We’ve all wondered exactly how long does hair take to grow, particularly when we’re desperate for a little more length in our locks. Why does it always seem like the hair we don’t want grows like a weed, but the hair on our heads just won’t budge? Keep reading to find out more...
SO, HOW LONG CAN YOUR HAIR TAKE TO GROW?
Did you know that hair is the fastest growing natural tissue in the human body and, according to the Trichological Society, your hair grows somewhere between 0.2 - 0.7 inch per month (or 2.5 - 8.5 inches per year)?
As we discuss in our article on the Hair Growth Cycle, your hair grows in three distinct stages with each strand of hair following its own timeline within this cycle. These three stages are:
- THE ANAGEN PHASE: More commonly known as the growth phase, this lasts for approximately 2-6 years
- THE CATAGEN PHASE: This is the transition phase of your hair cycle where your hair stops growing and the follicle begins to detach, lasting somewhere between 2-4 weeks
- THE TELOGEN PHASE: This is the resting phase where the dead hair begins to fall out in preparation to enter the Anagen phase again. This can last for 3-5 months
Outside of your normal hair growth cycle, while good nutrition forms a very important part of healthy hair growth, there are other factors that can impact your individual hair growth.
Let’s take a look at some of these now.
While genetics does not directly dictate how long your hair can grow, it does play an important role in how long your hair spends in the anagen phase before entering the resting phase and shedding, which can determine the overall length of your hair.
While we are on the subject of genetics, there is also the small matter of genetic hair loss, which can have a huge impact on growth. Male and Female Pattern Baldness is covered in our article - Understanding Hair Loss - and this predisposition affects the time it takes hair to grow, if at all.
There are large differences between ethnicities when it comes to our hair type. While there are clear visual variations between races, there are also microscopic differences in the makeup of our hair types. The follicles of Asian, Caucasian and afro hair are drastically different shapes, which dictates the characteristics of the hair and how it grows.
Asian hair has round follicles and is usually dead straight and very strong. It is generally either dark brown or black in colour and has the fastest growth rate of all hair types, growing over half an inch a month. Asian hair does have the lowest density of the three, although it is less likely to experience hair loss.
Caucasian hair comes in a variety of textures, from dead straight to wavy, to curly. The follicles have a slightly oval shape to them, and generally speaking, it has the highest density. Caucasian hair grows just under half an inch per month.
Afro hair is characterised by tight curls and because of this, it has the slowest growth rate of the three with only a third of an inch growing per month. The follicles have an elliptical shape that grows in a spiral, and on the whole, is more fragile and prone to breakage.
As we get older it's not only our skin that changes, our hair changes in a number of ways too.
From losing its pigment and turning grey, to thinning and loss, hair goes through a lot as we enter midlife and beyond. These changes also affect the speed of hair growth, as the anagen phase shortens and the time hair actually spends growing is lessened.
Optimal hair growth occurs between the ages of 15 – 30 and is typically at its slowest between the ages of 40 – 50. Although, strangely, men can find that their beard hair grows faster once they reach the age of 50.
Colour? While you might be wondering whether your hair colour could play an important role, there is no real evidence to support that colour impacts the speed in which your hair grows.
However, there are some interesting facts surrounding the different hair colours.
Blondes tend to have more hair on their heads, around 146,000 strands, while those with black hair have about 110,000. Brunettes have slightly less on 100,000 and redheads have the least hair strands, at just 86,000 per head. On average, blonde hair is finer and more prone to breakage than its counterparts so it may seem that it doesn’t grow as long or as fast.
Although many think men’s hair grows longer than a woman’s, there are no biological differences between the sexes in how long it takes hair to grow. That being said, female hair is often subjected to a more vigorous and sometimes harmful hair care routine that includes hair dryers, straighteners and extensions. This can limit healthy hair growth and damage the existing hair, creating the impression that female hair doesn’t grow as fast as its male equivalent.
Does where we live have an effect on the answer to ‘how long does it take hair to grow’? In short, no, although it can seem like it might be the case. We’ve all felt like our hair grows more in the summer months, but actually, it’s our hormones that are leading the charge.
In warmer climates, we are naturally more active (well, some of us!) and our metabolism becomes higher which affects our hormonal cycles. This change may contribute to faster hair growth. Another theory is that in hotter environments, our scalp produces more natural oils that are key to hair growth. We end up brushing these oils throughout the hair shaft which conditions and maintains healthy hair, which can encourage faster hair growth.
Many women experience thicker hair during their pregnancy, however, this does not affect how long it takes hair to grow. The added thickness is a result of a prolonged anagen phase brought about by the hormonal changes. Most new mothers actually experience increased hair loss as the retained hair sheds.
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