In general, it takes two to three weeks for hair to grow coming from a complete shave. After a couple of months, you should be able to see about an inch of hair on your scalp. There are, of course, a myriad things that you can apply to your hair and scalp that many people claim to be effective at growing it faster.
But here’s the thing: hair growth is governed by one thing, and one thing only: your hormones. Sure, conditions like psoriasis, alopecia, and dandruff all contribute to hair loss, but those effects are pretty temporary. Treat your scalp, and once the condition goes away, hair starts to grow back. Most people will choose to use some formulation involving chemicals and essential oils, but many people also choose to use all-natural ingredients and home remedies to cure their scalp of skin problems and to ‘promote’ hair growth.
But how effective are these remedies?
Apple Cider Vinegar
The Claim: Washing your hair with Apple Cider Vinegar has the effect of curing dandruff, promoting hair growth, and ridding your scalp of itchy flakes.
The Truth: There actually is a lot of truth to this. First of all, apple cider vinegar is known for its anti-microbial and anti-bacterial properties, both of which go a very long way to combatting fungal infections on the scalp. Apple cider vinegar’s acidic properties are also great at regulating the pH levels of the scalp.
But take note that the benefits of apple cider vinegar only work if it’s applied to the scalp. Washing your hair with apple cider vinegar has the effect of drying out hair and stripping hair of its natural proteins. Also, too much apple cider vinegar is bad for your hair and your scalp, especially if you apply it undiluted onto your scalp and leave it on for too long. As much as possible, try to massage apple cider vinegar directly onto your scalp and wash it off after a few seconds (if your skin starts to feel like it’s burning, you’ve left it on for too long).
To use apple cider vinegar on your scalp, use 3 tablespoons of the vinegar diluted in around 8 ounces of water. Massage onto your scalp and leave on for 30 seconds. Wash off completely and then shampoo as usual.
Organic Coconut Oil
The Claim: Organic coconut oil has compounds in it that cure scalp psoriasis, gives hair shine, sheen, and volume, and makes for an all-natural hair conditioner.
The Truth: When mixed with anise extract, scientists found that organic coconut oil actually does help people treat their scalp psoriasis in a natural and all-organic manner, not to mention being an effective delousing agent. Coconut oil is rich in lauric acid, a special type of saturated fat that has powerful anti-microbial properties. This acid also helps the skin ‘loosen up’, allowing it to absorb the rest of the coconut oil more completely, thus rehydrating the scalp and helping to alleviate symptoms of psoriasis.
Once the coconut oil penetrates the scalp, it goes to work on hair roots and follicles, giving the rest of your hair extra density, not to mention promoting growth and keeping hair hydrated.
But too much coconut oil can be bad for your scalp and hair too: leaving coconut oil on scalp for too long, or not washing it off completely, can cause protein buildup, which can cause hair to dry up and become coarse. Hair that’s already dry or coarse to begin with won’t benefit much from coconut oil, as the lauric acid within it can cause the hair to break or become brittle. Before using coconut oil, know the porosity levels of your hair.
Tea Tree Oil
The Claim: Applying Tea Tree Oil on your scalp promotes hair growth and regrowth, is an effective medicine against seborrheic dermatitis (i.e. dandruff), and is a great way to moisturize your hair.
The Truth: Experts have found that the addition of Tea Tree Oil in shampoo can drastically reduce dandruff by up to 41% (with daily use and over the course of a month). While studies have found that Tea Tree Oil does not promote hair growth, its strong anti-bacterial properties prevent the build-up of microbes and bacteria on the scalp that might cause itchy flakes, thus minimizing hair fall. Tea Tree oil also has anti-inflammatory properties which can alleviate symptoms of scalp psoriasis.
However, just like most oils on your scalp, too much of it or leaving it on for too long, can block pores and hair follicles and cause more dryness or protein build-up. Moderate the amount of Tea Tree oil you place on your scalp and wash it off after a few seconds. Tea Tree oil also might have an adverse reaction to colored hair: in general, how long permanent hair color lasts is dependent on the type of dye you used; unfortunately, Tea Tree oil, or rather, shampoos that contain Tea Tree oil and sulfates, have been known to dry out and fade colored hair.
Before using Tea Tree oil on your scalp, do a patch test on a small area of your arm or neck to check for any allergic reactions. Once clear, dilute a few drops of the Tea Tree oil in a neutral, carrier oil like Jojoba or Coconut. It’s also a good addition to most shampoos.
The Claim: Lemon juice is a great all-natural alternative to bleaching and can be used without any fear of damaging your hair or scalp.
The Truth: At its most basic, lemon juice can be used to bleach, or at the very least lighten, most types of hair. Lemon juice is heat-activated, so its bleaching properties are best seen when lemon-soaked hair is exposed to the sun. But how long does it take to bleach hair with lemon juice? Well, unlike chemical bleach, lemon juice takes a lot longer to effect, taking up almost an entire afternoon in the sun. However, it can be used to lighten hair color, and can even be used for highlights.
There are some downsides to using lemon juice to bleach hair, however: citric acid can, and will, dry out skin, so if you have a pre-existing condition like dandruff or psoriasis, using lemon juice will only aggravate your itchy scalp. Another note: while lemon juice does lighten hair, it’s not the most reliable, nor is it effective for people with black or dark brown hair.
Always Ask for Advice
As with all things home remedy, it’s always best to ask professional dermatologists, hairdressers, and barbers for advice, especially if you have a condition like psoriasis or dandruff.