Why Your Hair Won’t Grow Long & Healthy (And How to Fix It)

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Written by Annie Walton-Doyle

Updated: March 17, 2024

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image via @hairbykacie1

Getting long and healthy hair is a dream for many women, and it’s not easy. Keeping your hair and scalp in good condition while encouraging growth and minimizing breakage is a lot to ask from your haircare routine.

But it’s not impossible. In fact, the right products, combined with lifestyle choices and styling methods can all help to grow hair long, strong, and stunning.

Healthy hair growth occurs at a rate of 0.35 mm/day, adding up to approximately 0.5 inches a month or 6 inches per year, per NCBI. Hair abides by a natural growth cycle, per Web MD.

There are three phases to our hair’s life cycle: anagen (growth), catagen (transition), and telogen (resting). At any given moment, the majority of your hair is in the anagen phase, while around 1% is in the catagen phase, and 9% is in the telogen phase, per Healthline.

This means that losing 100-150 hairs per day is all a part of hair’s natural growth cycle—although losing more could point to an issue which needs tackling.

Minimzing hair loss is one of the ways to promote hair growth and improve the look of your locks. But aside from stopping hair from falling out, there are also steps you can take to help boost growth and make hair appear healthier.

Some of these factors include lifestyle changes, while others refer primarily to your haircare routine.

Lifestyle Factors

Minimize Stress

It’s easier said that done, but trying to better manage stress isn’t just helpful to your general health – it can actually help out your hair, too.

Per NCBI, cortisol impacts how hair follicles work and their growth cycle, and high levels of cortisol can decrease the production and speed up the breakdown of important skin components by about 40%

Prioritize Health

We all know smoking isn’t a particularly smart health choice – and it appears that, on top of everything else, it can also have an adverse effect on hair growth. Smoking restricts blood flow to the scalp and hair follicles, preventing vital nutrients from reaching your hair.

Smoking can harm your hair, leading to early greying and hair loss, per NCBI.

Change Your Diet

The two main areas in your diet that may be having a negative impact on your hair growth are protein and omega-3.

Hair strands are actually made of protein, so the BBC points out that if you don’t eat enough protein, your hair might get dry, break easily, and become weak. Very low protein in your diet can slow down hair growth and may even cause hair loss.

Consider Supplements

There are specific hair supplements designed to include the hair loving nutrients that may be lacking in your diet. The NCBI confirms that: vitamins and minerals are important for healthy hair growth and the immune system, and that not getting enough of these nutrients could increase the risk of hair loss and affect its treatment and prevention. 

If you are looking for a hair supplement, you’ll want something that contains iron for a healthy blood supply, vitamin C to boost collagen, zinc and selenium for scalp health, vitamin E for protection, and biotin, to prevent brittleness.

Check Your Medications

If you take any regular medications, it’s worth looking into their potential side effects on your hair. Per the AARP, hair loss is not a common side effect, but many everyday medicines can lead to it.

These include medicines for heart problems (beta-blockers), blood thinners, antidepressants, drugs to lower cholesterol, some pain relievers (NSAIDs), and drugs related to hormones like thyroid medications, hormone replacement therapies, or steroids.

Haircare Routine

Introduce Scalp Massage

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image via @veganboost

Scalp care is the foundation of any haircare routine that prioritizes growth. Stimulating your scalp can help increase blood flow to the area. This, in turn, can enhance the strength of your hair’s roots, which can also help nutrients better travel down the strands of your hair, per NCBI.

You can use a specific tool to help invigorate your scalp or just get in there with your fingers once or twice per week. If you want to take your scalp massage to the next level, you can apply an oil or serum to your roots and really take your time rubbing it in.

Make Use Of Hair Masks

While we can’t actually affect the rate at which our scalp produces hair, what we can impact is the quality of the hair produced. And if your new hair is strong and healthy, it’ll look more abundant, plus be less prone to breakage or falling out.

