By the age of thirty-five, two-thirds of American men will experience some degree of appreciable hair loss, and by the age of 50, approximately 85% of men have significantly thinning hair. Many believe it's something only men suffer from, but women actually make up 40% of American hair loss sufferers.
The amount of hair follicles that we’re born with is the same amount we’ll have over our lifetime. While there’s about 5 million on our body, our head has around 100,000. It’s as we age that our follicles can stop producing hair, which is how baldness and hair thinning occurs, amongst a few other reasons.
A study carried out by The American Academy of Dermatology states that your hair will grow on average ½ inch per month, which equates to 6 inches every year. But how fast your hair actually grows depends on your age, specific hair type, and overall health. Scientists have been looking into how hair growth is controlled at the cellular level in the body, but they haven’t quite developed a way of directly speeding up hair growth.
The different stages of hair growth
What we do know about hair growth is the different stage each hair strand goes through, and they each follow their own timeline (so not all hairs follow this at the same time). The three stages are:
- Anagen: the active growth phase of hair that lasts 2-8 years
- Catagen: transition phase where hair stops growing, this lasts about 4-6 weeks
- Telogen: the resting phase where hair falls out, which lasts 2-3 months.
On average, about 90-95% of the hair follicles on your head are in the Anagen phase and around 5-10% are in the Telogen phase, which accounts for the 100-150 hairs that fall out every day.
Researchers are still looking to see how you can increase the Anagen phase for each hair, but there a few things you can do to promote healthy hair during the Anagen phase, to keep them strong and encourage growth.
How to make it stronger
1. Keep up with vitamins and nutrients
The body requires a lot of energy to grow your hair, so it’s important to make sure you’re not missing out on any vital vitamins and nutrients by eating a well-balanced diet.
If you’re looking for supplements to take there are a few that can help:
- Omega-3 and 6: A study showed that of 120 healthy females, the group who took omega-3 and 6 supplements had less hair loss and improved hair density.
- Zinc: A study has shown that zinc plays a role in hair loss, so taking zinc may only help if you already have a deficiency.
- B-5 and Biotin: Again, has only shown to work on those with a biotin deficiency, but it's been shown that supplements of biotin decreased hair shredding and improved hair quality and strength.
- Vitamin C: Vitamin C has been known to prevent the oxidative stress which causes hair to gray and thin.
- Iron: Again, iron plays a role in hair growth but taking supplements may only work if you have an iron deficiency.
- Vitamin D: One study found that people with alopecia had vitamin D deficiency, so this could help if you’re suffering from hair loss.
2. Apply essential oils
A study has shown that pumpkin seed oil increased hair count in men who suffered from hair loss by 40%. Try putting a few drops into your shampoo or dilute it with jojoba oil.
Avoid putting them straight onto your scalp, and instead, dilute with a carrier, using a few drops of essential oil per ounce of carrier oil.
There are a few carrier oils that can also help prevent hair damage and loss, such as:
3. Try topical ointments
Topical ointments are generally used for those experiencing hair loss, as they’ve been shown to reduce or slow down hair loss, such as:
- Topical melatonin, shown to reduce hair loss and increase hair density
- Topical minoxidil 5 percent slows down hair loss
- Ketoconazole shampoo
Asparagus is a superfood. It has folic acid that helps the body absorb protein. It is also rich in Vitamin A and Vitamin C containing fiber and iron. Eating asparagus will help with thicker and shinier hair.
5. Use protein
Protein helps your hair grow and protects it from chemical and environmental damage. If you style your hair with heat, then using a protein treatment can help protect it. Coconut oil works well as a protein treatment as it helps reduce the protein lost before and after washing your hair.
6. Caffeinate your follicles
Just as you'd drink coffee to get you moving faster, new studies have shown that caffeine has growth-promoting properties. There are a few caffeine shampoos on the market which you can try.
The bottom line
The factors which affect hair growth
- Genetic or family history of hair loss
- Hormonal changes
- Lack of nutrition (iron, zinc, and biotin)
- Trauma that damages the follicle
- Other diseases or conditions
The most important thing you can do is make sure you're eating a well-balanced diet. By making sure you're getting enough zinc, iron, and biotin in your diet, you can make sure your hair has all the nutrients to be as strong and as thick as it can be.