Hair grows in three stages, anagen, catagen, and telogen, which occurs simultaneously in different strands of hair preventing bald spots. So, unless you have a medical condition or are malnourished, your hair is constantly growing, here’s why:
Anagen stage- the anagen stage is the growing period of your hair and is pre-determined by genetics and supplemented with proper diet. On average, this stage lasts 3 to 5 years. This phase constitutes 90% of the growth cycle.
Catagen stage-the catagen stage is the intermediate period where the hair follicles prepare themselves for the resting phase; this typically lasts 1-2 weeks. The hair follicle shrinks and pushes the old hair out of the shaft in preparation for new hair growth.
Telogen stage-the telogen stage is the resting period and lasts 3 to 4 months. At the end of this phase, old strands fall out and newer ones begin to grow. This phase constitutes only 10% of the hair growth cycle.
Now that you understand that hair is constantly growing, let’s examine some way to retain length.
10 Tips for Length Retention
Prepoo or pre-shampoo- use penetrating oils that can prevent the hair shaft from swelling during the uptake of water and minimize damage. Download my free oils PDF to find oils that are penetrating. Most detergents have an alkaline pH which causes hair shaft swelling the swelling can lead to hair shaft damage. Adding penetrating oils can prevent this damage and lead to a less drying wash day.
Shampoo your hair- lifts oil and dirt from the surface of your hair and cleanses the scalp. Healthy hair starts at the roots- the health of your scalp directly translates to the health of your hair. The reason hair gets greasy is due to glands (sebaceous glands) producing an oily substance called sebum. The sebum moistens hair and keeps it from drying out. However, according to our genetics, we all produce a different amount of sebum. Finding a sulfate-free, pH balanced shampoo can aid in a less harsh wash day. Keep these factors in mind when determining how often to wash your hair.
Skin type- oily skin and hair can be washed more frequently (not daily) while dry to normal skin and hair should be washed weekly.
Lifestyle- a very active lifestyle, including gym, dancing, or heavy sweating, etc. may require more washing to remove the buildup of sweat on dirt clogging the follicles.
Medical necessity- those with scalp psoriasis, skin and scalp conditions-dermatitis, and eczema may need special shampoos to heal the skin for optimal growth.
Styling- constant use of sealants and heavy butter can prevent moisture from penetrating the hair shaft.
Deep Condition- prevents damage and restores luster, shine, and strength to your hair. Prevents damage by reducing breakage and split ends. Use heat when deep conditioning and let sit for 30 minutes.
Moisturizing deep conditioners- contain humectants that attract moisture and absorb into the hair.
Protein deep conditioners- contain hydrolyzed proteins that bind to your hair cuticle forming a protective barrier around your hair. It strengthens the hair and prevents damage and breakage.
Hair's porosity is your hair’s ability to absorb moisture. Depending on how your hair cuticle lays, your hair’s porosity will either range from high to low. Understanding your hair’s porosity is key to understanding which products work for your hair.
· Low porosity- cuticles are tightly closed. Use heat when conditioning to allow products to better absorb into your hair. Use cleansing products, shampoos, clays or clarifiers, to rid hair of buildup.
· Normal porosity- moisture easily enters the strands and remains, so continue with a regular routine of moisturizing and deep conditioning.
· High porosity- raised cuticles filled with gaps- hair absorbs water quickly but also dries out quickly. Use thick moisturizing products and seal with a heavy butter. Protein treatments are a must with this porosity type.
Moisturize Daily- I cannot stress this enough! See my previous post on how to retain moisture and prevent breakage.
Detangling- I recommend to always begin your detangling process with your fingers to gently remove large knots and shed hair- this is great to do when you are prepooing. Detangling can also be done in the shower on soaking wet hair. After coating my hair with a conditioner/detangler, I gently detangle with a comb or brush. Make sure to start from the bottom and do not rip through your hair! Replace hair tools frequently to prevent snagging and tearing of your hair strands.
Styling- wear a protective style or low manipulation style and keep your hands out of your hair- this avoids breakage and allows you to retain length.
· Protective styles- protect the ends of your hair or your hair from the environment- see my video below for examples.
· Low Manipulation styles- styles that require minimal manipulation such as twists or braids.
Trimming- having a consistent trim schedule to remove all split ends means less breakage and more length retention. I trim at least 4 times a year, depending on how I've been wearing my hair.
Eat a healthy Diet- eat a diet rich in nutrients including proteins, vitamins, and minerals. Hair is comprised of proteins; thus, a diet rich in protein aids in longer hair and nails. Also, drinking plenty of water hydrates the body from the inside out.
Consistency- Find a routine and stick with it! Your hair needs a consistent routine to flourish. Document your progress in a hair journal to determine what is working and adjust your routine to maximize your length goals.
Check out this video on How to Retain Length!
Share your tips in the comment sections!