Heated tools, dye jobs, over-styling, stress – our hair goes through a lot, often at the expense of its health, length and thickness. Although we’re not all naturally blessed with the ability to sprout a Rapunzel-like mane, it’s not as tricky as you may think to gain a few extra inches or a bit more volume – it’s simply a waiting game.
“Our hair grows on average just over 1cm a month, but for some it’s a lot slower,” says Joico hair expert Nic Apaapa. “When it comes to getting great hair, patience and extra care are needed to reap the rewards.”
That said, we thought it best to explore the full range of options available for our tresses. Whether healthy hair habits, the best new boosting products or a professional touch, baby steps will lead you to the lush locks you crave.
Supplements for hair growth
As if we need another reason to love summer, our hair and nails grow at a faster rate during the warmer months. This is because of the general increase in our exposure to sunlight, which results in our bodies producing more vitamin D, which is implicated in hair health.
Conversely, nutritional deficiencies are thought to slow hair growth and cause thinning. So whether the sun’s playing ball or not, upping your vitamin intake by taking just a few supplements a day can do your locks a world of good. Trichologists recommend taking supplements formulated for hair, skin and nails, as they contain the right dose of important ingredients such as biotin, vitamins B, C and E, iron and omega-3.
How to cope with female hair loss
It’s not often talked about, but hair loss in women isn’t so rare and it can seriously slow your growth rate. In fact, one in three of us will notice hair thinning or loss from the age of 30, and it can start as early as our twenties, says dermatologist Dr Eleni Yiasemides.
“Most people lose 50 to 100 hairs a day, which is considered normal,” she says. “However, people who consistently experience loss or shedding of 150 or more hairs a day may be experiencing significant loss.”
Yiasemides says that female pattern hair loss is either heredity or caused by telogen effluvium, a type of temporary loss that sees ‘resting’ hair shed, commonly due to some sort of shock or sometimes the effects of medication. “It’s a very emotional issue for women, and stress can be the ultimate culprit.”
Early signs can include a build-up of hair in your brush or shower drain, or noticing that you need to twist your hair tie around your ponytail more times than usual. Happily, however, new advancements mean regaining thickness and boosting new growth is entirely possible.
Yiasemides recommends consulting a hair specialist if you’re worried, but says an at-home treatment can work wonders to reactivate hair follicles to stimulate growth. Our recommendation for an in home treatment is Women’s Regaine Foam.
How to deal with scalp problems
A healthy scalp equals healthy hair, and with so many targeted products on the market, it’s easy to address your individual concerns.
Some of us have a naturally oily scalp, but stress can make it worse, and excess salty, fatty or sweet foods can alter your scalp’s pH, making it a breeding ground for bacteria that can cause irritation and flaking.
Massaging your scalp a few times a week with a detoxing treatment is excellent for exfoliating flakes and controlling oil – try L’Oréal Paris Elvive Extraordinary Clay Detox Clay Mask, $11.
For an everyday boost that won’t make hair oilier or weigh it down, try a serum that will penetrate deeply. We like Kérastase Initialiste Advanced Scalp and Hair Concentrate, $70.
Dry, flaky scalp
Dandruff can result from cold weather, moisture-sapping indoor heating or shampoo that’s too harsh.
Swap your shampoo for a cream-based version like Bumble and Bumble Gentle Shampoo, $39. Then, once a week, apply a hot oil treatment designed to soothe the scalp. Castor oil is a brilliant natural option and available for just a few dollars from pharmacies and health stores. It’s packed with nutrients, including nourishing vitamin E and omega-9 fatty acids. Apply to the roots of dry hair and massage it into the scalp, leave overnight, then wash as usual.
This chronic inflammatory condition is thought to have numerous causes, including genetics and stress.
Although there’s no known cure for psoriasis, there are things you can do to keep it under control. Try using a shampoo like Matrix Biolage ScalpSync Anti-Dandruff Shampoo, $30, which contains piroctone olamine, an antifungal and antimicrobial compound used to treat fungal infections of the skin, particularly the scalp.
How to add volume to your hair
When it comes to a quick fix for hair that’s looking lacklustre or limp, Auckland-based Frenchie & Co director and stylist Hannah Willmer has a few tricks up her sleeve.
“We all know that backcombing and teasing roots adds volume, but using your straightening irons to create a ‘texture set’ can take it to the next level.”
Set your straightening iron to a medium heat. Take a small section of hair at the top of your head, or wherever you want extra volume, lift it so it’s taught, backcomb it slightly at the roots, then clamp the iron close to the roots and hold for a few seconds.
“This adds volume and texture that can be reworked with your fingers,” says Willmer. For added staying power, apply volumising powder to the roots or a spritz of hairspray.
Is it really necessary to trim your hair?
Cutting your hair more frequently doesn’t make it grow faster, but it does make it look healthier.
“Regular hair trims are imperative to its overall condition,” says Frana Evans, co-owner of Auckland salon The Cut. “It’s so important to maintain the health of your hair while you’re growing it, or it’ll become split and dry and you’ll end up needing to cut more off.”
If you’re trying to grow your hair, Evans recommends a trim every 10 to 12 weeks, or every eight weeks for those with fine hair, and considers hair masks a necessity too. “If you have naturally dry hair, a weekly moisturising mask will hydrate and prevent breakage. If your hair is chemically treated, use a repair mask that offers multiple benefits, such as protein that helps to restructure the hair fibres and moisturising properties that hydrate.”
Above all, Evans’ must-haves when it comes to protecting your hair on a daily basis are a decent hairdryer and a heat-protecting spray. “Upgrading your hairdryer will speed up the drying process, help you to achieve smooth locks at home and prevent damage from overheating.”