For centuries, long thick hair has been one of the ultimate signs of beauty. Other trends have changed over the years, but relatively long well-styled hair is considered attractive to this day. In most cultures, this view applies to both women and men.
Though hair is an important part of the way we see ourselves, we don’t tend to think about the biology of hair growth. Exactly how does hair grow? And what can you do if you want better hair?
THE QUICK ANSWER
According to the American Academy of Dermatology, human hair grows about half an inch per month. But it grows in different stages and there are various factors that can influence the growth.
HAIR GROWTH FACTORS
Each person has a specific type of hair with a distinct texture, look, and feel. At first glance, hair can be curly, wavy, or straight. Regardless of the form, the strands are either thick or thin. Some people have fine hair, which is usually described as skinny, and others have fat or coarse hair.
Your genes control the look and feel of your hair. But other factors also come into the equation when it comes to hair growth. Your overall health and diet play a major role in the health of your hair. Hence, excessive hair loss and poor growth can be indicators of certain medical conditions or poor nutrition. And then there’s the question of age.
The first signs of change usually come as you enter your 30s. The hair follicles start producing less melanin, the pigment responsible for color, causing your hair to go grey. This is also determined by your genes and other than trying to dye the hair, there is little you can do to stop it.
With age, your hair also becomes thinner and grows at a much slower rate. Some of the follicles you’re born with stop growing new hair altogether. Men might spot the first signs of baldness around the age of 30. Male pattern baldness is a widespread experience, and it’s related to testosterone fluctuations as men grow older.
On the other hand, some seniors might experience increased hair growth in odd places. Men usually get more hair in the eyebrows, nose, and ears as they age. Older women might be bothered by stubborn hair around the lips and chin.
HAIR GROWTH STAGES
Hair follows three distinct growth stages:
This is the stage during which your hair grows actively. It usually lasts between two and eight years, growing at the average rate of half an inch a month.
The hair stops growing in the catagen phase. But it still stays in place for up to six weeks.
This is the fall out stage and telogen spans over the period of about three months.
On average, up to 95% of the hair on your head is in the anagen phase. The remaining percentage goes to the telogen phase, and it’s normal to lose up to 150 hairs a day.
IS THERE A WAY TO ACHIEVE BETTER HAIR GROWTH?
Luckily, there is. The anagen phase is influenced by hair length and by the follicle’s ability to multiply and produce new hair. Research into the exact mechanism behind this process is still ongoing and you shouldn’t expect miraculous hair growth. Nevertheless, there are things you can do to keep the hair healthy and promote follicle productivity.
NUTRIENTS AND VITAMINS GALORE
You might not be aware of the fact that your body demands a lot of energy to efficiently grow hair. Consequently, a balanced diet is one of the main ways to maintain desirable hair growth. In addition, some supplements may help.
A 2015 study has shown that omega 3 and 6 supplements minimize hair loss for women. In addition, the women who took part also had better hair thickness. Lack of zinc can be one of the major factors that expedite hair loss. But supplementation works only if there is a zinc deficiency in the first place. Research confirms that some protein supplements help as well.
It also doesn’t hurt to keep vitamin C levels high. This vitamin has antioxidant properties that may prevent the thinning and graying of hair.
Men who struggle with hair loss might find pumpkin seed oil to be a lifesaver. In fact, it is known to increase the amount of hair by an amazing 40%. Mineral, castor, and coconut essential oils also help because they prevent the damage that impairs hair growth.
It’s worth pointing out that these oils shouldn’t be applied directly onto the skin.
The studies are still new and limited but there is some evidence that caffeine promotes hair growth. This is why hair-growth shampoos have it as an active ingredient.
Besides preventing hair loss, some topical ointments can actually help with hair growth. Topical products that contain melatonin increase hair density. Those who wish to slow down their hair loss may also consider topical minoxidil and ketoconazole shampoos.
Products that contain keratin are the way to go for many people who want to improve their hair growth. And a study confirms its beneficial properties, as the participants had a 12.5% hair loss reduction and a 5.9% better strength. What’s more, their hair had more luster and brightness as an added benefit.
Protein hair treatments are especially important for those who apply heat and frequently style their hair. In addition to promoting growth, proteins keep the hair safe from environmental and chemical damage.
Applying common coconut oil is one of the best ways to replenish the lost proteins. It is advisable to do it before and after you wash the hair. But too much protein puts your kidneys at risk, so it’s best to be careful with supplements.
Ample amounts of protein are found in yogurt, vegetables, and nuts. This basically brings you back to a well-balanced diet which can be regarded as one of the best ways to improve the health of your hair.
THE BOTTOM LINE
How does hair grow? It doesn’t grow at the same speed throughout your life. As you age, your hair growth will slow down.
AVEDA PRODUCTS THAT CAN HELP
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STEP 2: THICKEN
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STEP 3: ACTIVATE††
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