Secrets for Healthy and Soft Hair Regrowth and How to Grow Hair Long and Healthy
Listen up. I was completely bald three years ago. Go to my YouTube channel if you don’t believe me: youtube.com/shrimpymcgee. Believe me when I tell you I know a whole lot about how to grow hair back so it’s healthy, soft and how to keep hair regrowth healthy, soft and strong, too.
So there’s good news and bad news here.
Good news: You don’t need anything special or expensive.
Bad news: You’ll have to stop being so lazy.
Let’s jump right in.
Use the right brush or comb
You don’t need anything fancy, and you really don’t need a $200 Mason Pearson brush. You do, however, need to keep your brushes and combs clean and in nice condition.
I like a Tangle Teezer, which is about $10 or less, and those plastic rat-tail combs you can get for a dollar or so. If your brush has missing or chipped off bristles that can scratch you or yank on your hair, get rid of it or figure out how to repair it (if you’re one of those repairing people. I’m not, but you do you.)
In general, I like to think well-maintained hair tools and clean combs feel good. Likewise, I also get rid of all the chipped dishes in my home because I think they just drag you down.
Use the rat-tail of the comb to work out any stuck hair in your brushes. Wash your brushes and combs with dish soap, even soak them if needed, and if there is any clingy products, use an old toothbrush to scrub it off.
This is important because you will want to brush and comb your scalp, and you don’t want to do that with grimy, hairy tools that look like they came out of Bigfoot’s den.
Brush from underneath
If you’re trying to preserve and encourage your precious hair regrowth, then definitely don’t start raking it from the top and yanking straight down.
Work your way from underneath, at the nape of your neck, and while we’re discussing it, work from the ends, to the mids, to the scalp. Not the other way around like we always see on TV.
When you do it this way, which, let’s be honest, is kind of counterintuitive, the upside is that you’ll take out tangles first and you wont break and yank the top of your hair where your part is.
I’d say that if you have a pixie this is obviously a little different, you don’t as much hair to detangle but here’s the thing, I would still work from bottom up as much as possible to save those little hairs at the top from breaking.
Most women I know use conditioner, and most men I know do not. Use conditioner! It softens the hair after you take all the oil out of it during the shampoo process.
Your hair, even if it’s short, can feel all straw-like and bristly if you don’t. Dry hair is not the healthiest hair, I can tell you. Yes, your own sebum will work it’s way down your hair shaft eventually, however, condish works right away. Don’t you want that?
Look for a weightless or lightweight conditioner. In my experience, expensive conditioner has never lived up to the hype (does that stop me from buying expensive Kerastase conditioner? Of course not!)
Personally I love L’Oreal products. Some people love Dove, or Pantene. Go with your fave shampoo brand to start with.
Ok, ok. You really want me to name something. Fine. Viviscal makes a nice conditioner too that’s very lightweight and smells so good (I’m not getting paid to say that. It’s really nice! I don’t like the shampoo as much.) L’Oreal’s EverPure Volume conditioner is one of my recent favourites as well.
Don’t mess with a happy scalp
The amount of times I get asked on YouTube or in my Instagram DMs about scalp exfoliation and treatments always surprises me.
I’m not against them, but I don’t do anything special to my scalp other than wash my hair every two to three days and make sure I clean it by rubbing it gently.
If you have an itchy dry or flaky scalp, this is not necessarily advice for you, but what I am saying is that if your scalp is like mine, which is pretty happy why mess with it?
Likewise I do not use a dermaroller, which is another thing I get asked about. Why don’t I?
Have you seen a dermaroller?
They’re a roller with needles all over it that roll into the scalp. I’m not judging you if you want to (and I certainly understand that desperate feeling of hair loss where you’ll try anything to help), or if you’re following your dermatologist’s advice, I just don’t use a dermaroller.
Thus, I would not add this to my pieces of advice for hair regrowth, but perhaps you’ve found otherwise. Please let me know if you’ve found it to be a lifesaver (um, or a hairsaver). I’m always learning too!
