You know that you look gorgeous no matter what your current style is. There comes a time for many of us, however, that we are willing to put in the time and effort to leave our hair alone and let it grow. This is easier said than done. When you have a style goal in mind and your hair stops short of it, it can be tough to know what, if anything, you can do about it. Let’s take a look at how your hair grows, and some of the most common reasons it stops.
How Hair Grows
Knowing the basics of hair growth can help you better understand how your lifestyle and other factors impact the length and growth rate of your hair. Getting your locks to be as long as your heart desires can be challenging. The first step to identifying and addressing those specific factors is to gain a better understanding of your hair as it relates to your body.
All hair begins at the root as a cluster of protein cells at the bottom of the follicle. Blood from the many vessels in your scalp feed that root causing it to grow. As it begins to grow from the base, the follicle begins to extend upward and passes an oil gland before the shaft of your hair It is made up of then dead proteins and emerges from the surface of your scalp (the shaft of your hair is the part you can see, the follicle is what is below the surface). This continuing process of feeding and growth continues and causes the shaft of the hair to lengthen as the dead or inactive protein builds up through the skin.
Hair’s Life Cycle
Hair, no matter how healthy or long it is, has a life cycle. There comes a point when the follicle dies. The proteins are no longer feeding, and the shaft is no longer building or growing. When this happens the bulb of proteins at the root will shrivel inward away from the blood vessels of the scalp and will then break off or shed before a new follicle begins to form in its place.
Reasons Hair Growth Stops or Slows
There are a lot of different reasons that you may be having trouble growing out your hair. Some of them can be adjusted to improve your hair growth and increase your length. Others simply cannot be helped. It is difficult to know how to pinpoint what is the reason for your inhibited hair growth.
Keep a Journal
It is helpful to record or keep track the issues and challenges you’re having with your hair growth. Track things you’ve tried and any results you’ve had with various products and routines. Also keep an eye on your diet, exercise and stress levels.
This can be a great way for you to make informed decisions about your day-to-day haircare, but it can also be a great reference to discuss with your hairstylist the next time you go in for a trim or a treatment. The hairstylist might be able to make helpful suggestions or even rule out certain causes for your slow hair growth based on your information.
Here are some of the most common causes for why your hair stops growing and that could be contributing factors to your style setbacks.
Reason #1: Genetics
Unfortunately, this is the one that cannot be affected. Hair growth cycles can vary from person to person, based on nothing more than a difference in a specific set of genetics. Some people have hair that is genetically predisposed to stay in its growing phase for many, many years. Others have genetics that only allow for a couple of years at best before their hair naturally dies and sheds.
Hair Growth Cycles
Having a short hair cycle doesn’t mean that you or your hair are unhealthy. Think about your eye lashes and your eyebrows. They are shorter than the hair on your head because they naturally and genetically have a much shorter hair growth cycle. This is similar to the reasons that some people have naturally shorter hair that doesn’t seem to grow past a certain point no matter what they try.
Hormones and Hair Growth Patterns
Other genetic factors outside of your natural growth cycle can also play a roll. Hormonal fluctuations can contribute to hair growth. Hereditary conditions, phases of life and many other variables can play a role in stunted length that are outside our control. If you find you are struggling with any of these issues you might find it helpful to consult a professional hairstylist to see what kind of options, there are for your specific situation.
Reason #2: Damaged Scalp
Your scalp is the origin place of all your hair. The roots of your hairs rely on it for nutrients. This means that damage to your scalp can lead to a slowing in hair growth and can even cause premature hair death. If the blood vessels in your scalp become compromised in some way, it will be more difficult for them to feed your follicles. When there is a slow in flow of nutrients to the roots the growth within the follicle stops and there is no more dead protein built up to extend the shaft.
Dry Scalp and Hair Health
Your scalp can be damaged in any number of ways, but the most common would be dry scalp and dehydration. Even though the exterior of your scalp doesn’t directly interact with follicle growth it can still affect it. A dry, cracked, flaky scalp can lead to infections and irritations.
Hydration is also an important factor because a healthy intake of water helps your blood more easily and freely flow nutrients throughout your entire body. Your scalp is no exception. The growth of your hair will be facilitated if you are drinking plenty of water and moisturizing your scalp.
There is also significant damage done to the scalp by things like scratching. These compromises can cause energy and nutrients to be diverted away from hair and redirected toward repairing the scalp.
Reason #3: Poor Nutrition and Hair Growth
One of the reason hair stops growing is internal but also manageable. Mindful and personalized nutrition is important to maintain the health and integrity of all areas of the body. Your follicles, as parts of the body, also need certain nutrients to be healthy and thrive. If your diet is imbalanced or fluctuates chaotically it is very possible that your hair growing efforts will suffer because of it. Growth cycles will likely be shorter and less productive without adequate nutrients to fuel follicle growth.
