So what is a healthy hair growth rate?
Back to the hair growth question…There are some major factors that can affect how fast your hair grows as an individual, these include:
1. Health – This covers diet which depends on the environment in which you grow up and currently live in as well as lack of disease.
2. Age – Hair growth rates decrease as we age.
3. Genetics – This is the rate set by heredity and gene expression.
In the absence of disease or hormonal deficiencies, the 3 factors above play the largest role in how fast your hair grows.
The best conclusion that we can pull from the aforementioned study is that hair growth rate, like human height varies widely across cultures. It would be great to see more studies done to confirm the extent of the diversity.
The ½ inch per month growth that is commonly touted as the ‘healthy’ hair growth rate is nothing more than an average rate of growth based on studies across a number of countries and cultures BUT it may not be a true representation of what is ‘healthy’ or ‘natural’ for every individual.
When it comes to hair growth rate, many black people in Western countries may have mixed heritages in their ancestry and that combined with being nutritionally better off, I’m sure that if this study was conducted in people born and raised in the US, there would be a greater variety in hair growth rates as compared to the study we looked at.
Still there are those with naturally slower rates of hair growth who may feel discouraged because their hair doesn’t grow as fast as those around them and assume that there is something wrong with them.
The only factor that we have direct control over as it pertains to our hair growth rate is our health. If you are sure that you are free of disease, eating healthy is the next most important thing that will affect your hair. You literally are what you eat!
The average height of all American women is 5 ft 4 ½ inches but it would patently wrong to say that if if you are taller or shorter than this, that you probably have health problems!
So the idea that ½ an inch of hair growth per month is a ‘healthy’ rate of growth is flawed because there is no standard measurement of health that encompasses all of humanity.
My hair has always grown at the rate of 4 inches a year and I am free of disease or hormonal deficiencies. In fact, the women in my family appear to share a similar hair growth rate so clearly 4 inches a year is normal and healthy for me, and yet I managed to achieve waist length hair in under 5 years anyway.
So if you are healthy but your hair grows slowly, take heart that there may be nothing wrong with you but you will have to adjust your hair regimen to accommodate your slow growth rate so that you will be able to reap the benefits and grow your hair long anyway.
Sources: British Journal of Dermatology 2001; 145: 294±297, Wikipedia: Pygmy peoples, Wikipedia: Human Height