The growth cycle of a hair

Each hair has its own growth cycle and undergoes three distinct stages of development: anagen, catagen and telogen.


While carrying out hair removal treatments, it is important to remember that the hair follicle is part of the skin's structure, therefore any treatment which affects the hair is also going to affect the skin. Once a hair has been removed, the maximum amount of blood will be sent straight to the area being treated to heal and protect the skin. This is a normal reaction of the skin and extra blood that has been sent to the treated area will soon be diverted again within a few hours of treatment. As the treated area of skin will have open follicles, it is vital that a client adheres strictly to after-care advice specified as open follicles offer bacteria an easy entry into the body.


Catagen Telogen


Catagen Telogen

Fig 2.5 The hair growth cycle


• Active growing stage.

• Lasts from a few months to several years.

• Hair germ cells reproduce at matrix.

• New follicle is produced which extends in depth and width.

• The hair cells pass upwards to form hair bulb.

• Hair cells continue rising up the follicle and as they pass through the bulb they differentiate to form individual structures of hair.

• Inner root sheath grows up with the hair, anchoring it into the follicle.

• When cells reach the upper part of bulb they become keratinised.

• Two-thirds of its way up the follicle, the hair leaves an inner root sheath and emerges onto surface of skin.


• Lasts approximately 2-4 weeks.

• Transitional stage from active to resting.

• Hair separates from dermal papilla and moves slowly up the follicle.

• Follicle below retreating hair shrinks.

• Hair rises to just below level of sebaceous gland where the inner root sheath dissolves and the hair can be brushed out.


• Short resting stage.

• Shortened follicle rests until stimulated once more.

• Hair is shed onto skin's surface.

• New replacement hair begins to grow.

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