The hair on our heads, faces, and bodies is far more complex than it appears on the surface. It's not a secret that having good hair and good grooming skills plays a vital role in our appearance, self-esteem, and first impression—but did you know our hair and facial hair have a life cycle?
Understanding our hair and its life cycle stages can help solve some of the more common issues you may experience. The growth and loss of hair are composed of four distinct phases which we’ll take a closer look at later. First, let's learn more about the anatomy of our hair.
Hair has two distinct structures. The first is the follicle. The hair follicle resides within our skin, and the second structure is what we can see above the skin.
The hair follicle is a tunnel-like piece in the epidermis, the surface of our skin that extends down to the dermis (the thick layer of living tissue just below our epidermis). The hair follicle contains several layers that all have different functions. The papilla contains tiny blood vessels called capillaries that nourish cells at the end of the follicle. The only living part of our hair resides at the bottom surrounding the papilla, called the bulb. The cells within the bulb of our hair follicles divide every 23 to 72 hours, which is faster than any other cell in our body!
Our hair also has two sheaths, one inner and one outer, surrounding the follicle. Sheaths protect while also helping to form the growing hair shaft. The inner sheath follows the hair shaft and then ends below the opening of a sebaceous gland (or oil gland) and sometimes, depending on where the hair is growing, the apocrine gland—or a scent gland.
Surprisingly, the sebaceous gland is one of the more vital parts of our hair as it produces sebum, which conditions both the hair and the skin. During puberty, our bodies often produce more sebum, but as we age, we begin to make less sebum. Therefore, we must keep hair and skin moisturized as we age during grooming or hair care.
The second structure of hair is called the hair shaft. The shaft is made of a hard protein called keratin and is created in three layers. The protein is dead, meaning the hair we can see is no longer a living structure.
The inner layer is the medulla, the second is the cortex, and the third outer layer is the cuticle. The cortex is most of the hair shaft, while the cuticle is a tightly formed structure of shingle-like overlapping scales. Our hair's pigment is held in the cortex and medulla, giving it its color.
The Four Stages of the Hair Life Cycle
The Anagen phase is known as the growth or active phase. The cells within the root of your hair rapidly divide so more new hair is formed. During this phase, your hair will grow roughly 1 centimeter or ½ inch every 28 days. The hair on your scalp stays in this active growth phase anywhere from two to six years. For your facial hair, this can range from two to four months.
After the Anagen phase, your hair cycle starts a short transitional phase known as the Catagen phase. This signals the end of active hair growth and removes your hair from the blood supply and the cells that produce new hair.
The third stage of your hair growth cycle is called the Telogen phase. This is a resting period when strands remain in their follicles but no longer grow. This phase can last approximately three months while it waits to be pushed out by brand new hair.
The final stage of your scalp and facial hair life cycle before it begins all over again with the Anagen phase. The Exogen phase is when new growth begins. The old hair in the Exogen phase detaches and begins to fall out in larger quantities. This can frequently be noted by more significant amounts of hair shedding after combing or brushing, within the shower, or during hair styling.
How Do You Care For Hair During Different Phases of Growth?
Healthier hair depends on genetics, hormone levels, a healthy diet, and good hair products. Some factors, such as genetics and hormones, are out of our control. However, The Cut Buddy can recommend some active strategies to help all four stages for any hair type and facial hair style.
• Use exceptionally formulated hair, facial hair, scalp, or hair and skincare products. Cut Buddy's Shave Cream, After Shave Solution, and Cut Buddy's After Shave Butter with Razor Bump Defense are all rich with natural skin and hydrating ingredients necessary for your facial hair follicles and shaft essential for your skin. Hydration and moisture are required for our hair. Hydration keeps the inner layers of our hair, the medulla, the cortex, and the cuticle healthy, while moisture is critical to the outer layer, the cuticle. Moisturizing your hair with the right products means sealing in hydration so it doesn't evaporate from your hair too quickly because once the water is gone, your hair becomes dry, brittle, and more prone to damage.
• Your diet and water intake can affect your hair's Anagen Phase. Take care of yourself, and you'll take care of your hair. Try to eat a balanced diet, drink plenty of water, and get a little sunshine whenever possible.
• Stress levels, specific medical treatments, and over-styling can also disrupt the Anagen phase.
The four stages of your hair life cycle are Anagen, Catagen, Telogen, and Exogen. The Cut Buddy is ready and eager to help with expert tutorials for every stage of your hair's life cycle.
A healthy lifestyle and Cut Buddy's specially formulated Shaving Cream, After Shave Solution, and After Shave Butter is critical for a good grooming experience and are created to help hair through every phase.
Have questions about where you are in your hair cycle? Feel free to reach out to our Cut Buddy Pros anytime.