By Jc of The Natural Haven Bloom
The scientific answer – or is it?
Many women will by now know that hair will on average grow for between 2 to 6 years. This figure is widely quoted as the average length of the anagen phase (when hair is actively growing during its growth cycle). This would therefore translate to a maximum hair length from anywhere between 8-12 inches (shoulder to armpit length) at the low end to 24 to 36 inches (waist length to tailbone length) at the higher end This all assuming a yearly average growth rate of between 4 and 6 inches.
However what many people do not know is that the widely quoted scientific figure is in fact based on 2-3 small scale studies which account for as few as 2 individuals. There are in fact no studies which actually track a reasonable group of individuals over a period of years to firmly determine how long the hair growth cycle actually is.
Furthermore there is evidence that this 2-6 year widely accepted length could be considerably wrong. One interesting study which measured hair length of visitors to US theme parks and hair lengths recorded online on long hair sites, came to the conclusion that the average normal length of the anagen phase could be as long as 12 to 14 years. This translates to 48-72 inches at the low end and 56-84 inches at the high end. Both of these figures translate to a maximum hair length of below tailbone to ankle length and beyond. To be clear, this means that the average person can grow hair to well below tailbone even with a 4 inch per year hair growth phase.
The scientific truth is that the maximum hair length that a human being can achieve is not well established and human hair may keep growing for 6 years or longer.
The hair care factor
Hair length is linked to genetics but this only determines how fast and how long your hair will grow. It does not account for how well you handle it. Sometimes women look at other family members to determine how long their hair will grow but this can be hugely erroneous. If the vast majority of women in your family have very short hair without intentionally cutting it, it does not mean that their hair is incapable of achieving longer lengths. It may in fact indicate that the methods that they use to care for their hair cause it to break.
In addition, if you happen to be the only one in your family whose hair appears not to be able to achieve a longer length, the fact is that your hair texture is probably quite different from your other family members. It may be the case that the standard routine used by the rest of your family does not apply to you. This is especially true if your family is of mixed heritage.
Once hair is outside of the follicle, the onus is on the owner to maintain it. The less damage it sustains, the more likely it is to be able to achieve its maximum length (i.e still be present 6 or 12 years after emerging.) If you find that your hair keeps breaking at a certain length, you need to change what you are doing at that length in order to help it overcome the breakage.
Ladies, what is the maximum length your hair has grown?
J Cosmet Sci, pp 367-378, 2003
Journal of Investigative Dermatology , pp 65–81, 1970