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Hair Sense: Dispelling Hair Myths

Monday, February 13, 2012
Safiya Damani
Senior Press Pass Correspondent

Last week I addressed the factors affecting hair growth and length. These included genetics, hormones, nutrition, exercise, stress and excessively scratching the scalp (among other factors). This week however, I will be looking at two myths about hair growth and the approach we should take to our hair in order to have a better understanding of it and also treat it more appropriately.

Have you ever heard the saying that trimming your ends will make your hair grow faster? Well, I have news for you; this is not true! When you trim the ends of your hair, the hair at the root doesn’t suddenly start to grow faster. Hair is dead, hence the reason it does not hurt when we cut it! There is no connection between the ends of your hair and the roots to communicate to the roots to tell it to shoot out hair faster. Hair, on average, grows approximately a quarter inch to a half an inch a month which is equivalent to about three to six inches a year. Individual hairs usually have a fixed growth rate until senescence and it depends on what you do or don’t do to it that would allow you to retain its length. Another popular myth about hair is that all hair grows at the same rate. 

Think about this: Why is it that every time you cut your hair in a style, after a couple of months this same, clean cut style is usually uneven? This is because not all the hairs on your head grow at the same rate. All hair goes through three specific phases in its lifetime: the anagen or growing phase, the catagen or resting phase and the telogen or shedding phase. At any one point, 88 percent or more of our hair strands are in the anagen phase. This phase usually lasts one to 10 years for the scalp but is relatively shorter for our arms, legs and eyelashes. Imagine if all the hairs on your head were going through each phase at the same time. This would mean that all your hair would drop off when it reached to the telogen phase! If you want to keep hair on your head, you should be thankful that this is not the case.
In growing your hair, patience is the key to reaching your goal length. In detangling hair – especially afro-textured hair – it is important that you have patience while in this detangling process if you want to retain length. The ends of your hair are the oldest and most brittle of your hair and must be treated with care. They are prone to splitting and weathering as it is exposed to dust, wind and the UV rays of the sun. All of these can contribute to quicker breakage and therefore less growth is retained. As I continue with this series, you will be better able to understand the processes needed to retain length and keep your hair looking ‘healthy’. Meanwhile, you can start implementing the knowledge you gained from the counteraction of these myths into your approach when it comes to your hair. Also keep in mind that patience is a key necessity because hair grows slowly and needs a lot of care in order to thrive successfully.


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