For anyone that has been reading this blog for a while, you’ll have noticed that I have been letting my hair grow long for quite some time now while being on a vegan diet.
In 2012 my hair was just around my neck, but now when straightened out, it’s past waist length.
That is a lot of hair growth for just over two years.
It’s easy to grow long hair on a vegan diet when you give your body what it needs. Supplements can be very helpful, as a vegan diet can be short in some nutrients which will cause slow hair growth if not addressed.
If you’re new to a vegan diet, I’d recommend checking out my guide to starting a vegan diet for beginners. I go into more detail about the nutrients you need to watch out for and what you should probably supplement.
I also have a post on a healthy vegan breakfast to help improve skin and hair growth.
So anyway, I’ve been experimenting with two things in the last few months: licorice root extract and spearmint tea. Both of these are able to decrease testosterone, but more importantly, it lowers levels of DHT, which is the hormone that causes hair loss in men (but also some women).
They are weak inhibitors compared to medications, but they will help slow down any hair loss if it’s caused by high androgen levels. Women with PCOS may benefit from taking these supplements according to research.
Hair Growth Since Going On A Vegan Diet
Since going vegan, I had expected my hair growth to slow down a lot, but this doesn’t seem to be the case. Even when I became vegetarian back in 2007, my hair was pretty good and wasn’t affected in a negative way by the diet.
I always pay close attention to getting all the vitamins and minerals I need in my diet and supplement when needed. So perhaps this is why I did so well compared to others who say they have experienced hair loss since going on the diet.
In fact, my hair is probably thicker and healthier than before. It would probably be in a lot better condition than it is if I kept up with trimming it, but I still get a lot of nice comments about how healthy it looks.
I’ve heard people often say that vegans tend to have “thin hair”, but this might be because of various reasons. Initially, going on the diet might cause some hair loss because of a sudden change in your diet, weight, hormone levels etc. Once you’ve been on the diet for a while, the new hair that grows should be healthier than before.
There are also many other factors which are unrelated to a vegan diet that can cause thin hair. These include things such as stress, illness, childbirth, autoimmune diseases.
Should Vegans Take Supplements To Grow Long Hair?
Maintaining a good balance of minerals like copper and zinc is very important, especially for someone on a plant-based diet and eats a lot of fruits and vegetables.
Zinc is very important for hair growth, and this might be one reason for hair loss on a plant-based diet. The reason is that copper interferes with zinc absorption, and “healthy diet” which is primarily focused on fruits and vegetables, you’ll get a lot more copper than zinc.
Getting an adequate amount of essential fats such as omega 3 is also very important in maintaining healthy hair. Check out alternative omega 3 sources here.
Making sure that you’re getting an adequate amount of Vitamin B12 is crucial. You cannot get this on a vegan diet and should always be supplemented.
The more restrictive your diet becomes, the more attention you have to pay to get everything in the right amount and right balance.
And finally, biotin is a great vitamin to boost hair growth, but the main sources are usually from animal products, so it’s not uncommon for vegans to have a low intake of biotin.
Biotin is a major co-factor in carbon dioxide metabolism. It’s important in the metabolism of carbohydrates, fats, and proper functioning of the nervous system.
Many people who take biotin supplements have reported that they have better and stronger hair growth (and stronger nails too!). I should add that you should be careful when taking high doses of biotin (5000 mcg or more) because it can cause acne breakouts.
If you take high dose biotin supplements, you definitely should also take zinc, as it can help prevent acne.
Best Vegan Hair Supplements
The supplements below contain many of the vitamins and minerals you need on a vegan diet. These include Vitamin D, Vitamin B12, and Zinc. Of course, they also contain Biotin, which is known for its ability to promote hair growth.
#1. Hair Anew – Supplement for hair, skin, and nails
Hair Anew is aimed to address the deficiencies which may cause slow hair growth. It contains a combination of herbs, vitamins, and minerals, making it a great supplement to take if you’re trying to improve the rate of growth and hair health while being on a vegan diet.
The main ingredients:
Biotin – The supplement contains a large dose of biotin (5000 mcg). Biotin is one of the most well-known ingredients for improving hair growth and strength.
Zinc – This mineral can be low in vegan diets, and can lead to hair loss and other health problems. If you’re eating a lot of plant-based foods, then high intakes of copper in the diet may cause secondary zinc deficiency.
I really love that they included zinc in the supplement as it can help prevent acne. Some people are prone to getting breakouts with biotin, but this can be prevented by taking zinc for some.
Vitamin C – Important for helping build and strengthen collagen and keratin in the hair.
Silica – Promotes strength of protein fibers, collagen and helps skin, nails, and hair stay youthful looking.
Ginko – Improvs blood flow to the skin and hair follicles to deliver nutrients for well-nourished hair follicles.
This has become one of my favorite hair supplements and one that I will often recommend to other vegans.
#2. Deva Vitamins For Growing Hair
I would recommend this supplement only as a ‘next best option’ for vegans who want a hair supplement but are on a budget. It contains many different vitamins and minerals which are known to help support and promote hair growth.
