hair growth pattern observed on women
Written by
Morgan German
Medically approved by
Dr. Andrea Ortega M.D.

Human hair grows naturally in different ways, and knowing how yours does, can pay off when it comes to a new haircut. Let's find out what are hair growth patterns and what is your growth pattern!

It may seem useless to know if your hair grows in one direction, if you have one or more whorls or if a section of your hair usually stands up, but to a stylist, this can mean a lot when it comes time to take the scissors or provide you with extensions.

What are hair growth patterns?

Hair growth patterns are nothing more than the natural way your hair grows. This information is essential for any hairdresser, understanding that its direction, length, and growing areas are crucial when cutting.

If you are a hairdresser or stylist, keep in mind that hair grows in two main directions: following the clock's needles or against them, it is known as hair flow, and you must consider it before cutting.

How does hair flow?

Hair flow results from

  1. hair arrangement
  2. follicles inclination on the scalp

When two hair flows grow in opposite directions, the natural hair growth line is produced.

However, when the hair grows in opposite directions in several areas, a stubborn whorl occurs.

Hair whorls are strands of hair that grow in the opposite direction of the rest of the hair. They generally do so in a circular or spiral shape and often appear on the crown. It is usual to have a single whorl that ultimately determines the main hair growth direction. Still, many people have up to 3, with some smaller than others.

Our tip when you find your client has more than one whorl is to cut the hair in the direction of the dominant one.

Types of hair growth patterns

Cowlick

cowlick hair growth pattern

Cowlick refers to hair growing in only one direction, which is usually not curved. It tends to look up and stick out when cut too far. It appears in the front hairline or near, although it can also appear anywhere.

Double crown

Double crown hair growth pattern

Someone has a double crown pattern when there are two spirals (whorls) in the parietal area of the head (upper part). They are often quite difficult to handle when cutting. If you are a hairdresser, always look for the one that stands out.

Widow's peak

mature hairline widow's peak hair growth pattern

Here the hairline meets in a V-shape downward, descending across the forehead and giving a V-like appearance. 

The receding hairline is also a cause of widow's peak in men; this reveals a prominent 'U' or 'V' on the forehead, commonly known as 'hair recesses.' It is common in cases of male pattern baldness.

Whorl

whorl hair growth pattern

As we already mentioned, whorl or spirals are hair that grows in the opposite direction to the natural one, frequently forming a spiral on the crown or upper part of the head. A single person can have multiple whorls.

Ducktail

ducktail slicked back hair growth pattern

The ducktail is a men's haircut style popular during the 50s. It is also called the duck's tail, duck's ass, or simply D.A. and is as slicked-back hair. It is known because hair grows towards the nape forming a V. It is similar to the widow's peak but to the opposite side.

The hair growth pattern is determined by genetics. Watch your parents' hair grow, and you will find similarities in the way yours grows.

Interestingly, the growth patterns between genders are that men often tend to go bald due to a genetic condition called androgenic alopecia, which causes the hairline to recede; the crown becomes more visible, and the hair grows thinner and almost invisible. 

Inversely, women do not tend to go bald, but they lose a significant amount or get thinner ones as they age. Female hair loss patterns tend to be slower and more diffuse, making it rare to see a bald woman.

If you're anxious, check out how to identify early signs of balding.

Why do hair growth patterns matter?

Hair growth patterns determine the way your hair grows concerning direction, areas, and length. When the stylist knows how your hair naturally grows, they can provide you a haircut according to this pattern so that when your hair grows out, you can wear a versatile look that suits your face every day. 

Often if the stylist doesn't know how your hair will grow, you may need more haircuts than expected to fix the mistakes of the first cut. For example, suppose you have swirls, and these are not taken into account during the haircut. In that case, when the hair grows back, the hairstyle will likely change completely and will no longer look good on you.

The same goes for hair extensions when you clip them. Hair tends to naturally separate near the crown of the head. Placing hair extensions nearby could expose this growth and may not look aesthetically pleasing as some strands will look longer than others.

How does hair grow naturally?

Your hair has a hair follicle (HF) made up of multiple structures. It has a lower and upper segment, both inside the skin (epidermis and dermis). The follicular papilla, the bulb, and the stem are its main structures with several layers.

Adult hair is called terminal hair, and it lives in different growth phases simultaneously. These phases are cyclical, called are anagen, catagen, and telogen.

During the anagen phase, the follicles produce a hair shaft from tip to root. During the catagen and telogen ones, they reboot and prime their cells to receive the signal to start the next growth phase and produce a new hair shaft.

What are the hair growth phases?

stages of hair growth anagen catagen telogen

Anagen phase

It is the hair shaft growth phase. There is a fast proliferation in the bulb and the hair shaft, but it is also very reactive to chemotherapy, medications, hormones, and chemicals. It lasts about 6 years.

Catagen phase

During this phase, hair follicles undergo regression, marked by programmed cell death (apoptosis) in most follicular cells. It lasts from two to three weeks, and the hair is usually in a state of ''rest''.

Telogen phase

Telogen hairs are in their final life days. This is when they fall out and give space for new hair in the anagen phase. It lasts around three months, and there are very few hairs during this.

Sometimes a third phase may occur after the telogen phase, called the exogenous phase, known by the loss of shedding hairs.

How fast does hair grow?

The gold standard is that hair grows about 1 centimetre every month (about 1/2 inch per month), and it is not influenced by how frequently you shave or cut your hair.

How to speed up hair growth?

We have compiled several guides on hair growth:

Conclusion

Hair growth patterns seem to be more important than you thought. They are determining when it comes to a haircut and can be the straw that breaks the camel’s back when hair grows back after a new hairstyle.

Hairs differ from each other based on their location, androgen sensitivity, length, thickness, shape, and colour. Taking into account that genetics is crucial in how your hair grows.

Although the hair growth cycle is usually unrelated to daily and annual rhythms, the environment and hormones can influence it. 

Now that you know about hair growth patterns and how your hair grows, you can take care of it wisely and come up with a hairstyle that works every time.

References

  1. Article - JDDonline - journal of drugs in dermatology. (2018, December 17). Jddonline.Com. https://jddonline.com/articles/dermatology/S1545961616P1001X
  2. Overview of Hair Growth. (n.d.). Msdmanuals.Com. Retrieved September 28, 2021, from https://www.msdmanuals.com/home/skin-disorders/hair-disorders/overview-of-hair-growth
  3. Park, A. M., Khan, S., & Rawnsley, J. (2018). Hair biology: Growth and pigmentation. Facial Plastic Surgery Clinics of North America, 26(4), 415–424.