Does Brushing Hair Stimulate Growth?

- Reviewed by: Dr. Jae Pak, M.D.

Every bit helps when coaxing your hair to grow, especially when fighting back against the tide of genetic hair loss. As either a preventive measure or just a matter of habit, some might find that brushing hair consistently can stimulate hair growth or slow the trend of thinning or receding.

Is there research to support the idea that brushing helps hair grow longer and become more resilient to thinning? If so, how can you get the most from this practice by using the best tools and techniques?

In this article, we’ll get to the truth about brushing and hair growth, and also lay out some proven alternatives that will get you the results you want without the guesswork.

Does Brushing Stimulate Hair Growth?

In the realm of research and science, hard evidence reigns supreme. However, anecdotal support and speculation from the brightest minds in the field should not be ignored.

Therefore, when asking whether brushing stimulates hair growth, we need to take all possibilities into consideration. Let’s look at various ways in which brushing may indeed stimulate hair growth, or at least create better conditions for hair to thrive despite genetics, environmental factors, and other limitations.

Increased Blood Flow

Blood flow is a key metric of health and vitality in all systems of the body, whether we’re looking at organ function, muscular strength, or hair growth on the scalp.

That’s why doctors often suggest vasodilators to help expand blood vessels and transport more healthy oxygen and nutrients where follicles need them most.

By brushing hair with firm, consistent technique and the right tools, direct stimulation to the follicular roots may indeed provoke a heightened blood flow response from the vessels within. For those needing a quick and convenient boost, rigorous brushing may do the trick.

Scalp Oil Distribution

We tend to view oily skin and hair negatively, but the truth is that oils are natural and essential to maintaining a healthy ecosystem on the scalp where hair can thrive.

The problem is when oil production becomes too much or too little, or when the oils fail to distribute evenly across the scalp itself. Proper brushing may help you make the most of those natural oils by pulling it down along the hair shaft and spreading it evenly along the scalp.

Strengthening Follicles

The stronger your hair, the longer it lasts. Think of brushing as a sort of “strength training” session for your follicles, and you can see why it’s a recommended practice by stylists, influencers, and even some doctors.

By putting consistent, repetitive pressure on the follicle at the root, brushing may create the right amount of acute stress on the hair, which may then necessitate a response to become stronger and more resilient. Just as your muscles rebuild after a tough barbell workout, occasional brushing may toughen up your hair for the long haul.

Clearing Away Buildup

Hygiene is an often overlooked aspect of hair health and longevity, and brushing is generally the best practice for clearing away dirt, bacteria, and dead skin cells where they may accumulate on the scalp.

Even if you bathe consistently and massage those roots with your fingertips and nails, brushing is the key to effectively sweeping away those extra bits and pieces that may get stuck. This may allow for pores to stay clean and unclogged, ensuring the healthy recycling of cells and promoting healthy hair over time.

Strategic Shedding

Shedding may be a bad word to those in the hair restoration community, but in reality, a reasonable amount of shedding is key to maintaining your best head of hair.

With focused and intentional brushing, hair that’s ready to depart can be helped along without getting tangled or overstaying its welcome. This is simply part of the “circle of life” that everyone experiences, and ultimately creates a healthier balance for your scalp and hair.

Is Brushing All You Need To Grow Hair?

It’s clear that hair brushing is simply a good idea for hygiene, grooming, and general hair health. On the other hand, this one method isn’t going to transform your hair, especially if you’re predisposed to balding.

Here’s why brushing is not a sufficient hair growth strategy on its own.

Lack of Scientific Support

Anecdotal evidence is good to examine and consider, but it’s hard to dispute modern medicine honed by centuries of the scientific method in practice. That’s why most hair loss professionals don’t recommend hair brushing as a top-tier tactic for restoration — the research simply isn’t there.

For patients who want the most proven, effective methods for hair rejuvenation, brushing alone will not suffice. Research is still catching up, and it may be several more years until we have a definitive answer from the scientific community.

Genetic Limitations

In the hair loss field, genetics remains the primary driver of balding for both men and women. That’s why androgenetic alopecia is still the consensus term used by dermatologists, physicians, and hair transplant surgeons like Dr. Jae Pak.

