Everyone’s looking for that miracle hair grower.
That one product that will grow your hair overnight, transforming your natural hair from shoulder/ear-length to waist-length in just a few short weeks.
Normally I would suggest ignoring any brand who claims their product will do such a thing.
But I believe using MSM for natural hair growth might just be that miracle we’ve all been searching for.
Best of all: it’s 100% natural.
If you’re looking for quick natural hair growth, or have been experiencing a lull in your monthly growth and want to boost up your growth cycle, the benefits of MSM may be just what the doctor ordered.
Ready to find out how you can incorporate MSM for natural hair growth quick and effectively? Let’s dive in!
The Not-So-Scientific Makeup of Hair
Before we get into how exactly the benefits of MSM (and how you can personally use MSM for natural hair), we need to first discuss the scientific makeup of the hair structure (don’t worry, we’ll leave out all the boring science-y stuff!).
At a microscopic level, here’s a cross-section of a single hair strand: (taken from Hairguard):
The hair shaft is made up of three layers:
- The medulla, which is the innermost layer
- The cortex, which surrounds the medulla, where all the proteins and lipids are
- The cuticle, which is the outermost layer made up of dead cells which protects the hair
Your hair is made up of keratin, a type of protein abundant in other areas of the body, such as your skin and nails.
Because keratin is a protein, it’s made up of amino acids, which are the building blocks of protein. You may have some heard of some of them: proline, leucine, arginine, among others.
Keratin is rich in a particular kind of amino acid called cysteine, and cysteine is made up of tiny sulfur bonds (called disulfide bonds) in the cortex (sulfur is key here, so remember this point!).
These disulfide bonds are very strong, and contribute to the inherent strength and impermeability of hair.
To be clear: these sulfur bonds are CRITICAL to your hair health – they’re the building blocks of healthy, strong hair. If they weaken, you’ll notice drier, more brittle and overall lifeless natural hair.
Ain’t nobody got time for that!
This is why chemical treatments like relaxers are so effective: they break up these disulfide bonds holding the keratin together, resulting in straighter hair.
Other factors and practices that can impact the strength of these disulfide bonds include aging, malnutrition (and subsequent vitamin deficiencies) and intense exposure to sun.
Sulfur and the Hair Cycle
It’s important to note here the emphasis on sulfur. Sulfur is a highly underrated mineral that doesn’t get talked about much in the beauty community.
Sulfur can be found in our bodies naturally, and it contributes to some significant internal processes such as our endocrine (hormonal) system.
It’s the third-most vital nutrient in our body, after calcium and phosphorus.
And yes, it plays a huge role in hair growth too (which we’ll get into shortly)!
The Hair Cycle: A Short Summary
In a nutshell, the hair growth cycle is made up of the anagen phase (hair growing), catagen phase (hair resting) and telogen phase (hair shedding).
As we age, the anagen phase shortens significantly, making it seem like our hair growth is at a standstill.
As a result, because less hair is in the growing anagen phase, you’ll experience a longer resting and shedding phase. More hair will thin.
In simpler terms, if you’re looking to grow your natural hair AND retain volume/thickness, you want to keep your hair strands in the anagen phase for as long as possible.
Growth Rate – Is In Genetic?
Let’s do some quick math for a second.
Tasha and Maha both grow ½ inch of hair per month.
If Tasha’s anagen phase lasts for 2 years (24 months), she will have grown 12 inches of hair in total (24 months x 0.5 inches/month).
But if Maha’s anagen phase lasts for 3 years (36 months), she would have grown 18 inches!
A question we often yet is: is your growth rate genetic?
The simple answer: yes.
Usually, your growth rate is genetically determined.
But most people aren’t getting the most out of their current growth rate.
So technically, you can speed up your hair growth cycle by optimizing what you already have.
From a lifestyle perspective, eating healthy is one of the best ways to “boost” your hair growth cycle.
Your hair is not a priority to your body, so if you’re only eating junk food, whatever nutrients your body can extract from it will go to vital organs and systems.
