Posted July 24, 2020 by Tiana Carlyle
Have you ever felt a slight pang of jealousy while watching a haircare advertisement? Don’t worry, you’re certainly not the only one. The vast majority of us have watched, through envious eyes, at the long, luscious hair of the haircare models and wondered how to get hair like that. Admittedly, I’ve often looked at my own mop and wondered “how long does it take hair to grow?”, and “how do I make my hair grow faster?”
How Long Does It Take Hair To Grow?
For some odd reason it seems like if you have short hair, it grows too quickly, but if you’re trying to grow it out, it grows at a snail’s pace. So, how long does it take hair to grow anyway? Each hair on your head has three stages in its lifetime – the active growth phase, the transition phase, and the resting phase. Your hair only actually grows in the first stage and the average rate of growth is 0.5cm-1.7cm per month (The Trichological Society, 2019). Each phase lasts a different length of time; the active phase is anywhere between 2 and 8 years, the transition phase lasts 4-6 weeks, and the resting phase lasts 2-3 months. Of course, this rate will differ from person to person and will depend on a range of different factors.
Genetics and Ethnicity
Firstly, the speed of your hair growth is based largely on your genetic make-up. We all know that we inherit hair color and hair type from our parents but the speed that our hair grows is also influenced by genetics. Studies have shown that ethnicity also plays a role in how fast our hair grows. According to these studies, Asian people have the fastest growing hair of all ethnic groups, with a whopping average growth rate of 1.3cm per month. Caucasian hair tends to grow at 1.2cm per month and African hair tends to grow at an average rate of 0.9cm per month (Loussouarn, et al., 2016).
Hair type also plays a huge part in the growth rate; Asian hair, generally, is less dense and it usually grows straight and perpendicular to the scalp. In contrast, African hair tends to be denser and usually grows parallel to the scalp. Of course, these are generalizations based on large study groups and everyone’s hair is different so take that with a pinch of salt!
Lifestyle and Health
How fast your hair grows isn’t solely up to genetics, you do have some say in it. By this we mean, your lifestyle and diet can influence the growth rate of your hair too. Healthy hair will grow faster and to have healthy hair, you need to consider your overall health.
There are a couple of different factors that can impact your hair health. You’ve more than likely heard of stress contributing to an increase in grey hairs, but did you know that stress can reduce the strength of your hair too? Emotional and mental stress can cause your hair to prematurely move to the second, or transition phase, of its lifespan, meaning that it stops growing. Putting your feet up and reducing stress in your life can help avoid this but it can also be caused by some illnesses such as hyperthyroidism or hypothyroidism. Age can also affect hair growth as some follicles will become inactive as you get older.
If you or any of your friends have children, you may know already that hormones can affect hair growth too. Many women report that during pregnancy, they have noticed a major difference in their hair growth. Some women find that their hair grows faster and thicker, on the other hand, some women find that their hair becomes thinner during, or after, pregnancy. This could be due to the hormonal shift, though hair growth could be linked to the effects of folic acid. Folic acid is usually taken whilst pregnant to help with fetal spine and brain development but it sometimes can help strengthen hair and nails for the lucky mom-to-be. Hormonal shifts during pregnancy and menopause could also prematurely move hair strands into the transition phase, which stops hair from growing.
Related Post: How Often Should You Wash Your Hair
Reasons Why Your Hair Isn’t Growing
You certainly are what you eat when it comes to hair care. One of the main causes of hair thinning or slow hair growth is down to nutritional deficiency. Of course, you must get adequate nutrients in your diet so that you remain healthy overall, but a healthy diet will also benefit your hair. For example, hair follicles are mostly made up of protein so you need to ensure that you’re including enough protein in your diet. A bonus to this is that your nails are made of the same protein (keratin) and ensuring you get a good amount in your diet will also help your nails to grow stronger and faster!
Interestingly enough, it may not be that your hair isn’t growing. It may be that you aren’t retaining the length you are gaining- this is known as breakage. This lack of retainage can be attributed to your hair not getting the hydration and nutrition it needs.
How To Make Your Hair Grow Faster
Now that we know why your hair isn’t growing, we’ll get onto the burning question that we’ve all asked, at some point. “How to make my hair grow faster?” While the growth rate is largely based on genetics, you can still give your hair all the help it can get. Strong, healthy hair will remain in the active growth phase for longer. Therefore, it will grow for longer i.e. you will notice a difference in the length sooner.
A Nutrient-Rich Diet
To make sure that your hair continues growing, you have to feed it! A nutrient-rich diet will help here; zinc, iron, and biotin all help promote hair growth. As we mentioned earlier, protein is also necessary for hair growth. Vitamins A and C, which can be found in dark, leafy greens, can help with sebum production. In turn, it will help keep your hair moisturized and strong.
Stimulate Your Scalp
Another, rather relaxing way, to encourage hair growth is scalp massage. Studies have shown that scalp massage can help to stimulate hair follicles by increasing circulation and dilating blood vessels beneath the skin. As if we needed an excuse to go get a head massage? Essential oils can also be used during scalp massages as they will help to moisturize the scalp. Before applying essential oils to the scalp, make sure to do a patch test – the skin on your scalp can be quite sensitive! (Cherney, 2019).
Hydrate Your Hair
Moisture can play a big part in growing your hair as dry, brittle hair is more likely to break. Ensuring your hair care products are nourishing and add moisture to your hair will help with this. If your hair is on the dry-side, castor oil and coconut oil hair masks are known to help restore moisture and help stimulate the scalp. Avoiding heat styling will also help to reduce hair damage. Of course, this isn’t always possible as we don’t have hours to let our hair air-dry. Luckily, heat protection sprays are an excellent barrier for when heat cannot be avoided.
There isn’t one sure-fire way to make hair grow faster, ultimately it may be up to genetics. But there are plenty of ways that we can help and encourage it to grow as fast as it can. A well-rounded, healthy diet will not only benefit you but it will also benefit your hair. Putting your feet up, having an extra hour lie-in on the weekend, or treating yourself to a head massage could also help (as if we really needed an excuse to indulge ourselves!).
Barrell, A., 2019. Medical News Today. [Online]
Available at: https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/326764
[Accessed 23 July 2020].
Cherney, K., 2019. Healthline. [Online]
Available at: https://www.healthline.com/health/scalp-massage-for-hair-growth
[Accessed 23 July 2020].
Loussouarn, G. et al., 2016. Diversity in Human Hair Growth, Diameter, Colour, and shape: an in vivo study on young adults from 24 different ethnic groups observed in the five continents. [Online]
Available at: https://link.springer.com/content/pdf/10.1684/ejd.2015.2726.pdf
[Accessed 23 July 2020].
Loussourarn, PharmD, G., El Rawadi, Ph.D., C. & Genain, Ph.D., G., 2005. Diversity of Hair Growth Profile. International Journal of Dermatology, 44(s1), pp. 6-9.
The Trichological Society, 2019. Nutrition and Hair Health. [Online]
Available at: https://www.hairscientists.org/hair-and-scalp-conditions/nutrition-and-hair-health
[Accessed 22 July 202].
Yuen, C. & Brusie, C., 2019. Healthline. [Online]
Available at: https://www.healthline.com/health/beauty-skin-care/grow-hair-faster
[Accessed 23 July 2020].