WARNING: Some things cannot be avoided because of genes, but other factors (environmental) can be controlled. So if your parents, grandparents etc. have thin hair don't expect a miracle lol.
Avoid damaging your hair, that is the golden rule, because losing length due to breakage or split ends is very common. Here are some entries I wrote on that subject: How to avoid unnecessary hair damage, Why stretch washes?, What you need to know about growing long healthy hair., Minimize chemical dye damage and alternatives., Hair journal introduction / newbie advice., Hygral fatigue.
Healthy scalp is very important because certain scalp conditions can cause shedding (Flaky (and/or itchy) scalp causes and treatments). It is also important to make sure you're not pulling at the scalp skin too much with braids, buns, ponytails, hats etc, this can cause traction alopecia. Scalp that is too dry can also cause problems and should be addressed by using less harsh ways to wash your hair (sulfate free shampoo, conditioner only washes, etc.), avoiding dehydration and by using oils (coconut oil, extra virgin olive oil, jojoba oil, even cocoa butter) to condition your scalp (either very little as a leave in after washing, or a lot as a pre-wash treatment, or both).
Avoid unnecessary trims. Hair grows 1/2 an inch a month on average, if you trim it every 6 weeks you're basically just maintaining your length and not gaining any new length. Too much trimming will NOT make your hair grow faster, it will make your hair lose slowly gained precious length. For more information I wrote an entry about when, how and why to trim here: Trimming.
A good diet is vital to optimal hair growth. Your general health affects the look, feel, thickness and growth rate as much as your treatment of the hair and your genes. Make sure you avoid unhealthy foods like fast food, junk food, sugar, simple carbs (white pasta, white bread, etc.) and other such known assailants. It is important to have a varied diet which includes plenty of: fruits (raw), vegetables (raw), leafy greens (raw), legumes, protein, healthy fats (Extra Virgin Olive Oil, omega 3, Omega 6, Omega 9, plant fats/oils, etc.) and so on.
Anemia is a good reason to start loosing hair at alarming rates and experience slow hair growth. Make sure you have a healthy diet, get your levels checked up, and if necessary use supplements (multivitamin
, iron, etc.).
Hormones affect your growth rate and shedding. Some things cannot be avoided like postpartum shedding or going through puberty, but others can be. Some things that may have affected growth/shedding: going on or off hormonal birth control (IUD, the pill, the shot, etc.), a condition affecting organs which produce hormones (like ovaries), etc. Evening Primrose Oil
can help balance some of the female hormones out (menopause, pms, etc).
Thyroid issues can affect growth and shedding so make sure you check for that if you're going through a big shed that leaves you with visibly less hair than normal.
Natural options to make your hair grow faster and/or thicker:
Scalp massages are the easiest, cheapest (free) and most natural way to increase hair growth and thickness. They help by stimulating the scalp circulation and bringing more blood (nutrients) to the roots. This can be done easily with your finger pads, make sure you are not being too rough and avoid nails. You can use a circular motion, zig-zag motion or just drag your fingers across the scalp and make sure you cover your entire scalp, some say that having your head upside down while doing this helps because it brings even more blood to the scalp. This can be done daily. A small warning to those who have oily or oily prone scalp, stimulation from massage can cause more sebum production so it may not be for you unless you do it only before washing. Scalp massages will also make you lose hair, but do not worry, this is hair that is on it's way out and was just waiting for its push to come out, the hairs that were not suppose to shed will not be removed as long as you are being gentle while doing it.
Oils can be used with scalp massages and increase hair growth and thickness. Good oils for this are: Coconut Oil
, Andiroba Oil
(Carapa guianensis), Jojoba Oil
(Simmondsia chinensis), Sapote Oil
(Pouteria Sapota), Shea Butter
(African Karite Butter) (Butyrospermun parkii) [source] and Sea Buckthorn Seed Oil
Essential oils should only be used with carrier oils (like coconut or olive) and in small doses (2-4 drops) massaged into the scalp, then left to sit there for an hour to overnight before washing. Here are some good essentials oils to try out: Basil, cajute, Carrot Seed, Cedarwood, Cypress, Eucalyptus, Juniper, Lavender, Orange, Peppermint, Rosemary, Clary Sage, Thyme, Ylang Ylang, Lemon, yarrow, lemon balm, parsley [source], bay, Grapefruit, sage, and Sweet Basil
Herbs can be used for hair growth. Most can be made into teas which can be used in a spray bottle as a leave-in or as a post wash rinse. Herbs can also be infused with oils (oil+low heat+herbs=infused oil) 1 part herbs 5 parts oil is a common ratio (source). "Solar infusion: Using the 'simplers' measure, place the herbs and oil in a glass jar and cover tightly. Place in a warm, sunny window and let infuse for about 2 weeks. Oven Extraction: Place the herbs and oil in a canning jar, or a container with a tight fitting lid. Put them in a pan with enough water to cover the bottom half of the jar. Turn the oven on the lowest temperature possible and heat for several hours. Double boiler method. Place herbs and oil in a double boiler ,covered with a tightly fitting lid and bring to a slow simmer. SLOWLY heat for 1/2 hour to an hour, checking frequently to make sure oil is not overheating. The lower the heat and longer the infusion time the better quality of oil. Crockpot method. Place herbs and oils in crockpot and set on lowest possible heat. You will have to experiment with your own crockpot as the strength of the heating element can vary quite a bit, but as a general rule 2 to 4 hours will do it. Electric roasters have an even lower heat source and herbal oils can be left to steep for 2 weeks." These are the herbs that help: Bringraj
(Eclipta alba), Brahmi Gatu Kola
(Bacopa monnieri), Hibiscus
(Rosa sinensis), Triphala/Trifala, also basil, burdock, nettle, parsley, rosemary, sage, yarrow, kelp
(strengthens roots), horsetail, hibiscus, fenugreek, coconut milk, lavender, birch, watercress
(encourages thick growth), yucca, thyme, coltsfoot [source] and horsetail
Neelibhringadi Ayurvedic Hair Oil helps to promote healthy scalp and prevent hair loss. I use it myself and my shedding is way down (from 100-200 hairs per day to 10-30 hairs per day, sometimes less), I love this oil. It can be used as a scalp treatment before washing, the recommended time is anywhere between 30 minutes to overnight before washing, although I wouldn't use it for less than an hour. The only downside of this oil is its smell, but it is used right before washing not as a leave-in, so the smell goes away after you wash your hair. It can be hard to find. I got mine here. It does contain indigo but it will not darken your hair, I speak from experience, I have (natural) blond highlights around the front of my hair line and I saw absolutely no change in color.
