How To Promote Hair Growth, According To Experts

Experts weigh in.

Originally Published: 
Young woman brushing hair in front of a bathroom mirror
Leszek Glasner/Shutterstock
We may receive a portion of sales if you purchase a product through a link in this article.

If you’re looking for ways to combat thinning hair and excess shedding, learning how to promote hair growth is step number one. Bustle reached out to Dr. Sejal Shah, a board-certified dermatologist and RealSelf contributor, and Savannah Fincher, corporate educator and hairstylist for Blo Blow Dry Bar, to get the lowdown on hair growth and how to find solutions that actually work.

There are actually a range of different options, so keep reading to find the best one for you.

1. Examine Your Diet & Take A Dietary Supplement If Needed

One of the earliest steps in determining why your hair isn't as thick as it used to be is to take a look at your diet. Dietary deficiencies in nutrients like iron or zinc can weaken the strength of your hair and slow growth. And, while there are iron- and zinc-rich foods that you can add to your diet, you can also get those nutrients via supplements, if that's something your healthcare provider determines is appropriate.

Dr. Shah recommends Viviscal for her patients — a dietary supplement that contains hair-nourishing nutrients — but she says other supplements can be helpful as well. “[Viviscal] contains nutrients that nourishes the hair follicle and prolongs the growth phase of the hair. There are a number of other nutrients that are helpful if the individual is deficient, such as iron, vitamin D, and zinc. I find biotin is helpful for strengthening hair, [...] but doesn't necessarily promote new hair growth,” she says.

Fincher too stresses the importance of eating (or taking a supplement with) fatty acids. “Consumption of fatty acids are necessary to maintain a healthy scalp/head." Yet she stresses that topical products "that are oil, wax, or creme based can contain fatty acids that can clog pores, which can stunt hair growth."

Consuming omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, specifically, has been scientifically linked to improved hair density. Fincher recommends taking B. Well by Briogeo, a supplement which contains omega-3, -6, -9 and biotin. She also suggests eating a diet rich in certain nutrients. “Zinc, iron, and vitamin A should be incorporated into every ‘healthy hair’ diet [...]. Foods high in vitamin C will strengthen the capillaries that feed the hair shaft,” she says.

Editor's note: If you're experiencing chronic or persistent hair loss, consult with your doctor to get specific advice.

Viviscal is one of Dr. Shah’s top picks. The supplement contains lots of nourishing ingredients, like biotin, zinc, vitamin C, iron, and the scientifically-formulated marine complex, AminoMar, which is full of marine-based proteins and only available in the Viviscal supplement. It's also a 100% drug-free option that’s been proven to make hair thicker while also reducing shedding in just three to six months.

On top of that, this pick has a 4.3-star customer rating on Amazon with over 16,00 reviews. In the words of one satisfied customer: “After about 2 weeks of taking these supplements I am shedding way less hair. I was losing a lot of hair in my showers and combs. Now I hardly lose any! My hair feels softer and more full.”

One note: This supplement contains horsetail extract, making it unsuitable for vegans.

Since so much of the experience of hair loss or thinning is individual, it can be helpful to have a personal expert on hand. Happy Head includes a dermatologist consultation in their subscription package, so you can meet with someone who understands your individual needs. Their once-daily formula is packed with minoxidil, vitamin D, and spironolactone to help promote hair regrowth. But even better, after taking a questionnaire and having your consultation, their oral and topical formulas can be customized to your individual needs.

For a chewable option, these SugarBearHair gummies contain vitamins A, C, and D, plus zinc and biotin — all of which are nutrients recommended by Fincher, and many of which are also nutrients suggested by Dr. Shah. These gummies in particular are a fan-favorite on Amazon — boasting a 4.2-star customer rating with over 6,000 reviews — with one happy customer noting: "My hair was falling out in clumps and getting super thin in the front. On the recommendation of my hair stylist, I ordered SugarBearHair. I have tons of new hair growth. So pleased and, they taste amazing. I have trouble limiting myself to the recommended dose!" This pick was a Harper’s Bazaar Staff Choice pick as well. They’re also gluten-free and vegetarian-friendly, containing no dairy or gelatin.

If you and your doctor determine your diet is low in iron, Solgar's iron supplement might be a good choice for you. Taking one of these vegetarian capsules every day provides consumers with 25 milligrams of iron. Plus, since Solgar supplements are free of GMO's, gluten, and artificial flavors.

Additionally, this pick has earned an impressive 4.7-star customer rating on Amazon with nearly 6,000 reviews. One thrilled user commented, “I use this because my ferritin was low and was causing my hair to fall out. I hate taking iron pills because you cannot take them with other medications due to iron absorbing those meds. I notice a major difference in the amount of hair I shed when I slack on taking these. So for now, I still take this as soon as I wake up on an empty stomach and then all my other vitamins 1-2 hours later. I love this iron supplement!” That said, there are dangers to consuming too much iron, so it's a good idea to follow the advice of your healthcare provider.

