Your hair undergoes a constant cycle of growth and shedding, but how does this work?
The four stages of the hair growth cycle
The hair growth cycle is made up of four stages:
During this stage, cells within the bulb divide and create new hair.
This lasts from two to seven years, and the length determines the hair’s maximum length (e.g. short hair has a short anagen stage).
Hair shafts grow a tiny amount each day, usually between 0.3mm to 0.4mm (approximately six inches across a year).
The anagen stage’s length will be dictated by your age, genetics, and diet.
The catagen stage is short, lasting just two or three weeks.
Hair will stop growing and become detached from its blood supply, creating “club hair”.
This is the resting stage of the hair growth cycle.
Club hair rests as new hair starts to grow underneath, preparing to replace the club hair.
This stage of the cycle lasts around three months.
Hair sheds during the exogen stage, as resting club hairs detach.
You may lose as many as 100 hairs every day, but if you notice you’re shedding significantly more, it may be a sign of hair loss (due to stress, for example).
Once the exogen stage ends, the follicle will return to the start (anagen) and go through the hair growth cycle again.
What disrupts the hair growth cycle?
The hair growth cycle will continue until something disrupts it, ultimately inhibiting or slowing the production of new hair.
Interrupted hair growth could be a result of poor nutrition, stress, or a change in medication.
For example, a diet lacking essential vitamins and minerals (vitamins A, B12 C, D, E, iron, etc.) can contribute to increased hair loss.
Hormonal changes, male pattern baldness, and scalp infections may also be the cause.
Age is a factor, too, as follicles become less productive and the resting stage lengthens over time.
But don’t worry — you can take certain steps to help your body and hair stay healthy:
- Get regular exercise to encourage blood flow to the scalp and stronger circulation
- Try to reduce your stress levels however possible, whether this means switching to a less demanding job, making time to meditate, or making another positive change
- Never crash diet — this can rob your body of the nutrition it needs to keep your hair and growth cycle healthy
- Drink plenty of water — dehydration can reduce hair growth, so staying hydrated with around two litres of water each day can create stronger, healthier, moisturised hair
- Eat lots of fruit and vegetables, such as sweet potatoes, strawberries, oranges, broccoli, kiwi fruits, and papaya
Follow these tips to help promote healthy hair growth and reduce your risk of excessive shedding.
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Disrupted growth cycles can lead to thinning hair or even baldness.
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