Last Friday night, while you were out celebrating the weekend, I was precariously dangling my head and shoulders off the side of my bed, desperately massaging coconut oil into my scalp and rereading a Reddit thread about natural ways to make your hair grow overnight.
You see, several days earlier, I'd woken up and been struck by inspiration. Today, I'd decided, would be the day I cut my hair short for the first time since third grade. Armed with this photo of Miranda Kerr's recently cropped locks, I'd spontaneously called a chic salon in SoHo that came recommended and booked an appointment for that same afternoon. Buh-bye, hair.
To truly comprehend the gravity of this decision, you must understand that I've been mostly satisfied with exactly the same haircut for nearly 20 years. I don't have layers, bangs, or anything else one could reasonably call a "style" but have always loved my locks blunt, very lengthy, and naturally wavy. I've briefly considered short hair before but never for more than a day or two, and I've always woken up the following morning thankful I didn't go through with the chop. So asking for a sharply angled lob was truly out of character.
Keep scrolling to see my transformation and to learn how to grow your hair faster, longer, and stronger.
Anyway, I asked for the Miranda Kerr cut, but a little longer. The hairstylist was, naturally, totally willing to oblige my whim. For more than 60 minutes, she cut and layered and thinned out my hair leaving me with a style that is, objectively at least, fantastic and exactly what I asked for. I walked out of the salon loving it. "I'm so adult!" I thought, running my hands through my modern chop.
Inevitably, the following morning, I awoke with a feeling of dread. "What have I done?!" I cried, vainly sweeping my remaining hair into a pathetic little bun. In the days since, I've spent hours researching ways to make your hair grow seven inches overnight (the approximate length I lost). I googled and found hair mask recipes. I called hairdressers, who told me to avoid heat styling. I asked every single friend in the beauty industry and begged for a magical elixir that could reverse my regrettable decision.
Overwhelmingly, the experts I spoke with were obsessed with scientifically backed herbal solutions that have actually been shown to help your hair grow thicker and faster. So, because only the purest among us can give up heat styling—particularly when you're dealing with a bad haircut—I decided to investigate the all-natural supplements with some help from New York–based medicinal herbalist Daniela Turley.
Chamaecyparis obtusa (Japanese cyprus)
This humble Japanese plant has antibacterial and antifungal effects, and it is used as a key ingredient in everything from hygienic Band-Aids to natural shampoos. What's most interesting to me right now, however, is that topical application of this oil has been shown in studies to promote hair growth—some anecdotal evidence even links it with helping bald patient regrow their hair. Turley even told me that it's more effective than Rogaine (minoxidil): "This effect was double that of the drug minoxidil."
Not only a pretty scent, Turley explained why women like me should be washing our hair with the oil derived from this purple flower: "Lavender has been traditionally used as a hair wash for growth, but there is now good evidence that it promotes hair growth in a 5% concentration." One study shows that the use of essential oils like lavender and thyme can improve the symptoms of alopecia areata (sudden hair loss that usually starts with one or more circular bald patches) over a seven-month period. I've been emulating the study by adding a few drops of the scent into jojoba oil and massaging the solution into my scalp for an overnight treatment. (Sidenote: The scent is actually super relaxing, so it's great to use after a long day.)
Turley told me that peppermint oil at 3% has been shown to increase hair growth. However, I was desperate for fast results, so I overzealously poured a generous amount into my shampoo while washing my hair before bed. Please don't do this—it burned my scalp for hours, and the scent is so invigorating I really struggled to fall asleep. Stick to the 3% ratio, and use this oil in the morning.
You don't need to be able to pronounce this one—just know it's a hugely popular ancient herbal remedy used in Chinese medicine used to make hair grow faster and also turn a darker shade. I'm a little wary about changing my hair colour, so I'm steering clear of this one, but if you're interested, look out for the herb in tea or supplement form.
This herb is easy to get your hands on and is available widely at most Whole Foods and health stores. According to Turley, it "stimulates hair in a similar way to [Rogaine]," and it increases the number of dermal papilla cells in the scalp, which are responsible for regulating hair follicle formation and your hair's growth cycle. I take it as a supplemented ordered directly through Turley (check with your own herbalist/naturopath for recommendations on how much to take), but you can also use it topically in DIY hair masks. Just be sure to massage the solution deep into your scalp rather than focusing on the end of your hair.
"This is an exciting herb that shows topical potential," Turley told me. A recent study of eclipta alba—aka false daisy—on mice showed that daily topical use can increase both the density and the length of hair, which means you could score thicker, longer tresses in less time. Sign me up!
Tempted to go for the chop still? Take a look at our guide to the 35 best short hairstyles that will persuade you into the salon (which you won't regret).