Beard Hair Growth Cycle 101

Beard Hair Growth Cycle 101

The 4 Crucial Phases of Beard Hair Growth

Growing a beard takes time, patience, and knowledge! We need to understand how our hairs are structured and how they grow. Hair is made up of a very resistant to wear and tear proteins called keratin, which is the same protein that nails, hoofs, feathers, and claws. Keratin proteins are held together by chemical bonds which give your hair its flexibility. Now, let us go back to the basics and to get a full understanding our hair!


Biology of Hair

On average, humans have 120,000 hairs on their scalp. It’s also been noted that people with blonde hair tend to have more hair and people with red hair have less. Healthy hair strands can not only stretch up to 30% of its length, but also absorb its weight in water and swell up to 20% of its diameter! How remarkable is that!?

Figure 1. Chemical bonds in hair structure.

The chemical bonds that hold together the protein structures of the hair shaft are known as disulphide and hydrogen bonds. Why do we need to know this, you might be thinking? Well, while the curliness or straightness of your hair depends on the shape of the follicle, it’s the disulphide bonds that keep the hair in the shape it was formed. Disulphide bonds are the ones that give our hair its elasticity and strength, whilst hydrogen bonds are weaker and more numerous. When your hair is wet, they are easily broken and can be temporarily reset with heat (until they become wet again).


Hair Follicles

Firstly, what is a hair follicle? Hair follicles are small, pocket-like holes in our skin that grow hair. Hair has two distinct structures: the hair shaft (a thin, flexible cylinder of dead keratinised cells) and the hair bulb which contains the capillaries and nerve (hair papilla). There is an inner and outer sheath that protect and form the growing hair shaft.

The hair shaft is made up of a cortex, surrounding cuticle cells, and sometimes a central medulla which is found in thicker hair. The bulk of the hair shaft belongs to the cortical layer which plays an important role in determining the physical and mechanical properties of the hair (i.e., strength, texture, and colour).       

 Cross-section diagram of the structure of hair integrated in the skin (epidermis)

Figure 2. Cross-section of human hair strand integrated in the skin (epidermis).


Time to look at the hair growth cycle below

the four phases of the hair growth cycle

Figure 3. Hair growth cycle

The Anagen Phase (Growing Phase)

Beard growth starts under the skin during the anagen phase. It is the most active phase as the cells in the root of the hair follicles divide at a rapid rate. During this phase, the hair grows around 1cm (approx. half-inch), or more per month continuously for 3-4 years, even if you shave!

Note: The anagen phase is different for every area in the body.

The Catagen Phase (Transition Phase)

Catagen is the shortest of the three phases and represents the ‘transitional’ phase, which only lasts two to three weeks. This is when your hair learns to become independent and prepares itself to dislodge from the roots and the blood supply. Hair growth stops during catagen phase, and hair strands become separated from the hair follicles and attach to the skin. Additionally, the blood supply to the hair is cut off completely.

The Telogen Phase (“Resting”/Maintenance Phase)

It is widely accepted that there is no significant activity happening during the telogen phase, but recent studies have shown us that this “resting” phase plays a vital role in the active maintenance of the hair fibre and the prompt response to hair follicle loss. The hair follicles switch to a ‘regenerative’ mode. Approximately 10-15% of the hairs in your beard will be in the telogen phase.

The Exogen Phase (Shedding Phase)

Some experts consider the exogen phase part of the telogen stage, but for the purpose of this blog, it is considered a fourth phase. During the exogen phase, hair sheds off. This phase can last between 2 to 5 months. Now the whole process can begin again.


Hair Colour

Hair gets its colour from the pigment melanin, produced by melanocytes (specialized skin cell that produces the protective skin-darkening pigment melanin) in the hair papilla (see Figure 1.). Different hair colour results from differences in the type of melanin, which is genetically determined. As a person ages, the melanin production decreases, which means our hair starts to lose its colour and becomes grey and/or white.


What happens when the Hair Growth Cycle is disrupted?

Each hair follicle is independent meaning they go through the hair growth cycle at different times – otherwise all our hair would fall out at once! We only shed a certain number of hairs a day, typically 80-100 hairs on a healthy head of hair.

Research has shown that around 12 weeks after a restrictive dieting or a high fever, you may experience telogen effluvium (sudden hair loss that usually happens after stress, a shock, or a traumatic event). This happens when the anagen phase is cut short, and pushing hairs enter the telogen phase at the same time. This results in an increase amount of hair fall during the exogen phase.

If your hair growth cycle is constantly disrupted (i.e., not supported by good nutrition or hair products), you may find your hair follicles won’t reach their full length due to the hairs never being able to stay in anagen phase (growth phase) long enough.

Choose the right products!

Choosing the right products for hair growth can be overwhelming, so we’ve simplified it for you. Our range of uniquely crafted beard oilsbeard balms and solid shampoos contain the right oils, vitamins and nutrients need to provide the hair follicles an optimal environment for growth and balance. You can read more about the benefits of beard oil and beard balms on our other blog posts.

Balanced Nutrition

The foods we eat affect how our hair grows and the quality. Certain proteins, fats, vitamins, and minerals are especially important in this hair growth process. Having a well-balanced diet will potentially help promote hair growth.  You can read up in more detail about how nutrition can help promote hair growth on our other post here.




Disclaimer:  This blog is solely intended for the educational/informational/awareness purposes and is not a substitute for any medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Please consult your doctor/healthcare professional before acting on the information provided on this blog. Reliance on any or all the information provided in the blog, is solely at your own risk and responsibility. Levee + Lowe™ shall not be held liable, in any circumstances.



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