Around once a year I’ll use some sort of scalp mask, mostly cause it feels nice, or I’ll buy something like “Big” shampoo from Lush, again, mostly cause it feels lovely. That’s it.
Cover up that hair and scalp!
On a gray day here in Toronto where I live, I’ll be the first to admit I don’t bother covering my head but when it starts to get sunny and I feel like I can fry and egg on my head…I cover up.
And you should too. Just like you should be wearing sunscreen to fend off skin cancer, you should cover your hair with a hat, a cute bandanna, or something. Figure it out.
Don’t start with the “I don’t like hats,” either. Sweet friend, I don’t like brushing my teeth, running, pap smears and any other number of things that I do on the reg.
Nike makes a really light “featherlight” cap that I wear in the summer when I’m out running errands. At the beach I wear a straw hat like one of the Real Housewives of New York, minus the day-drunkenness, naturally. In the garden I wear a bandanna.
If you’ve ever burned your scalp on vacation, you know this is a good idea. Your regrowth will thank you for it.
Take your Vitamin D
If you’re a bit of a nerd like me, you enjoy reading study results when you get fixated on a topic.
Now, I’ve been fixated on hair loss and regrowth for years now, and this is one thing I’ve learned (and a disclosure: I’m not a doctor or health care practioner).
Vitamin D and hair loss, and therefore, hair health, can be linked. Read this:
“Female patients with diffuse hair fall were found to have significantly low Vitamin D3 levels among student population.”
That came from this study in the International Journal of Trichology: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5387874/
So bottom line, take the Vitamin D that your doctor is probably already telling you to take. Don’t ask me the amount, ask her! This is also something you can discuss with a pharmacist.
Be consistent with medications and treatments
“Oh I started Rogaine and I put it on once in a while.”
“I keep forgetting to take that medication!”
Whether you’re forgetful or just lazy…
Snap out of it, already! (trademark: Cher in Moonstruck, 1987. No? Just me? )
Anyway, I don’t want to be your naggy Internet mom (I’m already a naggy mom to my actual child. Am I also naggy to my husband? No comment). However, really, sometimes you need to read this to reinforce it:
Take your medications and do your prescribed treatments consistently. This is important!
Go easy on the ponytails
We all love us a nice sloppy ponytail for those leggings and sweatshirt days, don’t we? If you’re wearing a fabric covered scrunchy (which don’t tend to work well with thin hair), then blessings to you, my friend, you are living your best life and you have a lot of hair.
If you’re reading this and you have thin hair like me, you probably have to wrap some sort of elastic around that ponytail, whether it’s high and tight or loose and low. Those elastics do tug on your hair, and eventually you will get breakage.
Breakage and healthy long hair don’t really go together. So go easy on those ponytails, cowgirl.
Change up that part
Yes, my lovely, I know you look better with your hair parted right over your left eyebrow’s peak. I know! Me too!
But here’s the thing. Changing up your part will mean you’ll “aerate” (I know, weird choice of words) your scalp, and you’ll give other parts of your hair a chance to “rest” (another weird word).
Eventually, month after month and year after year of never changing a part, the hair will get more exposure and consequently more breakage over time.
This goes for you guys out there too. If you’re parting your hair, find a way to change it up now and again.
Limit heat styling tools like flat irons and curling irons
I feel like twice or three times a week should suffice, no?
The way I do this is I only use heat styling tools (other than a hair dryer, which I use sparingly) when my hair is completely dry. And only about twice or three times a week. Max.
Flat ironing my hair or using a curling iron is not really the best thing for it, but I don’t have excessive split ends or damage from it, but one thing I do recommend is using a serum, it doesn’t have to be pricey, I like the one from Trader Joe’s considering the price, or another heat protectant cream.
If you’re flat ironing or straightening your hair every day, or using curling irons that’s obviously not great for it and it will damage your hair and your regrowth too.
