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How to Increase Hair Growth

Angela Sheddan

Medically reviewed by Angela Sheddan, DNP, FNP-BC

Written by Our Editorial Team

Last updated 5/16/2021

By now, you’re probably familiar with medications and products claiming to stop hair loss. But what about solutions to increase hair growth? 

From anecdotes to tried-and-true remedies, we’re debunking the most common treatments men use to increase hair growth and find out once and for all if they’re everything they claim to be.

How Does Hair Grow?

Before we get into ways to increase hair growth, there’s an important fact you should know. Hair follicles cannot be created. 

Yep, that means the number of follicles you have on your head now are the same number you were born with. 

What does that mean for hair growth? We’re so glad you asked. 

Hair grows from a root at the bottom of a follicle under your skin. The blood in your scalp goes to the follicle and supplies oxygen and nutrients to the hair root, which helps your hair grow up through the follicle and out of your scalp.

Hair shedding is a normal process and a part of life. It occurs when a hair has reached the end of its lifecycle and naturally falls out of the follicle. 

In a short amount of time, the empty follicle will be replaced with a new hair.

Male androgenic alopecia (aka male pattern baldness) is a form of hair loss where the follicle remains empty and doesn’t produce a new hair. 

MAA is a common occurrence among men, and it’s estimated that 30 percent to 50 percent of men will experience some form of MAA by the age of fifty, making MAA is the most common and prevalent form of hair loss in men.

MAA is caused by both genetics and hormones, which both play an important role in the development of male pattern hair loss.

Research conducted on twins suggests that genetics account for around 80 percent of the predisposition to baldness. 

Genetic factors predispose the response of the follicle to androgens in the body. 

Fewer than 15 percent of men have little or no baldness by the age of seventy.

How To Increase Hair Growth

From medications to home remedies and healthy diet and supplements, here are some of the most common ways to increase hair growth.

Home Remedies

It seems like there’s a sea of information out there surrounding home remedies for hair loss treatment. 

We’ve heard of everything from essential oils, to caffeine intake, diet and everything in between. 

But do any of these home remedies for hair loss actually work? Here’s what we know about some of the more popular ones:

Scalp Care

If your scalp isn’t getting proper blood flow, it can’t bring the necessary nutrients to the hair follicles. Taking care of your scalp may help increase hair growth. 

Regular scalp massage has been shown to increase hair thickness over time. 

A 2016 study demonstrated that spending just four minutes per day massaging the scalp with a scalp massage device can increase hair thickness over the course of six months. 

A daily scalp massage and thicker hair? Sounds pretty nice.

Caffeinated Hair Products

We all know caffeine can wake our bodies up, but did you know it may also rev up your sluggish follicles? 

Results from a 2014 study suggested that caffeine worked to stimulate new hair growth in both male and female human hair follicles.

Before you go pouring hot coffee on your head (please, please don’t do this), know that there are hair products like shampoos and conditioners that contain caffeine. 

Caffeinated hair products might be just the thing to revive your scalp and grow those luscious locks.

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Healthy Diet

A healthy and balanced diet can not only improve your physical health but can aid in getting you the hair of your dreams.

Protein

If your protein intake is subpar, your hair won’t grow as optimally as it should — and excessive shedding can also occur. 

Eating a well-balanced diet with at least 50 grams of protein daily is key for optimal hair growth.

Iron

Iron deficiency is the world’s most common nutritional deficiency and is a well-known cause of hair loss. 

The degree of iron deficiency that may contribute to hair loss, however, remains unclear.

It is believed that raising levels of storage iron may improve hair loss, although the research is not conclusive. 

Most importantly, if you’re receiving iron supplementation, your healthcare provider must monitor you due to toxicity risk.

Omega-3 & Omega-6

Omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids are known for keeping your heart healthy, but did you know that they may also help protect against hair loss? 

One study found that taking omega-3 and omega-6 supplements for six months may help reduce hair loss and improve hair density.

Zinc

Zinc deficiency may be either inherited or acquired and may affect multiple systems in the body — including hair growth. 

