Medically reviewed by Kristin Hall, FNP
Last updated 11/17/2021
Genetics can be mysterious: You might have curly hair and your sibling has straight hair. Your mom might have blue eyes and yours are brown. The list goes on.
But genetics can also offer insight into your current health, future health, and in some cases, your hair and future hair growth.
That’s right. Is hair growth genetic? Read on to find out how hair growth relates to your genetic makeup, as well as what to know about hair growth in general.
Research shows that genetic factors can affect not just hair growth, but your strands’ thickness, shade and even texture.
Studies have also shown that genetics can relate to hair loss, greying and even diseases that affect hair.
If you have a medical condition that leads to hair loss, that could be related to genetics, for example.
The jury is out when it comes to hair-growth specifics, however, and how that all relates to genetics, although researchers can confirm connections between genetics and hair-related events.
The hair cycle for growth has three stages which include the anagen, catagen and telogen phases.
The anagen phase is when the hair grows (the growth phase), and typically lasts two to six years.
The catagen phase is when the hair follicle transitions over a period of about three weeks, and the telogen phase is when the hair follicle rests for a period of about three months.
Many consider the exogen phase of the cycle to be a ‘hair-growth’ stage as well, which is when the follicle releases the hair to make room for new growth.
Hormones and your age can impact hair growth, and of course, genetics can relate to your hormonal makeup.
Androgens are a type of hormone you may have heard mentioned a lot when it comes to hair.
Androgens like testosterone factor into hair growth, and in fact are to thank for the location of your hair growth.
Other hormones like estradiol and progesterone have also been found to impact the hair growth cycle.
The stress hormone cortisol relates to your body’s stress response but can also impact your hair growth.
Research shows that when high cortisol levels are present, it can affect the normal function of hair follicles and negatively impact hair growth.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, a major factor in your hair growth is your stage of life. It’s incredibly common to experience hair loss and greying hair with age.
As mentioned earlier, hair loss has been shown to often relate to genetics.
Scientists who conducted a UK-based study used data from over 52,000 male participants to examine men’s hair loss patterns and medical histories to learn more about hair loss and how genetics might play a role.
The researchers found over two hundred genetic connections relating to male pattern baldness (androgenetic alopecia).
The genetic relationship with hair loss isn’t as simple as thinking that because your father might be bald, that you’ll end up that way, too. Multiple genetic factors come into play when it comes to your hair.
Despite multiple findings showing hair loss to be genetic, there is not yet substantial research about reversing genetic hair loss.
Although you cannot reverse hair loss, there are ways to treat it and slow it down.
Here are three popular treatment options:
Topical minoxidil has been shown to help prevent the progression of balding. Specifically, a 5%solution has been shown to help with hair regrowth.
Minoxidil can cause irritation or an allergic reaction for some men, so consult with a healthcare professional if you know you have sensitive skin or related concerns.
Finasteride is another proven option to help slow down baldness. While effective, it can take up to six months to see major results from finasteride, and for some men, up to a year.
A more extreme and less common option for hair loss is hair surgery. There are different methods of hair transplantation, but all include some type of significant alteration to the scalp.
As with the rest of your physical attributes, genetics can be fairly mysterious, and that fact remains the same when it comes to hair growth.
You might even sport the same hairline or pattern of hair loss as your grandfather.
You may also inherit certain conditions that could affect your hair health.
Leading a healthful lifestyle and reducing your stress and anxiety levels can help lower your risks of hair loss from non-genetic factors.
A healthcare professional can help you determine what might be causing your hair loss, and help you identify optimal hair loss treatment options.
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