What is hair and how does it grow?
As with most things in life, hair growth is a process that relies on balance. When we are out of balance with things like stress and poor health or diet, our hair tends to suffer. Our mission at CENTRED is to help people find balance so they can rediscover their very best hair. Read on to find out how.
Hair cells are one of the fastest growing cells in the body and are made from a protein called ‘Keratin’ which forms the hair structure. Underneath the scalp layer lie the hair follicles that are responsible for growing hair and rely on the blood supply from the blood vessel it is connected to. Nutrients from the blood are fed to the hair via the blood vessel that feeds the hair ‘bulb’ and tiny muscles react to produce cell multiplication. There are roughly 100,000 hair follicles on the human scalp that we are born with and we do not generate any more throughout our lifetime.
The science of hair growth -
Hair grows in three stages. Each stage has its own specific length of time:
Anagen – The Anagen Stage is the active growth phase that can last between 2 – 8 years. (Hair grows roughly 6 inches per year) The rate of growth and length of time in the Anagen stage varies from person to person and determines the maximum length a person can grow their hair. Some women in Asian countries can grow their hair up to 45 inches. Interestingly, our eye brow hair works in a similar system of growth stages however the 'Anagen' stage lasts only 3-4 months which is why the hairs only grow to a short length. By understanding an individuals 'rate of hair growth' and 'length of active growth phase' we can learn their maximum growth potential.
Catagen – The Catagen phase is the transitional period when the hair follicle stops actively growing by detaching from the blood vessel, starving the blood supply means the hair strand becomes what is known as a ‘club hair’ this phase takes around 2-3 weeks. 'Club' hairs are attached at the scalp still however are not actively growing. During this time the hair follicle shrinks in size and some point the hair is detached from the scalp. In a normal cycle, 80-90% of hairs are in the 'Anagen' phase.
Telogen – The Telogen stage is the last phase in the cycle in which the hair follicle enters a resting phase. The hair strand is released from the scalp as a new hair begins it's growth phase underneath starting with the Anagen phase again. The hair follicle can be in the resting phase for up to 3 months before a new hair begins its growth cycle. The best thing for hair retention and growing long hair is to avoid the hair leaving the active growth phase earlier than it could. In this way we can maximise hair growth potential. For this to happen we need to avoid the things that are known to interfere with the cycle such as stress and poor nutrition.
At any one time there can be up to 100 hairs in the Telogen phase and it is completely normally to lose between 50-100 hairs a day. This is the normal cycle of hair growth. Each hair is on its own individual cycle of growth otherwise all of the hair would enter the rest phase at the same time. Hair loss, Thinning Hair and Poor Hair Health may occur when the normal hair growth cycle is disrupted. Illness, emotional stress/trauma, Metabolism fluctuations and nutritional imbalances are all factors that can interfere with the normal growth cycle.
The key to growing long healthy hair is keeping the hair in the Anagen phase for as long as possible. Some people may notice there hair does not grow as long or as quickly as it used to and that is because as well as interference from things like stress and diet, as we age, deterioration of the muscles and blood vessels in the scalp takes place. In order for hair growth its simply a case of creating the right environment for the hair to flourish as best as it possibly can. Of course we are all individuals with completely different hair and rates of growth etc, however by looking at the science of hair growth we can see the ways we can maximise its potential. For more information on hair growth check out our blog 'Can nutrition fix hair loss'.
Vegetarians and vegans sometimes suffer with hair loss due to a drop in the intake of nutrients normally gained from meat and animal products. This is more common if the person has switched from a meat and dairy based diet to a vegetarian or vegan diet suddenly and without making dietary adjustments to account for the missing nutrients. The main ones being a lack of Protein and Iron. As hair is made of protein when a diet doesn't consume enough of it, the body stores and feeds it to essential organs and functions first meaning the hair can suffer. Iron Is easily gained through a meat based diet and certain types of Iron are more difficult to consume in plant based diets however Iron is integral to the hair growth cycle and studies have shown that a lack of Iron can contribute to hair loss so it may be useful to check your Iron levels and supplement with Iron capsules if needed.
At CENTRED we believe in encouraging hair growth with a three stage approach. Mindset, Nutrition and Care. Each stage feeds in to the other and acts as a catalyst for not only improving hair but also our general health and wellbeing. Healthy mind and body = healthy hair.
Mindset – Reduce stress – Stress chemicals interfere with normal hair growth function, as the body limits the nutrients and blood flow to non essential functions when it stressed, prioritising vital organs and tissue. This is known as the ‘fight or flight’ mechanism. We have created the CENTRED brand to help people rediscover balance. There are lots of ways we can improve our mindset, which is another way of saying mental health. Although still a taboo subject, mental health is so important for our health and wellbeing. imagine the mind is the mediator between our inner and outer worlds. Things that can improve mental health include, Self care, sleep, exercise, meditation, talking therapy, work boundaries, positive thinking.
Nutrition – Improve nutrition – Eat a well-balanced varied diet of whole foods. A nutritional hair growth supplement is a great way to ensure you get certain key nutrients that are helpful for hair growth like Iron, Zinc, Silica and Biotin all found in our Tender Love & Hair vegan hair Supplements which are one of the best hair supplements in the uk. Hydration is also important, aim for 2-4 litres per day. As hair growth is a ‘non essential’ bodily function, it flourishes best within a balanced system. By keeping the body well nourished and hydrated, there is plenty of nutrition to go round the body. As the key to growing healthy hair is keeping the hair in the 'Anagen' or 'Active Growing' phase as long as possible, eating a well balanced diet and taking hair growth vitamins avoids interference to the cycle.
Care – Caring for the hair and scalp properly will maximise hair growth potential. As the scalp is the 'flower bed' of the hair, using a scalp treatment with essential oils like our En-Root Scalp Treatment is a great way to stimulate blood flow to the scalp and remove dead skin and product build up. Use Sulphate free hair products and conditioners without Silicones in order to keep your hair healthy and free from build up. Being mindful with what stress we put our hair under is important, Brush hair regularly but gently. Avoid mechanical damage from brushes or tools that snag, pull and break the hair. Use silk pillow cases, soft hair ties and reduce tension and heat on the hair where possible. Apply a hair masque regularly, at least once a month. Our Daily Calma Conditioner can be used as a masque by leaving on the hair for a few hours before rinsing. It is also important to include 'Self-Care' for improving hair health as we believe 'Great Hair starts with Self Care. This is because learning to love and care for ourselves better means we make better decisions for ourselves which will improving our health and wellbeing which in turn boosts our hair and scalp health. You can read our previous blog 'Our guide to improving wellness' here.
We hope this article is useful for understanding the hair growth process and how we can maximise it's potential. It all comes down to self care and how we look after ourselves.
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