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The Scientific And Depressing Reason Why Some People Won't Ever Grow Long Hair

5 de noviembre de 2018

María Isabel Carrasco Cara Chards

If you've always wanted long and lustrous hair, but you've never been able to reach that length, sorry to tell you, but it'll never happen.

Have you ever wondered why no matter how much you take care of your hair it never grows? That’s the story of my life. For as long as I can remember, I’ve always had medium-length hair (except once in my childhood when my grandfather cut my beautiful locks and left me with a bowl cut, and once in my early adulthood, when I actually did that to myself), and no matter what I do to make it grow, nothing works. I’ve tried everything: from sleeping with my hair braided to trimming it regularly (not to mention using many expensive products). None of these have worked, and it’s as if my hair were destined to be medium-length for the rest of my life. Actually, it is, and as you’ll see, yours is as well. So, why does this happen?

Sorry to break this to you, but it’s all due to our lovely genes. As my mom always says, “Mendel isn’t forgiving,” and if you were conceived with a determined hair length, there isn’t much you can do to get long hair, except getting some extensions or wigs. Now, how does this work? It all has to do with the natural growth process, which is also interesting when it comes to body hair. So, let’s go to the basic science of it first.

Hair grows in cycles, and the time this cycle takes is determined by your genes. It all starts with the anagen phase, where the hair follicle starts growing new hair. During this phase, the hair keeps growing and growing until the catagen phase begins, and that's when the magic stops. During this phase, the follicle starts dying to leave some space for a new one to grow. Then comes the telogen phase, which is the sad moment when the hair falls out of the head. Every single hair in your body, whether it's eyelashes, eyebrows, or beard, and so on, goes through these phases. The only thing that changes is the timing. 

What interests us here is the duration of the anagen phase, which is the first one and the one when the hair grows in length. Speaking in average terms, it’s believed that hair grows about half an inch per month, but then again, it all depends on each individual’s genes and hair growth cycles, so I wouldn’t rely on that number. Generally, the anagen phase lasts between two to six years, so if you’re one of the lucky ones whose anagen phase lasts more, you’re one of the chosen ones who can grow and rock long and beautiful locks. If you’re like me, and your cycle lasts roughly a minute, you’re doomed to short to medium-length hair (for instance, my mom’s hair can’t grow past her chin).

There are other factors that might be affecting hair growth. For instance, according to Dr. Kirtly Jones (specialist on Reproductive Endocrinology), besides your genes, your ethnic background, your age, and overall health can have a lot to do with how fast it grows. So, despite the fact that you can’t control the length of your hair, you can actually have a saying on how strong it grows. Malnourished hair can grow even slower and can be prone to breakage and accelerating the telogen phase, so it’s crucial to eat a balanced diet and have the proper nutrients to have a lustrous mane, if you really want the cycles to go properly. 

There are tons of “miraculous” products that promise rapid hair growth and lots of length. However, the truth is they don’t really work, since there’s nothing you can do to change your genes (at least not yet). So, although it's depressing, the best thing to do is accept it and focus more on having beautiful and healthy hair. At the end of the day, nice and healthy hair will always be more beautiful than long and messy locks. 


You might find these interesting:

The Golden Rules For Hair Color: 9 Tips You Need To Know For A Perfect (and Healthy) Dyed Mane

7 Outdated Hair Care Myths You Should Ditch ASAP If You Want Healthy Hair

5 Easy Homemade Masks For Extremely Damaged Hair


TAGS: science beauty hacks
SOURCES: University of Utah Washington Post Wired Huffington Post

María Isabel Carrasco Cara Chards

Creative Writer


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