Understanding the hair anatomy & the hair life cycle! 

Did you know? We have an average of 100,000 to 150,000 strands of hair on a human head. 

Below is a diagram of a hair follicle on every human being’s head. As you can see, the hair follicle is implanted 5mm into the scalp. The hair follicle is attached to nerves & blood vessels and the part of the hair above the skin is considered “dead”, while our scalp is “alive”.
This also explains why you feel pain when your hair is being pulled out, while you do not feel any pain when you go for a haircut.

When combing your hair, you may find strands of hair on your comb but you do not feel any pain. This is because the hair has already been detached from the scalp. It is very important for us to take care of our scalp where our hair follicles are, because that is where the life is at.

Based on the diagram, you will see that each hair follicle will have 1, sometimes 2 sebaceous glands. Its main function is to produce and secrete sebum which lubricates our skin and hair. Sebum makes our hair supple and shiny, but too much of it will be a problem too. When we have too little sebum, our scalp becomes dry, tight and sensitive. When we have too much, over-active sebaceous glands will clog our pores, and make our hair oily and limp.

If your scalp is not cleansed well or if you use shampoos with too much chemicals and silicone, it will become a cesspool for bacteria and itching and also causing hair loss. You may say argue that since we live in Singapore, it is hot and humid, therefore all of us naturally would have oily scalp. This is not true!

Our sweat glands is separated from our hair follicle, which also means that being sweaty does not mean you have an oily scalp. Do note that having a sweaty scalp does not cause hair loss.

Here’s another fun fact! On average, our hair grows about 1cm per month, and grows about 12 -15cm per year. It takes about 3 years to grow it to your shoulders and 7 years to grow it to your waist.

This is the typical Hair Life Cycle we all go through. As you can see, the Anagen Phase is between 2 – 6 years. if your hair follicle is healthy, it will continue to grow for 6 years then it will renew itself.

The Catagen phase is when the hair is detaching itself from the papilla. The Telogen phase is when the hair is resting and waiting for the new hair to grow and pushes it up. Normally, 5 - 10 % of our hair is in the telogen phase at any one time. On average, we lose 50 to 100 strands of hair a day from the scalp.
And the Anagen phase starts again. And the hair grows again. This is the Hair Life Cycle we go through. So you ask, what is the issue, what is the big deal?

Firstly - If you lose over 100 strands a day and if you are unable to grow new hair as fast as you are losing them, you will start to face hair loss. There is also another very important point which not everyone knows. 

Our Hair Cycles do not last forever.

Yes, we only have an average of 20 – 24 Hair Life Cycles in a lifetime. Just like our teeth, when we drop our teeth twice. we will have no more teeth. If we drop our hair 20 times, we will have no more hair!

So if you do your maths,

In this lifetime, we have 20 hair life cycles, and in each life cycle, our hair can grow up to 6 years. This means that I will have a full head of hair till I am 120 years old! Unfortunately, that does not happen to most of us, does it?

Some of us face hair loss because our hair follicle detaches itself from our scalp before 6 years. 

Therefore, our main focus to resolve hair loss is to prolong your each hair life cycle so that it lives to a ripe old age of 6 years before it falls off. 

Getting the hair to start growing again is not as important as ensuring the life of the hair grows and remain strong for 6 years. This is most critical because we do not know how many life cycles we have left, and there is no machine which has been invented to tell us that yet. Hence, every cycle becomes very precious.

Read the next article to find out how you can extend each hair life cycle for Men & Women Hair Loss!! 

Watch the full episode of PHYTO Hair Talk here.