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Hair growth is a slow process that demands plenty of time (and patience). Here, discover how fast hair grows, plus tips for achieving long locks from an expert.

How Long Does It Really Take For Hair To Grow? We Investigate

Hair growth is a slow process that demands plenty of time (and patience). Here, discover how fast hair grows, plus tips for achieving long locks from an expert.

Let’s face it: Waiting for your hair to grow can be a tedious (and often frustrating) experience. Getting those inches chopped off takes mere seconds, but growing them back can feel like an eternity—especially if you’re trying to grow out a trendy short haircut, like a pixie bob (a.k.a the “bixie”) or micro bangs.

This struggle is likely to leave you wondering whether there’s anything you can do to make your hair grow faster. So, to help answer the question “How fast does hair grow,” we called on board-certified dermatologist Dr. Doris Day for some expert advice on hair growth. Read on for a breakdown of how long it actually takes your hair to grow, the factors that can affect hair growth, and haircare mistakes that may slow down the process.

How Fast Does Hair Grow?

Hair growth begins at the scalp, with each hair growing from the root (or “bulb”) of individual hair follicles. Research shows that, on average, hair grows half an inch per month—or roughly six inches per year. That said, everyone’s hair is different and how fast your hair grows will vary based on internal and external factors (more on that ahead).

Good hair day by @dreamhairbycelaa.

What Are the 4 Stages of Hair Growth?

Hair grows in four phases: anagen (the growing phase), catagen (the regression phase), telogen (the resting phase), and exogen (the shedding phase). The anagen phase is considered an active phase—this is when new hair appears on the skin’s surface. It can last anywhere from two to 10 years, meaning your hair will lengthen at a steady pace during this time.

Once the first phase is over, hair follicles will enter a period of rest and regression, starting with the catagen phase. This phase typically lasts for about two weeks. Then, during the telogen phase, your hair follicles are dormant and no growth will occur during this time. The length of this period varies, but on your scalp, it can last up to a year for some people. Lastly, the exogen phase is the period where hair is released from the follicle and shedding occurs.

Each hair follicle goes through these phases independently, and research shows that every follicle will experience approximately 10 to 30 cycles over a lifetime. According to Dr. Day, many factors can lengthen or shorten each phase, like genetics, age, and gender. Hormonal changes can also play a role, especially during pregnancy when an extended growth phase is typically seen. Additionally, several external factors can affect how fast your hair grows—including vitamin deficiencies, an unhealthy lifestyle, and even stress.

Should I Be Concerned About Hair Shedding?

Finding loose strands in the shower or on your pillow can be concerning if you’re trying to grow long, princess-length locks. However, hair shedding is totally normal, according to Dr. Day. “You’re supposed to shed hair every day,” she explains. “We say about 100 hairs a day, and that’s a theoretical [estimate] based on the assumption that you have 100,000 hairs on your scalp and 10% of the hairs are in that resting phase. This means that, on any given day, 10% of those hairs are going to drop out.” Increased growth can also lead to increased shedding and is usually not a cause for alarm, according to Dr. Day. However, if you’re noticing excessive shedding, it’s best to consult a medical professional—they can help identify the underlying cause of your hair loss and rule out any potential medical conditions or nutritional deficiencies.

Good hair day by @beauty_by_amandaa.

Does Hair Growth Slow Down With Age?

According to the Cleveland Clinic, hair growth does slow down as you age. “Your hair does age, and your [hair] follicles age,” explains Dr. Day. And, as hair follicles age, they have an increasingly shorter life cycle, which can affect hair growth, density, and pigmentation (a.k.a graying). Hormonal changes that occur during menopause can also play a role in slowing down how quickly your hair grows.

Fortunately, there are many flattering haircuts and hairstyles for mature hair that are ultra-sophisticated and help disguise loss in hair density and length. One great place to start is with these 10 chic hairstyles for women over 50.

Good hair day by @pureology.

Does Stress Really Affect How Fast Your Hair Grows?

Studies have found that, as stress hormones in your body increase (specifically, cortisol), hair growth can decrease or stop altogether. It’s not uncommon to notice less hair growth following a major life change. According to Dr. Day, hair growth phases can be impacted by your body’s response to stressful life events. This, in turn, can lead to hair thinning or hair loss.

“[The hair] pushes into that catagen phase, and from there, it goes into that telogen phase, which is why it takes around three months after that shock before you start to see hair loss,” explains Dr. Day. So, if you’re concerned about how fast your hair is growing, it’s important to be mindful of your mental health and overall well-being, especially during stressful times.

