What Are Hair Growth Patterns? Find Out Yours Here!

Medically reviewedby Dr. Andrea Ortega M.D.
WrittenbyLuat Duong
Last updated

Curious about why your hair behaves the way it does? Understanding hair growth patterns can unlock the secrets to better hair care and styling.

Dive into our comprehensive guide to learn about the natural cycles and how they affect your hair's health and appearance.

What are hair growth patterns?

Hair growth follows a cyclical pattern divided into three phases: anagen (active growth), catagen (transitional phase), and telogen (resting phase). During these phases, the hair follicle alternates between periods of growth, transition, and rest. 

Beyond these phases, hair growth patterns also refer to the natural way your hair grows, which is essential information for any hairdresser. The direction, length, and growing areas of the hair can significantly influence haircutting techniques.

Hair grows in two main directions—following or against the direction of the clock's hands, known as hair flow.

Recognizing this flow is vital as it affects how the hair falls and behaves, thus guiding hairdressers and stylists in achieving the desired haircut that complements the natural inclination and movement of someone’s hair.

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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 dealing with clients experiencing pattern hair loss is to cut the hair following the direction of the dominant whorl, which could help in managing the appearance of thinning scalp hair.

Types of hair growth patterns


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 hair

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 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 pattern hair loss is often determined by genetics. Observing your parents' hair growth cycle, particularly if they have experienced male pattern baldness or female pattern hair loss, can reveal similarities in how your hair might develop.

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 follicle arrangement tends to cause natural separation near the crown, affecting the overall hair texture and growth pattern.

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.

Occasionally, a third phase follows the telogen phase, known as the exogenous phase, characterized by the shedding of terminal hair, which is a normal part of the hair growth cycle.

How fast does hair grow?

The typical growth rate of healthy hair is about 1 centimetre per month (about 1/2 inch per month), and this rate is not impacted by frequent shaving or cutting, contrary to popular belief.

How to speed up hair growth?

We have compiled several guides on hair growth:


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.


What is the difference between vellus hair and terminal hair?

Vellus hair is fine, light-colored, and barely noticeable, often found on the body, while terminal hair is thicker, longer, and darker, commonly seen as scalp hair or facial hair in adults.

How does laser hair removal impact hair growth?

Laser hair removal targets the melanin in terminal hair follicles to reduce hair growth, often requiring multiple sessions for significant results on body hair and facial hair.

What is androgenetic alopecia and how does it affect hair texture?

Androgenetic alopecia, commonly known as male pattern baldness or female pattern hair loss, is a genetic condition that affects the hair follicles, leading to thinner, finer hair and altering the natural hair texture over time.

Can hair transplantation help with hair loss?

Hair transplantation is a surgical technique that moves healthy hair follicles from one part of the scalp to another and is a viable treatment for permanent hair loss conditions like male pattern hair loss.

What dietary factors contribute to healthy hair growth?

A diet rich in proteins, vitamins, and minerals can promote healthy hair growth by nourishing the hair follicles and supporting the anagen phase of the hair growth cycle.



  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.
Luat Duong

Luat Duong is a Copenhagen-based writer and content strategist specializing in hair loss and health. His work has been featured in MyHealthGuide, The Right Hairstyles, and Woman's Era. He is a graduate of Vaasa University. You can connect with him on LinkedIn.