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Can Hair Growth Be Sped Up?

Can Hair Growth Be Sped Up?

Jul 21, 2022

Ako Stark

This article is compiled of research that I am using to answer the age old question that concerns most people at some point in their lives. Can hair growth be sped up? Whether it be a lousy haircut you want to reverse or missing patches you want to replace, at some point you will be finding yourself wondering, “is there any way to speed this up??” Is there a secret remedy or formula one can use to speed up their hair growth? No worries, you have the questions and I have done the research needed to provide you with the right answers. 

The Science of Hair Growth: How Does it Grow?

Your hair is important to you, it's a unique part of your look and what makes you who you are. Besides being a part of your look or an expression of your personality, hair actually serves a few purposes. Before we can understand how hair grows we have to understand the hair as a whole. With that being said, what initially is the purpose of hair growth? 

For starters, it offers your scalp much needed protection from the sun, otherwise you'd have to remember to put sunscreen on your head before heading out the door. Your eyelashes and eyebrows keep the sweat, dirt, dust and other debris out of your eyes. The hair in your ears and nose help to keep pathogens and foriegn particles out. By standing straight up, the hair on your body helps to keep you warm by capturing the surrounding heat close to your body.

Now that we understand the purpose of hair growth, let's move on to its physical structure. The structure of hair varies depending on its type and where it is located on the body. There are two main types of hair. These are the Vellus hairs, which are shorter and thinner; like peach fuzz, and the Terminal hairs which are longer and thicker. 

How much hair and of each type a person has depends on factors such as age and sex. However, the lips, palms of the hands, and soles of the feet are the only parts of the body on which hair does not grow. Males, for example, may find that their hair grows faster than that of females. Other things that influence the speed of hair growth include genetics, age, health, and pregnancy. 

Although it varies from person to person, women have approximately 30% terminal hairs as opposed to men who can have up to 90%. Children on the other hand, have mostly vellus hairs. 

Now that we understand the purpose of hair growth we can move on to its physical structure. Each individual hair has a hair shaft and a hair root. The Hair Shaft is the visible part of the hair which sticks out of the surface of the skin. The Hair Root on the other hand extends down underneath to the deeper layers of the skin. The hair papilla supplies blood to the hair root. 

The Hair Papilla cells are specialized mesenchymal cells that exist in the dermal papilla located at the bottom of hair follicles. These cells play a pivotal role in the hair formation, and growth cycle. The hair root is surrounded by the hair follicle. The Hair Follicle is a sheath of skin and connective tissue. On average, people are born with around 5 million hair follicles; around 100,000 of these follicles are on the scalp. 

The hair follicle is also connected to a sebaceous gland. The Sebaceous Gland is a small oil-producing gland present in the skin of mammals. Each hair follicle is attached to a tiny muscle known as the Arrector Pili which makes the hair stand straight up. At the end of each hair follicle there are many nerve endings that sense hair movement and changes in temperature. 

Further down, at the base of the hair, the hair root widens to a round hair bulb. The Hair Bulb forms the base of the hair follicle. New hair cells form in the hair bulb. These cells harden and stick together from the bottom pushing the hair up and out of the skin. This is the visible part of the hair and on your head. 

The cross sectional shape of the hair determines whether it will be curly or straight. The rounder the shape the more straight, the more oval shaped, the curlier it will be. The color of the hair is determined by the amount of melanin in the hardened cells. This can vary a lot from person to person, and it changes over the course of a lifetime. Melanin typically decreases as people get older.

Now that we understand the anatomy of hair and how it’s structured, we can now go into the details of the hair growth cycle. The growth phase of the hair growth cycle begins with what is called the anagen phase. The Anagen phase is the active phase of the hair growth cycle.This is where the cells in the root of the hair are dividing rapidly. Did you know that bone marrow, which is the soft substance present inside the bones, is the only part of the body that grows faster than hair?

