Friday, 8 January 2010

Trimming for longer hair?

Here is Friday's food for thought! Trimming could allow your hair to attain a longer length. It sounds strange but what my fellow lab rats discovered is that hair will grow until it reaches a critical length when it appears to grow slowly or not at all (Journal of the Society of Cosmetic Chemists, pg 155-75, 1978.).

To understand why this happens, I will start by explaining why hair starts to taper (meaning the strand becomes thinner as it gets farther away from the scalp). Simply put, the cuticle wears away. Remember that the cuticle is not just one layer, it has several layers to it (jog your memory by clicking here).

As the hair grows from scalp to tip, the damage to the cuticle increases
because the hair at the tip is older and has been subjected to more torture (combing,wetting, drying, roller setting, heat setting........etc).

Cutting the tip of the hair off may be an excellent way to possibly trigger a new longer length. I will leave the lengthy explanation for Monday and leave you with this diagram to digest during the weekend!! Happy Friday all!!

22 comments:

  1. I've always heard that trimming makes your hair grow longer, but I thought that was an old wive's tale. Thanks for this post!

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  2. Awesome! So glad you're back, Happy New Year;-)

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  3. Um... this post is awesome!!! I have been WONDERING about this for months now!!

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  4. I knew it! I've always been a big fan of regular trims. Can't wait to hear more. Good to have you back. ;-)

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  5. Enjoyed this post like all the others! Can't wait for Monday to hear part 2.

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  6. What scientific facts is the based on? I still can not fathom how cutting your hair at the ends can change what is happening at the follicle or root. You seem to be saying that this can n=be possible but that is not saying much.

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    1. I do not think it changes what happens at the root but rather when you cut the thinning ends and your hair continues to grow the ends are healthier and thicker because you would have cut away the frayed bits (your ends now look like a stge 2). Also the more often you trim the better the overall health of the growing hair.

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  7. @vkb247 - The scientific paper is referenced at the beginning of the post. The paper discusses cutting off damaged hair which appears to be static in terms of growth. When a shorter healthier strand of hair is left behind it can reach a longer length (simply put, less damage to the strand means the hair can keep growing for longer).

    If ofcourse you have reached your terminal hair length then if you trim the hair, it will grow back to the same previous length.

    Please feel free to find the the science paper which is available online in full text.

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  8. I had a look at the article and maybe I am "splitting hairs" but it doesn't indicate that less damage to the strand means the hair can keep growing longer.

    When the cuticle layers are reduced breakage is the consequence so trimming can promote length retention but the hair strand is growing one way or another.

    It seems to me that study was emphasizing gently treat of hair strands for those who want to grow longer hair and that combing/brushing along with sun exposure seem to cause the most damage outside of harsh chemicals and other styling tools.

    Of course, if you do not treat hair very gentle then trimming on a regular basis is likely going to be the best option for you to prevent breakage and maintain healthy hair strands from root to tip.

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  9. @vkb247 - Yes the article does indicate that less damage to the hair can allow it to reach a new longer length. This is evidenced by their equations and was also stated again in the conclusion.

    The cuticle loss fracture mechanism that they refer to is the key point of my post and really majority of the data they present is aimed at understanding this. They do mention that in order for hair to reach its maximum length then it should be handled gently in order to retain more cuticle layers (i.e more cuticle = more length)

    So in short, I don't understand the crux of your argument really.
    1. The paper does state explicitly that more cuticle layers contribute to the maximum length attainable.
    2. I have not at any point said that trimming will change the growth rate of hair.
    3. I have said consider trimming if hair length appears to be static. (Note, I did say appears). Certainly if hair is continuously growing without appearing to be stagnant then it probably doesn't need trimming except for shaping or choice.

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  10. The crux of my argument is that trimming does not impact hair growth it can only impact growth retention.

