Between hair product commercials, reality television shows, and magazine ads, long hair is constantly glorified in the media. A sign of glamour, lengthy locks are desired by many but cannot always be attained. There is a reason so many hair growth product companies are in business! Here are a few reasons your hair might not be the length you aspire to, some within your control, and some that are not.
Each person has an individual hair cycle growth phase in which their hair has potential to reach its longest. The terminal length of hair is the maximum length that it could possibly reach without being cut or damaged. Hair does not necessarily stop growing once it reaches a specific length but once a certain period of time has passed. The growth phase is largely determined by genetics and typically lasts between two and six years. Most hair grows half an inch per month on average; this can often be faster for Caucasians and Asians and slightly slower for those of African descent. Each hair completes the cycle at different points, so this is the reason most people have multiple lengths of hair on their heads at all times.
You Might Be Shedding
Everyone sheds hair, and this is a natural part of the hair growth process. Old hair falls out so that new hair may grow in. Most people shed around 100 hairs a day, which is typically replaced rather quickly. However, when hair regrowth is occurring at a slower rate than hair loss, this is when it will begin to be visibly thinner. If it seems that hair shedding has increased without much replacement, one of the other causes to follow may be involved.
Your Age & Stress Level
As we get older, hair tends to become weaker for a number of reasons. Years of heat styling and bleaching can build up to create major damage. Also, studies have shown that the biology of hair can change, and the growth stage may shorten. This means that hair could begin shedding faster, making it appear thinner. Oil production on the scalp often begins to slow down after age 45, so hair may be less hydrated and appear coarser. High-stress situations and traumatic illnesses can also trigger hair loss. Emotional and physical stress can be seriously linked to hair loss and decreased quality of hair. Treat yourself with relaxing activities such as a facial, hair mask, or massage. These treatments will not only improve your mental state but your appearance as well!
You Might Have Breakage
Showering, brushing, styling, and bleaching hair can all lead to major split ends and breakage. Handling hair too roughly, using uncovered hair elastics, and brushing too often can cause dryness and brittleness. Bleaching and chemical processes can cause hair to be overprocessed and lose elasticity and moisture. Since hair grows about half an inch each month, if it is continuing to break off at about that same rate, you will see little to no growth. The best ways to avoid hair snapping at the ends is to be gentle when towel drying and detangling, to use moisture replenishing treatments, and to spray on a product with UV protection when going out into the sun.
Your Heat Styling
Breakage and hair damage can often be attributed to heat styling. Many popular hairstyles require the use of blow dryers, straighteners, hot curlers, or curling irons. Using these hot tools frequently can lead to split ends, dryness, and breakage. The high temperatures that create the most coveted styles also damage the cuticle of hair, which decreases growth. Since actual strands of hair are not alive, we must protect them in order to maintain shiny, healthy hair. Using protective serums and sprays, as well as extra moisturizing products and hair masks, can help to prevent the intense damage that hot tools could potentially cause.
Diet and vitamin deficiencies can significantly affect the condition of the hair. It is important to have the proper levels of ferritin, zinc, and vitamin B12 to maintain desirable hair length and quality. Adequate iron and protein are necessary for hair strength and to prevent brittleness and breakage. A lack of ferritin can cause hair to move out of its growing phase and to shed too quickly. An overactive or underactive thyroid has also been shown to have an effect on hair growth. Proper nutrient intake should allow for the most hair growth potential, and supplements such as biotin pills can help to fortify hair.