Last week, I went to get a haircut in the middle of stressful situation, and I left the salon with a bob. It’s not a big deal, except that I hate it and so, too, does everyone I know. Most at least feign compliments, but last night my best guy friend, upon seeing it for the first time, said, “Oh man, it’s as bad as you think.” So, there’s that.
Suffice it to say I’m eager to grow out this Anna Wintour look ASAP (yes, I also have the bangs), which has me wondering how long ASAP will actually be. “Typically hair grows a quarter-inch a month, although some people are genetically inclined to grow hair a little slower or faster,” says celebrity hairstylist Kristen Shaw. “If you’ve cut your hair to just below your chin, that would take typically 5 or 6 inches to grow past your shoulders, so it will take 10-12 months.”
To make matters worse, this rate is just an average that can be negatively impacted by a number of factors, some of which are not easy fixes. “I find that women’s hormones play a large role, and with the rise of things like autoimmune/adrenal burnout for women, these have been a recurring theme with my clients who experience slow growth and/or hair loss,” says Shaw.
Other factors which may inhibit growth, according to NYC-based dermatologist Francesca Fusco, MD, include poor nutrition, yo-yo dieting, and improper or inadequate hair care. “Maintaining good hair health internally as well as externally are important for optimal growth,” she says. To this list, Jon Reyman, Founder of Los Angeles-based salon Spoke & Weal, adds suboptimal scalp health, poor circulation, and some medications as well.
On a more positive note, there are some things that can be done to expedite or at least foster growth. For starters, adopting a healthy diet helps. “Health starts from within, so lots of fruits and veggies, and organic, pastured meat, along with the right kinds of fats will help your body function to its fullest potential,” says Shaw. Other lifestyle factors matter, too. “Maintain physical and mental wellbeing—stop smoking, get rest, and minimize stress,” adds Reyman. “An unhealthy person is usually not experiencing higher than average hair or nail growth.”
Both Shaw and Dr. Fusco also recommend the supplement Nutrafol ($88), and Shaw likes the Moon Juice SuperHair ($60) as well. “They’re packed with amazing ingredients to boost hair growth and strength,” she says. “I’ve seen them almost double hair growth.”
Regular trims will further ensure hair growth is maximized, says Reyman; however, he notes that it’s important not to confuse length and density. “You may need very regular haircuts when your hair is growing to manage density but not length,” he says. “If you want to keep your length, find an excellent hairdresser who can manage density well. Removing weight can help hair look great and be more manageable.”
From a maintenance perspective, Dr. Fusco also says proper nourishment of the hair is key for preventing breakage. “This can be done by avoiding extremes of heat and overuse of chemicals which can stress hair shafts and make it at risk for breakage,” she says. Reyman likewise emphasizes the importance of investing in high-quality hair tools, like the Dyson Supersonic Hair Dryer ($400), for daily use. Silk pillowcases and silk or satin hair scrunchies are key to preventing breakage, too. “Both items minimize rubbing or abrasion to hair,” he says. In terms of nourishment, he recommends using products which contain K18 Peptide. “K18 penetrates the hair to the cortex, repairing it, and protecting it from damage.” He also suggests scalp massages, because they increase circulation and thus can spur growth. (I went to a head spa for this specific purpose, and it was next-level.)
If there’s such a thing as a good time to get a bad haircut, it’s right now. “Usually in summer months hair grows a little faster due to circulation,” says Reyman, noting that studies by The National Institute of Health show it can grow 10 percent faster in the sunniest season. He gives me slightly better odds of recovery than Shaw, too. “If the bob is chin-length, it should take 3-4 months to grow to your shoulders,” he says, giving me all the hope. After all, this means I could re-emerge into society by July.
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