HOW HAIR GROWS

Hair Growth

The Rate Hair Grows


The hair on a person's arms stays short, but on my head, the hair grows quite long. Why is that?

On a person's body, every hair grows from its own separate individual hair FOLLICLE. Inside that follicle, new hair cells form at the root of each hair shaft. As these new cells form, they push the older cells from out of the follicle. These older cells are pushed out, then they die, to become the visible hair that we see. This is the process of how hair grows.

More on the Follicle - More on How Hair Grows


A follicle produces new cells for a certain time period depending on it's location on the body. This is called THE GROWTH PHASE. What proceeds this is THE REST PHASE when, briefly, the hair stops growing. Then the Growth Phase begins again, and hair grows again.

When the hair follicle enters the Rest Phase, the hair shaft breaks, so the existing hair falls out and a brand new hair takes its place -- The time period that hair spends growing during its Growth Phase cycle controls the maximum length of your hair.

With regard to how hair grows on your arms -- The cells responsible for the hairs on your arms are programmed to stop growing every couple of months, so arm hair stays short. The hair follicles on your head, however, are programmed to let hair grow for years at a time, so here the hair can grow very, very long. This, in effect, is how hair grows.

How Hair Grows on Animals

Animals that shed have hair follicles that synchronize their Rest Phase; every follicle enters the Rest Phase at one time. This way, all of the hair falls out at once. For instance, a dog that sheds will lose its hair in large clumps. Many animals can also switch the hair's coloring agent in the hair follicle off and on -- so in the summer, the hair is pigmented brown with melanin, but in the winter it is not pigmented, leaving the hair white.

How quickly does hair grow?

Human hair grows at a fairly consistent rate of about half a millimeter per day (or, about half an inch every month), on average. Factors influencing how fast your hair grows include genetics & hormonal state (pregnancy is known to affect the hair).

(In case you're not good with numbers -- this means the maximum hair growth rate is about 6 inches (or 15 cm) per year.)


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How Hair Grows