Why has my hair stopped growing?

The hair growth cycle is a fascinating process. A healthy scalp produces anywhere from 110,000 to 150,000 hairs at a time, each of which cycles through four phases—growth, regression, resting, and falling—all before cycling back to the growth phase (and this happens between 20-30 times in an average life span!). 

There are a number of factors that can disrupt this cycle, however, causing hair growth to slow or even stop. These factors can be internal, external, or both, and can manifest by way of sporadic, localized, or total hair thinning or loss. 

It can be frustrating to experience a slow-down in hair growth or hair loss—how can you fix the problem if you don’t know what’s causing it? A good first step is learning more about the various potential hair growth disruptors so you can figure out which one may be affecting you, what you can do to counteract it, and how you can get your growth cycle back on track.

Hormonal dysfunction

Hormonal dysfunction is one of the most common causes of hair loss; it’s also known as androgenetic alopecia and can affect both men and women. In this type of alopecia, levels of the androgen hormone dihydrotestosterone, or DHT, are elevated and can affect multiple phases of the hair growth cycle. In fact, with androgenetic alopecia, only 60-80% of total hairs are in the active growth phase (or anagen phase) instead of the normal ~90%. 

Topical hormonal treatments, such as Minoxidil, are usually recommended to help treat this type of hair loss, though there are new studies using non-hormonal ingredients like copper peptides, caffeine, gooseberry, and ginseng that can help speed up and extend the anagen phase and block DHT.


Physical and psychological stress, including nutritional imbalances and pregnancy, can have an adverse effect on hair growth, leading to a condition called telogen effluvium. This condition occurs when the telogen phase of the growth cycle becomes elongated, preventing the anagen phase to continue; essentially, the stress prevents the hair from cycling back into the growth cycle, so the hairs that are falling out naturally aren’t being replaced by new ones. 

Stress-related hair loss usually happens three-to-four months after a significant event (think major surgery or the birth of a child) and will generally resolve itself with time, providing the underlying stressor is also resolved. 


Tight braids, ponytails, and other protective hairstyles can cause damage to the hair (especially around the hairline), resulting in a condition known as traction alopecia. The tension from tight styles can cause hair loss and damage to the follicle itself over time. 

Like telogen effluvium, traction alopecia can generally resolve itself given time and a change in styling techniques (like opting to wear looser braids and ponytails). Topical treatments can also help speed up the regrowth process. Additionally, if you wear protective styles, incorporating scalp care into your regular routine is an important preventative measure.


Many types of autoimmune disorders, genetic conditions, and cancers can cause alopecia areata. This non-scarring type of alopecia ranges from patchy areas of hair loss to complete hair loss on the entire body. There is also cicatricial alopecia, aka “scarring alopecia” that tends to destroy hair follicles and is likely permanent. Both of these conditions require medical diagnosis and treatment by a physician.

Hair thinning and hair loss can have a serious impact on confidence and self-esteem. Generally speaking, if you’re noticing significant hair loss, talk to your doctor who can help you determine the underlying cause. For many people, the damage is treatable. 

Ultimately, the foundation for healthy hair all starts with a healthy scalp—if your scalp is dry, itchy, inflamed, and covered in buildup, it directly affects the health of your hair. Treating your scalp like you treat your skin—to a regular, naturally powerful product routine that incorporates exfoliation, hydration, nourishment, and protection—is an important first step of everyone’s healthy hair journey.

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