How Exactly Does Hair Grow

man in a Svenson ad checking his hairline

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.

In this article, we’ll answer the following questions:

  • How does hair grow?
  • How fast does hair grow?
  • Does hair grow faster in men or women?
  • How to make hair grow faster

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?

First things first, let’s talk about the science of hair and how it grows.

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 hair loss.

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.

Hair growth cycle: 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 the anagen phase of the hair growth cycle, some in catagen, and others in telogen. What specifically happens in each phase determines how fast your hair grows or sheds.

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.

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.

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 cycle stages, think of them as the colors of a traffic light: anagen is green, catagen is yellow, and telogen is red.

How fast does hair grow?

Many people wonder “How fast does hair grow in men?” or “How fast does hair grow in women?” Moreover, is there a difference between the hair growth cycle in men and women?

In general, there’s no way to actually find out if hair grows faster in men compared to women. After all, everyone is different so it’s hard to differentiate the growth rate between genders.

As mentioned above, hair grows about half an inch on average over the course of a month. However, it’s not unusual for hair to grow as much as an inch or as little as a centimeter in a month. Various factors can influence the hair growth cycle, some of which you can control and others you can’t. For instance, hair growth speed is determined by genetics, age, diet, hormonal fluctuations, stress, hair care practices, scalp health, medications, and health conditions. An underactive thyroid can also possibly slow down hair growth or even contribute to hair loss.

How to make your hair grow faster

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. Take a look at our suggestions below on how to grow your hair faster.

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

Get regular trims

This may seem counterproductive when your aim to find out how to grow hair faster. However, if you have damaged hair or plenty of split ends, regular trims are necessary. Split ends stunt the hair growth cycle as the ends are constantly splitting and breaking higher, leaving strands stuck at the same length. Once you trim away those wispy, split, dead ends off, you’ll experience less hair breakage and faster growth.

Make sure to get your hair trimmed every three months. When trimming your hair, the stylist should only cut off about half an inch to an inch.

Fix your diet

As the old sayings go, “beauty comes from within” and “you are what you eat.” For instance, have you noticed that you have a beautiful glow on your face when you’ve been eating healthy food and staying well-hydrated? It’s the same for your hair! A healthy diet rich in vitamins results in extra nourishment for your scalp, which leads to strong hair that grows fast and long.

Vitamin D, B-Complex, and iron are especially optimal for a healthy hair growth cycle. Vitamin D can be naturally found in salmon and mushrooms, while eggs, spinach, and chicken are great sources of iron. On the other hand, avocados, whole grains, and legumes are a great source of B-Complex that will give your hair extra thickness and shine.

Brush your hair with more care

Brushing or combing your hair is essential but aggressive brushing can cause physical damage to your hair that will prevent it from growing as quickly. After washing your hair, make sure to comb through the tips first to gently detangle knots, and then work your way up. Additionally, be especially careful when your hair is wet as it’s more susceptible to breakage. Use a wide-tooth comb instead of a brush if possible.

Book a consultation with a hair and scalp expert

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 and discover how to make hair grow faster. Take advantage of Svenson’s free hair and scalp analysis—book a consultation now! #TheHairlossAuthority

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