is primarily used to make hair grow thicker but it can also increase growth rate. Now when I say Castor oil I do NOT mean the stuff that's not pure, I mean this which is pure oil and it is usually marketed as a laxative; the color also matters, the dark version of this oil is most effective (it also has a funky smell). This oil is not to be ingested (lol that would be funny), but it is to be massaged into the scalp, then left to sit there for an hour to overnight before washing. A friendly warning: castor oil is thick and sticky so it is a good idea to mix it with a lighter oil like extra virgin olive oil (50% or more of the lighter oil) in order to have an easier time applying and washing it out. Castor oil can darken hair (this is rare and temporary, and it washes out with a clarifying or sulfate shampoo) and sometimes it can cause breakouts, so be careful while using it, especially if you have light colored hair.
can be used as a post-wash rinse or in a spray bottle as a scalp leave-in. This tea can make your hair grow about an inch a month and sometimes it helps hair become thicker as well. Some report shinier and softer hair after using this tea as a rinse. A fair warning is that sometimes it can affect a woman's menstrual cycle or trigger something like a permanent PMS, it can also make light colored hair temporarily reddish (until it is washed out).
Coffee/Caffeine stimulates blood flow to the roots and blocks "the effects of a chemical known as DHT which damages hair follicles and is thought to cause Male Pattern Baldness". It is said to increase growth by 46% and the life cycle of the hair (how long a single strand stays attached to your head before naturally shedding) by 33%-40% (an increase in life of the strand implies longer terminal length and less shedding). These effects are likely caused by caffeine, so caffeinated teas or caffeine tablets can also be used. Note that these effects refer to application on the scalp NOT drinking or ingesting it. It can be used as a rinse or in shampoo/conditioner. Applications needs to be at least 2 minutes long (for absorption) before rinsing/washing out and the effects should last about a week before needing reapplication. Coffee has a strong possibility of darkening the hair, especially if applied to light colored hair (blond, silver, light brown) so a good option if you want to avoid hair darkening would be caffeine pills and white/green tea which contains caffeine. Also read Official Caffeine Rinse Thread! for more information. Note that dilution is VERY important: one 100 mg caffeine pill diluted in 10 liters of water or one table spoon of pre-made coffee to one cup of water is the desired concentration.
Iodine is pretty effective especially when it comes to growing back hair that was lost (like a bald patch), I'm not sure if it works for those who are genetically bald, but if the bald spot was caused by traction alopecia, chemo or something similar it can definitely work. Topical iodine can be bought at a pharmacy and it is generally used as a disinfectant. The best way is to apply it an hour before washing your hair by using a q-tip (to avoid absorbing too much of it through your skin). Be very careful with iodine and only use it if you really need it because the side effects of overdosing on this stuff are very scary, they vary from migraines, to thyroid problems and culminate with coma, this is not for everyone.
Unnatural options to make your hair grow faster and/or thicker:
, yes really lol. It can be applied to the scalp and helps promote faster growth and sometimes thicker hair. Here is a website with more info on that: Monistat for Hair Growth. It can cause head aches and sometimes hair loss, so it's a bit risky. Here is a thread about people's experiences with it: Monistat... dare we start this again.
supplements are some of the most famous ways to promote faster hair growth and prevent hair loss. It is important to keep in mind that it does cause acne for some people and overdosing is not recommended, more is not better, it is damaging to health so inform yourself before choosing a dosage. There are foods that contain biotin naturally if you want a safer option. Some links that give you options: 6 Natural Sources of Biotin, What Foods Contain Biotin?, 8 Foods Rich in Biotin, Biotin, wiki Sources of biotin.
Supplements have already been mentioned in the Heath section of this entry, being healthy and getting all the proper nutrients is essential to thick, fast growing hair. A simple multi-vitamin
can do the job, but there are multi-vitamins that state they are for nails and hair, pre-natal
vitamins are also a good choice.
is a sulfur supplement that is suppose to help hair grow faster. It isn't very popular from what I have read, but some people swear by it. Here are some additional sources: MSM and Hair Growth, MSM, hair growth and halo frizzies, MSM?, Has msm improved your growth ??
Or you could try combining a few to get a better result: 1/2" growth per month to 1/2" in 4 days!!!