A Guy’s Guide To Growing Long Hair

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How long does it take to grow long hair? 

According to the CDC, scalp hair grows an average of one-half inch per month. If your hair is two inches long and you’re aiming for shoulder length (about 12 inches) growth, that adds up to a little less than two years to reach your goal. 

But your hair growth cycle is as unique as you are, so there’s really no one-size-fits-all answer. At any given time, your hair is dispersed into different phases of the growth cycle, taking turns adding inches to your length in the growth phase, pausing in the resting phase, and making room for new growth by entering the shedding phase. 

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How long each strand of hair stays in the growth phase and how quickly your hair follicles are able to add length to your strands depends on a few things, including hormone balance and heritage. Individuals who are more sensitive to androgens like DHT, a potent form of testosterone, tend to have shorter growth phases than others. Ethnicity may also play a role, with Asian hair growth demonstrating the thickest hair diameter and by far the fastest growth compared to both caucasian and African hair growth. Research has shown that thinner hairs grow slower than thicker hairs, so if your hair is on the thin side, it may take a bit longer to achieve your goal length.

We also know that stress has the power to force our hair follicles out of their growth phase prematurely. So if you’ve experienced a stressful event in the past year and, since then, your hair growth has been at a standstill, it can take over six months for your hair growth to bounce back to its regular schedule.

How can guys make their hair grow faster?

When considering ways to support your hair, it’s easy to think hair growth has no connection to, say, how healthy your circulation is or how well that burrito from lunch is being digested. But the cells of your body all rely on each other to keep you in balance. Because of this, growing hair can quickly fall from the top of your body’s “to-do” list when a bigger issue arises. The usual resources reserved for hair growth will then be allocated to more important operations. 

Research has connected a number of different dysfunctions to potential hair loss, including sub-optimal nutrition, hormonal imbalances, increased stress, oxidative stress from things like pollutants, and general inflammation. Your genetics play a role, too.

So, the solution to supporting your best hair growth? Supporting your body as a whole! A multi-targeted approach like Nutrafol helps support the needs of your hair follicles as well as thwart any potential obstacles to growth. Research has shown that herbs such as curcumin do a great job of supporting a healthy inflammatory response. Vitamins like A, D, E, and C, as well as nutrients like zinc and selenium, help keep your immune signaling in check. Additionally, adaptogenic herbs like ashwagandha can help your body build up a better tolerance to stress. All of these ingredients are conveniently packaged in each Nutrafol capsule. 

Does age matter?

While changes to hair follicles and their environment commonly occur as we age, that doesn’t mean your long hair dreams are impossible. With the right supplement routine and a healthy lifestyle, you can absolutely go after that long hair goal. 

For example, as we age, our risk of encountering hormone-related hurdles to hair growth increases. If the hormone DHT is wreaking havoc on your hair, consider the DHT-inhibiting support of saw palmetto. Starting in our 20s, skin naturally decreases production of collagen, the protein complex we rely on to keep our hair follicles nestled securely into our skin. Supporting this production with nutrients like vitamin C and amino acids like cysteine can also help hair flourish at any age

As we approach middle age and beyond, small pockets of inflammation at our hair follicles can also become more common, making it a good idea to consider the support of inflammation-balancing nutrients like fish oil.

Should I trim my hair to make it grow? 

While regular trims are important to keeping your hair looking its healthiest, let’s put the “trimming your hair makes it grow faster” myth to rest. Though it would be undeniably convenient if snipping off a few centimeters signaled our hair follicles to ramp up their activity, experts have decidedly given this presumption the thumbs down. Research has shown time and again that our hair follicles get their instructions on when and how to resume hair growth from much deeper signals. These include genetics, nutrition, and what our hormones are saying.

Do hair care products matter?

Long hair requires a bit more attention to keep it looking its best. And the products you choose are of equal importance to the ones you don’t choose. Hair product ingredients that researchers have connected to hormone disruption or cell-damaging effects include: formaldehyde, parabens, phthalates, octinoxate, and various chemicals hidden under the title of “fragrance” or “perfume.” 

Sticking to organic, sulfate-free options are good guidelines to start with when choosing your products. Sulfates like sodium lauryl sulfate (a common cleansing agent in shampoo) have been shown to increase protein loss in hair, paving the way to damage. Easy to reference guidelines for questionable ingredients can be found on the EWG’s Skin Deep database.

If split ends in particular are a concern, here’s good news: Research has shown that conditioning treatments help strengthen hair and make it more resilient to damage. Coconut oil hair masks, for example, have become a popular at-home hair treatment, likely stemming from research supporting coconut oil’s exceptional ability to penetrate hair strands and help hair resist damage from styling.

MEDICALLY REVIEWED BY
DR. MELISSA ANZELONE, ND

on April 21, 2020

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