Growing hair naturally can be a daunting task. It’s not easy nor is it a quick process. If you’re experiencing hair loss, you’re not alone—it’s more common than you might think. According to the American Hair Loss Association, two-thirds of American men will experience some form of hair loss by the age of thirty-five, and by the age of 50 approximately 85% of men have significantly thinning hair(1). And women make up forty percent of American hair loss sufferers(2). Hair loss can be caused by factors such as genetics, stress or a shift in your diet.
Natural hair growth can be done with a healthy plan and patience. Maybe you’re looking to switch up your look or you’re trying to grow hair that is stagnantly staying the same length. Whatever the reason, it’s normal to seek out ways to grow hair naturally. From peppermint oil to collagen, there are several natural ingredients and methods that are beneficial for stimulating growth and enhancing the hair that you have.
Natural hair growth can be achieved by using collagen. It’s the most copious protein in your body and it helps build skin, ligaments and tendons(3). Although collagen is produced in the body, takingsupplements and eating protein-rich foods, such as chicken, fish, beans, eggs and dairy, help your body create collagen. Collagen becomes more important to the body as we age and collagen production declines.
Hair is primarily made up of a protein called keratin, and your body uses amino acids found in collagen to build keratin(4). When you ingest collagen, your body breaks it down into amino acids that are then used to build new proteins and compounds, which can lead to healthier and stronger hair.
Collagen is an antioxidant that can fight hair damage caused by free radicals, which are the compounds that build up in your body if you eat unhealthily, stress frequently, drink alcohol or live in an area with high levels of air pollution(5).
Biotin, also known as Vitamin B-7, plays an essential role in building a healthy metabolism and creating crucial enzymes. Biotin is required for several enzymatic reactions within the body and is necessary for the proper metabolism of protein, fat and carbohydrates (6). It’s found in small amounts in foods such as whole-grain cereals, liver, salmon, cauliflower, dairy products and nuts. According to the University of Rochester Medical Center, biotin is made by bacteria inside the large intestine(7). Biotin helps your body make energy and works with carboxylase enzymes, ATP, and magnesium to use carbon dioxide to make fatty acids. It’s essential for healthy skin, hair, eyes, and liver.
Not getting enough biotin can result in undernourished hair follicle cells, so preventing a deficiency can help you avoid hair loss. According to a double-blind study by the Ablon Skin Institute Research Center and the University of California, taking biotin can create significant hair growth in women with temporary hair thinning(8). According to Medical News Today, temporary hair loss (Telogen effluvium) usually occurs on the top of the scalp after experiencing stress, shock, or a traumatic event(9). If getting your daily dose of biotin through food doesn’t seem convenient, consider takingsupplements to increase the health of your hair.
Peppermint oil (Mentha piperita) can invigorate your body while stimulating hair growth, according to a study published in Toxicological Research(10). The peppermint herb used to create peppermint oil is a natural cross between two types of mint, water mint and spearmint, and it’s known to grow throughout Europe and North America.
Menthol, a primary component in peppermint oil, has been shown to cause blood vessels to widen, which increases blood flow to the area where it is applied. Because of peppermint oil’s pleasant smell and cooling sensations, it is used in many hair and beauty products. To reap the benefits of peppermint oil, consider adding several drops of oil to your favorite hair product or using a peppermint oilhair mask. A hair mask is a deep conditioning treatment that helps heal damaged hair. They are usually left on the hair for an extended period of time, such as several hours or overnight. Since a pure form of peppermint oil may be too strong and potentially irritate a sensitive scalp, consider diluting it with a more gentle oil such as jojoba or coconut oil before massaging it into your scalp.
Want long, flowing locks? A scalp massage can increase blood flow to the arteries in your scalp and to the hair follicles, which can increase natural hair growth(11). They also can make your hair thicker and stronger over time by improving the texture of the hair. Scalp massages increase the blood circulation to the hair follicles, reinvigorate the roots and soothe the scalp. Scalp massages can also help alleviate stress, which can be a hidden cause of hair loss. Studies show that massaging your scalp at least twice a week can lower stress hormones, blood pressure and heart rate(12).
You can opt to simply use the tips of your fingers to apply pressure to your scalp by massaging in circular motions or try incorporating relaxing oils such as peppermint oil while massaging your scalp to increase circulation.
Even if your hair is strong, it can be vulnerable to damage from daily wear and tear. When handling your hair, never rush. Being merciful to your hair while styling can prevent significant damage, split ends and tangling. Bad habits such as harsh brushing, long exposure to the sun, and sleeping without protecting your hair at night (using a bonnet or scarf) can lead to diminished natural hair growth. Taking proper care and being gentle while brushing and detangling can prevent hair strands from breaking off and splitting, according toByrdie. The ends of your hair are the oldest part of the hair shaft, so taking extra care to be kind to your ends will prevent the hair from splitting and exposing the inner cortex.
Natural hair growth is possible. It won’t happen overnight, but using natural remedies and methods will encourage improvement over time. A lack of vitamins and minerals can hinder hair growth, so be sure to incorporate Physician’s Choicesupplements into your daily routine for proper hair health and maintenance(13).
Laura Tolliver - Contributing Writer, Physician's Choice