Of all the complaints I have about my hair (many, I assure you), the one that rings loudest is that it simply will not grow. At least it feels that way—I'm impatient, and I don't care who knows. And while scientists are pretty adamant that the normal rate of hair growth is about half an inch a month and that there’s not a lot you can do to change that, damned if I’m not going to try.
Luckily, there’s an entire industry dedicated to coming up with pills, treatments, and other tricks to help you defy science. Sorry, science! And after a particularly traumatic (read: short) haircut, I decided to test a bunch of them in hopes that I could negate the whole experience. Having heard the mixed reviews around biotin and Viviscal (bad breakouts, crazy rashes), I went for a different approach, product-wise. What I didn't necessarily gain in length, I certainly made up for in shine, thickness, and what honestly felt like the health of my hair. Take note:
For silkiness and shine: GROH
This all-natural, two-part system involves a scalp conditioning treatment and a daily supplement. The main active ingredients in both are vitamin D2 and ergothioneine (an extract from a blend of mushrooms) plus a bunch of essential oils. I did the Ergo Boost Hair and Scalp Conditioning Treatment twice a week and took the Ergo Boost Daily Replenishing Supplement pills. After about three weeks, my hair got significantly softer. I started actually wanting to brush it (a big step considering I didn’t even own a brush until last year) and subsequently found myself walking down the street in prime hair-swinging time.
The at-home results eventually coaxed me into the salon, where I got a professional-level GROH treatment at the Elizabeth Arden Red Door Spa. It involved a whole scalp massage and heat situation. After that, I didn’t work out for like six days because my hair looked and felt so good, and I was afraid to sweat and subsequently ruin my ridiculously silky hair. Eventually, I did shower—hair was still silky afterwards.
For adding fullness: Philip Kingsley Trichotherapy
The word of the day should really be trichology, of the study of the scalp and the hair follicle. That's what Philip Kingsley specializes in, making hair products for basically every hair type, but the brand is doing an exceptionally good job for my fine-haired friends. The Trichotherapy program comes in three parts, all of which are crucial to the success of the therapy, you, and your hair. It’s a scalp treatment, a hairspray (but not of the styling variety), and a supplement. It’s made up of a bunch of nutrients like vitamin B6, Escalol (to prevent UV rays from degrading hair quality), and methyl nicotinate (to help extend the growing phase of the hair cycle). The idea being that it protects the hair you already have on your head while also helping to grow healthier new hair. In addition to hair that feels thicker (and thereby stronger), be prepared for nails that grow like crazy.
For a total hair overhaul: Phylia de M.
If you’ve tried everything else to liminal results, try this. It was formulated with recovering cancer patients in mind, if that's any indication for its power. I did the whole Phylia Complete set, which includes a shampoo, a conditioner, a natural keratin spray called Connect, a treatment for hair follicles called Re-Connect, and a fulvic acid supplement. As Phylia founder Kazu Namise explained to me, “Hair growth is one of the primary ways to draw heavy metals and toxins out of the body, so it’s actually important for your overall health.” Fulvic acid apparently carries nutrients to the correct cells in your body, making them more receptive to those nutrients. It’s made entirely from fermented organic fruits and veggies (tastes gross, but pretty much has to be good for you).
I started taking the supplement first and noticed a pretty immediate change in my skin, nails, hair, and general well-being (I had more energy and wasn’t getting sick). Then, I added the haircare products to my routine and concluded that Phylia is really where it's at—no shocker if you've ever heard a friend talk about the line like a crazed evangelist. And call me crazy now, but my hair grew at least an inch in the first month. And it looks healthier and fuller, too. The stuff is definitely not in expensive, but if you're in a rut that you're willing to pay your way out of, this is the stuff.
While you’re in hair growth mode, you should also get into scalp massages, according to Rahua founder and hairstylist Fabian Lliguin. His suggestion is to train your boyfriend, girlfriend, roommate, little sister, or friendly neighbor to give you a five minute head massage every day to stimulate the hair follicles. Advice that I wholeheartedly embraced, much to my boyfriend’s dismay.
Other than that, I sipped on Bottega Organica’s Hair Health Herbal Tea in Peppermint and took Biocyte’s Keratine Forte 1,000 mg sporadically when I remembered. I did two apple cider vinegar rinses to clear up product build-up, and ate a bunch of chia seeds, because why not?
Three months later, my hair is certainly getting there. And in the meantime, my skin, hair, and nails have never looked healthier, distracting me from being so obsessed with my hair growing.
Photo by ITG. Know what else works? Ginger. Read about the solution for stress patches here.