Growing your hair out can be tough.
I mean it. We all love instant gratification, heck, it’s quite literally built into our system! Generally speaking, when something good happens to us, our brain releases dopamine, which makes us feel good. When you’re tempted to do something, you want to do it now to get that precious dopamine.
I doubt anyone would argue that getting shorter hair is harder than growing it out. One trip to the hairdresser, and voila! Shorter hair. If you want longer hair, however, it can be harder. Sure, you could get hair extensions, and there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that if that’s how you want to go, but for many that’s either not desirable or not possible. After all, good hair extensions can be pretty expensive, and, depending on the texture and volume of your hair, may not look as natural as you’d like.
I’ve actually faced this personally. I don’t usually go into anecdotes, but I’ll make an exception here. When I hit middle school, I decided to get a flapper-style bob, mainly because I couldn’t be bothered to take care of my hair from day to day. I loved it, kept it for years, but, about two years ago, I decided that eight years of the same haircut was enough for me. I had the time to take care of it, the desire to try new updo’s, and customize from day to day. But, as a college student, I didn’t have too much money to spare. I still don’t--I think we can all agree that rent and groceries take precedence over lipstick and weaves. So, I was going to have to grow my hair out the natural way.
Like I said, it’s been two years, and my hair isn’t at the length that I’d like. Granted, going from lip to waist is a big project, but I’m as impatient as anyone else (and, honestly, more so). So, a few months ago, I decided to do what I always do when I’ve got a problem: go down the research rabbit hole. I’ve collected a lot of data, and tried it all on myself. So, come with me on this journey I like to call, “Does Anything on the Internet Actually Work?”
(Spoiler: the answer’s usually no. But I try anyway.)
#1: Diets, Superfoods, and Supplements
You hear all kinds of different “health” advice from the internet. In my research, I heard everything from veganism to keto would make my hair grow (and, if you aren’t in on the lingo, those two diets are mutually exclusive). Try caffeine, drink protein shakes, and everything else under the sun. I got a whole host of supplements, too: the most popular being Vitamin D, but also there’s gummies? And something called “minoxidil,” which is so hard to pronounce my E.R.-doctor-Aunt couldn’t figure it out.
Does it Work? No! With the added benefit that you give your money to Fortune 500 Companies! Yay?
I actually happen to see a clinical dietitian (for hair-unrelated reasons), and she told me that, as long as I’m getting enough calories and nutrients, I’ll be fine. And, unless I was Vitamin D deficient, any supplement I take would just make my pee more expensive.
#2: Essential Oils
I do want to state that, nowadays, I work for a haircare company that sells essential oils, you know, the one whose social media you’re currently on, which I know is an obvious conflict of interest. But, I tried this out before I started working for Mad Growth, so take that as you will.
The claim is twofold: one, that certain essential oils will help replenish or do the job of the natural oils in your hair, the ones your body naturally secretes (and which is why you shouldn’t shampoo daily!). Stuff like Black Seed Oil, Coconut Oil, Lavender Oil, and the return of Vitamin E! For a more comprehensive list and exactly how each works, you can check out my article Hair Loss, Meet Mad-Growth’s Hair-Loss Serum! The second claim is that the smell will somehow magically make your hair grow, because apparently essential oils can cure cancer? You learn something new every day!
Does it Work? Yes… if you actually put it in your hair.
Again, check out my previous article for more on the science behind each essential oil (it will also explain why applying Vitamin D works while consuming it does not). But, the gist is that these oils can do exactly what they claim to: replenish natural secretions that are in short supply, and help your hair do its job even better! Especially if you experience dry scalp or (minor) hair loss, picking a few essential oils or trying a serum that mixes a few together can really help, but do your research first to make sure you pick the ones right for you.
(PSA: if you are experiencing unknown hair loss, please go to the doctor, because that can sometimes be a symptom of [a] health issue[s])
#3: Scalp Massage
Apparently, there’s been some studies to suggest that scalp massages can boost the thickness of your hair, as well as relieve stress that could weaken the hair. By getting regular scalp massages, you can boost hair growth by removing these factors.
Does it Work? Probably not.
To be fair, I used an at-home massager and not a professional, because a) I’m a poor and scalp massages are expensive, and b) I checked out this study and it doesn’t hold up to much scrutiny. The researchers tested this on nine men--zero women--for 24 weeks. That’s it. They never claimed causation, only a correlation, which means nothing in a sample size so small. It wasn’t randomized or controlled, and there’s been no follow-up to try and replicate the results. And, everything we do know scientifically says there’s no reason why this would work! Massage didn’t even make the hair grow faster! Just thicker. This is a really clear example as to why, when you read, see, or hear someone say, “a new study says,” you’ve got to take it with a grain of salt.
#4: Promote Natural Hair: No Hair Dye or Heat
I did not do this fully, because I love curling irons with a burning passion, but this came up a lot so I do want to discuss it. The idea is that the chemicals and methods for things like coloring, chemical treatments, and irons will damage the hair. It won’t stop the hair from growing, mind you, but it will make the hair more brittle and thus cause breakage.
Does it Work? Yes!
I discuss the science behind this in my article Iron Your Hair? Use Protection! so I’ll keep this one short. Limiting how much you use heat and chemical treatments on the hair will keep the hair from drying out. If you’re a die-hard ironer like me, using heat protectant spray every time, even if you’re only blow drying, will make a very significant difference.
That’s all I got, folks. If you have heard any other popular claims, let me know, and I’ll see how well they work. Have fun on your hair-growth journey!