Hair growth seems like it should be a straightforward process, but it can get complicated. Many factors can influence your hair growth, making it unpredictable at times, but that doesn’t mean you have no control.
How you treat your hair daily can make a significant impact. If you are hoping to grow long, voluminous hair, you should know how the hair growth process works, how you can have a positive impact, and how to encourage healthy hair along the way.
Table of Contents:
- How Does Hair Growth Work?
- Anagen Phase
- Catagen Phase
- Telogen Phase
- What Factors Influence Hair Growth?
- How To Stimulate Hair Growth
- Prioritize Your Nutrition
- Handle Your Hair Carefully
- Minimize Stress
- Oil Treatments
- Nurture Your Scalp
How Does Hair Growth Work?
As frustrating and unpredictable as hair growth can seem, there is a science behind it. There are three key phases to hair growth. However, your hair doesn’t go through the process all at once. At any point in time, you will have different hairs in many different phases.
The anagen phase is the longest and most significant in hair growth, as it can last for as many as six years. The anagen phase is the growth phase. Throughout this phase, your hair follicles continue to extend your hair strands until they move into the catagen phase. On average, about 90% of the hairs on your head are in the anagen phase at any given time.
The catagen phase is the shortest of all three phases, lasting only about ten days. During the catagen phase, the hair follicle begins to shrink, signaling the nearing end of the hair strand. The hair then becomes detached from the hair follicle, stops growing, and remains in place until the end of the telogen phase. Usually, only about 1% of your hairs is in the catagen phase at a time.
The telogen phase is like the resting phase for your hair follicles. At this point, your strands don’t grow, but they do not fall out either. However, new hairs are already starting to form in the follicles underneath. The telogen phase usually extends for about three months. At any given point, about 10% of your hairs are in this phase.
After the telogen phase, your hair eventually falls out. This phase is sometimes referred to as a fourth phase — the exogen phase. It is normal to lose between 50 and 100 hairs a day during this period. As the old hairs fall out, new hairs start growing in the follicles to replace them, starting the process over again.
What Factors Influence Hair Growth?
Hair growth is a complex process and can be rather difficult to understand. Generally, you can expect your hair to grow about six inches per year, but this can depend on several factors. After all, everyone is different. When it comes to growing your hair, it is important to pay attention and discover what works for you, but there are a few universal factors behind hair growth to think about.
The two most significant factors that influence hair growth for most people are genetics and hair care routine. Without getting a haircut, some people could have their hair grow down to the floor, while others would see their hair stop at their upper back. This difference shows that some people are just genetically destined to have long hair, while others are not so much. When growing your hair, it is important to be patient and acknowledge the potential limitations.
However, genetics is not the only influence on your hair growth. Even someone whose genetics may allow them to have very long hair could see stunted hair growth. Other factors that can influence hair growth include:
- Scalp conditions, like psoriasis
- Dry scalp
- Poor nutrition
- Medications and supplements
- Lifestyle habits like smoking
If your hair is not as healthy as it could be, you will likely be able to tell by its growth, or lack thereof, which is why taking care of your hair is vital. Following a proper hair care routine can go a long way toward promoting healthy hair growth and preventing issues that can affect it.
How To Stimulate Hair Growth
Yes, many factors influence hair growth, but you have much more power than you might think. By taking a mindful approach to improving your hair growth and developing a proper hair care routine around that goal, you can have a powerful impact. To stimulate your hair’s growth, you should do the following.
Prioritize Your Nutrition
Your hair grows from the inside out, which means you can support it from the inside out as well. Getting a healthy dose of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants is great for the overall health of your hair.
To support your hair growth, you should include a wide array of healthy foods in your diet, like fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and healthy proteins. The rest of your body will thank you for it too. The essential nutrients for hair growth are:
- Vitamin A
- Vitamin C
- Vitamin E
Handle Your Hair Carefully
Damaged hair is shorter hair. Split ends and breakage can make your hair appear less voluminous, but they can also stunt your hair growth. If your hair snaps off at the middle of the strand, then you are undoing precious progress. To promote your hair growth, you must handle your hair gently and thoughtfully.
Unfortunately, you may be damaging your hair without even realizing it. During your hair care routine, it is crucial that you are thoughtful about handling your hair. For example, brushing your hair is necessary and seems harmless. However, brushing dry hair can pull through the strands and lead to breakage. Always brush your hair when wet or with a wide-tooth comb.
Heat styling is one of the worst culprits in causing damage. When you overheat your hair, it can become brittle and break off. Straighteners, curling irons, and blow dryers are all risky. Always use a heat protectant before styling, and avoid the blow dryer by air drying.
You should also second guess chemical treatments, like color treatments, as they can dry out your hair, affect the health of your scalp, and stunt your hair growth.
Although stress is generally uncomfortable, one of the most likely consequences is on your hair growth. Excessive stress can slow hair growth in several possible ways. For example, stress may push your hair into the telogen phase early, causing it to fall out sooner. Stress can also affect healthy hair follicles and cause you to lose some hair.
Of course, you can’t just decide to let all of your stress melt away, but finding ways to manage it healthily can go a long way. To help reduce stress, try to incorporate calming activities like meditation, yoga, and hiking. Exercising and trying hobbies can also be great ways to minimize stress. For more personalized strategies, you should talk to your doctor or mental health professional.
Oil is a wonderful support system for your hair. Your body even produces its own oil, called sebum, to lubricate your hair against breakage and lock in moisture. Using natural oils in your hair can help do the same while also introducing extra nutrients.
Oil treatments are a wonderful way to support both your hair and scalp. Some wonderful oils to use are jojoba oil and argan oil because they provide powerful nutrients like A and E vitamins and valuable antioxidants. These nutrients help keep your hair follicles and strands prepared for healthy growth.
To do a hot oil treatment, apply a few drops to your hair and massage it into your hair and scalp. Then, allow the oil to sit in your hair for about 30 minutes, or overnight, before showering and rinsing it out. You can use an oil treatment once or twice weekly for the best results.
Nurture Your Scalp
As the foundation for your hair follicles, your scalp is a valuable player in the growth of your hair. To support your hair growth, you should strive to avoid a dry or irritated scalp so that your hair follicles remain healthy and unobstructed. For some of us, this is easier said than done. Fortunately, you can choose from a wide range of ingredients that are magnificent for your scalp. Some excellent options include tea tree oil, green tea, and aloe vera.
In addition to choosing the right hair care products to support your scalp, you can directly focus your routine to help. Try adding a scalp massage to your daily hair care. Regular scalp massages are an excellent way to boost circulation and alleviate tension in the area — both of which are conducive to better hair growth. You can use either your fingers or a scalp massager, and you should think about adding hair oil to provide some nourishment.
Unfortunately, you cannot trust all of the hair care products you find at the store. You should check product labels and look out for harmful chemicals like sulfates, parabens, alcohol, and synthetic fragrances. All of these additives can strip out your natural oils, dry out your hair, and affect your hair growth. Plus, they can all be replaced by natural ingredients that can do the same jobs with less risk.
Next time you are at the store, you should aim for products that use all-natural and plant-based ingredients. Not only are plant-based ingredients less harmful than the alternatives, but they are also actively helping your hair with valuable nutrients.
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