I see a lot of patients with questions about hair and scalp care. When it comes to patients who want to grow hair, I have a few tips I share but mostly we have a long discussion about the facts when it comes to hair and hair growth because there are a lot of “inflated” truths circulating.
How fast does hair really grow?
We are born with the total amount of hair follicles we will ever have over our lifetime. Our scalp has about 100,000 follicles. As we age, some follicles stop producing hair, which is how baldness or hair thinning occurs. Don’t be misled by claims that a product will change the amount of follicles you have.
The American Academy of Dermatology says that hair grows about 1/2 inch per month ON AVERAGE. That means, you hair can grow about 6 inches a year. However, this depends on several factors:
- Age- as we age hair grows slower
- Specific hair type- straighter hair types are less prone to breakage so these hair types tend to be longer. Additionally, curly, kinky hair may grow, but it breaks off (which is why length retention should be the goal for curly hair patterns, not necessarily growth)
- Overall health- if you are not healthy, your hair is not healthy
- Other health conditions- such as thyroid disease and autoimmune disease can affect hair growth
Other factors that affect hair growth
- hormonal changes such as pregnancy to menopause
- lack of nutrition
- Trauma that damages follicles such as wearing pulled back too tight or braids that are too tight.
- other diseases or conditions
It’s also important to note that if you are experiencing unexplained and severe hair loss, you should schedule a checkup with your health care provide as certain illnesses and health conditions can cause hair loss.
The bottom line
Be cautious of products that claim DRAMATIC hair growth beyond the average of ½ inch per month. There is no reliable scientific evidence that these types of products work.
Most of the factors that control hair growth are out of our control. The best thing you can do is to decrease the risk of hair loss and thinning with proper nutrition and to retain length by being gentle with your strands. And most importantly, see your medical provider if you feel that you are experiencing significant hair loss.