Skip the blow dryer when you can
You probably know this already. Whether you have a fancy Dyson hair dryer or just a cheapo drugstore one (hand up over here, that’s me!), the less you use hot air all over your hair, the happier it will be.
If you must, limit the heat and the speed. I set mine on low heat and low speed, which also minimizes the frizz and helps to maintain a nice wave pattern.
Do you need an expensive blow dryer? For whatever reason, I’ve never bothered with a Dyson or Good Hair Day extravaganza. I’ll buy a nice Babyliss flat iron or hot air brush, but hair dryers to me seem all the same.
Because I set them so low it seems hardly worth it for me to splurge. Maybe you feel differently? Let me know!
Wash more, not less
We’re at some sort of moment in culture where women and to a lesser extent, men, are washing their hair infrequently.
I’m talking once a week. Once every two weeks. Not at all.
I’ve noticed however, this tends to be what people with gorgeous, lush locks are doing. Their hair is already great, and it doesn’t seem to be harmed at all by these infrequent washes.
The rest of us just look stringy, dirty and our scalp itches when we try to go more than 4 or 5 days without a wash.
“Just let your hair acclimatize to it,” they say. I’m sure they’re right and it feels great to not wash your hair with shampoo…I guess? I’ve seen their hair too and it looks nice (or else they wouldn’t show it, it stands to reason)
However it’s not for me. I like to wash my hair!
If you do too, you might find that more is actually more.
They key is to be gentle, don’t scrub like you’re trying to get a stubborn stain out of your favourite chair. For me, every second or third day is the best. I’ve trialled every day shampooing (too much), once every 5 days (itchy, dandruff) and I once went to one week (hospital stay) and that really didn’t work for me on any level.
So try washing your hair every three days or two days, use less shampoo than you usually do, and don’t forget that conditioner!
Stick with hydrating and moisturizing shampoos
Now that we’re on the topic of hair washing, I love me a fancy shampoo. I love Kerastase Bain Satin and when I’m feeling flush, I love Kerastase Chronogique. Those French shampoos are so swoony! But real talk here, I’m paying mostly for the scent and I know it.
At the drugstore, I stick to L’Oreal products mostly. It’s not that I’m stubborn, I just like the fragrances (the smell of shampoo is a main factor in purchasing. I’m not just making that up! It’s well known in marketing.)
You want advice. Well, my advice is to avoid thickening shampoos (I’ve tried a few and they all seem to be drying. I think this makes sense because in fluffling up the hair cuticle, they seem to have a drying effect as well).
Instead, look for “hydrating” shampoos. They seem to be less stripping. And I don’t know if you caught this when I wrote it above, but use less shampoo. Most of us use far more than we need.
Like, try using a few small-coin-size dots in your hand instead of that heaping handful it takes to build a full lather.
Then wash your hair a second time. The first wash gets rid of product build up (if you’re using the right amount you wont’ have a ton of lather this first wash), and the second will give you that lather you’re looking for.
Trust me, this is really the secret for happy hair regrowth. Keep it clean, keep it hydrated. It’s simple.
Scalp massage with oil?
Far be it for me to be the one to tell you not to massage your scalp. Scalp massages feel great, and bonus points if you can force someone in your house to give you one!
Yet where massage meets oil, I am not ready to tell you to jump all the way in. One lovely way to stimulate your scalp without having to add any product, coconut oil, castor oil, or whatever your oil of choice is, is simply to get the right brush or comb so you can brush it.
From my own experience, I’m not able to say that oil has ever made a difference with growth speed or health. Shine? Yes, for days. Oil gives you shine and can help with frizz and flyaways.
But should you douse in all over your scalp? Again, this has not worked for me and I don’t want to mess with the delicate pH balance of my scalp by covering it in oil.
I would put it on my mids and ends for that wet hair Kim Kardashian look, but I know if I put it on my scalp, I’m going to want to wash it off. I’d be willing to change my mind, I’m just not ready to endorse it yet. Let me know if it’s worked for you!
Wishing soft and healthy new hair for all of you!