Medically reviewed by Katelyn Hagerty, FNP
Written by Our Editorial Team
Last updated 5/14/2023
Are there science-backed tips for hair growth that actually work? We found a few worth considering.
It’s probably safe to say we all want hair that grows fast and strong.
And when your hair isn’t growing as fast as you’d like or you’ve tried every trend out there, you might be frustrated enough to pull your hair out — definitely the opposite of what to do for strong, healthy hair.
But with all the questionable information and tips out there (they want you to drink what now?!), figuring out what’ll actually provide healthy hair growth can be a confusing process.
That’s where we come in. This article has science-backed tips for hair growth, plus tried-and-true methods for achieving your healthiest hair yet.
Keep reading to learn what science has to say about hair growth and see some of the best science-backed tips for fast-growing hair.
While we’ll provide some science-backed tips for hair growth, there’s some interesting information to know about the science of hair. Okay, maybe you don’t think it’s as interesting as we do, but it’s important information to know.
All the hair follicles on your head now — the tiny organs throughout your scalp from which your hair grows — are the ones you were born with. You might grow new hairs, but you can’t create new follicles.
As the hair follicle develops, blood supplies oxygen and nutrients to the hair root, which helps your hair grow up through the follicle and out of your scalp. Hair growth starts from a bulb at the bottom of the root of the hair. Cells at the root stick together and harden, and the hair is gradually pushed up out of the skin.
It’s crucial to remember that hair loss is completely normal, with the average person losing around 100 hairs each day as part of the natural hair cycle. New hairs grow in, too, but hair loss is just more noticeable than hair growth.
You can think of encouraging hair growth in two parts: keeping the hair you have healthy and stimulating growth.
Dealing with frustrating hair loss and dreaming of thicker, healthier strands? We compiled five science-backed tips for hair growth so you don’t have to Google questionable tips and tricks.
For healthy hair growth, you'll need to start at the source and make sure you have a healthy scalp. Even if you wash your hair every time you shower, you may not have a healthy scalp. And as it turns out, scalp health can impact hair growth.
The health of your scalp can be determined by many factors, such as scalp tension, certain scalp conditions or buildup from hair products, dead skin cells or your natural scalp oils. When any of these things cause an irritated scalp, it can lead to hair thinning or loss.
One way to keep your scalp healthy is with regular scalp massages. Not only are massages relaxing, but massaging your scalp can lead to thicker hair.
A 2019 study surveyed 340 men who followed specific instructions for twice-daily scalp massages to improve hair loss. Approximately 69 percent of participants reported that their androgenetic alopecia — a common form of male pattern baldness — had improved.
A much smaller study of nine men without hair loss who received a four-minute scalp massage every day for 24 weeks also had increased hair fullness.
Researchers believe that regular scalp massages help increase blood circulation to the area, which delivers vital nutrients and oxygen to the hair follicle. They also think scalp massages increase hair thickness by stretching the cells of hair follicles, which stimulates the follicles to produce thicker hair.
While more research needs to be done on this topic, the studies are promising. Plus, a scalp massage can be a small everyday luxury you can indulge in.
A healthy diet doesn’t just provide amazing benefits for your cardiovascular health, body composition, mental health and physical strength — it can also help stimulate hair growth.
There are a few essential nutrients that may help with hair growth. Antioxidants are a trendy buzzword in the food and diet world, but they’re actually incredibly beneficial for your health and can help fight oxidative stress.
Oxidative stress is an imbalance between free radicals (which can damage cells) and antioxidants. When free radicals accumulate, they can cause hair follicles to close off, limiting hair growth and leading to hair loss.
You can get plenty of antioxidants by eating a colorful diet full of plant foods.
Protein is another key nutrient for hair health, as a low-protein diet can result in hair loss or thinning. Some good sources of protein include lean meats, poultry, eggs, fish, lentils, beans and soy products.
Omega-3 fatty acids, a common oil found in many types of fish, are important for several bodily functions — including possibly promoting hair growth. A study from 2018 found that mackerel oil extract lengthened hair fibers and promoted growth. However, this study was conducted on mice, and there’s currently no credible research done on humans.
This guide on what to eat for hair growth goes over even more foods that can help keep your hair thick, strong and healthy.
However, since male pattern hair loss is caused by genetics and hormones rather than nutrient deficiencies, a balanced diet by itself won’t stop you from getting a receding hairline or going bald if you’re genetically prone to loss of hair.
