How Long Does it Really Take Hair to Grow?
Main image – Look!/Adobe
There are so many reasons we would want our hair to grow at a rapid pace – bad haircuts, hair loss, wanting to ditch those overworn and expensive extensions.
But how much does hair actually grow in a week, month and year? And is there really a way to help hair to grow faster?
Read on to our quick guide to how quickly you can expect your locks to grow after that rogue haircut, complete with expert advice from hair loss influencer Dani Austin and hair growth expert Dr Jodi LoGerfo.
This is new, up-to-date information. We updated this article in December 2023 to add further information and expert advice on how long it takes for your hair to grow and how to help your hair grow faster.
How long does it take hair to grow?
The growth phase of your hair will depend on where it develops on the body. In the case of the growth phase of hair on your head, this can last several years allowing it to grow to almost a metre in length if not cut.
According to Web MD, most hair strands grow at an average rate of about 0.3 to 0.4 mm a day. Therefore hair will grow:
- Around 2.5 mm, or a tenth of an inch, in a week
- Around half an inch in a month
- Around six inches a year
This means that growing hair after that bad cut could take about three to six months.
How hair grows
You might be willing your locks to grow long and strong, but how does hair ACTUALLY grow?
In the hair bulb, new cells are constantly being created. These cells stick to one another and harden.
This collection of hardened hair cells is what develops the entire strand of hair. Because new stiffened cells continue to connect to the hair from beneath, it is eventually forced up through the skin.
The hair growth cycle in 4 stages
If you are looking to boost your hair growth, understanding the stages of your natural hair cycle can help solve common hair issues you may encounter.
Phase 1: The first phase is the Anagen Phase, also known as the growth phase or the active phase.
This is when the cells in the root of your hair are most rapidly dividing so more new hair is formed.
Phase 2: After this is the Catagen Phase. This marks the end of active hair growth and disconnects individual hairs from the blood supply and the cells that form new hair.
Approximately 3% of all hairs are in this stage at any time.
Phase 3: The third stage is the Telogen Phase, a period in which strands remain in their follicles but are not actively developing.
At any given time, 10-15% of your hairs are in the Telogen Phase.
Phase 4: The final stage of hair growth is the Exogen Phase when individual hair strands are released from their follicles and fall out.
Now the whole process can start again!
How to make your hair grow faster
Ahh, the age-old question: How do I get my hair to grow faster? Although there’s not really a quick fix for making your hair grow like Rapunzel overnight, there are some things that you can do to make your hair healthier and stronger, meaning fewer split ends and less of a chop at the hairdresser!
And for some inspiration on how to style your hair once it has grown, take a look at some stunning curtain bang styles here.
1. Hair loss medications
There are some medications that specifically target hair loss, and Dr LoGerfo tells us,”The only FDA-approved treatment for hair loss in women (female pattern hair loss) is minoxidil, which is considered a first-line treatment.
“Minoxidil is thought to prolong the anagen (growth) phase, decrease the telogen (resting) phase of hair follicles and increase the size of follicles that have already been miniaturised, enabling hairs to become thicker and grow longer.”
“Other treatments include (these are off-label): birth control pills, spironolactone, cyproterone acetate, finasteride, dutasteride, flutamide, laser light therapy, latanoprost, platelet-rich plasma (PRP), oral minoxidil,” Dr LoGerfo explains.
2. Scalp oils
You might have seen this on social media lately, as influencers and regular people alike have been massaging oils on their scalps to promote hair growth by keeping the scalp healthy, hydrated and free of dead skill cells.
The massaging stimulates the scalp and encourages hair growth in the papilla cells at the bottom of the hair follicle, the cells that play an essential role in the formation of hair, hair growth and the shedding cycle.
And this is something Austin swears by, she tells us that “When you’re trying to achieve hair growth and restoration, you have to start at the source – the scalp!”
“Our scalps are so critical, but we so often skip the root of the issue. The scalp deals with so much every day – product buildup, tension damage, dryness, irritation and more.”