At the end of the growth phase, the hair root separates from the papilla. Then a transitional phase called the catagen phase starts. The catagen phase is the transitional stage; about 3% of all hairs are in this phase at any time. This phase lasts for about two to three weeks. When the hair has separated completely from the papilla, the supply of blood is cut off in the final resting phase, which is also called the telogen phase. The hair is gradually pushed out of the skin and eventually falls out. 

Also Read: Why Does Hair Growth Slow Down?

What Causes Increased Hair Loss?

Natural hair loss occurs when hair enters the resting phase, as a matter of fact, we are constantly losing hair. A person may lose 70 to 100 hairs on their head a day. Natural hair loss isn’t supposed to be noticeable because the hairs are being replaced. 

On average, hair tends to grow between 0.5 and 1.7 centimeters per month. This is equivalent to around 0.2 to 0.7 inches. This estimate comes from The Trichological Society. However, lots of different factors affect the speed of hair growth.

Hair loss may become more noticeable if the hair roots become damaged during the growth phase or if a lot of hairs go into the resting phase at the same time. The bald spots resulting from this are known as alopecia. 

Alopecia is the partial or complete loss of hair on parts of the body where hair is normally supposed to be growing; this is also known as baldness. In some cases the hair does grow back. Unfortunately, some cases of baldness are permanent and or genetic.This is usually known as male pattern baldness.

Telogen Effluvium

Telogen Effluvium occurs when stress triggers the hair into entering the telogen stage of the hair cycle too early. As much as 70% of the hair of the scalp can fall out in a two month period.

Some of the common causes of telogen effluvium are but not limited to:

  • ✓ Childbirth
  • ✓ High fever
  • ✓ Severe infection
  • ✓ Severe illness
  • ✓ Surgery
  • ✓ Overactive or underactive thyroid gland
  • ✓ Not eating enough protein

There are also certain medications that can also cause telogen effluvium and these include:

  • ✓ Retinoids
  • ✓ Beta-blockers
  • ✓ Calcium channel blockers
  • ✓ Antidepressants
  • ✓ Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as ibuprofen

According to the American Osteopathic College of Dermatology, the amount of shedding tends to decrease over a period of around 6 to 8 months. Telogen effluvium will eventually and usually clear up on its own once a person has sought treatment for the cause.

Can You Make Hair Grow More Quickly?

According to The Trichological Society, there is little evidence to suggest that using special shampoos or taking supplements can make hair grow any quicker. This may seem quite disappointing but there is good news. The secret to hair growth may not be in the hair itself but in the condition of the scalp. Hair must be supported by a strong  and healthy scalp in order to grow strong, healthy, and long. 

Proper nutrition is also necessary to promote a healthy scalp and hair. Adopting a healthful diet containing fruit, vegetables, grains, and an appropriate amount of fat will promote healthy hair.

Specific foods that can promote healthy hair include:

  • ✓ Fish: Fish contains essential omega-3 fatty acids, protein, vitamin B-12, and iron, all of which prevent a dry scalp and stop hair from looking dull in color.
  • ✓ Dark green vegetables: These contain high levels of vitamin A and C, which help keep hair in good condition.
  • ✓ Legumes: These are full of protein, which promotes hair growth and helps prevent weak and brittle hair.
  • ✓ Biotin: A biotin deficiency can lead to brittle hair or hair loss. Whole grains, liver, egg yolk, soy flour, and yeast all contain biotin.
  • ✓ Nuts: These are a good source of selenium, which is important for a healthy scalp. Some nuts also contain alpha-linoleic acid and zinc. These help condition the hair and prevent shedding.
  • ✓ Dairy Products: These are good sources of calcium, which is another key component in hair growth.

It's also important to note the factors that can slow down the hair growth process. Examples of these would be crash diets, eating disorders, such as anorexia or bulimia, stress, smoking, and vitamin deficiencies. At the end of the day, the overall condition of your health, your lifestyle, and your habits will determine just how fast and long your hair will grow.

Also Read: How Hair Growth Works?