How to Grow Out Your Hair

Medically Reviewed by Dan Brennan, MD on August 24, 2021
4 min read

When you decide to grow out your hair, it seems like an exciting choice. As you wait for it to happen, you’ll realize that hair grows so slowly it’s hard to notice progress. The good news is there are things you can do to help move the process along! Paying attention to your health, diet, hygiene, and more can improve your hair growth.

All over your skin, you have small holes where hair grows called follicles. Protein cells form a root inside a follicle, fed by blood from your scalp’s blood vessels. As more cells are created, hair as we know it starts to grow. This continues to happen until the hair moves past the skin's surface.

Before pushing through to the skin’s surface, each piece of hair needs to pass through an oil gland. This gland keeps the hair shiny and soft by continually adding oil to the piece of hair. This oil gland is necessary to keep your hair healthy, but if you don’t wash your hair often enough it can become too oily and greasy. Oil glands are the reason we need to wash our hair.

Cells keep gathering in your follicles and adding onto each piece of hair, and your hair keeps growing. By the time your hair is long enough to be seen externally, it is already dead. You still need to care for your hair, but because it’s dead you can do things like getting a haircut without it hurting.

When your overall health isn’t in check, it could keep your hair from growing at a quick rate. If you’re experiencing hormone imbalances, anemia, or vitamin shortages, the protein cells that make up hair don’t regenerate as they should. Some of these conditions are hard to diagnose by yourself, so ask your healthcare provider to run some tests to see if anything is lacking in your body that might affect your hair growth.

It might seem strange that what you put in your stomach affects the hair on your head, but there’s a strong connection between the two. The most important thing is to maintain a well-rounded diet. This means eating a little bit of everything and not cutting out entire food groups from your daily meals. So, if you’re vegetarian or vegan, you need to find ways to get enough protein and other nutrients that contribute to hair growth.

The hair that you see and care for is easily damaged if you don’t care for it correctly. For example, bleaching or getting chemical treatments like perms will hurt your hair and make it prone to breaking. The more your hair breaks, the shorter it gets. Breakage will not only prevent you from growing out your hair, but it can make your nicely-cut look ragged or uneven.

Likewise, too much heat is bad for your hair. Try to avoid styling it with heat every day. Blow drying, curling, straightening, etc. will all cause your hair to break or grow poorly. You don’t need to cut out heat styling completely, but when you do, use a protectant designed specifically to keep hair safe from high temperatures.

Everyone’s hair is different. If you understand your kind of hair, you’ll be better able to help it grow. If your strands of hair are naturally thick, they’ll be tougher against heat and breakage, but may dry out easier. If your strands of hair are naturally thin, they’re more likely to be damaged during everyday treatment.

Hair that tends to be dry is harder to grow out. You can try washing it less and using a shampoo and conditioner designed specifically to add moisture to hair. Curly hair needs to be carefully maintained. Never brush curly hair when it’s wet. This is an easy way to damage your hair.

Regular trims and haircuts are necessary while growing your hair out. It’s difficult to cut your hair after trying so hard to add to its length, but it’s a tried and true method. When you cut your hair, you are proactively taking off the dead ends before they break off. If you didn’t get regular trims, your hair would continue a cycle of growing and breaking, preventing it from truly growing and giving your hair a frayed look.

Growing out your hair won’t happen overnight, but you can do your part to keep your body and hair healthy. If you follow these tips and create good habits, you’ll be well on your way to longer hair.