By Dr. Cole, FUE Hair Transplant Pioneer

Anagen or Telogen? The Answer is More Than Skin Deep

Anagen and telogen hair growth phases

Are you tired of struggling with hair loss and wondering what’s causing it? Well, the answer is more than skin-deep. Understanding hair growth’s different phases, specifically Anagen (hair growth) and Telogen (hair shedding), can provide valuable insights into your hair and scalp health.

In the Anagen phase, hair grows actively and typically lasts several years. Meanwhile, the Telogen phase is a resting phase where the hair follicles are dormant and eventually shed.

Knowing your hair’s phase can help you determine the best action to promote healthy hair growth. So, let’s dive deeper into hair growth and determine whether your hair is in Anagen or Telogen phase.

Understand the anagen and telogen phases to determine the ways to promote healthy growth.
Understand the anagen and telogen phases to determine the ways to promote healthy growth.

Anagen

Anagen is the active growth phase of hair follicles, where new hair cells rapidly divide and lengthen. During this phase, hair can grow up to half an inch per month and last anywhere from two to seven years, depending on a person’s genetics and other factors.

The longer this phase is, the longer the Anagen hair bulb can grow. Knowing the length of your Anagen phase can help you understand why your hair begins to grow at a different rate than others and how to best care for it.

Duration of the Anagen phase

The Anagen phase’s duration varies depending on several factors, including genetics, age, gender, and overall health. In general, the Anagen phase lasts anywhere from two to seven years. However, some individuals may have a shorter Anagen phase, resulting in slower hair growth or premature shedding.

On the other hand, individuals with a more extended Anagen phase may experience faster hair growth and long hair length. It’s worth noting that certain lifestyle factors, such as stress and diet, can impact the length of the Anagen period.

Understanding the duration of this “growing” phase is valuable for proper hair care and maintenance. It can help determine the appropriate hair care routine and the likelihood of experiencing hair loss or shedding.

Importance of the Anagen phase in hair growth

The Anagen phase is a critical stage in the hair growth cycle as it directly affects the rate of hair growth and length. During this phase, the hair follicles actively produce new hair cells, lengthening and thickening the hair shaft.

It's in Anagen phase where hair follicles actively produce new hair cells, lengthening and thickening the hair shaft.
It’s in Anagen phase where hair follicles actively produce new hair cells, lengthening and thickening the hair shaft.

The length of the Anagen phase determines the maximum length a person’s hair can reach before it enters the Telogen phase, where it sheds and the growth of new hairs begins.

It is also important to note that factors such as age, genetics, and overall health can impact the length of the Anagen phase and, therefore, the rate of hair growth.

Taking care of the scalp and ensuring proper nutrition can help support a healthy Anagen phase and promote healthy hair growth.

Factors that affect the length of the Anagen phase

The length of the Anagen phase is influenced by several factors that can impact the rate of hair growth and overall hair health. Genetics plays a significant role in determining the duration of the Anagen period, with some individuals having a shorter or longer phase than others.

Age is another factor, as hair growth tends to slow down as we age, resulting in a shorter Anagen phase. Hormones, such as those associated with pregnancy or menopause, can also affect the length of the Anagen period.

Lifestyle factors, such as stress, poor diet, and environmental toxins, can impact hair growth and the duration of the Anagen phase. Certain conditions like alopecia or treatments, such as chemotherapy, can disrupt the hair growth cycle and lead to a shorter Anagen phase.

Understanding these factors and their impact on the Anagen period can help individuals make informed decisions about their hair care and maintenance routine. 

Telogen

The Telogen phase is the resting phase of the hair growth cycle, during which the hair follicle is dormant, and no new hair growth occurs. This phase lasts for approximately three to four months and typically affects around 10-15% of the hair on the scalp at any given time.

During the Telogen phase, the hair is held in place by the hair follicle, but it is not attached to the root and can easily be shed with gentle manipulation. This natural shedding process is known as hair shedding and typically results in the loss of 50-100 hairs per day.

While shedding during the “resting” period is typical, factors such as stress, hormonal changes, or medical conditions can disrupt the hair growth cycle and lead to excessive hair shedding.

Duration of the Telogen phase

The duration of the telogen phase can vary depending on several factors, including genetics, age, and overall health. Typically, the telogen period lasts around three to four months, but it can last longer or shorter depending on these factors.

Sometimes, the telogen period can last up to six months, resulting in a longer resting phase for the hair follicle. During this time, the hair remains in place but is not attached to the root and can easily be shed with gentle manipulation.

Excessive hair shedding or prolonged periods of hair loss can indicate an underlying health issue, so you must consult a healthcare professional if this is a concern.

Importance of the Telogen phase in hair growth and hair loss

The Telogen phase is integral to the hair growth cycle, allowing the hair follicle to rest and prepare for the next growth phase. It also provides an opportunity to shed damaged or old hair and create new hair growth.

