Let’s talk about hair growth. Nearly everyone has, what I like to call, the “perception of stunted hair growth”. Why perception? Because, let’s face it, scientifically, your hair is growing.
All hair undergoes a lifecycle where the hair grows then naturally sheds. All hair. Yes, even yours!
Hair growth is a three phase process:
Anagen – The hair continuously grows from its follicle and lasts an average of 3 to 5 years.
Catagen – The hair takes about 3 to 4 weeks for growth to subside, then the fiber naturally falls from the follicle.
Telogen – The follicle becomes dormant for about 3 to 4 months before a new hair strand grows within the anagen phase again.
Of the 100,000 or so active follicles on a healthy scalp, approximately 90% are in the anagen phase (and growing).
So, if you are experiencing growth that is not visible, then your hair is probably breaking at the same rate as it’s growing. If this is the case, then despite the normal growth, you won’t see a change in hair length. You will need to consider doing at least one (if not all) of the following:
- Manipulate less. This means styling your hair less often during the day, and using grooming implements that minimize contact with the hair (this means avoiding boar bristle brushes).
- Use less heat. Even though most thermal appliances go to temperatures in excess of 450° F, please do not set the temperature that high. Since everyone’s hair responds differently to heat you must use trial and error to determine the lowest temperature setting that will straighten your hair using no more than 2 heat passes. It may take more time to do but your hair will thank you for it in the long run.
- Lower the strength of the treatments you use (or maybe even avoid them altogether). If you have a relaxer you should consider decreasing the relaxer strength or decreasing the amount of time that it is left on the hair before rinsing and neutralizing. Those with color should avoid using formulations that provide high-lift color or highlights. If you still have breakage after making these modifications, your hair may be more susceptible to damage and the use chemical treatments may not be ideal for you.
- Do not use multiple chemical treatments. If you use a relaxer to achieve a straight style, it compromises the integrity of the hair so extra care is needed to lessen breakage. However, if you combine relaxer and permanent color treatments, it almost always results in hair breakage (even if you strategically avoid doing them on the same day). If you find that your hair does not seem to grow with compound treatments, try choosing one treatment over another.
Taking care of your hair is an important step in visualizing the benefits of our natural biological processes. As with any garden, patience, proper watering, weeding, the right products and a little TLC will go a long way in producing growth!