Usually, we only start wondering about the mystery of hair growth when our hair is not growing as expected: Which mechanisms are at play in hair growth? Which aspects are genetic? Which ones can be influenced? No worries, we’ve got you covered. Let’s get into the details of the hair growth cycle and the ways in which you can promote hair health and growth.
The 3 Phases of the Hair Growth Cycle
The hair growth cycle consists of different growth phases. In detail, those are the following:
1. Anagen phase
The anagen phase is also known as the growth phase. As the name implies, this is when hair grows in the hair follicle. Most of your hair is in the growth at this very moment: 85 %, to be exact.
2. Catagen phase
The catagen phase (a.k.a. transition phase), is when the supply of nutrients ceases and, therefore, cell division stops. It is a transition phase which prepares the hair for its third and final stage: the telogen phase.
While the catagen phase is a time of intense change, it only lasts up to a few weeks. Therefore, with 1 to 2 %, just a tiny fraction of your hair is in the transition phase at any given time.
3. Telogen phase
The hair growth cycle ends with the resting phase, also known as hair shedding phase. In this final phase, the hair is falling out. However as in every cycle the end also always means a new beginning. Another hair is already on its way: Gently, the new, strong, hair will push the old one out of the hair shaft and move into the old hair’s place.
About 8 to 14 % of your hair is in the resting phase at this very moment. If more hair is in the shedding phase simultaneously, this leads to visible hair loss.
3 Ways to Influence Hair Growth
Hair growth is dependent on a variety of different factors which makes it susceptible to disturbances.
While factors such as genetics can hardly be changed, there are ways to lengthen the growth cycle or reactivate the function of hair follicles.
Ways to influence hair growth include balanced nutrition, right care, and medical treatments. Find an overview of different factors that can affect hair growth here:
1. Support your hair growth with a healthy lifestyle
A well-balanced diet is not only the best basis for a healthy body in general but also for healthy hair growth. By supplying your body with the right amount of nutrients, you lay the foundation for full and strong hair.
Usually, a healthy diet, rich in vitamins and fibers, is enough to get all the nutrients your body needs. Sounds fairly easy, right? However, we all know how everyday life can get in the way, and we do not always manage to get in all the nutrients we might need.
Focusing on hair growth, you should keep an eye on getting a fair amount of nutrients which can be found in the following foods:
Vitamin E keeps your follicles and scalp healthy:
Sardines in Oil
Vitamin C strengthens hair stems and follicles:
Keratin and collagen strengthen hair and nails:
Iron supports hair growth. Its deficiency can be responsible for hair loss:
Lentils and beans
Biotin (also known as Vitamin B7 or Vitamin H) is an all-rounder that strengthens hair, nails, and skin alike:
Omega-3 fatty acids support hair growth:
Soy and rapeseed oil
Selenium supports hair growth thanks to anti-oxidative properties:
Meat and fish
A check-up with your physician will provide clarity on whether you have a nutritional deficiency. Keeping your nutrition levels in balance will not only benefit your hair health but also boost your general health.
Besides nutritional balance, stress is another factor that can mess up your hair. A sufficient amount of sleep as well as relaxation techniques and exercise can help you deal with stress.
Good to know:
Hair loss of 70 to 100 hairs per day is absolutely normal. Please check in with your dermatologist if your hair loss is more severe.
From over-the-counter supplements to prescribed medication, there are a lot of hair loss treatments out there, but only a few of them seem to work. Two of the most commonly used medications for hair growth are finasteride and minoxidil.
The hair loss medication Finasteride works by reducing the amount of DHT in the body.
DHT, with its full name dihydrotestosterone, plays a massive role in hereditary hair loss. Here, Finasteride comes into play: It works by blocking the enzyme which triggers the transformation from testosterone to DHT.
However, treatment with Finasteride bears the possibility of some quite severe side effects. Young men in particular appear to be at higher risk for side effects related to mental health. Additionally, the drug may cause sex-related side effects such as decreased libido or erectile dysfunction, which may persist even after stopping the medication.
Usually Finasteride is not advised to be taken by women since it can harm the fetus in case of a pregnancy. For the same reason, men who do take Finasteride are not allowed to donate blood.
Minoxidil is a medication against hair loss that can either be applied topically or taken orally. However, the topical application is often preferred as it reaps similar results while coming along with less side effects.
The mode of action of Minoxidil is still unclear. However, it might improve the blood circulation of the scalp, which in turn leads to stronger hair.
Dutasteride is a hair loss medication that works similarly to Finasteride. In contrast to Finasteride, it is not available on the NHS. However, it can be prescribed by physicians as unlicensed medication.
