The 4 stages of the hair growth cycle

Hair growth cycle is the natural life cycle of the hair follicles and it is made up of 4 stages:

  1. Anagen
  2. Catagen
  3. Telogen
  4. Exogen
hair growth cycle

1. Anagen

The hair growth cycle begins with the anagen phase. During this stage, cells within the bulb divide and create new hair.

This lasts from 2 to 7 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 6 inches across a year).

The anagen stage’s length will be dictated by your age, genetics, and diet.

2. Catagen

The catagen stage is short, lasting just 2 or 3 weeks.

Hair will stop growing and become detached from its blood supply, creating “club hair”.

3. Telogen

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 3 months.

4. Exogen

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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FAQ

How long is the hair growth cycle? 

The hair growth cycle sees new hairs grow and push club hairs (which are no longer growing or have come out of the anagen phase) up the follicle until they fall out. Hair grows at a rate of around 1cm per 28 days during this stage of the hair growth cycle. However, hair on the scalp remains in this phase for between two and six years.

How do I know my hair growth cycle?

The hair growth cycle includes the following four stages: 
Anagen (Growing): This lasts from two to seven years, and determines how long the hair will be.
Catagen (Transition): This only lasts for around 10 days, and cuts hairs off from the blood supply.
Telogen (Resting): This phase takes about three months, during which hairs remain attached to follicles without growing.
Exogen (New Hair): Hairs detach from follicles and shed, so new hairs can start to grow.

What factors affect hair cycle? 

The following factors affect a person’s hair growth: 
Sex: Men’s hair usually grows more quickly than women’s.
Genetics: Genes affect how quickly hair grows.
Nutrition: A good diet is a must for healthy hair growth and repair.
Age: Hair growth tends to be at its fastest from age 15 to 30. It usually slows down with age.

What determines hair growth cycle? 

Hairs sprout from roots within follicles beneath the skin. Blood vessels at the bottom of these follicles feed the hair, providing it with the essential nutrients to grow. Hairs pass through four phases between the start and end of the hair growth cycle: anagen, catagen, telogen, and exogen.