Taking time to offer some TLC to your strands can help to maintain a thicker and shiner hair appearance. Once per week, sub out your regular conditioner for a more heavy-duty hair mask. Leave it on for several minutes ti allow hair to soak up the benefits before rinsing out.

Add Oils

Natural oils are some of the best treatments to add strength and nourishment to weakened and worn-out hair. Both castor oil and coconut oil offer fatty acids, proteins, and other hair-loving nutrients that can deliver instant moisture to parched strands.

You can apply the oil all over the hair, from root to tip (now is a great time to practice your scalp massage technique), put your hair in a shower cap to stop oil transfer, and then wait for a few minutes before washing your hair as normal. You’ll notice an instantaneous improvement in the condition of your mane.

Consider Protein Treatments

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image via @k18hair

Aside from the moisture-boosting qualities of hair masks and oils, hair that has significant damage can also benefit from a specific reparative treatment. The K18 Leave-In Molecular Repair Hair Mask uses the brand’s patented K18 peptide, which repairs damaged hair strands from the inside out.

The K18 peptide protein fills in the gaps in the polypeptide chains which make up strands of hair, re-bonding the strand over time. The can help to reverse damage, prevent hair breakage, and offer a longer, stronger mane.

Limit Damage

Bleaching, colouring, and heat styling can all inflict damage on our locks. Damaging the hair can make it brittle and weak, leading to breakage. This means not only will hair damage make hair look less healthy, but it can also have an adverse effect on hair length. Trying to keep dyes and heat to a minimum can help mitigate this damage, leading to hair that’s both in better condition and looks thicker and longer.

Cleanse Gently

Over shampooing, or using a shampoo that contains harsh surfactant cleansers can dry out he scalp and the hair follicle, leading to breakage over time. Look out, in particular, for shampoos that don’t contain sulfates, as they’re more likely to be gentle on your scalp, removing dirt and excess oil without overdrying or irritating.

The Right Brush

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image via @htn_ning

Finding a brush that effectively detangles your hair without tugging at the roots or pulling hair out is essential if you want to maximize your hair’s growth.

Look for something that boasts its gentle detangling properties, like the Tangle Teezer or the Aveda Wooden Paddle Brush. You should also be wary of brushing your hair when it’s wet, as this is when it’s at its most delicate and prone to snapping. 

Regular Trims

It may sound counterintuitive, but cutting your hair regularly can be the key to helping it to grow. Split ends begin (as the name suggests) at the ends of your hair, but the damage can work its way further up the strand if they aren’t removed regularly. Make sure you’re communicating your hair growth goals to your stylist, though, as they will then know to preserve as much length as possible. 

Silk Pillowcases

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image via @oud.living

A silk pillowcase isn’t just luxurious – it can also help improve the condition of your hair over time. Silk doesn’t soak up oil in the same way cotton does, meaning hair won’t dry out as quickly. It also generates less friction, which can help prevent damage and breakage overnight. 

Upgrade Your Towel

While it can feel fun to rub at your hair with a towel to dry it, this abrasiveness on hair when it’s at its most fragile can lead to breakage. Consider instead opting for a microfibre hair turban. The Aquis Rapid Dry Hair Turban sucks the water out of your hair without any friction, allowing hair to dry in a more gentle, protective manner.

Consult With A Professional

If you’ve tried all of the DIY hair growth methods and are still not happy with the length and condition of your hair, it may be time to seek professional help. A heart medication called Minoxidil can have a hair-boosting side effect and can be purchased over the counter in products like Rogaine.

Per Healthline, Minoxidil, the main ingredient in Rogaine, has been used for over 30 years to treat hair loss. This well-known treatment for both men and women’s hair thinning is FDA-approved and can be bought without a prescription as a liquid or foam.

There’s no one magic solution to help hair to grow long and strong. However, by employing a holistic approach to your hair routine, and combining both lifestyle factors and haircare methods, you could see some nice improvements in both the growth and the condition of your hair.


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