Aging Hair and its Life Cycle

@ City Looks | Posted on March 8, 2022

Each and every hair has its own life cycle. There are 3 stages that I talk about. Anagen is the growing stage, this is where approximately 85% of your hair on your head is at most times. This stage lasts 3-6 years on average, for some it’s a  little longer and for others it’s shorter. Think about how long your hair can grow, to your shoulders? Halfway down your back? Barely to your chin? Sometimes this is because your hair has been damaged and your ends are breaking as quickly as your roots are growing. Sometimes it is because of its life cycle. Keeping the follicle in a healthy state promotes the hair remaining in its growing stage. 

Catagen is called the transition stage of hair growth. What does this look like? This is the stage where the follicle shrinks a little and begins to prepare for the hairs exit. This transition only lasts 1-2 weeks until the cycle progresses to the next stage. Approximately 1% of your hair is in this stage.

Telogen is the third stage where approximately 14% of your hair is. This i a resting stage, and your hair is here for an average of 8-10 weeks. In this stage of growth the hair is sitting quietly in a resting state, it is not growing. This resting state is followed by the fallout stage (exogen) and then the new anagen starting (neogen) stage. And you are back to growing new hair.

The return to anagen stage is not always immediate. There are several factors that can delay the start of the next new hair, including a telogen hair that is stuck in a follicle taking up space when it should have been shed. This is why brushing and washing the scalp is so very important, removing the stagnant telogen hair can stimulate a new anagen stage. Another reason can be the miniaturising of the hair where there is a longer pause between the telogen and new anagen stage (exogen to neogen).

Miniaturizing of the hair is what is seen in genetic hair loss. Once a hair is lost and then begins to grow back, the life cycle may shorten for that one hair strand. Each time that hair returns to the growing stage it can actually grow for a shorter amount of time, leading to the time where it may not grow back. If this occurs in enough follicles around the head, usually seen in the vertex (crown) and temple areas (recession) I am trained recognize the thinning of hair as pattern (genetic) hair loss. 

For genetic hair loss what can be done? There are many factors to consider when I look to help our hair regrow better. As with our aging bodies, so too the hair follicle is affected. There is a need to consider the changes that affect our bodies as a whole and see how that translates to our hair. Common issues in women would be estrogen levels that begin to decline, leading to the assimilation of vitamin D to also be in decline. Vitamin D is an important part of hair and if there are deficiencies it will increase hair loss. This type of diffuse hair loss can lead into a genetic loss situation if you happen to be more susceptible. B12 is another consideration in our aging bodies. As we age our digestion changes and the body can actually produce less stomach acid, which in turn affects the absorption of vitamin B12, and this can be another reason for a diffuse hair loss situation that may lead to a genetic loss. 

Being diligent with scalp care and nutrition is important as we age, for the body’s sake as well as for the hair. Adding supplements that may be deficient (always consult with your doctor), keeping moving, and adding scalp serums for some topical nutrition to assist the hairs follicle health and growth. As a trichologist I will walk with you on this journey to better hair growth.