Reality of Hair Growth

by Ebony Clark-Bomani

You've probably heard everything from everyone regarding our hair and the way it grows, how fast it grows, and whether, or not, it grows at all! Myths and misconceptions about hair growth have been passed down from generation to generation. A lot of it needs to be corrected! Here is one of the biggest myths concerning hair growth, and the fact that debunks it:

Myth: Shaving, trimming, and cutting the hair makes it grow back faster, thicker, and coarser.

Fact: Shaving or trimming/cutting the hair has no effect on growth, itself. When hair is cut, it grows back more evenly. It looks and feels healthier, so it may just seem that it grew back faster and thicker.

Hair growth occurs in cycles. Each complete cycle has three phases that are repeated continuously throughout life. Those three phases are anagen (growth), catagen (transition between growth and resting phase), and telogen (resting). About 85-90% of your hair is in the growth phase at any given time. The growth phase lasts about three to five years, but in some cases can last as long as 10 years. The longer YOUR anagen (growth) phase is, the longer the hair is able to grow. This is why some people generally don't grow hair past their shoulders, while others can grow it down to their ankles. This is due to the length of TIME that hair is in the growth phase (which has been genetically determined).

Imagine that YOUR hair's particular growth phase lasts 5 years. If your hair grows at 1/4" per month, you'll have accumulated 15" and 30" if your hair grows 1/2" per month before it sheds---provided that you never cut it or it never breaks. (REMEMBER, not everyone's hair grows at the same rate, nor do they have the same amount of time in the growth phase.) Unfortunately, it is virtually impossible to know which phase of life your hair is in unless you know the age of each individual strand. Many haven't come to know their true maximum length potential due to cutting or poor hair care, resulting in breakage or hair loss due to illness and/or medication.

Discovering your hair's length potential will take much time and consistency. If you feel that your hair hasn't reached a reasonable length for the amount of time spent "growing" it, it may be time to revise your regimen. Genetics is not always to blame.