Medically reviewed by Katelyn Hagerty, FNP
Written by Our Editorial Team
Last updated 5/4/2021
If things went according to plan, your hair would witness around 1cm of growth every month— just about enough progress to attempt a man bun around the 12 month mark.
Instead, making 'progress' may not be the best description for the current state of your hair. If you're spending more time practising comb overs, or asking your reflection why your hair doesn't grow, you're in good company — more often than not, many people find that their hair refuses to grow for different reasons.
We'll be looking at factors that may be preventing your hair from growing. To get you on track to achieving your hair goals, we'll share a number of options that can help to stimulate growth.
Good question. On one hand, some activities you engage in could be directly responsible for hitting pause on the rate your hair increases in length and thickness.
On the other hand, conditions that stop hair growth could be entirely out of your control.
Some of the factors that prevent hair growth include:
Age is nothing but a number. However, that number can have far reaching effects on your body and its abilities, as the years roll by.
When it comes to the hair, production starts to slow down over gradual transitions that occur through the decades. Age alters and shortens the anagen phase, which just so happens to be the stage where the hair follicles grow.
In the same hairbreadth, the number of hairs you shed may increase from the usual 100 strands lost on a daily basis.
This may explain those thinning, missing hairs along your hairline, or why you may appear to be losing hair faster than it can grow back in other areas of your scalp.
Your genes may be to thank for the key features you appreciate the most - eye color, height, how you laugh, etc. However, these same inherited traits could just be the reason your hair won't grow back.
Pattern hair loss — which by the way, is the most common form of hair loss — is a hereditary condition. Around 50 percent of men between the ages of 30 and 50 will experience this condition.
Your hair stops growing when you're experiencing male pattern baldness or androgenetic alopecia because dihydrotestosterone — a hormone derived from testosterone — is genetically primed to act on hairs which are already certain to fall out.
If you notice that the hair at the crown or front of your hair has stopped growing, you're most likely experiencing MPB. If this is yet to occur, but notice one or more family members sporting tell-tale patches of missing hair, your chances of one day developing this condition may be increased.
Going through a stressful period can sometimes make you want to pull your hair out. But while you may hold back from physically yanking strands from your scalp, stress may take the baton from you and cause hair to stop growing in certain parts of the head.
If you've gone through a traumatizing period caused by factors like malnutrition, surgery, an illness etc, this can cause a significant number of anagen hairs to stop growing, and enter prematurely into the catagen phase. These hairs then enter the telogen phase where they begin to shed excessively. This condition is known as telogen effluvium.
You may notice your hair start to shed 3-4 months after the triggering event occurs.
However, this condition typically sees hair growth restart after about 6 months. In more severe cases, chronic forms of telogen effluvium may last longer.
If you're unsure of what is causing your stunted hair growth, then you may want to direct a few of your questions towards the thyroid gland located at the base of your neck.
Typically, the thyroid gland is responsible for producing the thyroid hormone, a key hormone for processes like metabolism, muscle, and digestive function, as well as hair health.
Where the thyroid gland is performing below its usual output in a process known as hyporhyroidism — this can cause scalp alopecia, as well as changes in hair texture.
Where sections of the hair stop growing because of an underactive thyroid, it is usually because the anagen phase is disrupted, causing hair loss without any replacements.
Beyond hypothyroidism however, other disorders of the thyroid such as Grave's Disease and Hashimoto's thyroiditis can lead to a noticeable loss of hair.
Healthy, growing hair may be the top of your wish list, but if you aren't taking appropriate care of your hair, chances are — it'll throw a tantrum and refuse to progress until you do.
Damaging practices like excessive heat styling, using harsh chemicals such as dyes and bleach on the hair, sporting too- tight hairstyles, and failing to clean your hair properly with gentle shampoo and conditioner can affect the how quickly, and how well the hair may grow.
What goes into your mouth has a big role to play in your health. By extension, how well or how poorly your hair is doing may be affected by how much vitamins, minerals, and other necessary nutrients are making their way to your strands.
In particular, nutrients like iron and magnesium which are essential to the hair formation process are a necessary part of your diet. Where they are absent or insufficient, this can prevent proper hair health and growth.
Likewise, despite being a rarity — inadequate amounts of vitamin H, otherwise known as biotin may also lead to hair loss.
In contrast, consuming too much of a nutrient may also encourage hair loss and hinder your chances of healthy hair growth. Having too much Vitamin A can encourage hair loss.
Now that you've seen the factors snipping away your chances at healthy hair growth, you'll be happy to know that there are different ways you can encourage your hair to increase in size, density and health. These hair treatment methods include:
Finasteride is a big deal when it comes to encouraging hair growth. This medication works to block dihydrotestosterone — a hormone in the scalp that causes hair loss.
It's pretty good at its job too, as confirmed by a 3-year study on 2561 men with androgenetic alopecia. Finasteride was found effective at growing hair into longer, better shape. Out of 87.1% of its participants, 11.1%, 36.5%, and 39.5% of its subjects recorded great, moderate and slight improvements in their hair.
These responses only improved as they continued to use finasteride.
It is one of two medications approved by the FDA for promoting hair growth.
Minoxidil works its hair-growing magic by essentially telling blood vessels on the scalp to open wide. It then feeds them with enough oxygen and nutrients necessary to grow. In foam or packaged as a solution, this treatment is recognized by the FDA as a safe way to improve hair growth.
Taking the time to treat your hair right can go a long way in encouraging its growth. This includes washing it gently with equally tender shampoo, using only professionals when applying color to your hair, keeping those heat styling tools off, eating healthy, and supporting hair growth with supplements like biotin to ensure proper hair growth.
Your hair is an important part of who you are, so it's understandable to get bothered by signs of poor health or any indicators that it isn't growing properly.
A number of factors may be responsible for stunted growth — some self-inflicted, others out of our hands. To encourage hair growth however, observing healthy hair care habits, and taking hair growth medication like minoxidil and finasteride can go a long way.
Learn more about caring for your hair here.
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