4c hair growth stages 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 science of black hair. I’ll explain the different 4c hair growth stages to you so that you can avoid 4c hair breakage and instead cultivate new growth.
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 stage (Telogen). By understanding each natural hair stage, you will be able to help your hair get to its maximum length possible.
Anagen: The Growth Phase
The Anagen phase is known as the growth stage because in this stage each hair bulb splits 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. This is why a balanced diet is so important if you want to grow longer hair.
In this stage, your hair grows around half an inch per month and around 6 inches of hair per year. The length of the growing stage determines the length of your hair. For most people, the Anagen stage lasts between 2-5 years. But that highly depends on your genetics, age, health, and many other factors.
Catagen: The Transitional Phase
The second phase of the 4c hair stages is called the Catagen phase. This period only lasts around 10 days, which is very short compared to the first. In the catagen stage, 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.
Telogen: The Resting Phase
The final phase in the natural hair growth cycle is the Telogen phase which begins with a resting period. In the Telogen stage, the club rests in the roots of your hair while new hair begins to grow underneath it. Once the Telogen period is over the hair club will fall out and make space for the new hair to come through the hair follicle.
The final stage of the 4c hair growth phases 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 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 strands 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 increase blood flow and provide your hair follicles with as many nutrients as needed, which leads to a healthy scalp. 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 Vitamin C producing 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. You can increase your vitamin intake by using these simple hair vitamin gummies.
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 type 4c 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 natural hair 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. A great alternative to coconut oil are essential oils, which will improve your hair growth rate as well.
Protect your 4c hair
In contrast to common belief, 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 thing you can do to grow your hair waist length is to avoid hair loss at any cost. The good news is, there are very easy ways to prevent your natural hair from breaking:
- Protect it from tension and friction by replacing your cotton pillowcase with silk pillowcases to avoid friction while you sleep.
- 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.
- Use protective styling whenever possible to give your hair a break from all that touching and combing.
- Get regular trims to avoid split ends from attacking the entire strand of hair
- Avoid using hot tools on your natural 4c hair. Too much heat can have a tremendous impact on your hair health.
Use the right hair products
Last but not least, 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 long 4c hair.
A well-thought-through length retention regimen for 4c hair that includes deep conditioning every other week as well as a good 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 growing long hair gets much easier once you understand the different phases of hair growth and how to best take care of your 4c hair type.