Hair Growth & hair loss

Hair Growth & hair loss

Do not confuse hair “shedding”, hair “loss” with hair breakage! Shedding is part of the normal process of the replacement of old hair with new. The new hair emerges from the same opening at the surface of the scalp as the old one, and then the hair cycle begins again.

Internal factors that cause hair loss.

You need to know about the stages of the hair cycle in order to understand many of the problems people have with their hair. Each individual hair is formed inside a hair bulb deep in a hair follicle. The follicle is a tiny but powerful factory, which throughout many people's lifetime hardly ever stops working. Finally the hair spontaneously falls out. The follicle rests for a little while, and then starts to produce yet another new hair.

This is the hair cycle:

The anagen (the growing phase) phase of a new hair starts at the moment it begins to grow; active growth in the hair bulb. Catagen (the intermediate phase) is a short resting phase. The telogen (the shedding phase) is the time at which a new hair begins to grow from the hair follicle. As it grows upwards the old hair will be shed naturally or may be pulled out, which happens easily and painlessly. These are the hairs that come out when you shampoo or brush your hair.

The hair loss is not permanent as long as the roots have not been damaged. In some older people the hair cycle becomes shorter, the follicles gradually give up producing long, strong hair, and the hairs become thinner and shorter. If sudden, extensive hair loss occurs, medical attention should be sought immediately.

Hair growth and nourishment:

There are three phases of hair growth starting with the anagen “living or growing phase”. At least 85% of hair on a normal healthy scalp are said to be in the anagen phase at any given time and have a normal life of two to six years. The catagen “resting phase” is a transitional stage, the bulb’s cellular activity slows down as it approaches a complete resting phase. The final phase of the bulb’s life cycle is a complete resting stage called telogen “falling phase” these are the hairs that normally fall out and are often found in the brush or on the pillow.

This shedding, or “old” hair is being loosened in the follicle to make way for “new” hair to grow. So the hairs that fall out are replaced rather quickly by long-lived new hair. It is not necessarily damage from TR that causes you to have those little short hairs at the part or all over a head of hair. Hair has a life cycle - you are always losing some and then it starts to re-grow. When your hair is super straight, you notice the new (short) hair more. With curly hair, it gets hidden. Most authorities believe that loss of 80-100 hairs per day is natural. Hair growth is not increased by any of the following:

1) Close clipping, shaving, trimming, cutting or singeing have no effect upon the rate of hair growth.
2) The application of ointments or oils and vitamins will not increase hair growth. They act as lubricants to the hair shaft but do not feed the hair.

Normal hair shedding:

A certain amount of hair is shed daily. This is nature’s method of making way for new hair. The average daily shedding is estimated at 50 to 80 hairs. Hair loss beyond this estimated average may indicate scalp or hair trouble.

Note: Most people confuse a mechanical bend or reduction with new growth. As the hair grows, you will notice a contrast; a slight wave or bump between your natural curl pattern meeting the previously TRd hair. This is perfectly normal.

Material for the growth of the hair comes from the papilla (vascular process of connective tissue extending into and nourishing the root of a hair, feather, or developing tooth). As long as the papilla is not destroyed, the hair will grow. If the hair papilla is pulled out from the roots, it will nevertheless grow again, Should the papilla be destroyed, it will never grow again.

In human beings, new hair replaces old hair in the following ways:

1) The bulb loosens and separates from the papilla.
2) The bulb moves upward in the follicle.
3) The hair moves slowly to the surface, where it is shed.
4) The new hair is formed by cell division that takes place at a point at the root of the hair and around the papilla.

The exact life span of the hair will range from two to six years. Other factors, such as sex, age, type of hair, heredity and health will affect the hair growth.

Hair cycle: If the hair is normal and healthy, each individual hair goes through a steady cycle of events: growth, fall and replacement.

The formation and growth of hair cells depend on proper nourishment and oxygen which only the bloodstream can supply. Therefore, the function of blood is indispensable to the health and life of hair.

When the body is healthy, hair flourishes. If the body is ill, hair weakens. When the bloodstream provides the hair papilla with food elements, the hair grows.

Normal hair growth: The average growth of healthy hair on the scalp of an adult is about one half inch per month. Research indicates that the hair may grow faster in the case of younger people, and in some instances, may even grow up to three-quarters of an inch per month. The growth of scalp hair occurs more rapidly between the ages of 15 and 30, and declines sharply between 50 and 60. Scalp hair grows faster in women than in men.

Hair growth is also influenced by:

1) Seasons of the year.
2) Nutrition and hormones.

