When you're struggling to grow out an awkward hair do, it can seem like everyone else has glossy long hair. For busy (and impatient!) women, how to make your hair grow faster is one of the biggest hair care questions. Some swear by kelp supplements while others rave about head massage, but is it really possible to speed up hair growth? 4Beauty investigates...
"Hair will only grow about half to three quarters of an inch every four weeks," says 10 Years Younger's hair expert Andrew Barton, author of Shiny Happy Hair. For the impatient ones amongst us, that's just not quick enough, and so we turn to Google for the answer.
A quick search shows that the internet is awash with women claiming they've experienced quicker hair growth while taking sea kelp supplements (derived from seaweed). Others claim that whilst kelp doesn't speed up growth, it does strengthen hair, reducing breakage and split ends. So with less breakage needing fewer haircuts, you might be able to get long hair sooner.
The experts' opinion? Give it a miss. There has been no long-term research into the effects of kelp on our bodies, and there's no scientific evidence that it helps our hair growth. It's thought that some people can suffer thyroid problems and other side effects as a result of taking kelp, so dieticians advise leaving it on the shelf until we know more.
Andrew Barton and 4Beauty present everything you need to know about caring for your hair
All is not lost though - Andrew Barton recommends head massage as another option. "Gentle scalp massage will stimulate the blood supply to the hair follicle, bringing it nutrition and helping increase hair growth," he explains. "The more we can do to help the follicle secrete oil and push out the hair, the better. You'll get better results in the evening, so before you go to bed each night, spend a couple of minutes gently rotating your fingertips around, massaging the scalp."
Trichologist Philip Kingsley agrees, but warns that the effects won't be dramatic. "It's only possible to quicken growth by a small percentage - at most 10%. Considering hair grows about six inches a year, that means you can only speed it up by just over half an inch per year." No chance of getting that Rapunzel look in time for your Christmas party then...
Even with a speed boost, no one can achieve luscious long hair without looking after its condition. "Growing your hair to below shoulder-length may take you about seven years, and the hair that's then at the very tips was originally at the scalp, so it's old, aged hair," explains Andrew. "It's very susceptible to damage from heat appliances, general wear and tear and the sun. It needs to be treated with protein-based conditioners and conditioning masks, to make it stronger so it doesn't split or break. The more we can do to those very tips to help them, the less you'll need to cut your hair."