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Hair Growth Facts: Cathy Howse

    cathy howse

Cathy Howse’s book, “Ultra Black Hair Growth II” is one of my favorite resources for understanding hair growth and length retention. The information she provides coincides with the science of hair and is well referenced. Howse emphasizes the importance of gentle handling and intelligent grooming techniques that remove unnecessary tension and damage.

Here are SEVEN hair growth facts I noted from Cathy Howse's book summarized:

  1. Hair grows half (1/2) an inch per month
  2. Hair is not alive but dead
  3. The natural life cycle of a single hair strand is 2-6 years, and your scalp can shed as many as 60-100 hairs per day.
  4. Scientists say that 80% of the Black population has dry hair because of the tight curl pattern.
  5. Cutting the hair has nothing to do with growth.
  6. Hair breaks because it is excessively dry or abused!
  7. Hair is 90% protein.

Hair Grows half (1/2) an inch per month

Cathy Howse sums up the rate of hair growth as being approximately one inch every two months. Of course the rate of one's hair growth can be either faster or slower. Regardless of the speed; your hair is always growing.

Every two months I briefly examine my hair and search for noticeable growth and improved thickness. My hair growth is on track with Cathy Howse's hair growth rate which is based on scientific speculation.

Do you have any idea how fast or slow your hair really grows? If you have ever worn a relaxer; then you probably noticed the new growth sprouting out every couple of months. The wavy texture at the root of your hair that signalled you to retouch your hair also gave you a hint to how fast your hair growth rate is. Most woman who wear relaxers retouch their hair every two-months or so.

I could easily see the speed of my hair growth when I wore weave braids. I noticed about an inch of loosened hair between my scalp and the weave braids about every two-monhs. I re-tighted my weave braids every two months because I had gained about an inch of new hair growth.

read more about my experience wearing weave braids

Hair is NOT alive but DEAD

It is important to understand that the hair that you see is basically dead protein. When your hair is being produced within your scalp follicle, it is alive. Rapid cell division is taking place and more and more protein is contantly being produced. As new protein is created, the old protein is pushed upward through the follicle, toward the dermis layer of the skin. Eventually enough protein is produced to push through the scalp.

By the time the protein reaches the scalp, it has become suffocated by protein. The hair you see is no longer alive. It continues to get longer because of the cell division happening within the follicle and the continuing process of new protein pushing through the scalp.

You have to practice preventive hair care methods to protect your hair and help it grow long. Cathy Howse explains that hair can only be preserved. The longer you keep the protective layer of the hair (the cuticle layer) intact; the quicker the hair will become longer. Preserving the hair strand is the key to how dead hair reaches long length.

You should create an atmosphere where your hair is breaking off slower than it is growing. Protective hairstyles such as braids and buns provide an ideal atmosphere for longer hair growth because the hair is not being over-stressed and over-manipulated.

If you want to preserve your dead hair; then low-manipulation is key. Eliminate the opportunity of your hair becoming damaged through overuse of chemicals, heating appliances, and/or damaging styling tools.

Use a hair care regimen that prevents hair breakage and every couple of months you will see at least an inch of new hair. If you are experiencing chronic hair breakage; then you will not see longer hair. Your hair will remain the same length, if not shorter. The key to long hair is preservation of the hair strand and preventing breakage.

Learn about the importance of the hair cuticle for maintaining healthy hair.


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The natural life cycle of a single hair strand is 2-6 years, and your scalp can shed as many as 60-100 hairs per day.

Cathy Howse explains how hair is able to reach long waist-length. The hair strand undergoes three cycles: growth (anagen), resting (catagen), and shedding (telogen).
According to science, 85% of all of our hair is within the growing phase. So, most of the time our hair is growing.

Howse uses a time frame of hair constantly growing for 2-6 years to illustrate that the growth of a single hair strand can range from 12 inches (one foot of hair) in length all the way up to 36 inches (three feet of hair) in length. I have read sources that illustrate 3-7 years of growth; so the growth cycles of a single strand of hair, can and does vary, among different people.

Just imagine how long your hair could get if you preserved the same hair strands for six years or so? For many people, three extra feet of hair amounts to waist-length hair. People with hair that is three feet in-length or longer have kept their hair strands on their head for years with almost no breakage.

Hair shedding is a normal part of hair growth. It is possible for hair to shed sixty to one hundred hair strands per day. There is a big difference between a shed hair strand and a broken hair strand.

Learn the difference between shedded hair vs. broken, damaged hair.

Scientists say that 80% of the Black population has dry hair because of the tight curl pattern.


Our beautiful spirals are both, a blessing and a curse. Kinky hair is not only unique in it's curl pattern; but it has a special elliptical shape that allows it to bend into a curl. The elliptical, curly hair shape of African, kinky hair disrupts the flow of the hair's natural oils. The elliptical shape reduces the possiblitly of our hair strands receiving adequate moisture and protection.

