When you desperately want longer hair—whether you're trying to grow out a haircut you're not feeling anymore or dealing with hair loss, a problem that affects 40 percent of women—looking in the mirror can get depressing, and waiting can feel like an eternity. Thankfully, there are steps you can take to speed up hair growth, like incorporating special shampoos into your routine. But before you try to give your hair a nudge, it's essential to understand the science behind it.
Can shampoo really promote hair growth?
Yes, but there are other things you can do, too. Dr. Shani Francis, board-certified dermatologist and member of DevaCurl’s Expert Curl Council, says that to really speed up the process, supplement a hair growth shampoo with a diet rich in omega-3, fiber, sulfur ("our hair has a lot of sulfur in its internal structure"), and protein. Foods like lean meats, leafy greens, nuts, beans, and fish fit the bill. Most importantly, make sure you drink a lot of water. Francis recommends two liters a day if you want to see results. While most of this may seem like common knowledge, she adds: "It’s important to remember that our hair ends up receiving the 'leftovers' of the nutrients that our body needs."
And if you're thinking of taking supplements to get the necessary nutrients, just don't overdo it. Francis warns that it's possible for people to overdo it. "What some people don’t realize is that most hair, skin, and nail supplements are multivitamins," she explains. "As with anything, balance is key."
What should I look for in a hair growth shampoo?
Francis recommends avoiding formulas with harmful sulfates that can strip your hair of the natural and essential oils that it needs. "This occasionally results in a cleansing experience that doesn't lather but is gentler for your hair," she says. "Other ingredients to avoid are parabens, silicones, and phthalates." Here, celebrity stylists and dermatologists share the shampoos that will give you Rapunzel-like locks.
Celebrity stylist Takisha Sturdivant-Drew swears by this inexpensive option, which results in hair that looks super-thick and full. "The biotin and collagen pump up the volume on fine hair and leaves all textures with a beautiful shine," she says. "Most of all, its ingredients bring brittle hair back to life with new growth."
Dermatologist Rachel Nazarian, M.D., also recommends this shampoo to her clients. "In terms of anti-inflammatory and strengthening shampoos, I recommend OGX, which is sulfate-free and less drying than many shampoos. The keratin proteins and argan oil strengthen the cuticle for stronger hair." Which means less breakage.
It's impossible to talk about hair growth without bringing up this crowd favorite. If you have fine, thin hair, this shampoo is your best bet. "A classic standby and the OG shampoo for hair growth is Nioxin’s Shampoo," Kendall Dorsey, stylist to the stars (think: Teyana Taylor, Cardi B., Bella Hadid), confirms. "When you use it, you’ll feel a refreshing tingle, letting you know it’s working. It’s packed with vitamins, botanicals, SPF, and amino acids to help protect hair and promote healthy new growth."
Celeb stylist Michael Dueñas agrees. "Nioxin is fantastic for slowing temporary hair l0ss due to stress, environmental factors, and certain health issues," he says. Just in case you needed another expert's stamp of approval, stylist Kat Thompson also backs Nioxin, pointing out that customers can select a shampoo system based on the severity of their hair loss: "I’ve had many clients say they’ve noticed quick results when using it."
Giovanni Vaccaro, celebrity hairstylist and artistic director of Glamsquad, believes that when it comes to repairing hair, it's essential to find a shampoo and conditioner that can penetrate the hair follicle, impart strength, and add moisture. "Recently, I've been loving Kérastase Resistance Length Strengthening Shampoo and Conditioner. It's built with creatine and taurine, an amino acid that protects the hair fiber and scalp. In turn, your hair will definitely feel stronger and healthier." If you're looking for even more moisture, try the Resistance Length Strengthening Mask ($59).
Taylor suggests incorporating this shampoo into your wash routine because it strengthens and restores the hair with the one-star ingredient. "Jamaican Black Castor Oil increases blood flow to the scalp, supplying nutrients to hair follicles, which speeds up hair growth," Taylor confirms.
Dorsey says this is the very best shampoo for hair growth. Here's why: "It's specially formulated with a blend of actives and antioxidants such as baobab, rosa multiflora, and swertia chirata to block the production of FGF5, a protein that causes hair loss," he explains. "This line was developed by hair biologists and is backed by clinical results—I’ve seen the results for myself on clients, but it's nice to have science to prove it."
The common thread: healthy hair starts with a healthy scalp, and this shampoo tackles concerns from the ground-up. "This shampoo contains argan stem cells," Fitzsimons explains. "[These] work at the scalp to stimulate hair follicles to promote growth and renewal at a cellular level, which in turn produces better quality hair."
If you're in the market for a hair growth shampoo, chances are you wouldn't mind fuller looking hair while you wait for new follicles to sprout. Here, rice bran and amino acids work immediately to expand the diameter of the hair shaft while ginger root and nettle extract invigorate the scalp to maximize new growth.
Cortney Crace, a stylist at New York-based Salon Suite Caroline, can testify to the magic of Davines' Naturaltech line. "The shampoo energizes with balancing properties in it that promotes hair circulation of the scalp," she explains. "Keeping it all in the same line for best results, use the conditioner ($37) on the mid-ends of your hair shaft, so the scalp does not get weighed down."
Master trichologist and colorist Bridgette Hill knows the ins and outs of all things scalp health and wants to stress the importance of keeping a well-balanced hair care regimen and balanced lifestyle. "A single product [like shampoo] plays a small part in an overall regimen for combatting hair loss and thinning," says Hill. She praises CR Lab's Hair Loss Prevention Shampoo for its nourishing and strengthening properties. "It's designed to support the extension of the anagen [active growth] phase of the hair cycle. Essential oils also work to soothe and purify the scalp," she explains.
