Medically reviewed by Kristin Hall, FNP
Written by Our Editorial Team
Last updated 10/28/2022
From a receding hairline to diffuse thinning that affects your entire scalp, it’s far from unusual to lose some of your hair as you grow older.
The good news is that with treatment, many forms of hair loss can be slowed down, stopped, or even reversed, allowing you to grow new hair again.
Wherever you might be in your hair growth journey -- whether you’re trying to determine if you’re experiencing hair loss, or you’ve just started treatment for it -- understanding how to identify new hair growth can help to reduce any feelings of stress or frustration you might experience.
It can also give you peace of mind that you’re making progress towards a fuller, thicker head of hair, especially if you’re using medication like minoxidil or finasteride to prevent damage to your hair follicles and stimulate healthy hair growth.
Below, we’ve explained what new hair growth looks like, as well as what you can expect as your hair starts to regrow.
We’ve also shared some simple tips that you can use to keep your hair in a phase of growth and avoid common issues such as thinning, hair breakage and others.
Before we go into detail on what new hair growth usually looks like, let’s quickly explain why and how hair loss occurs in the first place.
Your hair grows as part of a multi-stage cycle referred to as the hair growth cycle. As part of this cycle, each and every hair follicle on your scalp and body passes through several stages of hair growth as new hairs grow to their full length, rest and eventually shed.
During the anagen phase of this cycle, your hair grows to its full length over the course of two to six years. It then enters the catagen phase, during which it enters into a resting state, and then the telogen stage, in which it completely stops growing and eventually sheds.
This process repeats itself for each active hair follicle on your body, resulting in a cycle of growth and shedding that allows you to maintain dense, thick hair throughout your life.
Hair loss usually occurs when this process is interrupted in specific stages of hair growth, either by damage to your hair follicles caused by male pattern baldness or a specific event, such as an illness or stressful experience.
In the case of male pattern baldness, a hormone called dihydrotestosterone (DHT) can attach to receptors located in your scalp and cause your hair follicles to shrink, reducing the length of the anagen stage of hair growth and causing your hair to gradually become thinner.
Since this process is caused by a combination of androgen hormones and genetic factors, this form of hair loss is often referred to as androgenetic alopecia.
Because male pattern baldness involves permanent damage to your hair follicles, any hair that you lose will usually be gone for good, at least once the hair follicle is seriously damaged.
While male pattern baldness is generally permanent, other issues may cause you to temporarily shed hair. These include:
Telogen effluvium, a form of hair shedding that can occur as a result of fever, nutritional deficiencies, metabolic stress, changes in your hormone levels, psychological stress or use of certain types of medication.
Hair loss due to fungal scalp infections, which can occur as a result of tinea capitis and other infections that occur in and around your hair follicles.
If you’re not sure which form of hair loss you have, taking part in a consultation with a hair loss professional can help you to learn more about what’s going on, as well as your options for hair regrowth.
If you’ve recently recovered from an illness that causes telogen effluvium or started using a hair loss treatment such as minoxidil or finasteride, you’ll likely expect to see some signs of new hair growth at a certain point.
Before we go over specific signs of hair regrowth, it’s important to get two major facts out of the way.
The first is that not everyone who treats their hair loss experiences noticeable hair growth, even with FDA-approved hair loss medications such as minoxidil and finasteride
According to one study published in the journal Dermatologic Therapy, 80.5 percent of men with hair loss who used finasteride and 59 percent of men who used minoxidil for one year displayed improvements.
Among men who used both medications at the same time, the improvement rate was higher, at just over 94 percent.
This is an excellent success rate, but it isn’t 100 percent. Put simply, not every man who uses a form of hair loss treatment will experience improvements in hair growth, meaning it’s best not to start treating your hair loss with the expectation that you’ll grow all of your “lost” hair back.
The second is that hair loss takes time, as your hair needs to enter the anagen phase of the hair growth cycle and start actively growing before any new growth will be noticeable.
