Why Has My Hair Stopped Growing Longer?

The Answer to Why Your Hair Keeps Growing, but Never Gets Longer

Does your hair obviously continue to grow (thanks, re-growth) but seem to never get longer? Have you been trying to grow your hair longer for years, but it just seems to stop getting longer at a certain length? Have you tried every product possible to grow your hair out faster, but it's just stalled out for no apparent reason? Are you in constant wonder why some of your friends seem to be able to grow long beautiful hair, but yours just doesn't measure up?

You're not alone. In fact, this is one of the questions I'm asked most in the salon. The answer isn't the same for everyone, but finding the answer simply means figuring out what your particular issue is.

When Was Your Last Haircut?

While it can seem counter-intuitive, getting a haircut is often the simplest solution to your problem. No, cutting your hair doesn't actually make it grow faster. Hair is essentially dead after it grows out of your scalp, so nothing that you do to the ends of your hair can physically speed up the rate at which it grows out of your head. However, split dry brittle ends break very easily. Allowing your split ends to take over the length of your hair causes continued breakage that becomes more rapid as time goes on. The longer you allow your split ends to hang out, the more your hair breaks off from the bottom, causing it to actually get shorter. Regular haircuts that keep split dry ends at by will prevent that breakage and allow the growth of your hair to be normal.

Are You Taking Care of Your Hair?

If getting more frequent haircuts makes you nervous, or you find yourself chasing your split ends like an old Road Runner episode, you may need to take better care of your hair to prevent split ends from happening in the first place. Repairing split ends is an impossible task (once a hair is split, you can't truly seal it back together), but you can prevent split ends by keeping your hair hydrated with regular conditioning treatments and by using high-quality hair products on your hair.

Long hair takes maintenance to keep it healthy and moisturized.

Limiting damaging chemical services like highlights and hair color will also help protect your long hair. It doesn't mean you don't get to color your hair altogether (although natural hair color is ideal for super long hair), but you will want to keep the hair color off your ends to prevent further damage. Ask your colorist to only touch up the roots and blend to the midshaft, rather than coloring the entire length of your hair.

Your DNA Might be Working Against You

If you're trimming your hair at regular intervals, taking great care of your hair, but still noticing that your hair growth has stalled, you might have reached your hair's length potential as determined by the biology of your hair. I can hear you arguing with me because your best friend's hair has reached her waist and yours is barely past your shoulders. Let me explain.

Hair (all hair, every hair, including your nose hair) grows in stages. There are three stages of hair growth: catagen, telogen, and anagen. Each hair is pre-programmed by your DNA to spend a specific amount of time at each stage of growth. You can read more about the specifics of these growth stages here.

Basically what you need to understand is that every hair on your head (and the rest of your body) grows for a specific length of time and then stops, sheds, and a new hair grows in its place. When a new hair doesn't grow in its place, hair loss is a result, but that's a whole other conversation.

Hair can actively grow for an average of 2-6 years on your head; everyone is different, of course. As you can imagine if your hair actively grows for two years and your best friend's hair actively grows for 6 years before shedding, then your best friend's hair will obviously have a growth potential that's much longer than yours.

Additionally, because humans are complicated, some people's active growth cycle can last less than 2 years, and others can be much longer than 6 years. Hair grows, on average, 6-inches per year.

If your individual active growth cycle is only a couple of years, you can only expect your hair to max out at a length of 12-inches.

While that really seems like an unfair deal, it only gets worse. There's not a lot you can do about it. A healthy diet, and taking impeccable care of your hair and scalp can help, but modifying your DNA isn't exactly an option.