    Furthermore, as the first comment suggests, it is so often said (particularly by stylists) that trimming is crucial (particularly when growing the hair long) when that simply isn't or doesn't have to be true. Taking extra care with and attention to hair, especially the older ends, will do much more for hair retention than trimming ever could.

    I promise this is my last comment on the matter and I am sorry if I have been a complete pain in the butt! I mean no harm.

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  11. @vkb247 - I don't think you are a pain at all. I think science is about debate and I appreciate a good debate - so you are more than welcome to comment as much as you like.

    I really cannot clarify any further than my last comment. I do not disagree with you on treating hair gently. I also do not disagree with you on the fact that for some people trimming may not be necessary. However, there is a case for trimming hair, this is what I have presented.

    There are certainly many people who do not maintain a regular trimming schedule and have long hair - for example Teri of tightly curly. There are those who do trim regularly and have long hair too such as Sera on fotki. So it works both ways.

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  12. Thank you both JC and VKB, this dialouge has actually helped me to better understand hair and this site!

    As always, great blog!

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  13. Wow I loved this post its helping a lot!

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  14. Very interesting, even though trimming does not make your hair grow. Hair is not perfect you are gonna have split ends regardless and you can cut till you are bald headed,lol and they will still be splitting,lol. Since, I've been growing my hair for longer than ten years and I don't trim on a regular basis it could be years or months before I do any trim and that's only if I really get annoyed with scraggly ends then I might just trim less than half of inch of them off. Even despite the damage my hair is still thick, longer, and fuller because I don't cut it, What I do is pretty simple just take care of the hair in general from root to ends and babying my delicate ends they are more healthier because I moisturize, condition, and oil them very well, you wouldn't even know I had split ends because I care for them so well and because of wonderful ingredients in products out there that fill in those gaps like cermides, proteins, natural lipids, keratins,silicones and etc.

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  15. But can someone please tell me how often one should get the trims? This is really interesting and I would love to try, considering I have the most damaged hair in the WORLD.

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  16. Anon see the following post

    http://thenaturalhaven.blogspot.com/2010/01/trimming-how-much-and-how-often.html

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  17. i had beautiful hair and want to grow it out but my split ends became worse and lookk just like the example above. i have beatiful ethiopian hair and and want more out of it. it seems that im just gonna cut the damaged hair.are their like any ethipian hair salons????

    an what are some other things i do to my hair to help it be healthier cause i sort of blow dry/ flat iron it frequeently.

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  18. While I believe trimming will help reduce damage in order to help retain length, can you explain: if hair is dead, how does trimming create a growth spurt, or as you put it 'trigger a longer length'? I tend to dust my ends when they are loooking wispy, though I think I could do with removing at least a 1/4". Thanks in advance, and keep up the good work.

    AT little off topic, but where can I buy cetrimonium bromide in the UK? I can only find cetrimonium chloride.

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    1. Trimming does not trigger a growth spurt, it triggers a longer length because the hair is able to overcome its previous breaking cycle - the lengthy explanation is here ( http://www.thenaturalhavenbloom.com/2010/01/trimming-how-much-and-how-often.html)

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    2. Only if your hair has stopped growing because it reached its terminal length, the trimmed hair will grow back up to that length but never past it, we can see that in our body hair, otherwise the hair is still actually growing, but apparently not because the tip is consumed like when you sharpen a pencil tip. If the splitting travels down faster or as fast as the hair grows, it will seem like that hair is not growing.
      Though a portion of some people's hair apparently never sheds, like our nails and that's why it seems like they grow forever or at least longer than the duration of their life and/or their hair's health, you know, those who can grow hair past the floor level. Apparently not all of their hair works that way cause some of them shed much shorter, this is also why the amount of hair that reaches that far long is much sparser.

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  19. This theory is correct. I'm a living witness of regular trims. At first, I was a bit skeptical, but I've seen the results. My hair has definitely grown and it looks so much healthier. You may lose a little hair, but you gain more in the long run.

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