While it might seem like your best friend's hair grows five times faster than yours, the truth is everyone's hair grows around 6 inches a year (unfortunately, that whole "biotin makes hair grow" thing doesn't really give you much help). If you're dreaming of Rapunzel locks you're going to need quite a bit of patience as your hair goes through its three-phase growth cycle.
At any given time hairs on your head-and your body-are in all of the phases. Your scalp, not surprisingly, has the longest growth cycle, while body hair--arms, eyelashes, legs--have much shorter cycles to keep hair length in check.
The Anagen Phase
The Anagen Phase is the official growth period for hair. It lasts anywhere from two years to six years, leading hairs in this phase to grow around 1 cm a month. The Anagen part of the cycle is when formed hairs, called club hairs, push up and out of the hair follicle by newly forming hairs in the root.
People whose hair seems to grow fast likely have longer anagen phases, while those who struggle to get long hair have anagen phases closer to the two year length. Most of your hair is in an anagen phase at any given time.
The Catagen Phase
This is the phase that forms club hairs. The hair stops growing and the root sheath closes up around the hair. Around 3% of your hair is in this phase.
The Telogen Phase
The Telogen Phase is the rest period for the hair. The club hair is formed and there's no production of a new hair in the follicle. Hairs in the Telogen Phase are the hairs that are naturally shed. It's not uncommon to lose 50 to 100 of them a day. This period lasts around 100 days and approximately 8% of your hair is in this phase.
With knowledge of how your hair grows in hand, how do you best nourish hair to help it through the stages - particularly if you're lusting after long locks?
Massage to stimulate the hair follicles: Some research suggests a nice scalp massage will aid growth. The easiest way to do this? During your regular shampoo time in the shower. If you suffer from scalp irritation or dandruff, consider swapping out your regular shampoo with a scalp treatment like the Malibu C Healthy Scalp Wellness Kit to relieve irritation and repair the skin.
Invest in the right brush: The wrong tools can cause damage, especially if you're attempting to work through tangles and wet hair. Brushes like The Wet Brush are designed to work through post-shower hair without breaking hair or pulling it out completely, disrupting the hair growth process.
Protect!: Having long hair is more than just growth. It's a matter of keeping it healthy. Regular trims take care of split ends, but investing in a regular hair treatment to moisturize and repair is also key. Joico K-PAK Revitaluxe Restorative Treatment is an intense masque for all hair types that helps dramatically revive hair to a healthy state.
Want more tips on keeping hair in great shape? Check out this post on 4 ways you might be damaging hair without knowing it.