A Guide to Making Realistic Hair Growth Goals

 

From ear length to floor length

From ear length to floor length

By Chisha Sinyangwe

I believe  knowledge is power. When we  are equipped  with knowledge  we  are  more  likely  to make informed  choices  on  many  issues.  Hair  is  no  exception.  This  article  will  discuss  the  hair  growth  cycle from  a  biological  stand  point  that,  hopefully  dispels  the  myth  that  black  women  are  incapable  of growing long, healthy natural tresses.

Hair  consists  two  distinct  structures-  the  follicle  embedded  in  the  skin  on  the  scalp,  and  the  shaft which  is  the  visible  portion  above  the  scalp.  It  makes  sense  then  that  a  healthy  hair  shaft  sprouts from  a  healthy,  actively  functional  hair  follicle.  In  fact  hair  follicles  do  not  regenerate  or  replenish once damaged. They were built to last. No  matter  who  we  are  or  where  we  come from, everyone has the  same  growth  cycle (shocker!)Hair on  the  scalp  grows  about  0.3-0.4mm/day  or  about  152.4mm  per  year  on  average,  for  any  person ALIVE.

At any given time a random  number of  hairs  are engaged in one of the three growth stages namely  Anagen,  Catagen  and  Telogen.  We  will  now  tackle  each  of  these  stages  independently  in order to get the gist of what our hair goes through.

The  Anagen  is  the  active  phase  of  hair  growth  which  can  last  from  2-6years  depending  on  one’s genetic  makeup.  To  put  things  into  perspective,  say  I  have  a  hair  growth  phase  that  lasts  2  years, then  realistically  my  hair  can  only  get  as  long  as  about  30.48cm.  What  if  it  lasts  6years?  Then  my hair could get as  long  as  about  91.44cm,  that’s 36 inches!  The  bottom line  is,  the  longer  hair  stays in  this  phase,  the  longer  it  will  become.  Remarkably,  about  85%  of  the  hairs  on  one’s  head  are  in the anagen phase at any given time.

The  categen  is  the  transitional  phase  which  allows  the  follicle  to,  in  essence  make  way  for  the  new. This  stage  can  lasts  anyway  between  two  and  three  weeks.  During  this  time  the  hair  follicle  shrinks to  about  1/6  its  original  length  causing  the  hair  shaft  to  be  pushed  upwards.  The  hair  shaft  is  cut off from its dermal papilla which nourishes it, therefore, hair is no longer growing.

The telogen is  the  resting  phase  in  the  hair  growth  cycle  which  lasts  around  three months.  Around 10-15%  of  hairs  are  in  this  phase.  During  this  time,  the  hair follicle  is  completely  at  rest.  Pulling  out a  hair  in  this  phase will  reveal  a  solid,  hard,  dry,  white  material  at  the  root.  Approximately  50-100 strands  fall  out  daily  as  part  of  a  normal  natural  hair  loss  process  known  as  Shedding.  It  is unavoidable! Once the telogen phase is complete the cycle begins again.

What conclusion  does this information help us arrive at?  It is  clear  that black hair  like any other, is synonymous  with  growth.  Understanding  your  hair  is  a  composite  part  of  developing  a  realistic approach  to  hair  growth.  There  is  now  so  much  information  out  there  via  internet  that  helps  to educate  black  woman  on  how  to  look  after  the  hair  that  grows  off  the  top  of  their  heads.  A  lot  of these  educators  seem  to  simmer  around  the  same  point  that  ‘healthy  habits’  potentiates  hair growth. It is the only way to get close enough to the 6inch per year mark.

Ladies,  remember  that  all  hair  is  good  hair  we  are  blessed  to  have  hair  with  versatility.

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