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How To Promote Hair Growth, According To Experts

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If you’re looking for ways to combat thinning hair and excess shedding, learning how to promote hair growth is step number one. Bustle reached out to Dr. Sejal Shah, a board-certified dermatologist and RealSelf contributor, and Savannah Fincher, former corporate educator and hairstylist for Blo Blow Dry Bar, to get the lowdown on hair growth and how to find solutions that actually work.

There is actually a range of different options, so keep reading to find the best one for you.

The Experts

Dr. Sejal Shah is a board-certified dermatologist with SmarterSkin Dermatology in New York City and RealSelf contributor. In addition to general dermatology, she is an expert in hair loss.

Savannah Fincher is a former corporate educator and hairstylist for Blo Blow Dry Bar.

1. Examine Your Diet & Take A Dietary Supplement If Needed

One of the earliest steps in determining why your hair isn't as thick as it used to be is to take a look at your diet. Dietary deficiencies in nutrients like iron or zinc can weaken the strength of your hair and slow growth. And, while there are iron- and zinc-rich foods that you can add to your diet, you can also get those nutrients via supplements, if that's something your healthcare provider determines is appropriate.

Dr. Shah recommends Viviscal for her patients — a dietary supplement that contains hair-nourishing nutrients — but she says other supplements can be helpful as well. “[Viviscal] contains nutrients that nourish the hair follicle and prolongs the growth phase of the hair. There are a number of other nutrients that are helpful if the individual is deficient, such as iron, vitamin D, and zinc. I find biotin is helpful for strengthening hair, [...] but doesn't necessarily promote new hair growth,” she says.

Fincher also stresses the importance of eating (or taking a supplement with) fatty acids. “Consumption of fatty acids [is] necessary to maintain a healthy scalp/head." Yet she stresses that topical products "that are oil, wax, or creme based can contain fatty acids that can clog pores, which can stunt hair growth."

Consuming omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, specifically, has been scientifically linked to improved hair density. Fincher recommends taking B. Well by Briogeo, a supplement which contains omega-3, -6, -9, and biotin. She also suggests eating a diet rich in certain nutrients. “Zinc, iron, and vitamin A should be incorporated into every ‘healthy hair’ diet [...]. Foods high in vitamin C will strengthen the capillaries that feed the hair shaft,” she says.

Editor's note: If you're experiencing chronic or persistent hair loss, consult with your doctor to get specific advice.

Viviscal is one of Dr. Shah’s top picks. The supplement contains lots of nourishing ingredients, like biotin, zinc, vitamin C, iron, and the scientifically-formulated marine complex, AminoMar, which is full of marine-based proteins and only available in the Viviscal supplement. It's also a 100% drug-free option that’s been proven to make hair thicker while also reducing shedding in just three to six months.

On top of that, this pick has a 4.4-star customer rating on Amazon with over 9,000 reviews. One note: This supplement contains horsetail extract, making it unsuitable for vegans.

According to a reviewer: “I see my hair dresser every 6-8 weeks. This last hair appointment, she commented on how my hair feels very different. She said it felt thicker and full of volume.”

For a chewable option, these SugarBearHair gummies contain vitamins A, C, and D, plus zinc and biotin — all of which are nutrients recommended by Fincher, and many of which are also nutrients suggested by Dr. Shah. These gummies in particular are a fan favorite on Amazon, boasting a 4.5-star overall customer rating with over 40,000 reviews. The gummies are also gluten-free and vegetarian-friendly, containing no dairy or gelatin.

According to a reviewer: "My hair was falling out in clumps and getting super thin in the front. On the recommendation of my hair stylist, I ordered SugarBearHair. I have tons of new hair growth. So pleased and, they taste amazing. I have trouble limiting myself to the recommended dose!" The gummies are gluten-free and vegetarian-friendly, containing no dairy or gelatin.

If you and your doctor determine your diet is low in iron, Solgar's iron supplement might be a good choice for you. Taking one of these vegetarian capsules every day provides consumers with 25 milligrams of iron. Plus, Solgar supplements are free of GMOs, gluten, and artificial flavors.

Additionally, this pick has earned an impressive 4.7-star overall customer rating on Amazon with nearly 8,000 reviews. That said, there are dangers to consuming too much iron, so it's a good idea to follow the advice of your healthcare provider.

According to a reviewer: “After 3 weeks of faithfully taking this, I went back to have my blood work done and was very pleased to see that I was no longer anemic. My energy levels have gone back to normal but the best part about this is that my hair is no longer falling out in record amounts!!!”

A wide variety of tasty foods can provide you with hair-nourishing omega-3 fatty acids — like salmon, chia seeds, and soybeans. But another way to consume omega-3s is by taking Nordic Natural's top pick for a dietary supplement that promotes hair growth: Ultimate Omega. These non-GMO soft gel capsules source their omega-3 complex from deep-sea fish like sardines and anchovies. Plus, this pick is a best-seller on Amazon and backed by a near-perfect 4.8-star overall rating after more than 35,000 reviews.

