Healthy hair growth is a sign of vitality. While the stigma about being bald is diminishing, most people would prefer to keep their hair for as long as possible. A lot of factors go into how hair grows and what causes premature baldness. Things like genetics, environment, hormones, and age impact hair growth.
There is no shortage of pills, creams, and other products that promise the return of hair or to turn your hair into thicker, more luscious locks. Unfortunately, however, many of these solutions are unproven. So what do we know about hair growth and how to grow healthier hair?
Thankfully, the human body is covered in hair, so we have plenty of opportunities to study its growth and what we can do to promote more hair if that’s what you want. Here are some things to know about hair growth and how to stimulate new hair faster and keep what you have.
The Different Stages of Hair Growth
When you’re born, you typically have millions of hair follicles. They’re hard to see, but if you look closely, you’ll see where the individual strands of hair are attached to the skin. These are follicles. Only around one hundred thousand or so of the follicles are on your head, so it’s interesting that the head is where the longest and fastest hair growth occurs.
Here’s a basic overview of the stages of hair growth and how you go from tiny hairs to long strands.
Hair Roots – Small hairs begin as clumps of proteins that emerge from under the skin at each follicle. This is the first stage of hair growth. The tiny hairs are fragile and can usually be pulled from the follicle relatively easily. Before the hair emerges through the skin, however, clumps of proteins gather under the strand to form the hair. The body makes these proteins with nutrients that enter the body through food.
The Oil Gland – As the strand of hair pushes through the skin, it passes through an oil gland, which coats the hair in oil to keep it shiny and give it a protective coat that prevents damage and decay from environmental exposure to things like the sun or water. The oil also keeps the hair softer.
The Hair Growth Underneath – When the hair strand comes out of the skin, it’s essentially a clump of dead proteins and cells. The living hair is located underneath the skin and pushes the dead portion of the hair further out as it grows.
Losing Hair Is Normal
People lose up to a hundred strands of hair from their bodies daily. Some people seem to lose more hair than others, and activities like showering, brushing, or using different hair products can affect how fast someone loses their hair. Typically, losing hair isn’t a big deal. It’s part of the normal hair growth cycle. However, sometimes people lose more hair than they grow, which can lead to partial or complete baldness.
How to Promote Hair Growth
Things you do can promote natural hair growth to keep the hair on your head around longer. Some things to try include:
Nutrition – The food you eat, your weight, lifestyle, and other health factor influence hair growth. Do your best to eat healthy foods, maintain a good body weight, get outdoors, and move as often as possible.
Avoid Stress – Stress can limit your body’s ability to function normally, and it can affect your ability to grow new hair. Avoid situations where you’re overly stressed, whether it’s from work or social relationships.
Lack of Protein – Eating a diet high in protein can stimulate hair growth or, at least, prevent accelerated hair growth.
Control Inflammation – Chronic inflammation disrupts the body’s immune response. It has a host of negative health effects and can interrupt healthy hair growth. Eating more foods with high levels of antioxidants or seeking professional medical care can help lower overall inflammation levels.
Peptides & Hair Growth
Thymosin Beta-4 is a peptide shown in animal models to improve blood vessel growth, regulate wound healing, and affect hair growth. For example, Thymosin Beta-4 stimulates VEGF, an essential signaling molecule in the development of capillaries and hair growth. In addition, subjects given the peptide grew their hair back much faster than normal. The discovery was made by accident while working with the peptide on mice that had been shaven for research. In addition, mice deficient in Thymosin Beta-4 grew their hair back much slower than wild mice. Furthermore, the peptide showed increased numbers of hair shafts and grouped hair follicles.