8 Natural Ways To Help Your Hair Grow Faster

Get your hair growing with these simple, natural tweaks to your diet and haircare routine.

April 19, 2017
long hair on windy beach
Joanna Cepuchowicz / EyeEm/getty

Whether you’re thinning, dealing with breakage, or just want to get through that growing out phase with your hair faster, resist the urge to seek out serious interventions. The nutrients we eat, the supplements we take, and the shampoo we use can all be contributing to your thinning or slow-growing hair. So check out these natural—and surprisingly simple—tricks to strengthen and lengthen every strand.

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no sugar
Harald Walker / EyeEm/getty
Clean Up Your Diet—Starting With Sugar

When you eat poorly, your waistline isn’t the only thing taking a hit. “Poor diet leads to hormonal imbalance affecting hair growth and health,” says Jennifer Masson, MA, RD, LE founder of Nutritionista Wellness Co. Your first step: cut out the sweet stuff. “A high sugar diet causes inflammation, leading to poor hair growth and quality.” Our suggestion: Cut way back on most forms of added sugar, including table sugar, agave, honey, and maple syrup, and focus more on getting your sweet fix from nutrient-rich whole foods like fruit.

Related: 5 Foods You Need To Eat For Shiny, Healthy Hair

coconut oil
Do This 1-Ingredient Conditioning Treatment

Is there anything coconut oil can’t do? It’s full of hair-happy antioxidants, improves scalp health with its antifungal and antimicrobial properties, and, according to a study from the Society of Cosmetic Chemists, penetrates the hair shaft and prevents protein loss. And since hair is approximately 91 percent protein, keeping it around is key to healthy hair that grows.

Related: What Happened When I Tested Out 7 Different Hair Oils

The study suggests you’ll get the best benefit before you shampoo, as the fatty oil keeps water from penetrating the shaft of your strands, preventing breakage. Warm up unrefined coconut oil (more nutrients!) between your hands and work into strands until your hair looks wet. If you suffer from dandruff or other scalp conditions, go ahead and slather the stuff there, too. Pop on a shower cap and relax for 20-30 minutes once a week before washing. Along with stronger, longer hair, you’ll also be left with weightless, non-greasy volume, says Masson. (Here are 10 more coconut oil beauty treatments you’ll love.) 

organic shampoo
Switch To Natural Shampoo And Conditioner

Could your shampoo be sabotaging your hair growth? Harsh chemicals found in conventional shampoos can “impact the health of the hair follicle, resulting in poor growth,” Masson says. Endocrine disrupting chemicals like parabens and phthalates can also affect hormone balance, a big contributor to hair health.

To start, avoid harsh detergents like sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS), sodium laureth sulfate, and ammonium lauryl sulfate. These powerful, oil-stripping soaps give you that foaming action and squeaky-clean feeling—but without your hair’s natural oils, you’re more prone to breakage. (Here are 7 organic shampoos that work just as well as the stuff with chemicals.)

Natural shampoos and conditioners can nourish hair and provide moisture without damaging your follicles, assures Masson. Ditch the chemicals for products with these ingredients:

+ Rosemary, lavender, tea tree, and grapefruit oils, to stimulate and promote scalp and follicle health
+ Plant extracts like horsetail, willow bark, and nettle that fortify and nourish to improve scalp health promoting growth
+ Proteins like keratin, soy protein, wheat protein, and quinoa protein to strengthen strands and promote growth

Related: I Tried Washing My Hair With 4 Different Homemade Shampoos—Here’s What Happened

collagen powder
Add Collagen Powder To Your Smoothies

You’re probably used to seeing collagen plastered all over anti-aging skin care, and for good reason—collagen is the main structural protein that makes up 70% of skin and hair, according to Masson. Unfortunately, collagen production naturally declines with age, and one of the many keys to hair health is to slow the breakdown and increase the production of collagen.

According to Masson, collagen’s hair growth powers live in the amino acids. “Glycine, proline, alanine, and arginine that make up collagen are shown to help improve hair health and growth, and research suggests it helps to increase body temperature, stimulate blood circulation, improve nutrient delivery to the body (including hair), stimulate hair growth, and improve hair health.”

Related: 6 Surprising Reasons You Need More Collagen In Your Diet

Harness collagen’s hair growth goods with a powder supplement. Masson recommends collagen peptides—they’re already broken down into amino acids, which means they’re more easily digested and absorbed. And since they’re powdered, they mix easily into hot or cold beverages. Our pick: Vital Proteins Collagen Peptides for its clean, grass-fed sourcing and singular ingredient list.

Ramp Up Your Vitamin C Intake

Vitamin C beefs up collagen production in the body and helps make the “scaffolding” of your hair strands, says Masson. Great natural sources of vitamin C include bell peppers, kiwi, broccoli, strawberries, brussels sprouts, and mango. (Here are 5 more ways to eat more immune-boosting vitamin C.) 

fried egg
Daniel Kormann / EyeEm/getty
Get Your B Vitamins

We bet you’ve heard of biotin supplements for hair, skin, and nails. “Biotin, or B7, is essential to the process of hair growth by helping to make amino acids, the building blocks of protein, including keratin,” says Masson. (A great source of biotin is egg yolks.) Other B vitamins like B6, B12, and folate help make red blood cells, which deliver nutrients to all cells, including hair, scalp and follicles. Look to add vitamin B-rich foods to your diet, or consider a B-Complex supplement, like Garden of Life MyKind Organics B-Complex

glasses of water
Nawarit Rittiyotee / EyeEm/getty
Rethink The Way You Stay "Moisturized"

Moisture is extremely important to hair growth, says Masson. So between coconut oil masks, do your strands a favor and drink water. It helps carry nutrients around your body, aids in digestion, and provides your skin and hair with moisture from the inside out. The U.S. Institute of Medicine suggests just less than three liters a day for women and slightly less than four for men, but you should make adjustments based on exercise, climate, breastfeeding, or other factors.

Related: I Drank Lemon Water Every Day For 2 Weeks To See If Its Health Benefits Were True—Here’s What I Learned

self scalp massage
Give Yourself A Scalp Massage

Let’s be honest: this is the best part of any salon shampoo session. Not only does it feel great, massage increases blood flow and circulation to the scalp and, according to a study on a few very lucky men in Japan, can result in thicker hair over time. Check out this easy, 3-step scalp massage.