Apply mild to medium pressure as you move in little circles on your scalp. While there is no defined amount of time for a scalp massage, 4 minutes is said to be more than enough each week.
This massage is also said to remove stress and tension, as well as helping to alleviate pesky dandruff – bonus!
3. Rice water
Another natural remedy that has grown in popularity recently is using rice water for hair growth.
According to Japanese history, the amino acids in rice water not only promote hair growth but also increase hair volume and make the hair smooth and shiny. One 2022 study found that there was encouraging evidence that rice bran could have a positive impact on hair growth.
You can make rice water yourself at home by simply combining rice and water and leaving it to ferment (adding some essential oils is also a great option).
You can then use the rice water instead of shampoo, after you’ve washed your hair or as a 30-minute mask, depending on your preference. Strain it before you use it!
4. Exfoliators and scalp scrubs
And while not everyone will benefit from a scalp scrub, those who have lots of product buildup may find that regularly using a scrub helps to keep their scalp healthier.
These products are generally used on wet, just-shampooed hair. After you comb through and separate sections of your hair, you can apply the scrub with your fingertips before rinsing out and conditioning.
While you can buy scalp scrubs and exfoliators, another trend we have seen taking off is using a brush made specifically for your scalp.
How important is a healthy scalp for hair growth?
Well, according to Dr LoGerfo, a healthy scalp is, “very important, and a healthy scalp means healthy hair. A healthy scalp gives us the best environment for hair to grow in the most beneficial way possible.”
“We have to remember that scalp skin is a variant of normal skin-it has an epidermis and a dermis. (An extension of our facial skin). But, in addition to that it has a greater concentration of large hair follicles. So, we want to treat it with the same care we treat the skin of our face or our body,” Dr LoGerfo continues.
She advises a “ritual that includes regularly washing, combing, and brushing our hair. Part of that ritual can also include hair moisturisers or oils that we use post-shampooing.”
“And I always tell everyone to wear a hat! (It is a myth that wearing a hat can make hair fall out and lead to baldness). A hat can help protect the scalp and hair from UV sun damage, which can accelerate the hair thinning process.”
Why does my hair grow so fast?
While having the opposite problem might not seem like much of an issue for anyone who struggles to get their hair past shoulder-length, having hair that grows really fast can also be inconvenient (queue multiple trips to the hairdressers for roots and trims). It can be costly to have hair that grows really fast, and can also leave you feeling like your hair just won’t do what you tell it to!
But why does your hair grow so fast?
Ultimately, DNA calls the shots on this one. Things like age, diet, stress, scalp health and environmental factors may have an impact on hair growth, but it’s mainly down to your hair thickness and genes.
Hair also tends to grow a little faster in summer and a little slower in winter, pregnancy also speeds up hair growth.
Hormones also have an effect on hair growth, they’re a sort of control centre for hair in both men and women. Women who have more male hormones present in their bodies, testosterone and androgen, tend to have faster-growing hair.
It will grow quickly in the armpits, arms, legs, face, chest, and other regions, which helps to explain why men have more body hair than women.
And there we have it! Once you understand the process of hair growth, you can start to use this knowledge to grow thick and healthy tresses. And if your hair just won’t slow down, now you know and understand why.
Meet the experts
Dani Austin is a hair loss influencer with more than 1.7 million followers who was recently named one of the world’s top 50 creators by Forbes magazine.
Dani’s own personal hair loss journey inspired her to create Divi, a clean and effective product collection that becomes part of a lifestyle rather than a quick fix.
Dr Jodi LoGerfo is a Doctor of Nursing Practice and a Family Nurse Practitioner certified in Family Medicine and Dermatology. Dr LoGerfo is considered an authority on hair loss. Her years of research and clinical work on patients with various types of alopecia enable her to diagnose the various patterns of hair loss, identify the causes and offer the latest treatment options, always keeping in mind the importance of individualised care and emotional support.