4c hair growth explained
Whether you recently started your natural hair journey or have been natural for a while, you probably asked yourself one question before. How does hair grow? Especially 4c hair, which seems to grow at a much slower pace than its’ caucasian counterparts.
Turns out understanding the science of hair, can help you take better care of your 4c hair and expedite your growth. Instead of hoping your 4c hair will grow miraculously overnight, studying the hair growth cycle and using your newfound knowledge to your advantage will allow you to grow fuller, thicker, and healthier natural hair.
That’s why in today’s article we are diving deep into the 4c hair growth stages so that you can grow long hair easily.
4c Hair Structure
Hair consists of two distinct structures. The hair follicle, which is the “living” part under the skin and the hair shaft, which is the “nonliving” part above the skin.
While you can’t see the hair follicles they are the essential growth structure of your hair that contains the active cells which grow your natural hair. They are small, pocket-like holes in your skin that push the hair upwards. Every human being has about 100,000 hair follicles in their scalp alone. And the shape of them determines your natural hair pattern and whether your hair is straight, wavy, curly, or kinky.
The hair shaft on the other hand is the visible hair that grows out from the follicle. It is made up of a well-known protein called “Keratin” and the cuticle. Keratin is a strong protein that is very resistant and the same material that your nails are composed of as well. The hair cuticle is your hair’s protective layer which prevents damage to your hair’s inner structure.
4c Hair Growth Stages
There are three stages in the 4c hair growth cycle, which stretch from the active growth phase (Anagen) over the transition phase (Catagen) to the resting phase (Telogen).
1. Anagen: The Growth Phase
The Anagen phase is known as the growth stage because in this stage the hair bulbs split rapidly creating new hair growth. Your hair is well-connected to blood vessels inside your scalp which feeds your hair with the necessary nutrients, thus promoting growth.
In this stage, your hair grows around half an inch per month and around 6 inches per year. The length of the growing stage determines the length of your hair. For most people, the Anagen phase lasts between 2-5 years but highly depends on your genetics, age, healthy, and many other factors.
2. Catagen: The Transition Phase
The second phase of the 4c hair stages is called Catagen. This period only lasts around 10 days, which is very short compared to the first. In that phase the hair transitions from active to inactive, by detaching itself from the blood supply and the hair follicle shrinks.
That’s when your hair stops growing because your hair shaft seals into a rounded structure called a club and moves upward.
3. Telogen: The Resting Phase
The final phase in the hair growth cycle is the Telogen stage which begins with a resting period. In this period the club hair rests in the root while new begins to grow underneath it. Once the Telogen period is over the club hair will fall out and make space for the new hair come through the hair follicle.
This phase of the 4c hair growth stages can last up to three months and is part of the natural hair cycle. Due to the vast amount of hair follicles, this process goes mostly unnoticed, because each one is independent and falls out at a different time.
How to Maximize the 4c Hair Growth
For maximum hair growth, your hair needs to stay in the Anagen phase for as long as possible. Because this stage is the longest of the three 4c hair stages and determines how long your hair will grow.
In order to support that goal, you have to pay close attention to your diet, lifestyle, and 4c hair regimen. Use products that care for your hair by providing sufficient nutrients and moisture and avoid using tools that will damage your hair cuticles and disrupt the growth cycle. Some of the ways to extend the Anagen phase are:
Increase your vitamin intake
By now it is no secret that vitamins stimulate hair growth. They help your scalp stay healthy by increasing the blood flow and helping the hair follicles receive as many nutrients as needed. Luckily, you can take vitamins through different avenues. Hair is known to grow at a faster rate during summer, which is due to Vitamin D. Vitamin A and C produce sebum which is needed to add moisture to your scalp thus strengthening the hair shaft. And lastly, Vitamin E is an antioxidant that promotes healthy hair growth as well.
Improve your diet
As mentioned above, the hair shaft is mostly composed of the protein Keratin. Therefore it is a great practice to include different proteins, into your diet to stimulate hair growth. If you want to give your hair a boost during the Anagen phase, then you need to eat a variety of protein-rich foods, such as meat, nuts, eggs, and Avocados.
Use stimulating oils
One great oil that stimulates new hair growth during the 4c hair stages is Coconut Oil. Due to its weight and structure, the oil directly sinks into the hair follicles rather than sitting on top of your hair. Therefore, it penetrates your natural hair better and helps stimulate growth at the root. But that is not all. On top of promoting growth, it also serves as a natural protective barrier to your hair and prevents damage to the hair follicles.
Protect your hair
As we all know 4c hair grows at the same rate as any other hair type, however, due to its structure it is more prone to breakage. Therefore, the best way to extend the Anagen stage is to retain as much growth as you can. The best way to prevent hair from breaking is to protect it from tension and friction. One very simple action is to replace your cotton pillowcase with silk to avoid friction while you sleep. And another simple step is to detangle your hair with your fingers, rather than a comb. You want to avoid manipulating your hair in order to keep the cuticle layer intact.
Using the right products
Last, but not least of course you have to make sure that you use the right 4c hair growth products for you. Understanding what type of natural hair you have and how to best take care of it, is what will ultimately allow you to grow your 4c hair overnight. A well-thought-through length retention regimen for 4c hair that includes a moisturizer, oil, and cream to perform the LOC method will provide optimal strength and keep your hair shiny for days. Just make sure that you use products that provide moisture, detangle your natural hair with ease, and cleanse it without stripping all your natural oils.
As you can see maximizing har growth and gets much easier once you understand the 4c hair stages and how natural hair works.