Important Nutrients for Hair Growth
Two of the key nutrients important to keep in mind when you find your hair stops growing are protein and iron. These components are crucial to successful growth. So, if you find that your growth stops and then starts again it might be worth taking a closer look at your diet to see if you are consistently getting adequate amounts daily of protein and iron.
Reason #4: Stress and Hair Loss/Hair Growth
This one is a bit trickier than the others and a little bit more difficult to really specify. Stress is not the same for everyone. We don’t manage it the same, we don’t experience it the same way and we don’t all share a common criterion for the stress we experience. When we hear or read the word “stress” we don’t all think the same thing.
As it relates to follicle health and hair length it is important that you know the physical signs of your body when it is stressed. When your stress crosses from slight and manageable over to severe and overwhelming it is going to affect many different areas of your body, including your hair.
Recognize Stress Triggers
Along with your trial and error log of products, treatments and routines you may also want to keep some sort of record of your stress patterns. Figuring out some way for you to recognize when you experience the most stress and how you physically feel stress can help you figure out how to avoid stress triggers or learn and develop ways to deal with the stress in your life that is unavoidable.
Try to notice any stress patterns that pop up in your stress journal that also coincide with the periods of time you are having difficulty with your growth goals.
Reason #5: Styling Damage
A significant amount of growth loss can be attributed to styling. When hair is pulled and twisted consistently it can cause the follicles to shrivel, hair to break and hair to shed prematurely. All of which are serious obstacles on the path to long hair. If you pull too hard it can cause the root of your hair to be damaged or disconnected.
This makes it difficult for your follicle to get what it needs to continue growing. It also means it will need to take time out from growth and productivity to repair itself. It could also end its growth cycle early, shed and start over if the impact was severe enough. The tension from twisting hair can break hair, often at uneven lengths, and stunt growth. Twisting tightly enough can cause the follicle to dislodge and come out before it is done growing and ready to naturally shed.
If you are someone who utilizes up-dos on a daily basis and are having trouble getting your natural length to go a bit further, you may want to think of trying hairstyles or angles that don’t put so much pressure and tension on your scalp. Giving your follicles a break from the stress may be the boost they needed to get back to growing. If that isn’t an option, you may want to consider the kind of hair ties and clips that you use to tie or twist up your hair and see if there are any options that might be a little bit gentler.
Styling Tools and Techniques
Stylizing tools and techniques can also put stress and strain on your follicles and scalp. Straighteners, curling irons/rods, brushes and many other hairstyling tools can play a role in growth (or lack of growth). While it is possible for chemicals and heat from styling to affect your rate of growth it is not likely. Those things have more of an effect on the appearance and integrity of the shaft than the health and vitality of the follicle itself.
What most significantly affects your growth rate is the impact of those tools. Brushing/picking your hair often, curling it tightly or pulling hard to straighten it can all cause varying degrees of stress and damage. It all depends on how often you do it, the kind of tools and exactly how you use them.
Take the Day Off
Letting your hair have a day or so to recuperate between these kinds of styling techniques can help give your follicles time to adjust and ease the stress from all the pulling, twirling, twisting and picking. If you depend on your styling tools for your daily confidence, take note of the tools you use most. Then try and figure out which, if any, may be contributing to your difficulty in achieving the hair growth you want.
Can you substitute these tools with ones that would better facilitate your hair growth? Or could you adjust your technique when you use them? Are there products that could make this process easier on your hair? These are all things to consider when you are assessing your haircare habits and style routines.
Hair Growth Solutions
There are a lot of different reasons you could be experiencing hair growth challenges. The possibilities can seem overwhelming and it can be difficult to know where to begin. Luckily there are a few things that you can try on your own at home to improve your growth rates and extend your growth cycle. There is also no shame in looking for a professional opinion. Qualified hairstylists are an incredible source of information and suggestion if your hair growth issue has you stumped.
Want to Learn More?
Did learning about why your hair stops growing interest you in becoming a hairstylist? Need to get your undergraduate certificate in cosmetology? At Minnesota School of Cosmetology, we are dedicated to helping our Cosmetology program students develop a solid foundation and a flair for style through hands-on training in basic and advanced industry techniques. You will learn how to cut, color and style hair, give manicures and pedicures, provide spa treatments and perform various skin care techniques from industry-experienced instructors in a professional salon setting. We keep our class sizes small to make sure you get the individualized instruction you need and attention you deserve. You will graduate with everything you need to be a versatile artist in an exciting industry, including a cosmetology diploma from a respected college.
Contact us today to learn more about becoming a cosmetologist and starting a rewarding career in the beauty industry.