In short...yes, yep, oh yeah. It's the greatest hair mystery of womanhood, one month you have a thick shiny mane, and the next it seems like you've washed half of it down the drain. Turns out hair growth is yet another aspect of your body that ebbs and flows with hormonal changes. Acne, weight, and now hair? Thank goodness for chocolate cake! Hormones get such a bad rap, and well...frankly...they probably still will after this.
Our body hair, a.k.a androgenic hair is the thick, long, and dark hair that appears on our bodies during and after puberty. It replaces the sweet peach fuzz (vellus hair) of our childhood years. The growth of androgenic hair is related to the level of androgens; the hormones, including testosterone, that stimulate the development of male characteristics. As we go into puberty this hormone is responsible for our transition from vellus (fine) to androgenic (thick) hair in the pubic area, underarms, and at times...around our chin and lip. If you've ever bleached your lip hair you're familiar with the twisted sense of humor possessed by the genetic pool.
Both the body hair and hair on our heads have three stages, hence why we notice that we're shedding, then suddenly have a luscious head of locks, then boom...nearly bald again. These cycles are known as the anagen, catagen, and telogen phase.
This is the longest phase of the hair growth cycle, also called the "active growth" cycle.
On the head, this lasts for 2-6 years but is only a few months on the body. Phew! In this phase, the follicle is actively producing new cells and can grow 1/2 inch per month. The period of active growth is unique to you, and women with a long anagen phase can grow their hair much longer than those with shorter anagen phases. If you've ever wondered how your friend grows out her short cut to ponytail status in the blink of an eye, you now know it's her anagen phase at work.
This phase is the end of the active growth cycle and the follicle sheds the hair that has grown during the anagen phase. Welp...it was a good run. Lucky us this is the shortest phase of the growth cycle and lasts only 2-3 weeks. Tell that to your shower drain of course! Most of us want our body hair to follow suit and shed for years, but alas...
This is a period of rest for the hair as it prepares to enter another anagen phase. It's like HIIT for the hair! This dormant phase lasts 2-3 months before starting the active growth (anagen cycle) again.
Next time you're admiring your healthy locks, give your hormones a nod of gratitude. Between breakouts, muffin tops, and bad moods, they really don't catch any breaks.