There’s a wide variety of tasty foods that can provide you with hair-nourishing omega-3 fatty acids — like salmon, chia seeds, and soybeans. But another way to consume omega-3s is by taking Nordic Natural's top pick for a dietary supplement that promotes hair growth: Ultimate Omega. These non-GMO softgel capsules source their omega-3 complex from deep sea fish like sardines and anchovies.

2. Stimulate Your Scalp With Essential Oils

Dr. Shah also suggests using certain essential oils to promote hair growth, like lavender, tea tree, rosemary, rose, and peppermint oils. In fact, studies have found that certain essential oils, like lavender essential oil and rosemary essential oil, not only helped with hair growth but also helped protect against hair loss.

Fincher explains: “You can find many natural ingredients that provide scalp stimulation such as tea tree, mint, lavender, rosemary, [...] in many hair growth products/shampoos. These can be used as essential oils as well which will increase blood flow at the scalp, which will in turn help with new hair growth."

‌This gift set by Plant Therapy contains peppermint and lavender essential oils — two of the oils recommended by both Dr. Shah and Fincher, as well as the versatile and delicious-smelling eucalyptus oil, orange oil, and lemon oil. Additionally, all Plant Therapy oils are tested in accordance with GC/MS standards by a third party. This company also promises these oils are non-GMO and cruelty-free.

Created with real rose petals, Provence Beauty rose multi-use oil is 100% plant-based, also using almond, coconut, jojoba, and apricot oils to keep hair healthy and shiny. It’s also meant to be used on your hair, face, and even nails, with one reviewer raving, "EVERYONE compliments how lovely I smell when I run a few drops of this through my hair. I've also noticed an improvement in my hair since beginning to use it daily after a shower about a year ago." It's also non-GMO, gluten-free, and cruelty-free. It comes with a 4.6-star customer rating on Amazon with over 500 reviews.

In addition to treating dandruff, tea tree oil can keep chemicals and dead skin cells from building up on your hair and scalp, which helps hair stay healthy and moisturized. Healthy, moisturized hair is more likely to grow and less likely to fall out. This tea tree oil shampoo and conditioner set is paraben-free, sulfate-free, and hypoallergenic. More importantly, it’s chock-full of essential oils, including tea tree, lavender, and rosemary. It also contains jojoba oil, botanical keratin, and argan oil, among other nourishing plant-derived ingredients. One happy Amazon customer said it makes their hair feel "so clean" and that it works wonders for oily hair, in particular. This pick boasts a 4.4-star customer rating on Amazon with over 6,000 reviews, and it’s also cruelty-free, according to PETA’s Beauty Without Bunnies database.

3. Look For DHT-Blocking Products

Fincher suggests trying DHT-blocking products, too, since DHT contributes to hair loss (a fact that scientific research has proven). However, she notes that DHT blockers aren’t for everyone, since hair loss causes vary. “Those with vitamin deficiencies or thyroid problems may not see results from DHT blockers,” she says. In general, it’s best to talk to your healthcare provider before taking something that can impact your hormonal makeup.

Once you’ve gotten the green light from your doctor, check out these DHT-blocking capsules. They’re vegetarian, wheat-free, gluten-free, and manufactured in a GMP-compliant facility. They also contain ingredients like zinc oxide, green tea, and pumpkin seeds. Plus, these DHT-blockers have earned a 4.4-star customer rating on Amazon with over 4,000 reviews. In the words of one happy customer: “Two weeks into taking these magic capsules and i’ve noticed ACTUAL HAIR GROWTH that even PRP could not do!"


Dr. Shah, board certified dermatologist and RealSelf contributor.

Savannah Fincher, corporate educator and hairstylist for Blo Blow Dry Bar.

Studies Referenced:

Guo, E. L., & Katta, R. (2017, January 31). Diet and hair loss: effects of nutrient deficiency and supplement use. Retrieved from

Adil, A., & Godwin, M. (2017, July). The effectiveness of treatments for androgenetic alopecia: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Retrieved from

Lee, B. H., Lee, J. S., & Kim, Y. C. (2016, April). Hair Growth-Promoting Effects of Lavender Oil in C57BL/6 Mice. Retrieved from

Murata, K., Noguchi, K., Kondo, M., Onishi, M., Watanabe, N., Okamura, K., & Matsuda, H. (2013, February). Promotion of hair growth by Rosmarinus officinalis leaf extract. Retrieved from

Panahi, Y., Taghizadeh, M., Marzony, E. T., & Sahebkar, A. (2015). Rosemary oil vs minoxidil 2% for the treatment of androgenetic alopecia: a randomized comparative trial. Retrieved from

This article was originally published on