Did you know that hair grows on every part of the body, except the soles of your feet, palms of your hands, eyelids, belly button, and lips? That’s a lot of hair growing, and re-growing throughout your lifetime. Of course, body hair growth rates vary significantly from one area of the body to another. Plus, hair growth varies significantly from one individual to another. The same is true for the rate at which hair grows back after being plucked, shaved, waxed, or otherwise removed.
Types of Hair on the Body
– Body hair is meant to protect your skin and help regulate body temperature, which is why it grows almost everywhere. The type of hair that grows on the greatest surface are of the body is vellus hair. Vellus is thin, soft, and more transparent than terminal hair. Terminal hair comes from larger follicles, and is long, coarse, and pigmented. Terminal hair can be found on scalp, eyebrows, eyelashes, pubic area, peri-anal area, and underarms. In men, terminal hair also occurs on the face and the chest. When balding occurs, it’s actually terminal hair turning into vellus hair.
Hair Growth Rates
– These two different types of hair grow at different rates. Terminal hairs generally grow faster than vellus hairs, although in the case of eyebrows and eyelashes, this is not the case. Scalp hair grows at an average rate of .37 mm per day, but varies depending on age, as well as your individual hair growth. Some experience much quicker growth rates, and go into the salon every month or so for a trim, while others experience slower growth rates, and don’t notice a significant change in hair length for many months. Most body hair grows at an average of .27 mm per day. Again, this varies from person to person, as well as age.
How to “Slow” Hair Regrowth
– In the case of unwanted body hair, many individuals want to slow down hair growth. Because there is a high demand for slowing hair regrowth, there is a huge market for hair growth inhibitors. These products are creams, lotions, or sprays that claim to slow down the growth of hair, and usually applied after waxing or plucking. However, these products generally do not work. Hair will continue to growth at a fairly constant rate, excepting fluctuations during hormonal cycles (i.e. puberty, menopause). You cannot actually change the rate at which hair grows. When individuals get a wax, for instance, they often notice that hair “grows back much more slowly” than when they shave. Actually, what happens when you get a wax, is that the hair underneath the skin is also ripped from its roots. So, it takes longer for you to see hair above the skins surface than when you shave, because shaving only cuts the hair at the level of the skin—it does not pull the hair from underneath your skin.
– You can, however, reduce hair. Laser hair removal, for instance, uses laser to destroy the hair in the shaft. IPL or intense pulse light uses light energy to achieve a similar outcome. Individuals receive a series of treatments to reduce the volume of hair growing on the treated body part. The hair grows in three phases (anagen or active, catagen or club hair, and telogen or tired hair), and not every hair is in the same phase of the cycle at the same time. Laser and IPL treatments affect anagen hair. So, a series of treatments is necessary for permanent hair reduction. Sometimes, because hair is reduced after one or two treatments, individuals think the hair is growing back more slowly. Again, this is not the case—you are just experiencing a smaller volume of hair regrowth.
– These types of treatment permanently disable hair, but they are not 100% effective at permanently removing all hair. Only electrolysis can permanently eliminate hair. Electrolysis uses an electrical current to zap hair at the follicle.