(A quick 4 min. read)
You and your bestie did the big chop together! Go #teamnatural! Similar routines, same products, even similar hair textures but now she's at bra strap length and you're still stuck at shoulder...what gives ?!?! Genetics most likely...
We've seen how hair grows and how the key to hair growth lies in the blood: blood quality and quantity/circulation! (Catch up on that here!) Now, let's add DNA to the mix.
Your DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid) is the code, inherited from your parents and unique to you, that tells your body how it should be built. It's like a manual carried in your cells, that stores the instructions as to how things should grow and be formed. Your hair is no exception: the colour, texture, curl pattern, density, et cetera are all influenced by your DNA. Included in that is how long your hair can grow.
There are three main phases that your hair goes through as it grows, the: Anagen, Catagen and Telogen phases.
- The Anagen phase is the actual growth phase; stem cells in your hair follicles are being produced, getting keratinized and pushing up as hair strands. The maximum rate recorded is 1/2 inch per month!
- The Catagen phase is when the hair strand disconnects from the capillaries that feed it in the follicle and it stops growing.
- The Telogen phase occurs when the hair shaft is finally shed, the follicle can rest and get ready to start the Anagen phase all over again.
These phases are happening continuously and simultaneously! On average 90% of your hair is in Anagen, 1% is in Catagen and 9% is in Telogen at any one point in time.
The length and rate of the Anagen phase is determined by genetics.
DNA sets the maximum limits of:
1) How long the Anagen phase lasts - ranging anywhere from 2 to 8 or even 10 years!
2) How quickly it grows - for example a 1/2, 1/4 or 1/8 of an inch per month!
Think about it! If your bestie has an Anagen phase of 4 years at 1/2 inch per month, she will have hair about 24 inches long. If your phase is 2 years long, even at the same rate, you'll have a maximum length of just 12 inches! The room for variation is almost endless, but scientific. BOTH of you have healthy, beautiful hair...just different genetics.
Still skeptical? Think about your eyelashes, how long have they ever grown? Why aren't they 100 inches long even though you've never trimmed them? What about the hair on your forearm or legs, even if you never shaved or waxed, you will never have hair there long enough to braid (hopefully). Why? Because they have short Anagen phases and naturally fall out at the end of it, then another strand takes their place. Phases also explain why hair shedding is a normal and expected phenomena.
If you don't style your hair daily it can seem like ALOT of hair loss when you finally do-think about what happens after a month in braids! But it's really just the culmination of all the normal daily shedding. Only worry if it isn't growing back!
Of course in reality, we can all probably improve our Anagen phases! Gentler styling techniques, healthier diets, exercise, more masks, scalp massages or less processing...but there is always going to be the uncontrollable genetic factor that lays the foundation of just how much we can accomplish length wise.
Did you know?
Holding on to that length is the other half of the long hair equation and that is a whole other ball game!
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