Dutasteride seems to be quite potent in treating pattern baldness as well as alopecia areata. Its use is quite common in Singapore and North Korea.
The bottom line on medication
Treatments such as topical minoxidil can help to prevent the shedding of hair. Further possible benefits include increased hair thickness and density.
In some cases, different hair growth medications might also be combined. In the case of Minoxidil and Finasteride, combining them might even be the most efficient way as the two seem to be working through different mechanisms.
Unfortunately, all hair growth medications have in common that effects stop after you stop taking them. Therefore, they are only temporary solutions to hair loss and can also go along with side effects. Additionally, treatment with Finasteride and Dutasteride is usually not advised for women.
3. PRP: How Your Own Blood Can Support Your Hair Growth
PRP stands for Platelet Rich Plasma and describes a therapy in which a part of your blood is used to promote hair growth. Studies have proven that PRP autologous blood treatment significantly improves hair loss – and shows benefits in both the quality and growth of the hair.
How does PRP autohaemotherapy work?
Did you know that your blood plasma is filled with valuable nutrients and proteins which can promote hair growth? During a PRP autohaemotherapy hair treatment, a tiny bit of blood is taken from the patient. Usually, 20 to 30 millilitres are already sufficient for one treatment.
After extracting the therapeutically valuable growth factors, the plasma is carefully injected into the lower skin layers with a fine needle in areas with no or thinning hair. The plasma helps the follicles to recover and promotes the growth phase at the hair roots.
To get optimal hair regrowth results and to support the hair follicles in the best way possible, more than one treatment is advised. Ideally, four treatments are carried out at an interval of at least four weeks.
PRP can be either applied independently or to support hair growth further after a hair transplant. PRP is a minimally invasive therapy that requires no downtime.
The Proper Hair Care to Maintain Healthy Hair
The hair growth cycle is not all about the growth of the hair. After the hair has made its way out of the hair shaft, it’s all about maintaining its health. Let’s get into a few tips that can help to promote a healthy and full appearance.
Do not brush or comb your hair while wet or damp.
Brushing your hair while wet can make it much more susceptible to hair damage and breakage. Therefore, being especially careful with your hair after washing can make a real difference in the health of your hair.
Straight hair should ideally be brushed carefully after air-drying. For wavy or curly hair however, it’s best to comb it gently before washing to also maintain the curl pattern.
Avoid hair styles that can be damaging to your hair.
Do not wear too tight ponytails or other hairstyles that apply a lot of pressure on the scalp too often. If you do, change them up from time to time.
Scalp massages, by supporting blood circulation can stimulate the growth phase to last a little longer.
Pro-tip: Before washing your hair, use a dash of olive, argan, jojoba, grape seed, or coconut oil for the massage. This does not only give your scalp a hydrating kick but makes the scalp massage even more of a relaxing experience.
Try to avoid heat styling if possible.
Heat can damage hair by promoting hair breakage and split ends, especially in long hair. Using heat less often and only in combination with a heat protectant beforehand can help maintain your hair growth. If you need to air dry it, choose the coldest setting on your hair dryer. When drying it with a towel, doing it gently is the best way to go.
Care for your hair the right way.
Especially for long hair, hair masks and nourishing leave-ins help to maintain hair health. If possible, avoid bleach and perms since they can lead to hair breakage.
Choose your bedding carefully.
Satin pillowcases will help to prevent hair damage and can, therefore, help in maintaining thicker hair. Since they are super gentle towards hair and skin, they are an investment that pays off in every way.
True or false? Trimming your hair will make your hair grow faster.
It is not true that regular trims will influence your hair growth. However, cutting off the ends of the hair makes them less prone to split ends which could have lead to bigger damage later on.
By trimming the hair, it is more likely to keep its length. Therefore, it is a step that is especially effective for hair that is longer than shoulder-length and, thus, more prone to damage.
The Bottom Line on Different Ways to Promote Hair Growth
From hair products over medication up to autohaemotherapy: There are many possible ways to promote and maintain healthy hair. If you suffer from extensive hair loss, your first visit should, in any case, lead you to your dermatologist to get to the cause of the problem. Besides evening out potential nutritional deficits, PRP autohaemotherapy can help to treat hair loss sustainably in the long term.
Do you want to get more information on the topic of hair growth?
At HAIR & SKIN, we welcome you anytime for a free appointment in one of our clinics. Our physicians are happy to discuss your needs and concerns in detail. Included in the appointment is a hair analysis. Based on its result, your physician will work with you to determine which treatment could be the right one for you.
And in the meantime? A massive hub of expert knowledge on healthy and full hair is available to you at any time at our HAIR & SKIN blog.