How Exactly Does Hair Grow?
Checking out your hair in the mirror yet again? If you’ve been trying to grow your hair out, it helps to know exactly how it grows. This way, you’ll understand why your hair isn’t growing as fast and as thick as you want. How does hair grow naturally? Is your hair growth normal or not? The answers depend on many factors, including your genes, age, and health.
Hair grows about 6 inches per year on average, according to an International Journal of Dermatology report. So every month, you grow half an inch of hair. That’s already the maximum hair growth rate you can expect.
How is hair produced?
Each strand is produced in a hair follicle, a tube-like sac around the part of the hair under the skin. You’re born with 100,000 follicles in the scalp, and the number remains the same throughout your life. As you get older, some follicles stop growing hair, eventually leading to hairloss.
Under the follicle, a root receives nutrients needed for hair growth from blood vessels in the skin. When a strand grows, it passes from the root to the follicle and through the skin surface. At this point, the hair cells are dead, which is why haircuts don’t hurt.
The phases of hair growth
Hair follicles undergo a growth cycle with three phases that happen simultaneously in different strands: anagen (growth period), catagen (transition period), and telogen (resting period).
Hairs don’t go through a single phase all at the same time. Some strands may be in anagen phase, some in catagen, and others in telogen. What specifically happens in each phase determines how fast your hair grows or sheds.
1. Anagen: the active growth phase
Hair is actively growing in this phase. How does hair grow during anagen? The cells in the root divide quickly to form a new strand, which pushes club hair (the hair that has stopped growing) out of the follicle.
On average, around 90% of your hair is in anagen phase at any given time.
This period lasts for 2 to 6 years, which varies from person to person because of differences in genetics. Some have a shorter growth period than others, so they can’t grow their hair very long.
The hair growth phase is shortened because of stress, poor nutrition or childbirth. Increased testosterone in the body also causes follicles to shrink, gradually resulting in a shorter anagen phase, according to Mr. Michael Bernstein, Svenson’s chief trichologist.
2. Catagen: the transition phase
During this phase, hair growth slows down for 2 to 3 weeks as it prepares for the next phase. The follicle shrinks to about 16% of its original size, forming the club hair that stays in place until it falls out.
At any given moment, the catagen phase accounts for 3% of your hair.
3. Telogen: the resting phase
After the catagen phase, the follicle takes a break for 2 to 3 months, and the existing hair in it falls out. A hundred telogen hairs are shed every day on average. Around 6% to 8% of our hair is in resting phase at any point.
When more follicles enter the telogen phase simultaneously (because of stress, crash diets or a serious illness), it leads to diffuse hair thinning called telogen effluvium.
At the end of the telogen phase, the follicle returns to the anagen phase to produce new hair.
To make it easy for you to differentiate the three hair growth stages, think of them as the colors of a traffic light: anagen is green, catagen is yellow, and telogen is red.
How does hair grow fast?
Now that you have a better grasp of how exactly hair grows, your goal is to keep your hair and scalp healthy during the anagen phase when hair grows rapidly.
While genetics may not be on your side, you can take steps to grow your hair faster and longer such as having a healthy diet, trimming your hair regularly, and managing stress.
Worried that your hair isn’t growing as fast as it should despite your best efforts? Stop checking out your hair in the mirror. Instead, have your hair and scalp checked by an expert. The earlier you do it, the better you can save your remaining hair. Take advantage of Svenson’s free hair and scalp analysis—book a consultation now! #TheHairlossAuthority