Our expert dermatologist separates fact from fiction so you can decide which tress tips may work for you.
To no surprise, Instagram is full of haircare tips and tricks. From influencers praising “magical” serums to meticulously detailed routines, the tips are as varied as they are abundant. They promise to transform your tresses, turning even the limpest locks into a voluminous mane that would make a lion envious. But how much truth is there behind these hyper-optimistic captions? Do these hair growth tips that many people online refer to as game-changers really work?
To help you sift through this plethora of information, we’ve combed through some of the most viral hair growth tips on Instagram and connected with an expert, internationally renowned, Board-Certified Cosmetic Dermatologist Dr. Michele Green, to get professional advice. By diving deep into each practice, we aim to separate fact from fiction and deliver clear, actionable advice for your hair health. So, if you’re tired of the guesswork, keep reading as we detangle the truth from the trend, helping you understand which practices could truly give your hair the health and length it deserves.
Fact or Fiction: Scalp Health Is Key
The Verdict: Fact. A healthy scalp is not just the foundation of good hair—it’s the soil where your hair roots grow. And just like plants, hair follicles thrive in a clean, nourished environment. Regular cleansing, exfoliation, and minimizing product build-up contribute to maintaining overall hair health.
Dr. Michele Green states, “On average, there are about 100,000 hair follicles on the scalp, each producing a single strand of hair. Research has shown that poor scalp health, characterized by clogged hair follicles, dead skin cells, dry skin, and lack of circulation, can lead to weak and brittle hair, hair breakage, and dullness.” In other words, scalp care is essential for healthy hair growth, and if anyone online says anything different, it may be time to hit the unfollow button.
Fact or Fiction: Weekly Oil Treatments
The Verdict: It depends. Oil treatments for hair have been a part of human beauty routines for centuries, but are they really effective for hair growth? Dr. Green says it depends, stating that “Our hair naturally secretes sebum to hydrate the hair shafts; however, our hair can still become dry and need more moisture. Oil treatments before or after washing your hair can help to support your hair follicles, protect your scalp by forming a natural protective barrier, reduce dryness, and strengthen hair shafts.” If you’re battling any of these conditions mentioned by Dr. Green, adding the right oil to your haircare routine can work wonders for your hair growth journey.
However, as the old idiom says, “Too much of something is good for nothing.” Excessive use of hair oils can weigh down your hair. Additionally, excessive use of hair oil on the scalp can lead to dandruff, flakes, and product build-up, which can stunt your hair growth in the long run.
Fact or Fiction: Limited Washing To 1-2x Per Week
The Verdict: It depends. Can washing your hair less often promote hair growth? According to Dr. Green, “The frequency that you should wash your hair each week depends on many factors, including hair type and length. Those with curly or coarse hair should wash their hair less often, as their strands tend to be drier than those with straighter hair.” This has much to do with natural oil production (as Dr. Green pointed out earlier) and how oil travels on different hair types.
While those with finer/straight hair may notice their hair gets oily just a day or two after washing, oil takes a bit long to make its way from the scalp down the hairshaft on curly/coily strands, which is why these hair types can get away with washing hair just once a week.
Fact or Fiction: Drinking Water Boosts Hair Growth
The Verdict: It’s possible. While no direct scientific evidence links hydration and hair growth, Dr. Green points out that proper hydration can lessen your chances of developing a dry or itchy scalp. Remember, you’re scalp is skin—adequate water can be just as important for facial and body skin health as it is for the scalp.
Hydration can also promote blood flow and circulation to your skin and scalp, Dr. Green adds. So, while drinking water might not directly make your hair grow faster, it’s still essential to overall health and well-being.
Fact or Fiction: Biweekly Scalp Scrubs Are Necessary
The Verdict: It may help. Everyone has fallen head over heels for full-body exfoliation. And, regarding hair growth, there’s some truth in the importance of scalp scrubs. Regular biweekly scalp scrubs could promote a healthier scalp, resulting in hair growth. Dr. Green explains, “Scalp exfoliation cleanses the hair follicles by removing oils, impurities, and dead skin cells. Exfoliation also stimulates circulation, skin cell turnover, and hair follicle growth.” So, if you’ve been sleeping on adding a scalp scrub to your hair routine, adding one may be a great way to wake up your follicles.
Fact or Fiction: Silk Pillowcases Are Best For Your Hair
The Verdict: Fact. Some people have been taught from a young age never to leave their hair exposed to bedding when sleeping and to wear a bonnet or scarf instead to protect their tresses while they catch some z’s.
Recently, silk pillowcases have been Instagram’s favorite way to protect hair while sleeping, and with reason, confirms Dr. Green. She states, “Silk pillowcases can promote hair growth and prevent breakage, as they do not absorb moisture like cotton pillowcases, allowing the hair to retain its natural moisture, causing less breakage. The smooth texture of silk pillowcases also creates less friction against your hair than cotton pillowcases, decreasing the risk of tangles.”
Dr. Green adds that silk pillowcases, which can be relatively pricey compared to cotton, aren’t technically the only option here. Cheaper alternatives such as satin and bamboo exist if you don’t want to leave your wallet weeping when replacing your pillowcases.
Fact or Fiction: Use a Daily Thickening Serum
The Verdict: Mostly fiction. Whether you call it a serum, elixir, or magic in a bottle, hair-thickening serums are another hyped product heavily promoted on Instagram that causes many people to add to their cart without thinking twice. The truth is that not all thickening serums (or hair growth serums, in general) are created equally, and looking for those with the right ingredients is important.
According to Dr. Green, “The serum’s success will depend on its formula and the concentration of ingredients. Ingredients such as Minoxidil, biotin, vitamin C and B vitamins have all been clinically proven to encourage healthy hair.”
It’s also important to know certain nuances about these ingredients. For example, treatments including minoxidil (which is found in Dr. Green’s recommended Hair Revitalizing Serum) can be used by both men and women, while other topical treatments, such as serums containing finasteride are recommended for men only. So while you may want to buy anything promising results or support the kitchen beautician mixing up concoctions, it’s your job as a consumer to know what you are purchasing and stick to formulations developed by professionals.
Fact or Fiction: Double Shampooing Cleans Your Hair Better
The Verdict: It depends. Double shampooing, or washing your hair twice in one session, can be beneficial if your hair contains a significant build-up of dirt, heavy styling products, and impurities, as each wash serves a different purpose. Dr. Green says, “The first wash will remove the build-up and dirt, while the second wash will cleanse your hair strands and follicles. Excessive cleansing can, however, strip your hair of its natural oils and lead to damage over time.” While double shampooing can be an effective method for deep cleaning, shampooing is essentially a balancing act to preserve your hair’s natural oils while cleansing it of gunk—overdoing it can result in dry, brittle strands.
Drilling down into the insights shared by Dr. Green, it’s clear that while certain Instagram hair growth tips do have some basis, the key to hair health lies not in fleeting trends but in a holistic, comprehensive approach to hair care. This entails maintaining a balanced diet, establishing proper hair care routines, staying adequately hydrated, and seeking timely, professional guidance.
Furthermore, remember that hair care is far from a one-size-fits-all scenario. Factors such as genetics, lifestyle, and overall health significantly affect what your hair needs to thrive. Before jumping onto the bandwagon of the latest Instagram hair growth fad, remember that hair care requires patience, consistent care, and an understanding of your hair’s unique needs. Always prioritize personal research and expert advice before making significant changes to your hair care regimen. After all, it’s not just about short-term growth but fostering a long-term healthy relationship with your hair.