There’s only so much that can be done to “save” hair destined for thinning and falling out, especially as individuals age and genetic factors come to fruition. For men, it’s a 10 percent increase in the chance of balding with each decade of life, a fact that can’t be overcome even with the best grooming and brushing methods.

Lifestyle and Environment

Despite advances in tech and medicine, modern lifestyles and environments are not conducive to hair health and longevity. While consistent brushing can be a useful tool in your arsenal, the compounding effects of harsh haircare chemicals, stressors, and other factors means that brushing alone likely isn’t enough.

This isn’t reason to abandon hygienic practices or give up on brushing as a good habit. However, it’s important to acknowledge the many variables at play in our modern world and how they add up over time on a physiological level.

As always, lifestyle is a key component as well, and brushing will not outweigh poor choices regarding diet, exercise, and activities.

Excessive Brushing

Too much brushing can certainly do more harm than good, serving as a reminder not to get carried away in your efforts. Brushing too frequently or with excessive pressure can counteract your best intentions and accelerate the shedding process in a negative way.

We don’t discourage patients from brushing, as long as they pursue the practice with care, caution, and the proper expectations.

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What Else Stimulates Hair Growth?

We may not reach a definitive conclusion on how brushing impacts hair growth or combats genetic hair loss. But in the meantime, we urge patients to take a proactive approach to hair preservation and restoration with practices proven to work.

Here’s how to stimulate hair growth safely and smartly, leveraging a mix of modern tools with best practices from those who know best.


For direct scalp stimulation and generation of growth factors, look no further than collagen induction therapy via microchanneling. This method has a wealth of scientific support, and offers compelling results with a minimally invasive technique.

By creating microscopic punctures in the skin around the follicular unit, microchanneling stimulates collagen and elastin production naturally in ways that brushing cannot achieve. This is one proven form of direct stimulation with strong scientific backing and long-term results.

Essential Oil Massage

A more casual and convenient type of scalp stimulation can be accomplished via essential oil administration, particularly with carrier oils like castor or coconut.

Performed just once or twice per week, steady and direct scalp massage with a mixture of oils can help strengthen and enrich hair at the roots, while also providing a calming and relaxing effect. Studies are still in the works for this approach, but results are promising so far.

Red Light Therapy

Phototherapy with red UV light exposure has emerged as one of the best methods for hair health in recent years. The technique works on multiple levels, stimulating cellular energy, targetingbacteria, and sparking collagen production, as well as stimulating other key factors in the scalp.

Professional Treatment

If you’re losing more hair than you’re growing, or even if you just aren’t growing hair as fast as you’d like, you can always turn to a hair loss specialist for professional guidance.

Depending on the severity of your hair loss or lack of new growth, your hair loss professional may direct you to treatments like oral medication or hair transplants. When you work with a hair loss expert like Dr. Jae Pak, you can rest assured that you’ll end up with full, natural-looking hair.

Proper Grooming and Brushing

Lastly, it may benefit to review the right way to groom and brush your hair for best results. Start by finding a brush that matches your hair type and length, whether you have flowing waves or tight curls. Practice brushing with enough pressure to stimulate hair without disrupting follicles or damaging the skin around the root.

Furthermore, trimming hair occasionally will prevent split ends from forming, thereby maintaining the structure and health of each strand. Avoiding heating elements will also help hair in the long run, so allow for air drying when possible and skip the curling irons and electric dryers.

Your Ultimate Hair Growth Game Plan

By brushing your hair properly and frequently, you can create a healthy and hygienic environment to promote hair growth. However, this practice alone won’t stop the pressures of genetics and other factors from getting the best of your hairline if you’re predisposed.

For a more targeted approach to hair loss, you may need to employ stronger measures than regular hair brushing. Start a conversation with a hair restoration expert today and find out what it takes to preserve or restore your hair with certainty.


Review of Applications of Microneedling | NIH

Scalp Massage for Increased Hair Thickness | NIH

How to Stop Damaging Your Hair | AAD

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