Eating a well-balanced diet rich in essential nutrients may improve hair growth if used together with medications that treat male pattern baldness.
Though many products for hair loss and hair thinning claim to have medical benefits, very few live up to the hype — or have scientific evidence to back up their claims.
Currently, there are only two products approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to increase hair growth and treat male pattern hair loss: finasteride and minoxidil.
Finasteride slows down hair loss by reducing levels of the hormone DHT, which is responsible for androgenic alopecia (another name for male pattern baldness).
Minoxidil, a topical solution, is thought to stimulate the hair growth process by widening the blood vessels inside your scalp, which may help promote blood flow to your hair follicles.
So what does science have to say about these two products? Studies have shown that finasteride can significantly increase total hair count after about two months of use.
And while researchers aren’t fully sure how minoxidil works, they do know it can increase hair density, as well as the volume and thickness of the hair shaft. One year-long study in Germany found that over 97 percent of balding men who used minoxidil experienced either an improvement in hair growth or no further worsening of hair loss.
Oil isn’t just good for cooking (or found naturally on your scalp) — certain essential oils could promote hair growth.
A study on the effects of peppermint oil on mice found that a 3% concentrate of this oil increased hair follicles, thickness and hair growth. In addition to peppermint oil, jojoba oil and lavender oil also show promising effectiveness on hair loss, according to a 2020 review of eight studies.
But while these studies are promising, they’re preliminary, and more research needs to be done to fully understand the effectiveness of jojoba oil and other essential oils on hair loss.
Also, the FDA doesn’t evaluate the quality of oils, so be sure to talk to a healthcare provider before you use essential oils for hair regrowth.
Though treating your hair gently doesn’t necessarily promote growth, it does keep the hair you already have strong and healthy while preventing further hair damage.
This can mean holding off on heat styling. If you want to use a blow dryer daily, a heat protectant may help significantly reduce hair breakage.
If your hair is long enough to tie back but you’re struggling with hair loss, try to avoid tight hairstyles, as these can cause a type of hair loss known as traction alopecia.
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One popular method you may have considered for stronger locks is hair-growth supplements. Two of the more common supplements include biotin and keratin.
Although biotin supplements have gained a reputation for helping hair growth, there’s limited research on the benefits of biotin for strong or fast hair growth. Biotin supplements may help those who have thinning hair from a biotin deficiency, but that’s quite a rare condition.
Similarly, while keratin is a popular hair-growth recommendation, it doesn’t have enough research to support its use for hair growth. A test tube sample of keratin was found to strengthen hair and make it healthier, but more research is needed to know whether keratin supplements are truly a hair-growth promoter.
Hair growth supplements also aren’t regulated by the FDA in the same way as medications, leaving safety and effectiveness reviews up to the companies that make them. Some supplements may also interact with medications, so be sure to talk to your healthcare provider before taking any for hair regrowth.
While nutritional deficiencies might play a role in hair thinning or hair loss, there just isn’t enough research overall to support supplement use for hair growth.
If you’re dealing with hair loss or looking for ways to grow your hair better, faster and stronger, you might be tempted to reach for the latest trend in hair products or supplements. But oftentimes, these products don’t have the science to back up their hair-growth claims.
Fortunately, there are some science-backed tips to grow the hair of your dreams.
Start at the scalp. Make sure your scalp is healthy, clean and free of buildup. Scalp massages might promote increased blood flow, allowing essential nutrients to promote hair growth.
Eat a healthy diet. Speaking of nutrients, eating a well-balanced diet could help your hair grow. On the other hand, nutrient deficiencies of certain key vitamins, minerals and antioxidants might hinder hair growth.
Consider medication. Two medications — finasteride and minoxidil — are approved by the FDA and have been proven to decrease hair loss.
Additionally, you can make sure you treat your hair gently by forgoing heat styling. You can also try essential oils like peppermint or jojoba oil to increase hair growth, although research is still somewhat limited.
We offer both finasteride and minoxidil as part of our full range of men’s hair loss treatments. You can also check out our guide to explore more ways to increase hair growth.
Like many good things in life, hair growth doesn’t come quickly or easily — the process will take time. Science supports the above tips for hair growth, and they don’t seem to damage hair.
That said, you can always talk to a healthcare provider for more information about hair growth treatments.