Wednesday, 3 November 2010

Hair growing faster on one side of the head....why?

This question comes via twitter from Felicia Leatherwood (a real natural hair stylist!). Her question was why does hair grow faster on one part of the head than another?

1. Does it really?
The answer is, yes it can. Some studies have shown that hair at the back of the head tends to grow faster than the front of the head (Eur J Dermatol, pp 28–32, 2004). We are talking growth rate here. The experiment involved cutting the hair and then measuring its length after one month.

2. How big is the difference?
The difference was not really that much approximately quarter of an inch over the year.

3. So why the difference?
It actually seems to boil down to thickness of the hair strands (remember this is the reason why men's hair grows faster than women's).

4. A quarter of an inch is not much, what about several inches difference?
I have not seen a study showing this but this does not mean it is not possible naturally. I do think though that texture differences and handling are probably more likely to contribute to this effect. Many of us have noticed that our hair may look or behave differently on different parts of our head.....for example I have a smoother curl at the back of my head compared to the rest of my head which is most definitely not interested in forming spirals.

I think that when the difference in hair length begins to go into several inches, perhaps the focus should not be growth rate but rather retention of growth. The tighter the curl, the kinkier the hair, the more gently you need to treat it so it can keep up with the rest of the hair on your head.


14 comments:

  1. Could the way you sleep also contribute to a difference? If you're always sleeping on the same side, could that cause the hair on that side of the head to retain less growth than the other side due to increased friction, pressure, etc?

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    1. Yes, it keeps the hair from having oxygen during the night. Massaging the scalp can also stimulate blood circulations, resulting in growth.

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  2. Thanks for this posting. I have that problem. My hair seems to grow faster on the left side of my head than the right. It grew that way even when I had a relaxer. I thought it could be because I sleep on my right side and so I am constantly putting pressure or friction on the right side of my head. Is it possible that that can affect hair growth or growth retention? I do sleep with a satin bonnet or on a satin pillowcase and I think that helps.

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  3. Isn't that interesting that both Moni and Co Co asked the same question! I have no idea, I will see if something is published on the effect friction has on hair

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  4. This sounds like my hair. My hair grows faster in the back than it does in the front. Even though I have tried to keep my ends trimmed and keep all of my hair at an even length. The back always outgrows the front. I also believe that texture plays a part in it. I have looser curls in the back and tighter curls in the front. So I realize that my tighter curls are more fragile. So no matter how hard I try to trim it even, after a while I have that weird mullet look going on.

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  5. my hair on the left grows quicker (but its thinner that the right, my nails on the left grows faster my left boob is slightly bigger and my left arm ( i recently noticed in some pictures) is slightly longer than the right and my left foot is wider than my right...lol As a whole my left side seems to experience more growth I find this so funny.

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  6. I have an unrelated question. Can wearing my bun in the same place cause breakage? Lately I've been styling my hair in a bun at the back or top oc my head, then leaving it in the same bun all week, tying it down at night. The bun isn't that tight, since I use the scarf and a headband to help keep the sides smooth. Could I still be harming my hair?

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    Replies
    1. Yes ma'am. Very bad breakage actually. I'm a stylist && I've seen the worst ponytail && bun tragedies. Many ppl aren't aware that it stunts hair growth frm content use in the same place.

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  7. lol Shannie! Are you left handed?

    Moni - Usually with buns the worry is traction alopecia from pulling the hair too tight. If your bun is not too tight and your hair does not require pulling (i.e it is long enough to comfortably fit into the bun) then it should not be a problem

    I have seen articles discussing ballerina baldness caused by placing the bun in the same place but I have never seen any accompanying pictures nor have I ever seen any studies about it. I am convinced that these stories are not true because a doctor somewhere would have done a case study on it.

    I think buns or any other hair up styles are pretty good ways to protect hair provided the hair is long enough to get into the bun comfortably.

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  8. I've noticed the same difference in growth on my head recently. I am one year natural today-yay-and when I went to cut off the last of the scab hair the other night, I noticed that the back of my hair was toughing my collar and the front of my hair only barely passed my eyes...there is a texture difference, but I did find it to be strange either way.
    Thanks for the post!

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  9. Interesting post. My hair has different curl sizes and different textures. I'd never ask for a trim since the hair grows at significantly different rates. My issues are above my ears--porous and crown--normal porosity. It's hard to figure out what products and how much to put where. I don't mind finding out though. Natural hair rocks!

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  10. I think that the side of your body that you sleep on makes a difference. My aunt who is a hairstylist, was roller setting my hair one day and she said, "You sleep on your right side, don't you? " and she was right! She said she could tell because the right side was thinner,limp, and straggly towards the ends, whereas the left side of my head took to the roller set well, coming out bouncy and full. We sleep for hours at a time with all our body weight compressing our heads against the pillow, which can damage hair.

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  11. This happens to me. It's not really one side over the other, but it's like hair on the left side and the right side of my head grows faster than the hair in the back/middle of my head!!! It looks like I had an angled bob done, but I didn't! It's been about 5 months since my last hair cut and there's like a 1.5 inch difference in length! The guy who cuts my hair has even noticed it before! (and to answer questions above, friction might be a factor for some people, but I sleep on my side, so that's not why it happens to me.)

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    Replies
    1. Oops. Sorry. Reviving an old comment board...

      ... But I have the exact same problem as Emily!

      I found it funny to read "Some studies have shown that hair at the back of the head tends to grow faster than the front of the head (Eur J Dermatol, pp 28–32, 2004)" because for me it is the exact opposite!

      My hair in the front section (both left and right sides) grows faster than my hair in the middle & back of my head. And I recall it being this way ever since I was a little girl (I'm in my late 20s now). Like Emily I also sleep on my side and even on my tummy at times.

      What is wrong with me?!?

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