Because of this, you’ll usually need to wait for at least eight to 12 weeks after starting treatment for hair loss (or after treating the underlying issue that causes telogen effluvium) before you’ll be able to see clear, positive signs of hair regrowth.
In other words, when it comes to treating hair loss and stimulating new hair growth, it’s important to be realistic and patient.
Now that you understand how hair loss occurs and how long it takes to grow back, how do you tell what new hair growth looks like?
Identifying new hair growth is generally simple -- just look for new baby hair strands in the parts of your scalp that show visible thinning. Over the course of a few months, you might notice new hairs growing through your skin and starting to “fill in the gaps” in your hairline.
Research suggests that healthy, normal human hair grows around 0.42 inches per month when it’s in the anagen phase of the hair growth cycle.
This means that it might take time for your hair to regain its previous length and level of density, even with regular use of hair growth treatments.
Early on, any of the new hair growth you experience may just look like dark spots on your scalp, which can form as the new hair root grows from the follicle. These new hairs might be easier to see if you have dark hair and a light skin tone.
If you’re struggling to see any new hair growth, one technique that could make it easier is taking regular progress photos.
By taking a photo in the same lighting conditions every month, you’ll be able to identify new hair growth as it occurs. Our guide to taking before and after photos for finasteride explains how you can take accurate photos and assess your hair growth progress over time.
It’s not just male pattern baldness and temporary hair loss that can make your hair look thin and lacking in scalp coverage.
Another common cause of perceived hair loss is broken hair, which can develop when your hair shaft (the visible part of your hair, which extends out from your scalp) becomes torn into multiple pieces.
Hair breakage typically occurs when you have damaged hair, which tends to be fragile and less able to withstand the pulling, rubbing and other pressures that occur on a daily basis.
This damage can occur as a result of harsh shampoos, gels and other hair care products, styles that pull on your hair follicles, or bad hair care habits, such as brushing your hair firmly while it’s wet.
Because hair breakage doesn’t cause your hair to physically fall out, assessing new hair growth can be more challenging. You may notice that your hair looks frizzy and unhealthy, or that some areas of your scalp look thinner than others due to shorter, broken strands of hair.
Just like with regrowth following hair loss, you can accurately assess hair growth after breakage by taking photos of your scalp and hairline every month, then comparing your hair’s density and coverage over time.
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If you’re beginning to lose your hair, medications like minoxidil and finasteride can stimulate new growth, allowing you to either prevent your hair loss from getting worse or, for most men, regrow some of the hair you’ve lost.
Minoxidil works by moving your hair follicles into an active phase of hair growth, promoting extra blood flow to your scalp and extending the length of your hair’s anagen phase.
Finasteride, on the other hand, works by stopping your body from producing DHT, shielding your hair follicles from miniaturization and damage.
We offer both medications as part of our Hair Power Pack, which also includes helpful hair care products for maintaining your scalp and hair health.
If you use medication for hair loss, it’s important to continue taking it after you notice the signs of new hair growth. This means applying minoxidil to your scalp twice a day, and taking finasteride on a daily basis.
Stopping either of these medications early may cause your hair to start falling out again, causing you to lose progress.
In addition to using medication for hair loss, it’s important to practice good hair care habits, such as washing your hair when it starts to feel early, conditioning your hair often, avoiding excessive brushing and protecting your hair and scalp from sunlight.
Our guide to men’s hair care tips goes into more detail about these habits and explains how you can make them part of your daily hair care routine.
For the most part, hair growth is easy to see -- just look for new hairs in areas of your scalp that have visible thinning. These hairs may start out as small dark spots on your scalp as they begin to grow from the hair follicle and out through your skin.
If you’ve recently started to use medication to treat hair loss, taking a photo of your hairline and scalp on a monthly basis can make identifying new growth and tracking your progress easier.
Since your hair requires time to grow, patience is key when it comes to restoring hair. Focus on practicing good habits and check your hair on a weekly or monthly basis for signs of recent hair growth, not every day.
Interested in getting started? We offer a range of evidence-based hair loss medications online, making it easier than ever to protect your hair follicles, avoid male pattern baldness and retain your hairline as you grow older.