The Truth About Hair Growth
By Sumetra Reed
When I first went natural over five years ago, I thought it meant automatic hair growth and hair flowing down my back, just like when I was younger. WRONG. Being natural takes work. Not only that, there's so much to learn. After about a year into my natural hair journey, I felt like my hair stopped growing. So I talked to my stylist and her response was so eye opening.
She said, "Your hair grows but you may have a shorter growth phase than others." Huh? Growth phase? I was so dumb founded. She continued to let me know that everyone's hair is different and goes through different phases at different times. There are three phases in the hair growth cycle. They are "anagen", "catagen" and "telogen". Understanding these phases will help you better understand your hair.
Here are the definitions found for each phase within the hair growth cycle.
Anagen is the active growth phase of hair follicles during which the root of the hair is dividing rapidly, adding to the hair shaft. During this phase the hair grows about 1 cm every 28 days. Scalp hair stays in this active phase of growth for 2–7 years and is genetically determined. At the end of the anagen phase an unknown signal causes the follicle to go into the catagen phase.
The catagen phase is a short transition stage that occurs at the end of the anagen phase. It signals the end of the active growth of a hair. This phase lasts for about 2–3 weeks while the hair converts to a club hair. A club hair is formed during the catagen phase when the part of the hair follicle in contact with the lower portion of the hair becomes attached to the hair shaft. This process cuts the hair off from its blood supply and from the cells that produce new hair. When a club hair is completely formed, about a 2-week process, the hair follicle enters the telogen phase.
The telogen phase is the resting phase of the hair follicle. When the body is subjected to extreme stress, as much as 70 percent of hair can prematurely enter a phase of rest, called the telogen phase. This hair begins to fall, causing a noticeable loss of hair. This condition is called telogen effluvium. The club hair is the final product of a hair follicle in the telogen stage, and is a dead, fully keratinized hair. Fifty to one-hundred club hair are shed daily from a normal scalp.
Hair growth cycle times
- Scalp: The time these phases last varies from person to person. Different hair color and follicle shape affects the timings of these phases.
- anagen phase, 2–8 years (occasionally much longer)
- catagen phase, 2–3 weeks
- telogen phase, around 3 months
Hopefully this information helps you to better understand why people can be natural the same amount of time but have different hair growth.
By Sumetra Reed