Hair Growth Cycle - All You Need To Know About the Stages of Hair Growth
Everyone’s heard of the concept of healthy hair. In fact earlier during my formative years, I thought healthy hair meant a good ol’ champi from mom, shampooing hair thoroughly and the ever so typical - rocking the long locks.
Then a few years later, the concept of “shampooing your hair correctly”, using a “sulphate free’ & “paraben free” shampoo started taking over almost everyone’s minds.
…...and lately they’re full blown so called “hair care” routines that consist of all of the above except one thing - a legit healthy hair care routine.
So what really is healthy hair anyway?
Healthy hair begins with a healthy you.
Adults don’t really fool around the “you are what you eat” concept. It’s proven that for a young person who suffers from extensive hair loss it’s either caused by some of the reasons like genetics, stress, low nutrition or probably all of them (can’t really tell you the exact reason now if you’ve not taken the diagnosis test you know)
Unfortunately some of us who suffer from hair loss especially in India also suffer from too many trust issues about what can help reduce the burden of the problem. So here’s something you need to know about it - understand the phases of the hair growth cycle before you look for a treatment. Doing this can help you also decipher (with a little help from us) what’s triggering your hair to fall out.
How Does Your Hair Grow
Every human being is born with around 50 lakh hair follicles and about 1 lakh are seen on the scalp. Of these it is all right to lose about a 100 every day. Apart from playing a very crucial role in the appearance of an individual, hair also helps relay sensory information and establish the gender. The density of the hair on your scalp reduces as the child becomes an adult. This is because the size of the scalp grows, but the number of hair remains the same during the hair growth cycle.
Hair grows out of follicles (called hair bulbs) located between the dermis and the epidermis. Blood and other nutrients like amino acids, mineral salts and vitamins are supplied by a vessel that passes through the interior of the hair shaft. The sebaceous gland is next to the hair shaft and produces the lubricant, sebum which also conditions the hair. As they get older, the capacity of women to produce sebum reduces, as compared to men. The pores discharge the sweat from the sweat glands.
Structure Of Hair
Hair has 2 definite structures, the follicle which lies within the skin and the shaft which is seen on the scalp. The follicle is a segment of the epidermis that stretches down to the dermis. The base of the follicle has the papilla which comprise of small blood vessels or capillaries that provide nutrients to the cells, and is called the bulb. This is the living part of the hair. The follicle is surrounded by an inner and an outer sheath.
Keratin is a type of protein that makes up 95% of your hair. It is synthesized by keratinocytes making it insoluble in water and ensuring protection for the hair. There are 18 amino acids in hair including cysteine which give it rigidity.
Hair is divided into 3 parts:
- Medulla: This is the innermost part of the hair shaft. It is made up of a soft oily substance.
- Cuticle: This is the protective outer layer that contains the sections that provides the necessary nourishment for hair growth.
- Cortex: This is the main element of the hair composed of keratin strands that add elasticity and suppleness to the hair. The cells within the cortex are bound together by a cementing material composed of lipids and proteins. Each cell has bunches of macrofibrils that are built along the length of the hair. Macrofibrils are made up of microfibrils which in turn are made up of protofibrils. The cortex also contains melanin, created by cells called melanocytes, which impart colour to the hair.
How Does The Hair Growth Cycle Work?
Hair basically grows from the follicle, which is located under the skin. There are basically four levels of hair cycle stages, beginning from the initial phase of growth from the root to hair shedding. These are the Anagen, Catagen, Telogen and Exogen hair growth phases.
Every hair could be at a separate phase of the cycle at any given point of time. With advancing age the duration of the Anagen phase shortens. It is weakened and becomes fragile with every successive cycle. It is essential to have a nutritious diet to counter the effects of advancing age, and ensure the health of your hair,all though the hair growth cycle.
Stages Of Hair Growth Cycle
1. Anagen Phase
During the Anagen phase, your hair is in its early stages of growth. (kinda the “new born” life phase till your teens). During this phase your hair grows to its’ full potential and takes place for 2 to 7 years. After this phase the cells become dormant. The length of the hair can reach upto 30 inches during this phase.
2. Catagen Phase
In the Catagen phase, your hair follicles shrink and detaches (that part of life when you finally move out from your house).This usually lasts for about 3 weeks. The blood supply stops and the hair stops growing. The outer root sheath shortens and sticks to the root of the hair. These are called club hairs.
3. Telogen Phase
Telogen is like a rest(cation) for your hair for about 3 months. While some of your hair (usually 50%) has peacefully retired, new hairs (the other half) begin their Anagen phase. The Telogen phase hair is essentially the club hair which is completely formed during this phase of the hair growth cycle.
4. Exogen Phase
The Exogen phase is essentially an extension of the Telogen phase. The Exogen phase involves hair shedding from the scalp and washing and brushing aggravate it further. However, the hair is shed from the scalp, and this old hair will fall out to give way to new healthy hair. The Exogen hair phase lasts for about 2-5 months and as new hair develop in the follicles old hair falls away as part of the hair growth cycle.
Now the story is kinda different if you’re going through hair loss. Firstly, hair could be in the Anagen phase and directly skip to the staycation in the Telogen phase and conveniently fall off. Then there’s also the aspect of hair follicles shrinking and continuing to remain in the Telogen phase of the hair growth cycle, because of which most people’s hair regrowth is slowed down. Plus, it has a lot to do with the type of hair loss you may be experiencing. Wanna know how? Click here
But all of this can be understood only when you take on the doctor backed diagnosis test in the first place. At Traya we help you get quality hair loss care so that you are spending your money and time’s worth on a treatment that actually works. Get all the information about the hair growth cycle and then decide. Don’t worry, we’re not into that false claim thing anyway. We’ve got a strong (and strict) policy about the guarantees and promises we make. We’ll let you know upfront about what this treatment can and cannot do for your case of hair loss. So go ahead, get tested and treated.
There’s no better thing than timely hair loss care in a world full of hair fall! For more information you can visit Traya’s website.
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Dr. Shailendra Chaubey, BAMS
A modern-day Vaidya with 11 years of experience. He is the founder of Dr. Shailendra Healing School that helps patients recover from chronic conditions through the Ayurvedic way of life.