Many of us like when our hair is healthy and growing. But how can we help keep it so? Can brushing your hair play a role?
The growth of your hair relies on your hair follicles, which are structures within your skin. You're born with around 80,000 to 120,000 of these follicles on your scalp. When your hair grows, it pushes through the skin, passing by an oil gland. When the follicles are healthy, and when this gland is working properly, the hair that emerges is healthy, shiny, and soft.
Regular brushing of your hair can help promote your hair’s all-around health. It can help distribute hair gels, disentangle knots, and even help with blood flow. This latter point is especially important, since blood flow is essential to the health of your scalp. Healthy hair largely relies on a healthy scalp. In that sense, yes, brushing your hair can stimulate hair growth. But the story isn’t so simple, since too much brushing – or the wrong kind of brushing – can damage your hair, too.
Brushing your hair too much or too vigorously can cause damage to your hair. One study evaluated the effect of hair-brushing on women and found that greater brushing frequency was associated with greater hair loss. To be safe, you probably don’t want to brush your hair more than twice per day, at most. You should also take care that your brushing doesn’t cause breakages that can lead to greater hair loss and thinning.
Brushing your hair the right way and with the right frequency is an important part of your hair care routine. Brushing your hair helps spread natural oils from the roots of your hairs to the ends of your hairs, increasing shine and softness. Gently brushing your hair can approximate a scalp massage, which can have the effect of stimulating blood flow and hair growth.
And that’s not all. Did you know that you naturally lose about 50 to 100 strands of hair per day? Brushing your hair can help clear out those loose hairs.
Brushing your hair twice a day – morning and night – can help your hair in myriad important ways, keeping it healthy and growing, soft and shiny.
With that said, if you’re finding that your hair is brittle or damaged, or that you’re losing more hair than you should expect to lose in a day, consider talking to a dermatologist.
You can start in your hair’s midsection and work your way toward the ends. Continue moving the brush until you get to your scalp, brushing the full length of your hair until you get out all the tangles. Be gentle and go slow – you don’t want to brush too vigorously and cause damage. Using small brush strokes is ideal, and you can even use your fingers to disentangle any pesky knots. Put some conditioner in your hair when your hair is wet, as this can help with brushing and detangling.
While brushing is important, there are other ways to support the health of your hair – and maybe even to stimulate hair growth.
A meta-analysis of several studies found that essential oils – including peppermint oil, rosemary oil, and tea tree oil – have the potential to promote the flow of blood to your scalp and thereby to possibly help with hair growth. It’s important to note, though, that the review did not include any direct studies of essential oil and hair growth.
Making sure you’re getting proper nutrient and protein intake is important for the health of your hair, too. The same goes for managing stress and getting adequate sleep – both strategies that serve your all-around health, as well as the health of your scalp and hair. The use of antioxidants on the scalp can also help support the health of the scalp microbiome, which can in turn support hair growth. You should also avoid using harsh chemicals in your hair or wearing your hair in a tight hairstyle.
There are steps you can take to protect the health of your hair when sleeping, too, which include avoiding wet hair and bedtime and using a hair protective cover to prevent breakage, such as a silk pillowcase.
Lastly, you can talk to your doctor about possibly incorporating some hair-supporting supplements into your routine. For example, Care/of offers a 30-day supply of keratin – dubbed “The Good Hair Day” – that supports hair fullness and shine. A study even showed that participants who took 500 mg of keratin per day – along with other vitamins and minerals – saw a 46% improvement in hair fallout compared to the baseline, a 5.9% increase in hair strength, and a 47% improvement in hair appearance. Overall, compared to the placebo group, the keratin blend group showed a 12.5% reduction in hair loss at Day 30, a 34.5% reduction in hair loss at Day 60, and a 34.4% reduction at Day 90.
All in all, when it comes to supporting healthy hair, you have a lot of options!