The hair follicle has three stages of growth. These stages include periods of activity and rest and vary from person to person. The growth rate also varies in different parts of the body.
The hair on the head has a growth cycle of between two and eight years, whilst the growth rate on the eyelashes is around four months.
I’m sure your clients have asked you some of these…
There isn’t a short answer to any of these and we’re afraid that they require at least some understanding of how hair growth works: yep, it’s time for hair growth 101.
Anagen is the active growth phase of hair follicles during which the root of the hair is dividing rapidly, adding to the hair shaft. During this phase the hair grows about 1 cm every 28 days. Scalp hair stays in this active phase of growth for 2–7 years; this period is genetically determined. At the end of the anagen phase an unknown signal causes the follicle to go into the catagen phase.
The catagen phase is a short transition stage that occurs at the end of the anagen phase. It signals the end of the active growth of a hair. This phase lasts for around two weeks while the hair converts to a club hair. A club hair is formed during the catagen phase when the part of the hair follicle in contact with the lower portion of the hair becomes attached to the hair shaft. This process cuts the hair off from its blood supply and from the cells that produce new hair.
In this final stage, the hair is dead and is shed from the hair follicle. The follicle then rests until it is stimulated to begin the cycle again. This stage lasts around three to four months! Sometimes a new hair begins to grow, pushing the old hair out of the skin straight away.
Handy hint: the acronym ACT will help you to remember the hair growth and cycle.
What’s different about lashes and brows?
Not much. Eyelashes shed just like head hair. It may be that people who think their new eyelash growth product is causing their lashes to shed are nothing more than the victims of coincidence. On the other hand, it could seem to be a more dramatic loss than normal. This could be due to the fact that some eyelash growth products, specifically the ones that contain prostaglandins, speed up the growth cycle prompting a bout of shedding.
The growth cycle of eyebrows and eyelashes are a mere blink of the eye compared to head hair. Eyebrows take up to 64 (give or take) days to come back fully. Eyelashes are even more fleeting, taking only four to six weeks to come and go. If you pull a hair out of a follicle another one will grow up in its place. So all of you who say “I over-plucked by eyebrows during the 80s when I didn’t know better and now they won’t grow back.” – they do and will!
So, why do you need to know this?
Having a good understanding of this will benefit you as a beauty therapist. We’ve all had those clients who wait 4 weeks for a lash in-fill and turn up with about 5 lashes left! There is good reason why we explain to our clients you should come back around 2 weeks for an infill. If lots of lashes fall out, this doesn’t mean you have done a poor job – it means the lashes which were added may have been glued to dead lashes in the telogen phase, so were due to fall out anyway! This is same as your brows, you can wax the shape and a few days later new brows will pop out due to no fault of your own!