“Why Isn’t My Hair Growing”?
This article is 1 of 3 articles that will address hair growth and how you can grow long, healthy hair. Everyday, I get comments and messages with the same question: “Why isn’t my hair growing”? When they ask, they usually also describe how they experience hair dryness, breakage, lack of curl definition, and/or thinness along with their lack of hair growth. Before going natural and learning how to properly take care of my hair, I dealt with these same exact hair problems. My hair was chronically plagued with split ends, it never grew past bra-strap length, and my curls were never able to reach their full potential of bounciness, length, curl definition, and health.
I completely empathize with the struggles that they face. I used to struggle with hair that was really unhealthy and I just assumed that there was nothing that I could do about it. It wasn’t until I cut off my relaxed hair, stopped damaging my hair with chemicals and hundreds of degrees of direct heat, and delved into researching how to take care of my hair, that was I able to achieve healthy, hip length curls.
My Hair Now: Big, Healthy, Thriving, And Reaches my Bum (which I NEVER thought was possible of my hair)!
In order for us to understand why our hair isn’t “growing”, we first have to discuss HOW exactly hair grows on our head. Understanding how hair grows will help us to understand not only the growth process, but will also help us to understand the error in saying “My hair isn’t growing”. I will focus on the 3 main phases of growth: the Anagen phase (or growing phase), the Catagen phase (or transition/ involution phase), and the Telogen phase (or resting phase).
The 3 Phases of Hair Growth:
- During the Anagen phase, our hair is growing. This phase typically “lasts two to seven years and determines the length of our hair” and is the only phase out of these 3 in which our hair is actually growing. This is why some people are able to grow their hair much longer than others (for example, A woman who grew 8 FEET of hair!) because their hair stays in the growth phase longer, thus allowing longer hair. (85% of hair is in this growth phase at any given time)
- The Catagen phase occurs at the end of the anagen phase. This phase is the ending of the growing phase and lasts 2 weeks. During this phase, the hair is no longer able to grow because the hair follicle shrinks in size and the hair papilla (the base of the hair follicle) is detached and cut off from the blood supply (this blood supply is the food that allows hair to grow). (1% of ALL hair on the body is in this phase at any given time).
- During the Telogen phase, which lasts around one to four months, our hair is shed from our head (50 to 100 hairs a day), and this shed hair contains a white bulb attached to the end of it. Hair that is in the Telogen phase is removed from the scalp and shed through combing or other manual manipulation. This is the hair that we loose when we wash our hair in the shower or comb our hair–not to be confused with broken hair that is shorter and does not contain a white bulb at one end. (14% of hair is in this phase at any given time).
Your Hair IS Growing
Now that we have discussed the phases of hair growth, you can see why it is incorrect to say that your hair isn’t growing. Your hair is always growing; the majority (85%) of your hair is in a state of growth (AKA in the anagen phase). 99.999% of the time when people tell me that their isn’t growing, they are not referring to their hair being in the catagen or telogen phase, the phase where hair ACTUALLY isn’t growing (which is only 15% of the hair); they are referring to the majority or all of their hair seeming to not to grow.
As we learned above, our hair is never in a state where the entire head of hair is not in a state of growth. “Each hair follicle is independent and goes through the growth cycle at different times, otherwise all your hair would fall out at once.” Even the 15% of hair that is not growing due to it being in the catagen or telogen phase is not noticeable.
Hair grows an average of ½ an inch a month or 6 inches in a year (Note: this is an average. Some people have hair that grows at a much faster rate and some people have hair that grows at a much slower rate). This rate of growth, combined with the length of the anagen phase (growing phase) determines your terminal length or the longest length that your hair is able to grow.
If My Hair Is Growing, Then Why Isn’t It “Growing“?
So this leads us to ask… if 85% of our hair is in the growth phase and our hair grows on an average of 6 inches a year, then WHY isn’t my hair growing? The problem that we are actually dealing with is a lack of hair RETINTION. Your hair IS actually growing. However, your hair is not keeping the growth that it has made because it is breaking off. This means that if your hair has stayed the same length for the past year or few years, and you haven’t drastically cut it (6 inches or more), then your hair is breaking off at a rate of around 6 inches per year. If your hair appears to be shorter at the end of the year, then your hair is actually breaking off FASTER than it is growing and is breaking off more than 6 inches per year. Unless you have a severe nutritional deficiency, are under EXTREME amounts of stress, or are taking a medication or a treatment that is known to cause hair loss, your problem can be fixed with a healthy hair regime and by avoiding things that will damage the hair. In my next post, I will help you to discover the root cause that is leading to your lack of growth. Together, we will find the solution to get you long and strong hair!