However, when the “resting” period is prolonged or disrupted, it can lead to excessive hair shedding or loss. Factors such as stress, hormonal changes, or medical conditions can all affect the duration of the Telogen stage and lead to hair loss.

Identifying hair shedding or hair loss issues during the Telogen period and promptly addressing them can help promote optimal hair health and growth.

Factors that affect the length of the Telogen phase

Several factors can influence the length of the Telogen period, including genetics, age, overall health, and certain medical conditions. Stress and hormonal changes, such as those experienced during pregnancy or menopause, can also affect the duration of the “resting” phase.

Additionally, certain medications or treatments, such as chemotherapy, can cause a significant increase in the number of hairs in the Telogen stage, leading to excessive hair loss or hair shedding phase.

Possible excessive hair loss during Telogen phase
Possible excessive hair loss during Telogen phase

In some cases, addressing underlying medical conditions or changing lifestyle factors such as diet and exercise can help promote healthy and optimal hair health and growth. 

Anagen vs. Telogen

It’s good to note that in a healthy scalp, the anagen-to-telogen ratio is typically around 90:10. However, in cases of hair loss, this ratio decreases as there are fewer anagen hairs and more telogen hairs.

The Anagen (growth) and Telogen (resting) phases are two distinct stages of the hair growth cycle, with the significant difference being that during the Anagen stage, hair actively grows. In contrast, during the Telogen period, it rests and sheds.

The Anagen phase can last several years, during which hair grows at about half an inch per month, while the Telogen stage lasts about three months, after which the hair falls out and makes way for new hair growth.

Determining the difference between these two phases is essential for maintaining healthy hair, as disruptions in either phase can lead to hair loss or shedding, such as androgenetic alopecia. Individuals can maintain optimal hair health and appearance by promoting a healthy growth cycle.

A Detailed View of Anagen and Telogen

Please review the picture below. Can you tell which hair is an anagen and which is telogen?

Can you tell which hair is an anagen and which is telogen?
Can you tell which hair is an anagen and which is telogen?

As you may recall from your other reading on our site, growing hairs are in a constant cycle. An Anagen hair (active phase) becomes a Catagen (intermediate phase), which then becomes a Telogen (dormant phase), then back to Anagen again.

An Anagen hair is active, growing hair. From the surface, Anagen hairs tend to be stronger in hair shaft tensile strength and more pigmented (that is, these hairs have more melanin). On the other hand, Telogen hairs are dormant, inactive hairs. These hairs tend to be weaker and less pigmented. The ratio on a normal, healthy scalp is about 90% Anagen to 10% Telogen. With hair loss, the ratio of Anagen to Telogen diminishes.

When you review image above it is nearly impossible to tell the difference between the hairs and their current phase. Only a well-trained hair transplant surgery team knows that one has to go deeper than skin level to know which hair is which.


But as you can see in below (this is the broader view of the same image above)

A detailed view of Anagen and Telogen
A detailed view of Anagen and Telogen

The Anagen hair on the left has :

  • a longer shaft (that is, it goes deeper in the scalp to the subcutaneous tissue)
  • the hair bulb, located at the base of the hair (Arrow A) is well developed with a dermal papilla
  • has a sebaceous gland (Arrow B), to bathe the hair

However, the hair on the right is a Telogen hair with a much shorter shaft, the hair bulb is called a club, and there is no supportive gland.

Understanding the balance between the two phases for healthy hair growth

A healthy balance between the Anagen, Catagen, and Telogen phases is essential for healthy hair growth. The Anagen or growth phase produces new hair growth, while the Telogen period allows the shedding of older hairs to make way for new growth.

Disruptions in either phase can lead to hair loss or thinning. You can support healthy hair growth by maintaining a balanced diet, reducing stress, and using hair care products that support healthy hair growth.

A balanced approach to hair care can help ensure optimal hair health and maintain a healthy balance between the Telogen and Anagen phases for healthy hair growth.

How can hair loss be influenced by disruptions in the Anagen or Telogen phase?

Disruptions in the Anagen active phase can result in reduced hair growth, weaker hair, and hair thinning. On the other hand, disruptions in the Telogen stage can result in hair shedding or premature hair loss. Various factors can lead to disruptions in these phases, including genetics, imbalances in hormone levels, systemic diseases, stress, and poor nutrition.

Identifying and addressing the underlying cause of disruptions early on can help individuals restore balance to the hair growth cycle, sustaining healthy hair growth.

Hair loss is significantly influenced by disruptions in the Anagen or Telogen phase.
Hair loss is significantly influenced by disruptions in the Anagen or Telogen phase.

Maintaining Healthy Hair Growth

Maintaining a balanced diet rich in vitamins, minerals, proteins, and other nutritional supplements is essential, as reducing stress levels through exercise or relaxation techniques and using hair care products that support hair health.

