Published on March 5, 2020

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Photography by Paul Steeger/Getty Images

Everyone appreciates a good hair day, but unfortunately, there’s no one true formula for achieving healthy, lustrous locks. Instead, there is a whole lot of noise: vitamins in the form of neon blue gummy bears, stimulating oils steeped in ancient beliefs, handheld light-therapy devices that promise to stimulate growth—the list is probably longer than the number of hairs on your head (which is around 100,000 on average).

That’s why it’s best to turn to the experts to sort fact from fiction. Dominic Burg, Ph.D., hair biologist and chief scientist of Évolis Professional, has been on a mission for the past 10 years to make hair growth simple and easy—and in that time, he’s figured out some accessible and effective ways to keep your mane in tip-top shape. Here, he explains the best way to make your strands look and feel their best—and which advice you should ignore.

Myth 1: Hair Supplements Are a Cure-All

Sorry to break it to you—there is no magic pill that will transform your short strands into luscious, thick tendrils overnight. Supplements geared toward hair growth don’t really do much if you already have a balanced diet that includes plenty of iron, B vitamins, protein, and zinc, according to Burg. 

There is an exception, though: If you live a hectic lifestyle, vitamins could lend some extra nutritional support. “Your body knows that your hair is not essential for maintaining your life, unlike your heart, lungs, and brain,” he says. “When your body is under stress, it shuttles those nutrients and energy to essential organs and away from the hair.” This can result in follicles prematurely entering a resting phase, thus slowing growth.

Myth 2: Regular Haircuts Help Growth

If you want longer hair, focus on your scalp, not your strands. You know that saying about regular trims helping your hair grow longer over time? Smoke and mirrors. Burg explains that hair is healthiest when it first emerges from your scalp, so it’s worthwhile to keep your lengths healthy with a weekly mask that can help counteract damage. A cut might make your mane look better—but it’s not going to speed up the growing process. 

Myth 3: Stress Doesn’t Affect Your Hair

There are around 150 genes associated with hair loss, and emerging science suggests that the contributing factors—diet, mood, illness, medications, and even pregnancy—differ from person to person. So if you’re going through a stressful time and feel like you’re, well, shedding a bit, you’re not imagining it—in fact, there are studies that link the two. 

Myth 4: Your Scalp Takes Care of Itself

We’ve said it before, but it is very much worth repeating again and again: Scalp care is hair care. Follicle TLC from an early age is the key to preventing future hair challenges, explains Burg—after all, by the time many women notice they’re losing their hair, 50 percent of the follicles may already be gone.

“The follicles are the organs that are growing your hair, so it’s important to keep them happy and healthy,” he says. Try Christophe Robin’s Cleansing Volumizing Paste or Sea Salt Scrub for a once- or twice-weekly refresh, and stay away from products with silicones, sulfates, parabens, and phosphates, which can suffocate your scalp. 

Above all, patience is key when you’re trying to hit your goal length. Rome wasn’t built in a day, and the same goes for Rapunzel’s long-trailing tresses.

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