Full, bouncy hair and lengthy lashes definitely occupy top spots on our beauty wish list. We're constantly researching the practices and products that influence growth for both, but achieving max hair and lash health is about as mysterious as attaining flawless skin. That's why we enlisted the help of our friend and one of the best dermatologists in Los Angeles, Nancy Samolitis, MD, co-founder and medical director of Facile, to answer our burning questions about giving our hair and lashes the best chance to thrive.
Spoiler: There's no one-size-fits-all solution. As with just about anything else in life, there are various factors that make everyone's hair and lash growth journeys a little different. "The ability to grow hair is just as genetically programmed as hair color and texture," Samolitis explains. "Not everyone can grow a waist-length mane, unfortunately."
Though it feels like a bummer to see that put so plainly, Samolitis assures us that between medical evaluation, in-office treatments, and select products, we can improve both hair and lash health to encourage growth. Read on for the Q&A with the industry veteran, and shop our picks for the products that will help get the job done.
Does taking supplements to grow the hair on your head influence hair growth elsewhere?
"Hair on different parts of the body is genetically programmed to only grow a certain length (thankfully!). Hormone changes are known to stimulate changes in some hair growth patterns, but supplements don't seem to have this effect. Supplements help to maximize the health of the hair root in general, so it will only make your natural hair a bit better."
The takeaway: Supplements can be effective, but don't expect them to inspire hair growth in places you haven't seen hair before.
What are some ingredients we should look for while trying to grow longer and healthier hair?
"There are several ingredients in supplements that I recommend, and these include vitamin A, vitamin D, niacinamide, and adaptogens like ashwagandha that help reduce our body's extreme response to stress."
The takeaway: Look for supplements containing ingredients proven to be good for the rest of your body's stress response, too.
What are some ingredients we should avoid in products while trying to grow healthier hair?
"Because vitamin deficiencies, illness, and stress (both physical and emotional) can take a toll on hair growth, avoiding these by practicing a healthy lifestyle to the best of your ability is my advice. If you have allergies to sulfates, preservatives, or fragrance, you should look for hair products that are free of the specific ingredient you are allergic to."
The takeaway: There is not one particular ingredient that is harmful to hair in every person. Your dermatologist can help you diagnose symptoms connected to allergies or sensitivities that might also be getting in the way of healthy hair and lash growth.
How does the scalp play into hair growth? Are there any specific scalp-care practices that actually work?
"Obviously, the scalp is where the hair is born and an unhealthy scalp can equal unhealthy hair. Some scalp conditions can even lead to scarring and cause permanent bald spots. If there is an obvious skin condition on the scalp including itching, flaking, redness around the follicle, pimples, etc., it is important to see a professional for appropriate diagnosis and treatment patch."
The takeaway: Taking care of the skin surrounding the places you want hair to grow can only help your chances.
If you had to prioritize only one change to one's healthy haircare regimen, what would it be?
"I strongly believe that sun and environmental aging have a major effect on the hair—just like skin in sun-exposed areas. I recommend wearing a hat to protect the head from sun damage as much as possible, and I like to mix up a combination of some of my favorite skincare serums to use on my scalp nightly."
The takeaway: Suncare isn't just for your face! Treat your whole body, including your scalp, to the same kinds of soothing serums.