The supplement goes for a conservatively low dose of each vitamin and mineral. It only contains about 500 mcg of Biotin, which is very low if you compare it with HairAnew which has 5000 mcg!
Deva hair vitamins also contain just 200 IU of vitamin D2, which is a very tiny amount considering it’s recommended we get at least 1000 IU a day.
On the plus side, Deva Hair Vitamins contains different plant/herb extracts such as horsetail, fenugreek and others which can help boost hair growth.
#3. Vitamin D3 and B12 Gummies for Vegans
It is crucial that all vegans take a vitamin B12 supplement or risk serious health consequences. B12 is cheap and easily available and comes in different forms.
Several studies have now shown that the majority of vegans who do not supplement are either deficient or critically low in B12.
Two findings from recent studies looking at levels of B12 in vegans:
- 52% of vegans were deficient in vitamin B12 when measuring levels of B12 in the blood.
- In another study where they measured levels of MMA (a better measurement of B12 status), they found 92% of vegans had very low levels of B12!
Therefore, it is extremely important that all vegans get vitamin B12 somehow. Supplementing them is perfectly fine and is very safe.
Vitamin D3 is also very important for good hair growth. Low levels of 25(OH)D3 can lead to many health issues, including hair thinning.
Tips on how to grow long hair
Here are a few basic tips on looking after your hair to keep it looking healthy!
- Train yourself to wash less frequently – At first this might be difficult because of the oil build up, but eventually, the scalp adapts and starts producing less oil. The more you wash out the natural oils, the more the scalp will respond by secreting more oils. Also, frequent washing can cause your hair to break and become brittle.
- Don’t always tie your hair back – Try to wear hairstyles that won’t pull on your hair too much. This is can be a cause of hair loss in some people.
- Never brush your hair when it’s wet – I see people do this all the time and it’s one of the worst things you can do. Wait until the hair has dried a bit first before you brush it. Or you can buy a ‘wet brush’ that is very soft and won’t damage the hair.
- Start from the bottom – Hold the hair above the point where you’re brushing and start brushing at the tips of the hair and work your way up to the roots. Take your time and don’t be too aggressive.
- Try to let your hair dry naturally without heat – If you have to use a hairdryer, then use a low heat setting. And if you use any sort of heat styling, then use heat protection sprays.
- Take a multivitamin – I already mentioned this, but it’s very important that you get all essential nutrients in your diet. Try taking supplements to see if it makes a difference. Here are some of the best vegan supplements for hair growth. (This link goes to my hair website).
- Use a clarifying shampoo or anti-residue shampoo – Every week or two I recommend that you use a mild anti-residue shampoo. This will take away all the product build up that is making the hair seem more dull and limp. If you’ve ever noticed that your shampoo doesn’t seem to work as well, this is one of the main reasons why (product build up).
- Don’t bleach your hair – It goes without saying, this is one of the worst things you can do to your hair.
- Use sulfate-free shampoos
- Use a decent quality hair brush
Vegan foods for hair growth
Below is a list of vegan foods that will help your hair growth and make it look shiny and healthy. 🙂
I always recommend that you should get the majority (all if possible) of your nutrients from diet before thinking about supplementing.
On a vegan diet that can be quite impossible in some cases, but the food we eat contains much more than just vitamins and minerals. They also contain phytonutrients which are beneficial to our health.
Leafy Green Vegetables
Leafy greens like spinach and kale are packed with minerals that help support hair growth. They provide minerals like copper, potassium, magnesium, and iron. They are also loaded with vitamin A and vitamin C. It’s easy to consume lots of leafy greens every day by using them in a green smoothie!
Beans are a great source of protein for a vegan. There are many different varieties to choose from and go well with many different dishes. Beans also help you control blood sugar because of their fiber. The hair is made up of protein, and beans are a great way to get what you need.
Oatmeal is one of the best ways to start the day. 100 grams of Oatmeal contains up to 500 mg of silica. These minerals will help improve the quality and strength of your hair. Eating fruits and nuts with your oatmeal is also a great idea to pack in some extra nutrition.
Sweet Potatoes are one of the richest sources of beta-carotene. Some of this beta-carotene will get converted to vitamin A. A lack of vitamin A in the diet can cause poor skin (scalp and face) and poor hair quality. Vitamin A is essential for cell growth and differentiation.
Avocado is high in fat, but the good kind. Eating an Avocado every day or even just a few times a week will make your hair appear shinier because it contains fatty acids such as ALA which can be converted to EPA and DHA.
Green tea is very high in antioxidants like EGCG. Green tea also helps block DHT which is a hormone that can attack hair follicles and cause hair loss – especially in men.
Green Tea is thought to inhibit 5 alpha-reductase type 1, and so it may improve hair and skin health. Green tea also contains l-theanine which helps relax you by increasing alpha waves in the brain. Add ginger to increase the anti-inflammatory power of the drink.
My hair in 2014 – 2 years of hair growth on a Vegan diet
I hope these tips allow you to keep growing long hair! 🙂
Many people just resort to cutting their hair before they ever get to their desired length. But these tips will hopefully help you maintain strong and healthy hair.
Below are a couple more pictures of me with long hair. It’s definitely possible to have good hair and be vegan.