How body hair grows. Body hair is annoying. Sometimes it feels like as soon as you’ve got rid of it all, it starts growing back and you have to start all over again. There’s a statistic on the Internet that thinks men spend more than a month of their lives shaving their beard; imagine how long women spend getting rid of all their leg/underarm/eyebrow hairs.
So how does the irritating stuff grow?
It may look like your body hair is actively growing, but in fact all the good stuff is going on below the surface of the skin (or epidermis, if you’d like the scientific term). Cells tucked away inside the hair follicle divide and multiple, and as the follicle fills up older cells are pushed out, hardening and exiting the follicle. This, ladies and gents, is what we call a hair shaft; mostly dead tissue (gross) and a protein called keratin.
But human body hair doesn’t just keep on growing and growing for ever and ever – if it did, we’d have to plait it or something. Instead, these tiny individual hairs go through ‘active’ and ‘resting’ phases. In the active, or anagen phase, the hair is growing – the length of this phase actually depends on the type of body hair. In the resting, or telogen phase, the hair growth slows down. This explains why the hair on your head is so much longer than the hair on your arms and legs – pretty cool huh?
And what about puberty? Easy. Tiny vellus hairs, which we’re all born with, are replaced by coarser terminal hairs that are longer thicker and infinitely more annoying. (Side note: the hair on your head, plus your eyebrows and eyelashes, is also terminal.)
Fun fact to finish this blog: the average person has more than 5 million individual hairs on their body. That’s a lot of fuzz, folks.