What is the Hair Shedding Cycle?

Although shedding strands of hair might cause you to panic, it’s actually completely natural. Just like other parts of the body like the skin and nails, hair grows and sheds in cycles, and it happens to us all. Whether you’ve got long, short, thick, thin, frizzy, or fine hair, you’re bound to notice strands shedding from time to time. So let’s dive into the hair shedding cycle.

The Three Stages of The Hair Shedding Cycle

There are three stages of the hair shedding cycle, and each individual hair goes through the growth cycle at its own pace (meaning not all hairs remain in one phase and then move on to the next together). Each hair grows independently through the cycle. That’s why shedding is seemingly sporadic, and also why it’s natural to lose about 80-100 hairs every day. Because shedding strands is a natural part of the hair growth cycle, it can be impacted by natural factors like nutrition, genetics, and age. Even changes in seasons and weather can affect hair growth (it grows faster in the summer than in winter). Let’s break down each stage:

  • Stage 1: Anagen a.k.a. Growth Phase
    This active growth phase of the hair cycle can last from 2-6 years. During this time, cells in the hair roots divide to grow new strands. Hair that is fully keratinized and stopped growing is called a club hair, which is no longer in the Anagen phase and eventually gets pushed through the follicle. During the anagen phase, hair can grow about half an inch per month. The length of the active growth phase is different for everyone and can be stimulated or shortened by genetics, age, and diet. Eating a diet rich in protein, fruits, and vegetables will help enhance the growth during this stage.
  • Stage 2: Catagen a.k.a. Transitional Phase
    The smallest percentage of strands (3%) is in the transitional phase at any one time. During this time, hair growth stops because the outer section of the root shrinks to allow club hairs to form. The catagen phase is the shortest, lasting only 2-3 weeks.
  • Stage 3: Telogen a.k.a. Resting Phase
    While the resting phase only accounts for about 6-8% of our hair, these follicles are completely and totally in hibernation. The hair follicle is dormant to allow the club hair to finish forming. The Telogen phase lasts for about 3 months, during which 25-100 Telogen hairs shed daily. This is usually when the most shedding occurs and can be a reason you happen to notice more hairs falling around you than usual.

Like the strands on your scalp, the hair growth cycle is unique to each individual. While promoting anagen growth is the key to regrowth, you will always have some hairs in the telogen phase that fall out naturally. Do you have questions about the hair shedding cycle and what you can do to promote growth? Comment below! We’d love to learn about your journey and share our experiences.

Kathy Watson

Over her 10-year career as a journalist, Kathy has worked as a columnist and reporter for both print magazines and digital publications. She started as a beat reporter for her college newspaper covering biosciences and general science. Kathy holds a B.A. in political science. Reviewed by Collective Laboratories' Medical Advisory Board

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