A clean and healthy scalp helps with consistent hair growth and healthy hair. Read our article on Nutrition and how it plays a key role in scalp health.
The scalp goes through four concurrent phases of growth: Anagen, Catagen, Telogen, and Exogen.
This phase last on average between 4-10 years depending on one’s health and genetics. In this phase, the hair follicle is being supplied nutrients and contributing to hair growth. The average rate of hair growth is 1/2 inch per month or 6 inches a year. The longer the hair is in this phase, the longer the hair will be. About 85% of the hair follicles on one’s head are usually in the anagen phase.
After the hair follicle has produced hair for 4-10 years, it transitions into the catagen phase. The hair shaft is no longer being fed nutrients and progressively detaches from the blood supply. This last for 2 weeks to 4 months.
The telogen phase is also called the resting phase. The hair shaft has been completely detached from it’s blood supply and is dormant in the scalp. This can last between 1-4 months. 10-15% of the hair follicles on one’s head are in this stage at any given time. When the hair shaft has detached from its blood supply, the hair follicle re-enters the anagen phase.
This is the phase in which the hair sheds or exits from the scalp. The average amount of shed hairs can range between 50-100 daily. Shed hairs have a white or clear bulb at the tip of it. The white or clear bulb is hair that didn’t get the chance to produce melanin. The exogen stage also refers to the dormancy of the hair follicle. After the hair has sheds, the hair follicle rest to prepare for another growth cycle. This can last between 5-7 months.
Keeping the scalp clean is imperative for scalp and hair health. The scalp should be washed at least every 1-2 weeks to wash away sebum build up and dirt that is attracted to it. Cleansing your scalp will prevent the hair follicles from clogging up. Clogged hair follicles can slow down hair growth or stunt it altogether.
Greasing The Scalp
Many of us, in particular those of us in the African American Community incorporate applying grease to the scalp into our hair regimen. Greasing the scalp was done during slavery by African Americans to prevent fleas and ticks from eating on their scalps. Read more about this here. This practice was carried on post slavery as a way to nourish the scalp. Greasing the scalp is not necessary and can cause stunted growth. The scalp naturally produces its own oil called sebum that is an acidic mantle that nourishes the scalp. There are cases such as an itchy scalp or dandruff that will call for oil to be applied to the scalp. However, it is advisable to do this lightly and sporadically with a natural oil like Jojoba Oil and not with mineral oil/petroleum based products that can clog the hair follicle.
The ends of your hair include not only the very ends of your hair, but also the length of your hair. Both the length of hair and ends are susceptible to cuticle chipping and cracks which causes split-ends, mid-shaft splits, and breakage. Protecting your hair and having a hair regimen that your hair agrees with will help in obtaining optimal length retention. Keep your ends healthy through consistent trimming, moisture and protein balance, low manipulation and protective styling, and minimal use of heat and chemical treatments, e.g., relaxers and color.
Many of us confuse hair growth with hair length retention. Unless there is a health concern that is causing otherwise, our hair is constantly growing. It’s a natural part of how our body works. Taking care of the length of your hair and not abusing it will ensure that you’ll obtain longer, strong, and healthy hair. Take a look at our Hair Regimen Builder.