A study of 312 patients with androgenic alopecia showed that they had lower zinc concentrations as compared to 30 healthy controls.

Deficiencies in other minerals and essential vitamins, including niacin; fatty acids; selenium; vitamins D, A and E; folic acid; biotin; amino acids; proteins and antioxidants may cause hair loss as well. 

Therefore, it’s important to follow a healthy and balanced diet to allow for optimal hair growth.

Supplements

Certain supplements, vitamins and even essential oils may also aid in hair growth. Hey, the more you know, right?

Biotin

Biotin is a vitamin that’s part of the B vitamin family. Your body uses biotin to convert certain nutrients into energy, and it plays an important role in the health of your skin, hair and nails.

Results from a study suggested that oral supplementation with biotin effectively promotes significant hair growth in people with thinning hair.

However, it’s worth noting that biotin supplementation only appears to be effective if you’re biotin-deficient, which is rare.

Essential Oils

Another study looked at four groups of mice, each of which was given a different hair treatment. The treatments consisted of saline, jojoba oil, 3% minoxidil or 3% peppermint oil.

The study found that the group given peppermint oil showed the most hair growth. This included a significant increase in dermal thickness, follicle number and follicle depth.

Research also suggests that rosemary oil may be just as effective as minoxidil 2% at restoring hair growth.

However, it’s also worth noting that the research on essential oils is scarce at best, and that in a lot of these studies, which were conducted on lab animals, it’s not conclusive as to whether or not these same results would be replicated in human subjects. 

Tocotrienols

Tocotrienols are antioxidants that belong to the vitamin E family. 

A study conducted to investigate the effect of tocotrienol supplementation on hair growth found that tocotrienol supplementation significantly increased the number of hairs on the scalp. 

Compared to the placebo group, the tocotrienol supplementation group saw a 34.5 percent increase at the end of an eight-month period.

Vitamin D3

The vitamin D receptor, independent of vitamin D, plays an important role in hair cycling — specifically initiation of the growth phase. 

The role of vitamin D in hair follicle cycling, however, is not as well understood.

In a study conducted on nude mice, the active form of vitamin D3 was found to stimulate hair growth. 

More studies on human hair follicles need to be conducted for more conclusive research, but vitamin D3 could be a promising hair growth option in the future.

Medications

We’re not saying don’t try the home remedies. The research on many of them appears either mixed or scarce, but we hate being naysayers. That said, feel free to give ‘em a try and see what works.

When you’re ready for the real deal, here are some FDA-approved hair loss medications that have the science to back them up:

Minoxidil

First things first — you need to stop hair loss before worrying about increasing hair growth. Minoxidil is an FDA-approved topical medication used to slow down and prevent further hair loss in addition to stimulating new hair growth.

Minoxidil is believed to work by reactivating dormant hair follicles. 

The active ingredient in minoxidil relaxes the blood vessels in the scalp, making it easier for blood to flow to your follicles. 

When your follicles are getting the oxygen and nutrients they need, they’ll begin to regrow hair. 

Used in conjunction with other hair growth treatments and remedies, minoxidil helps to improve the volume of hair on your head over time.

Finasteride

Finasteride is an FDA-approved medication for the treatment of hair loss in men, and belongs to a class of drugs known as 5-alpha-reductase inhibitors.

Finasteride has been shown to be 85 percent effective with hair regrowth usually noticed after about three to four months of daily use. 

It is important to note, however, that the hair loss medication needs to be taken on a continuous basis or else new hair will be lost after one year of stopping the medication.

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Increasing Hair Growth

From medication to improving your diet and even supplements, there is no shortage of remedies to try for increasing the growth of your hair. 

However, like most things in life, there’s no real quick or easy solution to increasing hair growth. 

There are science-backed medications out there, and the home remedies above don’t appear to hurt your hair, so feel free to give them a try, too.

As always, we suggest speaking with your healthcare provider to figure out the best hair loss treatment options for you to try.

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This article is for informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. The information contained herein is not a substitute for and should never be relied upon for professional medical advice. Always talk to your doctor about the risks and benefits of any treatment.

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