Climatic conditions will affect the hair in the following ways:

1) Moisture in the air will deepen the natural wave.
2) Cold air will cause the hair to contract
3) Heat will cause the hair to swell or expand and absorb moisture.

External factors that cause hair loss/breakage:

Always use a good quality hair brush and combs. Poor quality brushes and combs will scratch the scalp and damage the hair shaft. Choose brushes and combs with widely spaced and smooth tipped teeth to avoid the risk of exfoliating/damaging the cuticle, splitting the hair and scratching the scalp. Mason Pearson makes the best brushes and combs and it’s worth every dollar.

Don’t over brush your hair. Wash combs and brushes in shampoo or soap at least once a week. Do not wear a hairstyle that pull on hair and/or on the scalp, for instance a ponytail, African braiding, or bun that’s too tightly kept in place. Even frequently tugging on hair or nervously twisting may have the same outcome. Traumatizing wet hair by using hair dryers or styling wet hair can break hair. Ideally, towel-dry hair to get out the extra water and avoid frequent use of heated, rollers and hot irons.

There are many reviews as to hair loss.

Excessive hair loss from all over the scalp is called diffused hair loss. It can occur for numerous reasons, all of which result from body imbalance, which in turn disturbs the normal hair growth cycle. As mentioned previously, approximately 84% of normal healthy scalp hairs are in the anagen phase of growth, 1% are in the catagen or transitional phase, and about 15% are in the telogen or resting phase

When we experience a body imbalance, such as high fever, surgery or thyroid malfunction, many of the hairs in the anagen phase are prematurely shocked into the short catagen phase, then into the telogen phase, which lasts for approximately three months, terminating with the hairs falling from the scalp. An overall effect of diffused hair loss may first be noticed about three months after the body imbalance or insult occurs.

Excessive hair loss from all over the scalp is called diffuse hair loss. Some conditions may be related to hereditary hair loss and diffuse hair loss in women. It can occur from body imbalance, which in turn disturbs the normal hair growth cycle.

Other factors that contribute to hair loss: birth control pills, anesthetics, surgery, high fever, trauma, crash diet and age. Hair loss and TR is a delicate subject, in which case you should consult with your physician.


There are many forms of alopecia areata. It is distinguished by its sharply defined border and by its usual beginning as a perfect circle of baldness. This may enlarge and overlap with other similar patches. It could also be trauma related; it is a disorder that in general follows psychological trauma or physical blows to the head.

Hair pulling trichotillomania:

it is a compulsion to pull out one’s own hair. Mechanical straining-traction alopecia; caused by mechanical strain from flat ironing the hair tightly, or wearing the hair in a tight braid or ponytail. This type of continuous mechanical strain can eventually cause the hair to pull away from the scalp follicles. The problem is multiplied during the TR process that is, IF the chemical reforming solution #1 touches the scalp.

Diffused hair loss

can be classified as either “temporary” _ will improve naturally in due time”. Or “continuing” _ until cause is eliminated. Temporary loss could result from surgery, prolonged body temperature over 103 degrees Fahrenheit, the commencement of taking certain drugs, the cessation of taking certain drugs (particularly some types of oral contraceptives), termination of pregnancy; or crash dieting.

Continuing loss could be caused by iron deficiency anemia; thyroid imbalances; diabetes and other endocrinal-related problems; septic foli, such as infected teeth or tonsils; poisons, such as lead and thallium; and other internal disorders. Once the internal imbalance is corrected, the hair will most likely recover.

Hair damage

In this section we look at some real-life cases of hair that is obviously not in good condition. This person's hair looks dull and lifeless. It doesn't shine, and it is obviously difficult to manage. Examining a few hairs under the microscope would reveal what has happened to it, and suggest what might be done. It is all too easy to fall into the trap of blaming the last product put on to the hair as the single cause of a problem. Much more often, hair condition is lost as a result of a combination of bad hair care products and major salon services over a long period.

Damage from hair treatments

Permanent hair straightening/TR, bleaching and dyeing, all damage the hair to some extent. Permanent hair straightening products, by its nature, disrupts the structure of the hair: it has to do so for the perm to be successful. In order to change the shape of the hair, permanent straightening agents first break the disulfide bonds that give the hair shaft its structure. The hair is then put into its new shape and 'neutralized'. Neutralization is the name given to the re-forming of the chemical bonds in their new positions, a process that fixes the hair permanently into its new shape.

The secrets of satisfactory hair straightening lie in the manufacturer's formulation of the product and the stylist's expertise in applying the neutralizing lotion after just the right length of time, so that the perm is fixed but the hair is damaged as little as possible. TRd hair should always look beautiful in spite of this deliberate 'damage'.