Hill suggests this strengthening shampoo to clients struggling with thinning hair; it instantly helps create a thick and luscious appearance. "This shampoo fortifies proteins at the base of the hair fiber to give the illusion of thicker, denser hair," she explains. "It also has active ingredients to support cellular turnover and is enriched with anti-inflammatory oils such as orange, rosemary, and lavender."
Dermatologist Dendy Engelman recommends opting for a cleanser that works to simultaneously deliver nutrients while detoxing the scalp and follicle of harmful buildup. "This one isn’t technically a shampoo but can be used as a replacement for those that wash too often. I do it myself once a week, to mitigate flakes, balance pH levels and soften the scalp," says Engelman. "While removing oil from your skin, apple cider vinegar also helps to balance pH and keep your scalp and hair from becoming too oily or dry by balancing the production of sebum." The anti-inflammatory and acetic properties also help hairs grow out more easily, she explains.
"Less hair can also translate into less volume. I like this [shampoo] because it uses an active ingredient called filloxane to soften the cuticle and leave hair silky smooth. This compound also coats hair strands making them appear thicker," says Engelman.
Celebrity hairstylist Lacy Redway, whose clients include Tessa Thompson and Zazie Beetz, recommends this purifying shampoo as a cost-friendly lifeline for dull and limp strands. "It revives your scalp and allows for a clear passageway for your hair to flourish," she explains.
"I hadn’t tried cold-pressed shampoo until this one, which gently cleanses and refreshes your hair. It also helps balance the pH levels in your hair and leaves it feeling shiny and healthy," recommends Redway.
"Mielle Organics Pomegranate Honey Shampoo purifies your hair without stripping it of its natural oils," says Redway. "This one is great for my girls in the type four hair range. I also like to supplement Mielle Organics Healthy Hair Vitamin with Biotin in addition to the other vitamins I take daily. The biotin leads to healthy hair, nails, and skin."
Celebrity stylist Andrew Fitzsimons, who counts the Kardashian-Jenner sisters as his clients, is partial to this do-it-all shampoo. "There are two factors to consider when it comes to hair growth: the health of your scalp and the health of your strands themselves," he explains. "People with damaged hair tend to see more breakage, which translates to slower hair growth. This is my favorite shampoo to use for color-treated, chemically-processed, heat-damaged, or sun-exposed hair."
Dry hair = dull hair = unhealthy hair. The more moisture, the better for the long locks of your dreams. "This shampoo contains honey, which is a rich antioxidant that can prevent damage and keep your scalp healthy," says Taylor. "Additionally, honey is great to seal moisture into your hair, keeping it conditioned and preventing breakage, which slows hair growth."
Celebrity stylist Nikki Nelms, who works with Zoë Kravitz, Janelle Monae, Yara Shahidi, and more, is a fan of this drugstore gem for a good reason. Nelms is also a huge proponent of a healthy, hydrated scalp for optimal hair growth. "Use a shampoo like Maui Moisture's Detoxifying + Volcanic Ash Shampoo because it has essential ingredients like ginger extract and aloe, which refresh the scalp and add hydration so that your hair will grow to its healthiest potential. It’s also important to be gentle with your hair throughout this journey and use tools like Goody Total Texture detangling paddle brush infused with mongongo oil to prevent excessive shedding.
This all-natural all-star uses apple stem cells to promote hair growth and delay aged hair follicles. According to Crace, this is the best way to apply the serum for optimal results: "This is a restorative serum powered by active ingredients, like apple stem cells and hydrolyzed protein from the plant sweet white lupine. Part your hair in sections, pinch the dropper, and apply the product through your entire head, focusing on the scalp. Then, run your fingers through your scalp to shake it all in and spread the serum, keeping it at the scalp as a leave-in treatment. You can use this daily or as often as you shampoo. The best hair growth results happen in three to six months.”
"This is a fabulous option for those with scalp damage," says Engelman. "The shampoo combines keratin, bamboo plant stem cells, argan oil, and prickly pear oil. And together, they protect from environmental damage, extend the anagen [active growth] phase of the cycle and condition, reducing frizz and fortifying healthy strands."
"I am also a big fan of Briogeo's Don't Despair, Repair line," Giovanni adds. "It's cruelty-free, and 95 percent of the formula is naturally derived. The shampoo and conditioner have algae extract and biotin, which promote hair strength and elasticity. It also has a lovely feel that won't weigh your hair down."
Treat your scalp to extra TLC when you're on a mission to stimulate hair growth. "The scalp is most essential to help promote hair growth," Thompson reiterates. "I encourage clients to give themselves good scalp massages when washing their hair to eliminate any extra debris and help with circulation." Lather your scalp with this shampoo, which boosts volume and improves scalp health through "anti-bacterial agents to calm inflammation, and cleanses anything follicle-clogging," she notes.
Ashley Streicher, a celebrity hairstylist for Garnier Brand Ambassador Mandy Moore, is a fan of this drugstore gem. "This shampoo and conditioner fortify hair with a powerful dose of active fruit concentrate and ceramides," Streicher says. "The formula goes deep to fortify each strand from core to cuticle and reinforces hair’s natural substance from root to tip. Plus, Fructis packaging contains 50% Post-Consumer Recycled Waste."
When you hear "Rogaine," you might think "for men," but Dueñas says it's a huge help in creating a thicker and fuller hairline for women—and can stop hair loss and baldness. Dr. Engelman is also a fan of Rogaine and Ketoconazole, another over the counter option. In a study, researchers discovered that 2 percent of Ketoconazole shampoo increased the size and proportion of anagen hair follicles (hair that's in its growth phase).
Tea tree, the star ingredient in this shampoo, is an ideal buildup buster. "Tea tree oil helps to clear the blockages in the pores, and helps to prevent dryness and itching," Dr. Engelman explains.