Where does the benefits of MSM fit into all this? Well…
What is Methylsulfonylmethane (MSM)?
Methylsulfonylmethane (MSM) is a sulfur-containing compound found in nature. It’s found in milk, leafy vegetables, garlic, and seafood.
Regular, inorganic mineral sulfur (yellow powder) cannot be absorbed by your body (and it stinks, too!).
But organic sulfur (MSM) (a white powder) is easily absorbed by our body, and any excess MSM is excreted through our urine.
Similar to omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, we don’t make sulfur naturally – we have to get it from our diets.
But here poses another problem: we just don’t get enough MSM from our diets.
Organic sulfur is highly sensitive to heat, so cooked foods have minimal amounts of MSM.
And in the western side of the world, our diets don’t include as much raw foods as they once did.
This, my friends, is where supplements come into the picture 🙂
MSM for Natural Hair Growth
The benefits of MSM has been largely attributed to decreasing the effects of common inflammatory disorders, such as arthirits, and has been known to boost joint elasticity in general.
But in recent years, its gained notoriety in the beauty community for jumpstarting nail and hair growth.
This makes sense, as we now know there is a strong link between chronic internal inflammation and various types of alopecia, which is commonly referred to as hair loss.
And since MSM is an anti-inflammatory agent, MSM benefits may be a strong contender to reversing early and onset alopecia.
Another one of the many benefits of MSM: it can lengthen your anagen phase.
Remember Tasha and Maha? They both have the same monthly growth rate but Maha has longer hair.
This is because her hair stays in the anagen phase longer, thus she retains more of that length overall.
When you take MSM, the sulfur will be donated to the disulfide bonds, strengthening the bond.
So not only will you experience an increase in volume and thickness (i.e. more hair in the anagen phase), but you’ll experience stronger strands in general.
Does MSM For Natural Hair Growth Actually Work?
The study of MSM benefits on hair is still quite new, however there have been some promising results from the few studies that have been done.
In one study, researchers looked at how MSM impacts aging women and their skin elasticity. Although the study was primarily looking at skin, it was found that the women noticed fuller, longer hair.
Another study found that using topical MSM with a magnesium-solution (MAP) grew mice hair faster than traditional medication (minodixil).
On the ground level, popular natural hair Youtuber Curly Proverbz has been raving about her experiences of MSM benefits for hair.
Many of her subscribers, following her advice, also claim to have seen the benefits of MSM via dramatic hair growth.
The Best Brand of MSM
There are lots of MSM-containing products on the market today, but it’s recommended to use the purest form of MSM: the powder crystals.
This MSM powder is 100% pure sulfur, making it easier to absorb by your body and doesn’t contain any unnecessary fillers, unlike MSM in pill form.
And clearly, based on the reviews, many Type 4 naturals have experienced faster natural hair growth, more length retention and ultimately stronger, softer hair (those disulfide bonds are putting in WORK)!
How To Take MSM
As the use of MSM for hair growth is still new, there are no federal guidelines on recommended doses.
But thankfully, MSM has been considered safe to use.
MSM is generally tasteless and best mixed in with liquids such as water, juice, coffee or smoothies.
One study found that, when two different groups ingested 1g and 3g of a daily dose of MSM, the 3g/day group saw more growth over a 4-month period.
So judging from this study, the best way to take MSM would be 3g/day.
However, it’s best to follow the product instructions of the brand, and always make sure that you’re speaking with doctor before starting any new supplement.
Side Effects of MSM
Some of the side effects of MSM (that are known) include:
Again, make sure to consult with your doctors prior to starting MSM or any other type of supplement.
The Bottom Line
Many naturals report a positive response when taking MSM.
The benefits of MSM for hair include lengthening your anagen phase and strengthening your hair’s disulfide bonds.
So if you’re looking to increase your hair growth cycle and/or want to retain more volume, MSM may be what you’re looking for.
But of course, make sure you’re optimizing your overall growth potential by eating right, exercising and taking care of your mental health.