Bleaching and dyeing change hair structure too, because the dyes and the bleaches used have to penetrate the cuticle and get into the cortex where they have their effect. Some degree of chemical damage is unavoidable.

Cosmetic procedures do not damage the hair follicle within the scalp, and so do not cause hair loss. Only a serious chemical burn to the skin of the scalp that destroys the follicle cells can do so. Burns like this can follow indiscriminate over-use of permanent hair straightening solutions, and therefore these solutions must be handled carefully at all times.

Severe cosmetic damage

Hair that has been badly damaged by cosmetic treatments is surprisingly common. Of course, stylists and technicians are trained to examine hair before carrying out chemical treatment to determine its porosity, and whether there is any possibility of serious damage. But take an enthusiastic amateur embarking on bleaching and doing a TR without any basic knowledge or experience, and combine this with a hair dryer used on its hottest setting and a flat iron set at 180 degrees Celsius: you have a recipe for disaster.

Perm damage

The TR process inexpertly applied is probably the most damaging chemical treatment that hairdressers see. If the cuticle scales on the hair have been lifted up and separated from each other they will never return to normal, and as soon as a comb passes over them they may break off. The cuticle may be completely stripped off, revealing the cortex underneath. This too is now exposed to weathering, and will probably not survive unbroken for long.

When a new client walks into a salon, the hairdresser never knows what problems are going to face them. A quick assessment reveals whether the client is Caucasian, African, or Asian descent: all these characteristics interact with each other. And then, what is the past history of this hair? Has it been straightened or bleached, or possibly both? No two clients are the same. Life in a salon is never dull!

From straight forward styling to elaborate perms, from a temporary tint to a platinum bleach, all these processes depend on changing part of the structure of hair. The stylists and technicians who have to apply them are expected to have a thorough understanding of hair structure, the hair growth cycle and the continuing care of hair. They need a working knowledge of the disorders of the hair and scalp, the chemistry of hair care products and the ways in which they protect the hair, and the science that underlies the various cosmetic procedures.

Just as a doctor takes a 'history' of a new patient in the surgery, so the stylist looks at the history of a client's hair and examines its condition, in particular whether there is evidence that it has been chemically treated previously. The doctor can only decide what can be done for the patient once that history is known and understood: in the same way, the most expert stylist can only decide what is or is not possible after that examination has been made.

Whether or not a perm will 'take' well depends on the basic nature of the hair, its past history of chemical treatments, if any, and the skill of the technician or stylist. Hair that has had a long history of straightening, perhaps combined with tinting or bleaching, may have become so damaged as to be near the limit of what it will tolerate.

It is imperative to do proper consultation, but unfortunately the majority of stylists doing a TR process ask clients to send a picture of their hair, or the stylist just glances at the hair and decides; Oh, okay TR is okay for you. This is very wrong. Besides the chemical touching the scalp, there are many other important factors that can have detrimental impact on the hair and hair follicle.


What are my opinions about re-TR’ing hair to "fix" 90-degree bends?

Definitely a big NO for this situation! Re-TRing the 90 degree bends can even make the situation worse and can accelerate the breakage potential. If you miss-iron the hair and form a bend or get a bend from applying the product to the scalp which can damage the follicle and cause severe breakage, the best thing to do is give the client a deep conditioning to minimize the breakage. The best scenario would be to consider the TR when the hair has grown out or until the hair has been deep conditioned numerous times to bring the hair back to a more healthy state. Protein and moisturizing hair treatments minimize the breakage of a bad perm/TR.

The perming process

The hair is first washed and then the TR solution is applied to the hair. Because the lotion is alkaline the scales of the cuticle open slightly, allowing the lotion to flow under the cuticle and into the cortex. Here it reacts with the keratin of the cortex, breaking some of the disulphide cross-links within and between the protein chains. The hair swells and 'softens', so that it can stretch to take up its new shape.

After a while the TR solution is thoroughly rinsed away and the hair is now ready for the thermal process. Once this is done, a neutralizing lotion is applied. This re-forms the broken cross-links, which makes the hair harden into its new, straight shape. This stage is the key to a successful perm: failure to rinse and neutralize properly can lead to many problems, including scalp irritation and damage to the structure of the hair shaft.

Perm shock

Once the TR solution has been put on, the hair is in a very vulnerable condition. The keratin is softened and greatly swollen, particularly during rinsing, the cortex is in the process of being chemically changed, and the cuticle may have been slightly damaged. At this point every possible care is needed to protect the hair from any unwanted change in conditions.

