Five myths about growing hair faster and longer


Long shiny tresses have always been a symbol of beauty and seduction.

Beware of her fair hair, for she excels all women in the magic of her locks;  And when she winds them round a young man’s neck, She will not ever set him free again.’ ― Johann Wolfgang von Goethe [German poet, dramatist, and theologian]

Unfortunately, not everyone is born with hair they pine for. Thanks to the cosmetic industry, you can now straighten your unruly curls, perm your drab straight hair, bleach, colour and fluff up your natural hair. And then suddenly you have that devastating feeling that your hair has stopped growing. Why? How do you distinguish between myths and facts?

Here are some misconceptions about long hair.

Myth #1: Hair stops growing after you reach a certain age.

It is not true that your hair grows only when you were a teen or in your 20s. The fact is there is no specific time your hair stops growing. How long your hair will grow is determined by your genes. The typical hair growth cycle has three phases – anagen or the growth phase, catagen or the short resting phase, and telogen or the shedding phase. The anagen phase can range anywhere from 2 to 6 years, maybe even 7 years in some people, and that is what will determine the maximal length you can achieve. The anagen phase is generally longer in Asians (it can grow up to a meter long) but much shorter in Africans.

The catagen phase is the resting period that occurs at the end of the anagen phase. This phase lasts about 2 to 3 weeks. For some it may even be longer, and this is the time you notice your hair is just not growing.

The telogen phase is when cell division stops in the hair follicle; all growth is stopped, and the strand of hair sheds. This phase lasts 3 months, but again maybe longer depending on your genes. [1] So, no growth for your hair. Then the anagen phase begins and growth starts again.

Myth #2: Trimming your hair will make them grow faster.

Not true again! Hair grows from the roots, so how can cutting the tip make it grow faster? But trimming your hair is a good suggestion because it will reduce the formation of split ends that destroy hair. The normal hair has a pH of 4.5 to 5.5. Higher pH causes loss of cuticle, thus exposing the cortex than then becomes susceptible to damage resulting in split ends and frayed tips. Hair growth becomes stunted. Most experts agree that you cannot reverse split ends, so the next best thing is trim it. Grow your hair faster with this home remedy!

The question now is how much to trim and how often to trim. Normally, hair grows about a quarter of an inch (1/4 inch) or slightly more per month. Try for a trim every 6 to 10 weeks, and cut about 1/4th of an inch to about ½ and inch per trim.

Myth #3: Brushing hair a hundred strokes before bed makes your hair grow longer and stronger.

This saying originated in the Victorian era but the purpose of brushing may have been to rid the hair of lice rather than making hair shiny and strong. Too much combing can actually damage hair leading to weathered hair. ‘As the scalp hair of women grows over long anagen periods, the hair is exposed to several years of cumulative damage from external factors.  The contributing factors include chronic ultraviolet exposure, excessive wetting, repeated harsh chemical procedures, hot combs, blow-drying, and even simple, but repeated activities, such as rough combing and brushing’, says Dr Nina Madnani, dermatologist at Hinduja Hospital, Mumbai. [2] Weathered hair loses moisture more rapidly than normal hair, looks dull and dry, and is more susceptible to breakage. Again no hair growth!

Myth #4: Oil your hair every day for healthy long hair.

Applying oil, or for that matter anything, externally, cannot nourish or make your hair grow longer. But a massage, say, once a week helps blood circulation in the scalp making the hair follicle and sebaceous glands function better and consequently improve your hair.  This is because increased blood flow to the hair follicle will result in better nutrient uptake, and better uptake equals healthy hair. Regular oil massage reduces split ends and breakage of hair strands. Have you tried the castor oil magic for quick hair growth?

Massaging the scalp has another big advantage. It promotes relaxation and helps reduce stress. Studies have shown that stress induces early skin and hair aging, and inhibits hair growth. [3]

Massage is good, but don’t leave the oil for too long, and don’t just apply a large amount of oil and leave it on for hours. Oil may block the pores and lead to hair fall.

Myth #5: Eating certain foods will make your hair grow faster, longer.

No. Nothing you eat will make your hair grow faster and longer. But, eating foods rich in protein, omega-3, omega-6, zinc, vitamins A, D, E, K and biotin can help your hair grow healthier minimizing breakage and hair loss. Research reveals that zinc and biotin deficiencies cause hair loss, such as in male pattern baldness. Hair loss can also be stopped by supplementation with zinc, iron and biotin. So, now you know that there is no point yearning for hair length longer than what has already been genetically predetermined for you. Eat a balanced diet, exercise regularly, and follow a good hair care regimen to maintain the healthy luscious locks you have!

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