According to a reviewer: “I notice a distinct improvement in skin and hair growth when I use this product. My hairdresser sees an abundance of new hair growth as well.”

2. Stimulate Your Scalp With Essential Oils

Dr. Shah also suggests using certain essential oils to promote hair growth, like lavender, tea tree, rosemary, rose, and peppermint oils. In fact, studies have found that certain essential oils, like lavender essential oil and rosemary essential oil, not only helped with hair growth but also helped protect against hair loss.

Fincher explains: “You can find many natural ingredients that provide scalp stimulation such as tea tree, mint, lavender, rosemary, [...] in many hair growth products/shampoos. These can be used as essential oils as well which will increase blood flow at the scalp, which will in turn help with new hair growth."

‌This gift set by Cliganic contains peppermint, rosemary, tea tree, and lavender essential oils — four of the oils recommended by both Dr. Shah and Fincher. It also comes with versatile and delicious-smelling lemongrass, eucalyptus, orange, and frankincense oils. Additionally, the oils are USDA-certified organic and non-GMO. Just keep in mind, you’ll want to mix pure essential oils with a carrier oil before applying them to your scalp.

According to a reviewer: “I use essential oils in everything from hair care, to body care and aromatherapy. These are, by far, the best I've purchased, quality wise. Will definitely buy again.”

Created with real peony petals, Provence Beauty multi-use oil is 100% plant-based, also using apricot, almond, and coconut oils to keep hair healthy and shiny. It’s also meant to be used on your hair, face, and even nails. The oil is non-GMO, gluten-free, and cruelty-free. It comes with an overall 4.6-star customer rating on Amazon with over 10,000 reviews.

According to a reviewer: “I use this product for everything - a drop of the oil goes a long way. I use when putting on my moisturizer [...] use on the back of my hands and in my hair- great product & so worth the money!”

In addition to treating dandruff, tea tree oil can keep chemicals and dead skin cells from building up on your hair and scalp, which helps hair stay healthy and moisturized. Healthy, moisturized hair is more likely to grow and less likely to fall out. This tea tree oil shampoo and conditioner set is paraben-free, sulfate-free, and hypoallergenic. More importantly, it’s chock-full of essential oils, including tea tree, lavender, and rosemary. It also contains jojoba oil, botanical keratin, and argan oil, among other nourishing plant-derived ingredients. This pick boasts a 4.4-star overall customer rating on Amazon with over 7,000 reviews, and it’s also cruelty-free, according to PETA’s Beauty Without Bunnies database.

According to a reviewer: “This product works to eliminate dandruff immediately much to my surprise! I have ordered it continuously through the winter and my hair looks incredible, its soft, shiny, and no dandruff issues what so ever. Also, the conditioner has a pleasant tingling-cooling sensation that I love. My hair is growing quickly and I have less hair loss.”

3. Look For DHT-Blocking Products

Fincher suggests trying DHT-blocking products, too, since DHT contributes to hair loss (a fact that scientific research has proven). However, she notes that DHT blockers aren’t for everyone, since hair loss causes vary. “Those with vitamin deficiencies or thyroid problems may not see results from DHT blockers,” she says. In general, it’s best to talk to your healthcare provider before taking something that can impact your hormonal makeup.

Once you’ve gotten the green light from your doctor, check out these DHT-blocking capsules. They’re vegetarian, wheat-free, gluten-free, and manufactured in a GMP-compliant facility. They also contain ingredients like zinc oxide, green tea, and pumpkin seeds. Plus, these DHT-blockers have earned a 4.3-star overall customer rating on Amazon with over 7,000 reviews.

According to a reviewer: “I had a major hairloss episode last winter and in March 2020 [...] I began taking Advanced Trichology Foligrowth and DHT Blocker. Wow. Just wow. By October 2020, I had a full head of hair again [...] and now I have stronger and thicker hair than I have had in about 20 years.”

Experts:

Dr. Sejal Shah, board-certified dermatologist and RealSelf contributor

Savannah Fincher, former corporate educator and hairstylist for Blo Blow Dry Bar

Studies referenced:

Guo, E. L., & Katta, R. (2017, January 31). Diet and hair loss: effects of nutrient deficiency and supplement use. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5315033/

Adil, A., & Godwin, M. (2017, July). The effectiveness of treatments for androgenetic alopecia: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28396101

Lee, B. H., Lee, J. S., & Kim, Y. C. (2016, April). Hair Growth-Promoting Effects of Lavender Oil in C57BL/6 Mice. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4843973/

Murata, K., Noguchi, K., Kondo, M., Onishi, M., Watanabe, N., Okamura, K., & Matsuda, H. (2013, February). Promotion of hair growth by Rosmarinus officinalis leaf extract. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22517595

Panahi, Y., Taghizadeh, M., Marzony, E. T., & Sahebkar, A. (2015). Rosemary oil vs minoxidil 2% for the treatment of androgenetic alopecia: a randomized comparative trial. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25842469

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