Can Your Haircare Routine Impact Hair Growth?

There are several haircare mistakes that can cause breakage and keep your hair from reaching its full growth potential. Excessive breakage can make your hair seem like it’s growing much more slowly than it really is. Or worse, if your strands are breaking at the same speed as your hair growth rate, it may appear as if your hair isn’t growing at all.

Tight hairstyles, bleach damage, excessive heat styling, rough fabrics, or anything that places extra stress or tension on your strands can cause breakage. Fortunately, with the right haircare routine and products for hair growth, it’s possible to minimize breakage and keep your hair looking healthy and full.

Good hair day by @pureology.

What Can I Do To Make My Hair Grow Faster?

Here’s the bad news: It’s not actually possible to make your hair grow faster. However, if you focus on maintaining strong, healthy strands, it can appear as if your hair is growing faster. As mentioned above, the goal is to minimize breakage as much as possible as your hair grows. Here are some haircare tips that can help you grow and maintain long, healthy-looking locks.

Get regular trims

Trimming your strands regularly can help keep damage under control and prevent split ends from making their way up the hair shaft, which can leave your ends looking thin and frayed. If you’re worried about losing length, ask your stylist to “dust” your ends instead—this technique focuses on removing split ends while maintaining as much of your hair’s length as possible.

Don’t neglect scalp care

Studies show that a healthy scalp can help support hair growth and hair quality. This means that including scalp care in your hair routine is a must, beginning with weekly scalp exfoliation. Incorporating exfoliation into your routine can help prevent the build-up of dead skin cells and oil that can lead to dryness, itching, and flaking and potentially get in the way of hair growth.

  • For All Hair Types: We suggest trying Biolage Professional All-In-One Shampoo Scrub, a gentle, multi-benefit shampoo and body scrub made with oat. The vegan formula can be used daily on all hair types to exfoliate, detoxify, and cleanse your hair, scalp, and body.
  • For Oily Scalps and Dry Ends: Try Kérastase Specifique Argile Equilibrante Cleansing Clay. This weekly cleansing clay is perfect for managing an oily scalp and dry ends: It gently cleanses the scalp by removing sebum, pollution particles, and impurities while keeping your strands nourished. We recommend pairing this formula with Kérastase Resistance Sérum Extentioniste. This energizing, leave-in scalp and hair serum with ceramides helps stimulate and protect your scalp for long, healthy hair.

Choose the right haircare products

If you’re after long, shiny locks, it’s important to choose haircare products that can help you get closer to your goal. Your first order should be to choose a complete, professional haircare system that supports healthy hair growth, like L’Oréal Professionnel Pro Longer—a range of products designed specifically for longer, thicker hair. The collection features five products: Shampoo, Single Dose Treatment, Conditioner, Lengths Renewing Mask, and Renewing Cream for Lengths & Ends. Each formula is powered by a patented, exclusive thickening technology known as Filler A-100. Learn more about how to use it in our Pro Longer review.

Avoid excessive heat styling

It’s generally best to cut back on heat styling if you’re trying to grow your hair. However, if you can’t resist, be sure to apply a quality heat protectant to help guard fragile strands against scorching temperatures. One of our favorites is Biolage Professional Strength Recovery Strength Repairing Spray. This lightweight leave-in treatment for damaged strands provides heat protection while also making your hair silkier and more manageable. If you have color-treated hair, pick up Redken’s Acidic Color Gloss Heat Protection Treatment to help extend your salon-grade color while protecting it from hot tools.

Skip the tight ponytail

According to the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD), a lifetime of tight ponytails or braids can lead to the development of traction alopecia—a type of hair loss caused by tight hairstyles. All that tugging on your follicles can cause your strands to break or fall out over time, potentially leading to permanent hair loss (often around the hairline). Try sticking to loose, protective hairstyles and use soft hair elastics to help minimize the chances of breakage.

Good hair day by @pureology.

Seek professional help

If you’ve tried every possible solution and are still not seeing the length you want, it may be time to get some professional help. It can be upsetting when you feel like you’ve tried everything and still can’t get your hair to grow—but try to remember that you’re not alone. Your stylist can offer advice and alternatives for achieving extra-long locks, such as clip-in extensions.

Looking for customized advice about how to grow long hair? Use our salon locator to book an appointment with a stylist near you.

Next Up: 7 Most Flattering Haircuts for Long Hair

Header photo credit: IG @dreamhairbycelaa

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