For example, sudden temperature changes can damage the softened keratin to such an extent that the hair may break down completely. A story is told about a lady who was having a TR one winter's day. The temperature outside was well below freezing, although in the warm salon it was around 22 °C. The perming solution had already been applied when suddenly the lady glimpsed in the mirror a friend of hers walking by in the street. Impulsively, she rushed outside to greet her. The horrified hairdresser had to chase after her and bring her back indoors, where she set to work to re-equilibrate the client's head by wrapping hot towels around it to get the temperature back up again.

After perming

Even though the perming process seems complete when the client has left the salon, the hair continues to form new bonds for two or three days. It is important that the hair should not be shampooed during those few days: shampooing may interrupt this 'curing' process and spoil the carefully constructed curls, or even lead to hair breakage.

Problems in perming/TR and straightening

In expert hands, TR can create wonderful effects. And it is a tribute to the skill of stylists and technicians that so many TRs are successful and attractive, despite all the complexity of the chemistry and science of TR’ing. Unfortunately, not all hair is suitable for TR. The table below shows some problems that can arise with TR.

1) Although some of the disulphide linkages re­form during neutralization, a proportion fails to do so and remain broken. The hair is thereby weakened.

2) Where the cuticle scales fail to close up tightly again after TR, the hair is left with a roughened surface and breaks more quickly.

3) Incorrect application of the TR step #1, hair straightening solutions can dissolve the hair fibres or lead to breakage, usually quite close to the scalp. This kind of breakage almost never happens on the same day as TR. It is believed to be the result of either over-straightening/over-process or poor neutralization.

In the case of heredity hair loss, there is little you can do. The client should be informed that false hope and good money must not be ill spent on products or useless methods which claim to grow hair.

If the client takes a medication which could possibly cause the hair loss, the best recommendation is to return to the physician for consultation. A little research work on your part is advisable also. It should be noted here, that many times falling hair will often end in spontaneous recovery.

The scalp is constructed similar to the skin elsewhere on the human body. However, larger and deeper follicles are present on the scalp to accommodate the longer hair of the head.

There is no way to tell with the naked eye if the hair is falling due to chemical services. Evident disorders can only be seen by viewing the hair under a polarized light. For this, you need to see a Trichologist; it helps determine the hair bulb’s stage and whether it is in a transitional quiescent stage, active stage and to a certain extent and whether it is a chemical disorder/damage due to TR. It even shows whether the hair is falling due to induced alopecia.

There are other classifications of hair loss.

For instance, some of the other issues one must consider are: 1) Do you have a suppressed menstruation? 2) Are you experiencing menopause? 3) Do you have excessive cramping at the onset of menstruation? 4) Do you experience excessive discharge during menstruation?

Pregnancy related post-partum alopecia.

This is temporary type of hair loss often noted two to three month after termination of a pregnancy. It can last from three months to a year, averaging about six months. The hair loss will be more noticeable in some women than others. In fact, some women have noted that the amount of loss and duration of the hair loss differed with each pregnancy.

Pregnancy and TR.

Typically, pregnant women's hormones fluctuate quite a bit during pregnancy and really don't normalize until after nursing is completed. Because hormones can cause some client’s hair to be very resistant to chemicals, I caution people to wait until after nursing. It can be done, but there are certain things you need to know. Please read my daughter’s post here.

Another thing that most pregnant women are aware of, normally the hair sheds quite a bit after birth and sometimes after nursing. It's generally assumed that the hair does not shed as much during the pregnancy, therefore getting a little thicker. After wards, the hair returns to its normal thickness, basically shedding off all the hair that didn't get shed in 9+ months.

If you straighten/TR your hair, and then you start shedding a lot of hair, I wouldn't worry! I wouldn't think it was the chemical straightener/TR at this point, but the natural shedding due to hormone balancing. Other than that, I have no real solid facts. You'll have to decide on your own.

Hair loss is a delicate subject and in no way a stylist or a Doctor attempt or imply any type of medical diagnosis, but is merely trying to aid in determining whether the loss of hair can be attributed to heredity, to internal medications, nutritional deficiencies, hormone problems, TR problems and/or other factors. The dermatologists just seem to have so little information about hair that they just stick to what they know. Most of the answer you might get from a dermatologist about my TR hair loss is "I don't know", "it could be that", "that's possible," nothing definite at all.

Armed with the language, we educate ourselves on certain subjects where we learn the fundamentals and disciplines related to hair. When we find a subject appealing, we want to learn more than just the basics, more than the fundamentals. We learn the disciplines – the proper mechanics. And we discipline ourselves to do it correctly. In essence, in order to master the subject, we do whatever it takes to own the information.

So, you say to yourself: “Where do I go from here?” I understand the language, and now I know how to take better care and to create beautiful hair, based on hair that is in optimum condition…simple, isn’t it?