Question of the Week

Clean Cut Hair Grows Quicker?

Sun, 9th Mar 2008

Listen Now    Download as mp3 from the show Naked Science Q&A Show


Jay Razel, North Carolina asked:

If you don't cut and /or wash your hair, does it grow any slower?


Professor Des Tobin, University of Bradford:

Unlike most other mammals, we have a very specific personal care and hygiene regime.  Washing doesn't affect the hair growth itself except for some effect you may get from massaging the scalp as you are washing the hair by ensuring optimal blood circulation in the scalp, which may have some positive benefits for the hair follicle itself.  Shaving does not impact on the quality of the actual hair fibre produced in that the hair is a dead entity above the surface of the skin.

DreadlocksThere is a perception of thickened hair re-growth because if you were to cut it with a sharp instrument like a razor you would end up getting a sharpened end of the hair at its thickest point rather than that more fine, tapered end.  Hair growth is very important for the success of the mammal and nature has provided enormous back-up systems to ensure that the hair continues to grow.  In the wild you can imagine the loss of a coat would really be disastrous for a mammal in terms of thermoregulation or camouflage etcetera.  As a result the skin has invested enormous power into maintaining the hair follicle.  That's why it's hard to grow when you want it to grow or stop growing when you want it to stop growing.  That's because the principal driver for hair growth is hormonal, especially in those areas of the body with changed hair pattern after puberty. 

There's a lot of clinical evidence to suggest that if you have abnormalities of the endocrine system or the hormone system you can have altered patterns of hair growth: either too much or too little.


Subscribe Free

Related Content


Make a comment

I think that hair grows at the rate predetermined by genetics.. however.. I also think that massage, as you do when you wash and brush your hair, stimulate blood flow to the scalp and possibly has an effect on health of the hair.

/guess mode JnA, Wed, 5th Mar 2008

If you clean cut the hair should grow faster and the rate of growth will slow down as it grows. For example seikhs of india dont cut their hair but the growth slows down and eventually it stops growing. As otherwise their lock of hair will be bigger than their head. eroshik, Thu, 6th Mar 2008

The limit of hair growth is not because the hair stops growing, but because the hair falls out when it gets too long (I guess that is one way it stops growing).  OK, strictly speaking, I believe it is not the length of the hair that matter so much as how long it has been growing, but if it is not cut, then the length of time it is growing should have a constant relationship to its ultimate length. another_someone, Thu, 6th Mar 2008

Not sure about if uncut hair grows slower than short hair  but thinking about it as the human body is a marvel of natural engineering with the ability to sense and react naturally to changes in our enviroment and lifestyles in ways that we are still discovering I could see the hair follicle being naturally designed to notice the extra pull due to the weight of the long hair and therefore changing the output from normal growth length wise to growth thickness or density wise strengthening the hair so it becomes less prone to breakage due too weight effectivly slowing down its growth.

That could be a load of bull, but sounds feasible 

As far as why hair will not keep getting longer for ever is because hair follicles turn on and off.

I Believe while some are growing others are laying dormant producing no growth for a few months or so and during this time the hair in the dormant follicle will break off.  when that follicle then turns on others will have turned off preventing hair from gaining in length for ever.

And is also probably why i look a bit greyer in the winter as the majority of my grey hairs seem to be in full growth during this time whilst during mid summer many of my grey hairs seem to lay dormant. 

ukmicky, Fri, 7th Mar 2008

Doesn't seem to work like that for me and it's from whether or not, I am well or poorly. That might be genetic thing as my Mother's hair was thin,
but mine is thick and heavy. A complete difference in our DNA makeup. rosalind dna, Sat, 8th Mar 2008

I love that woman's dreads! Em, Sun, 22nd Nov 2009

See the whole discussion | Make a comment

Not working please enable javascript
Powered by UKfast
Genetics Society