Avoiding harsh chemicals, heat styling, and tight hairstyles can also help prevent hair damage and breakage. Regularly trimming split ends can prevent further damage, and avoiding excessive washing or brushing can help maintain the natural oils in many hairs.

Finally, staying hydrated, getting enough sleep, and protecting hair from the sun can promote healthy hair growth. By taking a holistic approach to hair care, individuals can support the healthy growth of the hair cycle and maintain luscious, healthy hair.

Addressing Hair Loss Caused by Disruptions in the Anagen or Telogen Phase

Distinguishing between hairs in different phases of the hair growth cycle can be challenging as they appear similar to the naked eye. However, a skilled hair transplant surgery team understands that identifying the two distinct hair growth phases requires delving deeper than the surface level of the skin.

Trusting a qualified and experienced team is crucial to achieving optimal results in hair restoration procedures. Hair loss caused by disruptions in the Anagen or Telogen period, such as Telogen effluvium, alopecia areata, and anagen effluvium, can be addressed through various treatments and approaches, depending on the underlying cause.

For disruptions in the Anagen phase, treatments may include hair growth medications, such as minoxidil or finasteride, which promote hair growth by extending the Anagen stage. Hair transplantation and scalp micropigmentation may also be options for restoring hair growth.

Meanwhile, if you need to treat disruptions in the Telogen period, treatments may include addressing underlying health conditions, adjusting medications, and managing stress. For example, you can treat hair thinning with low-level laser or platelet-rich plasma therapy.

It’s crucial to consult a healthcare professional or hair loss specialist to determine the best approach for addressing hair thinning or loss caused by disruptions in the Anagen or Telogen period. In addition, when searching for products or reading articles about hair regrowth, it’s critical to keep the concepts of Anagen and Telogen hairs in mind.

Ensure that any products that promote hair growth have been proven to regrow Anagen hairs. Check for this evidence through biopsy or direct visualization of the entire hair shaft. By staying informed and vigilant about the hair growth process, you can decide which products and treatments are effective and beneficial for your scalp hair health.

Important Reminders for Hair Loss Patients

So what does these all mean hair loss patients?

Since hairs are in a constant cycle, the more Anagen hairs transplanted, the sooner results will be noticed since those hairs are active. Once the Telogen hair phase ends and the hair becomes an Anagen, then growth will be noticed in that hair. But this will happen at a later time since the hair is not active yet. So be patient.

No one can tell with certainty which hair is in which phase without actually removing the hair and viewing it under magnification. Unfortunately, too many hair transplant surgeons claim that they can tell the difference without removing the hair.

Some say that all they need is a magnifying camera to take a picture of the surface of the scalp to tell the difference. Even some studies use expensive equipment, such as a phototrichogram, that only adds color to the surface picture, but shows no further information regarding the phase of the hair. Truth is, only by removing the hair you can tell which hair is in which phase so don’t be fooled!

After the donor hairs are removed (by the old strip technique) by the surgeon from your scalp, in most offices the technician then is responsible for cutting and trimming down the hair before it is inserted.

However, too many untrained surgeons have untrained staff who do not fully understand the concept of Anagen and Telogen hair, so these technicians tend to cut-off the Telogen hair and throw it away as useless (even though it is just resting and will begin growing late). That is a wasted hair that could have been used

Cosmetically, all too often surgeons and technicians do not realize the concept that the hair is in a cycle and do not notice that there is a Telogen hair next to the Anagen hair.

Like in the image we showed above. Untrained hair transplant teams assume that this is a one hair follicular unit and implant BOTH hairs. This is not that big a problem unless it is implanted in the frontal hairline. Two hairs will eventually grow out rather than the preferred one hair. If this happens often enough, the hairline will look less natural.

Finally, remember this concept of Anagen and Telogen hairs when looking for products or reading articles about hair regrowth. Always, remember to check to make sure that anagen hairs are regrown and proven to be anagen hairs by biopsy or other direct visualization of the entire hair shaft. In fact, here at Forhair we have developed a product line called HairCycle to stimulate anagen hair growth (more information to follow).

Final Thoughts

Understanding the intricacies of the Anagen and Telogen phases is crucial to achieving healthy hair growth and preventing hair loss.

During anagen, your hair follicles are actively growing, while Telogen is a resting stage before the hair sheds. Numerous factors influence these phases, including hormones, genetics, and lifestyle.

By supporting hair growth during the Anagen phase, such as consuming good nutrition, managing stress, and avoiding harsh chemicals, you can prolong this phase and promote healthy hair growth.

Likewise, understanding the hair-shedding phase can help you identify potential hair-loss issues and take proactive steps to address them.

Ultimately, the answer to Anagen or Telogen is more than just a matter of timing; it’s a reflection of your overall health and wellness, both inside and out.

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