Here’s why the hair follicle is so crucial to the entire growth process…
The Anagen Phase
Also known as ‘the growing phase’, the anagen phase can last for anywhere between three to five years for a single strand of hair that grows from your scalp. (Did you know? In some cases, it can even last for up to seven years!) This is when the follicles are pushing out your hairs, so that they grow around half an inch per month. This continues until they reach the end of their lifespan and fall out.
The Catagen Phase
Towards the end of a single hair’s growth phase, it enters the catagen phase, which lasts for around 10 days. This is when the follicle shrinks to slow down growth, so the hair strand can be easily pushed out through the scalp. The follicle will still be holding the root in place, but it can easily be dislodged at this time by daily wear and tear.
The Telogen Phase
The telogen phase – or ‘the resting phase’ – finishes the job that the catagen phase started. At this point, the hair stops growing and a bulb of keratin forms at the root, which keeps it in the follicle until it’s ready to shed naturally. (Side note: it’s normal to shed around 100 strands per day!) There’s overlap with the anagen phase here, as it’s at this point when the follicle also starts to widen, releasing new fibers ready for fresh growth. And so the cycle begins again…
All hair strands grow at their own pace, so they won’t all be in the same stage at the same time. Case in point: only around 5% of hairs are in the catagen phase at one time, while an estimated 10-15% of your scalp hairs may be in the catagen phase.
But the duties of your hair follicles don’t begin and end with supporting the growth cycle. They also determine how curly hair grows by its shape and size, as well as what color each strand will naturally be. Each follicle is also related to a sebaceous gland, which keeps the skin on the scalp and the hair moisturized. So, with so much responsibility, you can see why healthy hair follicles are essential to strong, nourished hair.