This is the main reason most African Americans have dry hair. In most cases, our dry hair will always need extra moisture to reach its full potential in strength and length. You can help combat your hair's dryness by using an appropriate water-based moisturizer that is pH balanced.

Oils should be used last, after you have moisturized your hair. Hair oils are best used to help prevent moisture loss. They work great at coating the hair and blocking moisture evaporation.

Greasy hair products do not block moisture-loss long. To prevent your hair from becoming dry, you will still have to routinely replenish moisture since the grease and/or oil will slowly become wiped away by everything that touches it.

Learn how to make the most of your hair products while styling your hair.

Cutting the hair has NOTHING to do with growth

There was a time when I believed that hair grew from the ends. I was taught to trim my split ends to get healthy, long hair. I thought that once the ends of the hair were cut, there was a signal sent to the brain to make the hair grow faster. Cathy Howse emphasizes just how ridiculous it is to believe that cutting dead hair could possibly trigger a response from the body.

Apart from the receptors within the scalp, the hair you see has no way of sending the body information about its condition. The only way for us to understand our hair is through visual perception and our sense of touch. Does your hair look healthy? Does your hair feel soft?

Some women enjoy incorporating routine trimming into their hair care regimen--it could be a psychological thing. I have heard that trimming helps prevent tangles and ragedy-looking hair. Some women trim their hair for a more even, neat look. Other women believe that damaged hair ends will eventually detroy the entire hair strand by continuing to split up. Such concepts are subjective and are not supported by anything other than one's personal preference, which is perfectly fine.

I have yet to read a black hair care book, written by a doctor that supports the notion that cutting the hair ends are significant to acquiring long hair. Sources based on scientific information will tell you that cutting the ends has absolutely nothing to do with the hair's ability to be healthy, strong, and/or grow long.

Once I learned how to place my hair products within the correct pH, I started experiencing less dry, split ends. Therefore I have less of a reason to trim my hair and I retain more length.

Read how pH balanced hair products could help save those dry, brittle ends.

Hair breaks because it is excessively dry or abused!

I bet when you style your hair with styling tools such as brushes, combs and heating appliances you never once considered that you might be damaging your hair. You cannot use chemicals improperly, burn the life out of your hair, contantly pull on your hair and expect it to grow long and healthy.

Why do some women seem to have no hair growth? Hair is always growing so the only explanation for the short hair situation that many black women experience is due to chronic breakage. Most black women experience shoulder-length hair because they do not understand the caliber of damage they place on their hair from day-to-day.

Most black women with bad grooming habits have about six-inches of hair length. Sometimes I wonder if shoulder-length hair is due to the six-inches of hair that we gain every year just from our hair constantly growing.

I would not be surprised to find that the hair that one has at the start of a year breaks-off and becomes replaced with new growth by the end of the same calendar year. So although the hair is growing, it does not show longer length.

If years are passing and your hair has never grown beyondshoulder-length; then you are in dire need of ONE: accurate information that is based on the science of hair; and TWO a completely new hair care system that produces better results.

Months and years should not be passing by without you seeing improvements within your hair's health and/or length. You do not need to wear weave or synthetic braids in order to get your hair under control. Afro-textured hair is not unmanageable; however, it is often managed poorly.

Learn how to use Styling Tools and prevent damaged, broken, dry hair.

Hair is 90% protein

Cathy Howse provides a simplistic veiw of hair being made up of ninety percent protein. Protein gives hair strength and structure. Your hair's thickness and shape (wavy, curly, straight) are created by the protein bonds within your hair.

Howse recommends protein being a great additive for damaged hair. Within her book, she refers to damaged hair as porous hair. Hair can become porous when the cuticle becomes damaged from over-manipulation. Abusive styling methods, damaging styling tools, and improper use of chemicals can actually chip away at the protective layer (cuticle) of the hair.

Research shows that since hair is made up of protein, using products that contain protein such as keratin, biotin, wheat, and so on--can actually fill in the open holes (pores) of a damaged hair cuticle. The protein will attach to the cuticle allowing it to mimic strong, helathy hair.

The only down-side is that the protein does not attach to the hair permanently. As soon as the hair becomes wet, and shampooed, the protein enhancement will become removed. So, the protein deposits only give the hair extra strength, temporarily.

It is so important to understand how the hair products that you use everyday affects your hair. All hair products do not have protein. And not all hair types need protein additives. Is you hair severely damaged and fragile? If so, maybe you need more protein within your hair products.

If your hair is healthy, displaying flexibility and shine; then protein may sit too heavily upon your hair strands and actually cause breakage. Products heavy in protein are not for every hair type. Protein is used to stregthen the hair. if your hair is already strong, you may not need extra protein.

Learn why preserving the hair cuticle is most important in hair growth

See how my hair become longer through protective styling

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