Having a clear understanding of the hair growth process is crucial for anyone who wants to maintain thick, lush and healthy hair. Hair growth is an active biological phenomenon that occurs under the skin inside the hair follicles. Although this phenomenon may seem like a simple process, a single hair follicle actually goes through successive stages of growth. Each stage has its own timeline, which can be influenced by various factors, including stress, genetics, environmental factors, nutrition, and general health.
By learning about these distinctive stages, we can gain valuable insights into hair growth and develop effective strategies for hair care and maintenance.
In this blog post, we’ll explore the three main phases of hair growth: anagen, catagen, and telogen, shedding light on the characteristics of each phase and offering tips for optimizing hair health.
1. Anagen phase (active growth phase)
The anagen phase is the active growth phase of hair follicles, which make up approximately 85% of the hair on our scalp at any given time. During the anagen phase, hair grows about half an inch per month. It is the longest stage and this stage can last from two to seven years depending on various factors such as genetics, age, ethnicity and general health. During the anagen phase, cells in the hair bulb multiply rapidly, pushing older cells up and into the follicle and eventually out of the skin.
Tips for optimizing the anagen phase.
- Maintain a well-rounded diet rich in essential nutrients such as vitamin A, vitamin C, and vitamin E that promote hair growth.
- Consume healthy amounts of protein and foods rich in biotin, as protein and iron deficiency are linked to hair loss.
- Be gentle with hair when it’s wet or damp, it’s three times more prone to breakage.
- Avoid excessive heat styling and chemical treatments that can damage hair follicles.
- Massage the scalp regularly to stimulate blood circulation, helping to supply nutrients to the hair follicles.
- Make sure you get enough rest and manage your stress levels, as stress can disrupt the hair growth cycle.
2. Catagen stage (transition stage)
After the anagen phase, hair follicles enter the catagen phase, which marks the transition to telogen. This transition phase lasts for about two to three weeks and is characterized by a slowdown in hair growth due to shrinking hair follicles. The hair is cut off from its blood supply, forming a hair follicle that no longer actively grows. Approximately 1% of the hair on our scalp is in the catagen phase at any given time.
Tips for maintaining healthy hair in the catagen phase.
- Be gentle with your hair to avoid unnecessary damage as the hair is vulnerable and no longer actively growing at this stage.
- Avoid using harsh shampoo as it can dry out your scalp and hair, stripping it of its natural oils, thereby putting your hair at risk for further breakage.
- Use a wide-toothed comb or a soft-bristled brush to prevent breakage.
- Avoid tight hairstyles or excessive pulling as this can lead to traction alopecia.
- Nourish your hair and scalp with coconut oil to hydrate hair and prevent frizz.
3. Telogen phase (rest and shedding phase)
The telogen phase is the resting phase of the hair growth cycle that lasts approximately two to four months. At this stage, the hair follicle is inactive and the ingrown hair remains in place until it falls out naturally. Hair shaft growth does not occur at this stage. About 10-15% of the hair on our scalp is in the telogen phase at any given time. At the end of the Telogen phase, the hair follicle re-enters the Anagen phase and new hair begins to grow in the follicles.
Tips for promoting healthy hair in the telogen phase.
- Avoid excessive heat styling and chemical treatments that can further weaken the hair shaft.
- Avoid worrying too much about hair loss during this normal phase.
- Consume a diet that is high in nutritional value foods such as eggs, leafy greens, and oily fish.
- Stay adequately hydrated as proper hydration directly affects your hair growth and keeps your hair follicles healthy and strong.
- Cleanse and exfoliate your scalp regularly to provide a healthy environment for new hair growth.
Understanding the stages of hair growth is essential to maintaining healthy and vibrant hair. By knowing the distinct stages of hair growth, you can optimize your hair care routine and provide the support you need for common hair problems you may encounter. Remember, maintaining a healthy lifestyle, managing stress, and using the right hair care practices are the keys to promoting strong, shiny, and voluminous hair.
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