Dirty Hair Grows Slower?

Does long, dirty hair grow slower? Will washing or cutting your locks make them grow more quickly? And does cut hair grow back thicker?
10 March 2008
Presented by Diana O'Carroll


This week, we tackle the hirsute - will clean, trimmed hair grow quickly?& Can you slow the growth with neglect?& We find out if cut hair grows back quicker and thicker, or if that's just an urban myth.& Also, we ask how tide times are so precise, and why people lose their accent when they sing...

In this episode

Dreadlocked young woman

00:00 - Clean Cut Hair Grows Quicker?

Can you slow the growth of your hair by refusing to wash or cut it? Does clean cut hair grow quicker?

Clean Cut Hair Grows Quicker?

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. There 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.


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