoo) regularly to keep your scalp environment in good shape. Like your face, I recommend using an exfoliating scalp mask once a week to keep your scalp supple and to remove dead skin cells.”

Does brushing your hair help?

“It is fine to brush your hair, as long as you do not overdo it. You detangle from your ends but you should use a gentle hair brush. Look for a brush with rounded, plastic prongs and a vented, cushioned base. These are the most hair-friendly of brushes.”

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How can your diet help hair growth?

“A healthy balanced diet will, without a doubt, encourage healthy hair growth. As hair is non-essential tissue, it is the first part of you to be deprived of nutrients when your diet is lacking.

“To ensure your hair is getting the protein it needs to grow (hair is made of protein), eat at least a palm-sized portion of protein at breakfast and lunch. Great examples are fish, eggs, lean meat, low fat cottage cheese, quinoa, seitan and pulses.

“To help ensure that your hair is receiving enough energy for growth (hair cells are the second fastest growing cells that the body produces), include a portion of complex carbohydrates with each meal, such as brown rice, wholewheat toast, potatoes with skin-on or oatmeal.”

How does stress affect hair growth?

Stress can negatively impact your hair growth cycle. For one, it often affects nutrient absorption. It can also mess with hormone levels, impact the health of your scalp, and disrupt your sleep. As a general rule, anything that affects your general health has the potential to affect your hair – and stress can have a huge impact on your system. Try yoga, meditation, or light-to-moderate exercise to manage stress levels.”

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Does colouring your hair stop hair growth?

“While colouring and bleaching do cause damage, they can also give you a great confidence boost. After all, you should be able to have fun with your hair. Just make sure to take steps to hydrate and strengthen strands between processing.”

Can supplements and vitamins help hair growth?

“Being a non-essential tissue, your hair has especially high nutritional requirements – which can be difficult to meet through diet alone. Supplements can be very handy in that they provide your hair with easily accessible nutrients.

Here, Kingsley shares her top hair nutrients:

  • Essential amino acids are proteins your body cannot make on its own. Hair is made of protein, making a protein supplement a great daily hair booster.
  • Iron: ferritin (stored iron) is needed to maintain a healthy anagen (growth phase) of the hair growth cycle. Iron and ferritin deficiency are very common, especially in women of menstruating age.
  • Biotin: helps your body to break down proteins, fats and carbohydrates
  • Zinc and vitamin B12: vitamin B12 and zinc are hair essentials. A B12 supplement is especially important for vegans, as it is only found naturally in animal products.
  • Vitamin D: vitamin D has a profound impact on the hair growth cycle as every hair follicle contains a vitamin D receptor hormone. Vitamin D deficiency is very common. In fact, the NHS recommends we all take a daily supplement.

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