Having a clear understanding of the hair growth process is crucial for anyone looking to maintain thick, luscious, and healthy hair. Hair growth is an active biological phenomenon that occurs under the skin inside hair follicles. While this phenomenon may seem like a simple process, a single hair follicle actually undergoes successive growth phases. Each phase has its own timeline, which can be affected by various factors including stress, genetics, environmental factors, nutrition and overall health.
By familiarizing ourselves with these distinctive phases, we can gain valuable insights into how hair grows and develop effective strategies for hair care and maintenance.
In this blog post, we will explore the three main stages of hair growth — anagen, catagen, and telogen — shedding light on each phase’s characteristics and offering tips to optimize hair health.
1. Anagen Phase (Active Growth Phase)
The anagen phase is the active growth phase of the hair follicles, accounting for approximately 85% of the hair on our scalps at any given time. During the anagen phase, the hair grows about half an inch per month. It’s the longest phase and this phase can last anywhere from two to seven years, depending on various factors such as genetics, age, ethnicity, and overall health. During the anagen phase, cells in the hair bulb rapidly replicate, pushing older cells upward and up to the follicle and eventually out of the skin.
Tips for optimizing the anagen phase:
- Maintain a well-rounded diet rich in essential nutrients like vitamins A, vitamin C, and vitamin E, which support hair growth.
- Consume a healthy amount of protein and biotin-rich foods, as deficiencies in protein and iron have been linked to hair loss.
- Treat hair gently when it’s wet or damp — it’s three times more prone to breakage.
- Avoid excessive heat styling and chemical treatments that can damage the hair follicles.
- Regularly massage the scalp to stimulate blood circulation, promoting nutrient delivery to the hair follicles.
- Ensure you get sufficient rest and manage stress levels, as stress can disrupt the hair growth cycle.
2. Catagen Phase (Transition Phase)
After the anagen phase, hair follicles enter the catagen phase which marks the transition into the telogen. This transitional stage lasts for about two to three weeks and is characterized by a slowdown in hair growth due to shrinkage in the hair follicles. The hair detaches from the blood supply, forming a club hair that is no longer actively growing. Approximately 1% of the hair on our scalp is in the catagen phase at any given time.
Tips for maintaining healthy hair during the catagen phase:
- Handle your hair gently to avoid unnecessary damage, as the hair is vulnerable and no longer actively growing during this phase.
- Avoid using harsh shampoo, as it can dry out your scalp and hair by stripping it of its natural oils, thereby putting your hair at risk of further breakage.
- Use a wide-toothed comb or a brush with soft bristles to prevent hair breakage.
- Avoid tight hairstyles or excessive pulling, as it can lead to traction alopecia.
- Nourish your hair and scalp with coconut oil to keep the hair moisturized and prevent brittleness.
3. Telogen Phase (Resting and Shedding Phase)
The telogen phase is the resting phase of the hair growth cycle, lasting approximately two to four months. During this phase, the hair follicle is inactive, and the club hair remains in place until it is naturally shed. The growth of the hair shaft does not occur during this phase. Around 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 growing in the follicles.
Tips for promoting healthy hair during the telogen phase:
- Avoid excessive heat styling and chemical treatments that can further weaken the hair shaft.
- Avoid excessive worry about hair shedding during this normal phase.
- Consume a diet that has high nutritional value foods like eggs, leafy greens, and fatty fish.
- Stay adequately hydrated, as proper hydration directly influences the growth of your hair and keeps your hair follicles healthy and strong.
- Regularly clean and exfoliate the scalp to ensure a healthy environment for new hair growth.
Understanding the hair growth phases is essential for maintaining healthy and vibrant hair. By familiarizing yourself with the distinct phases of hair growth, you can optimize your hair care routines and provide the necessary support for common hair issues you may encounter. Remember, maintaining a healthy lifestyle, managing stress, and adopting proper hair care practices are the key to promoting strong, shiny, and voluminous tresses.