We are born with the total amount of hair follicles we will ever have over our lifetime. There may be about 5 million on our body, but our head has about 100,000 follicles. As we age, some follicles stop producing hair, which is how baldness or hair thinning occurs.
The American Academy of Dermatology says that hair grows about 1/2 inch per month on average. That’s a grand total of about 6 inches per year for the hair on your head.
How fast your hair grows will depend on your:
specific hair type
other health conditions
Science has discovered a little bit about how hair growth is controlled at the cellular level in the body, but not enough to know how we can directly speed up hair growth. Read on to learn about the science behind hair growth and how to use that knowledge for healthier hair.
The stages of hair growth
Hair grows in three stages, and each strand of hair follows its own timeline. These three stages are:
anagen: active growth phase of hair that lasts 2-8 years
catagen: transition phase where hair stops growing, lasts 4-6 weeks
telogen: resting phase where hair falls out, lasts 2-3 months
The average scalp has 90-95 percent trusted Source of the hair follicles in the anagen phase. This means about 5-10 percent are in the telogen phase, which accounts for the 100-150 hairs that fall out every day.
Can you increase the anagen phase for hair growth?
How long the anagen phase lasts depends on how long your hair is and if the cells in your follicle base are continuing to multiply and become hair cells. Hair grows because matrix cells shed some of their structure as they reach the upper follicle. The shed structure combines with keratins to form hair strands that exit your skin’s surface. Researchers are still looking into what triggers our bodies to “turn on” the anagen phases. But there are steps you can take to promote healthy hair during the anagen phase.
How to make your hair grow stronger
Hair is made up of keratin and dead skin cells. While there’s no direct method to make your hair grow faster overnight, there are steps you can take to keep your hair healthy and long. Talk to your doctor before trying supplements such as biotin, keratin, or other nutritional supplements. They may interact with medications and cause unintended side effects.
Keep up with vitamins and nutrients
While many companies promote vitamins or supplements for hair growth, they don’t always directly affect hair length. But the body does require a lot of energy to make your hair grow. Missing out on balanced meals and nutrients can affect hair growth.
It’s best to get your vitamins and nutrients from your diet, but supplements you may be interested in include:
Apply essential oils
Put a few drops of into your shampoo or dilute it with jojoba oil. One study showed that pumpkin seed Trusted Source increases hair count for men with hair loss by 40 percent. Avoid applying essential oils directly to your skin. You can dilute the oil with a few drops of essential oil per ounce of carrier oil. Two other oils that may help include rosemary Trusted Source and peppermint Trusted Source oil. While the trials have been animal studies, results suggest that these oils may benefit hair growth. You can also mix these essential oils with other carrier oils that prevent Trusted Source hair damage, such as:
Try topical ointments
Topical ointments are generally for people experiencing hair loss. They may help your hair grow. Studies show that these products are effective in treating alopecia, or hair loss, and promoting hair growth:
topical melatonin reduces Trusted Source hair loss and increases hair density
topical minoxidil 5 percent slows Trusted Source hair loss
Take keratin supplements
There aren’t many studies on the effects of protein, keratin, and vitamins on hair health. One study looked at a product that had 500 milligrams of keratin and other vitamins and minerals. The group that took the supplement showed:
12.5 percent reduction in hair loss
5.9 percent improved in hair strength
improved hair brightness and luster
Protein helps your hair grow and protect it from chemical and environmental damage. If you style or apply heat to your hair often, using a protein treatment can protect your hair. You can purchase these online or use coconut oil at home. Coconut oil helps reduce Trusted Source protein lost both before and after washing hair. Too much protein can affect your kidneys. It may also cause your hair to become brittle, although this is rare. It’s best to get protein from your diet and not supplements. You can get protein from vegetables, nuts, yogurt, and other foods.
Caffeinated your follicles
Studies are still new on the effects of caffeine on hair growth, but a cell study Trusted Source found that caffeine may have growth-promoting effects on hair. Using hair products with caffeine, like this shampoo by AB Crew, as an ingredient may help.