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Thread: Why does hair naturally taper?

  1. #1

    Default Why does hair naturally taper?

    My longest hair is down the very middle of the back of my head so this is were I always measure. I noticed this also with many other people and that if your hair gets long enough and you never cut it that most of the time it eventually takes on a tapered hemline like a V shape.

    Does anyone knows why this happens? It's the hemline I am going for so I don't want to get any trims and I'm not worried about it. I'm just curious why hair would grow longer in some areas than others if you never cut it.
    Last edited by NicoleJean; June 14th, 2019 at 12:27 AM.
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  2. #2
    Member akurah's Avatar
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    Default Re: Why does hair naturally taper?

    Not all your hair follicles will have the same terminal length. Not all of the hair follicles are in the same growth stage either. What this means is that on a person who's hair has never been cut in their life, there will generally be some amount of taper at the extreme end of the length.

    Terminal length is the maximum length a hair follicle is able to grow. Growth stages refer to what stage of growth your hair is in. There are three phases:
    Anagen - this is the growth phase. Growing hair will continually gain length until it enters the catagen phase. Science articles, etc., will say the anagen phase lasts 3 to 5 years, but that may be conservative. If your hair grows at 1 inch a month over a period of 5 years, you would grow about 5 feet of hair or so (I think--my math might be off) if you never cut your hair again, whereas if using the same math for 3 years, your hair would not grow longer than about 3 feet.
    Catagen - this is a transitional phase. The hair follicle shrinks, and blood supply gets cut off. The hair follicle shrinks in length at this point, pushing the hair shaft upwards
    Telogen phase - This is the stage where hair falls out. The follicle becomes dormant for a few months.
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    LHC FairyGodMum lapushka's Avatar
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    Default Re: Why does hair naturally taper?

    Sun is shining here now. It's not supposed to rain but my dad says it's gonna, and my mom really wants to hang the wash out to dry. LOL!

    ETA/ I obviously posted in the wrong thread - LOOOL oops, I wanted to post in the how's the weather thread, and I really thought I was in the right spot.

    Sorry guys!
    Last edited by lapushka; June 14th, 2019 at 04:49 AM.
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  4. #4

    Default Re: Why does hair naturally taper?

    Thank you for the detailed information.

    What I’m still confused about is does the hair at the middle back of the head have a longer growth cycle or does the taper appear usually longest at the middle back because the hair closer to the face is drawn from a farther distance from the back thus drawing it up higher on the back? I hope that makes sense.

    Also does taper only naturally start to occur when your starting to reach terminal.

    I want to grow between tailbone to classic and really hope I develop a natural taper by than. I haven’t cut since August 2018. I love how the natural taper looks but hope I don’t need to go past classic to have taper because I’m worried about longer being hard to maintain.
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  5. #5
    Member akurah's Avatar
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    Default Re: Why does hair naturally taper?

    Quote Originally Posted by NicoleJean View Post
    Thank you for the detailed information.

    What I’m still confused about is does the hair at the middle back of the head have a longer growth cycle or does the taper appear usually longest at the middle back because the hair closer to the face is drawn from a farther distance from the back thus drawing it up higher on the back? I hope that makes sense.

    Also does taper only naturally start to occur when your starting to reach terminal.

    I want to grow between tailbone to classic and really hope I develop a natural taper by than. I haven’t cut since August 2018. I love how the natural taper looks but hope I don’t need to go past classic to have taper because I’m worried about longer being hard to maintain.
    The hair in the middle back of the head does not necessarily have a longer growth cycle, but it can. This is mostly a hypothesis based on observation, but the shape of the taper is in large part because our heads are round and because of how our hair grows on our head. Basically, you are right--the hairs closer to the face have a longer distance to go than the hairs on the back of your head, so even if those hairs are the same length, the hairs closer to the face on the top of your hair will look shorter than the hairs on the back of your head.

    Taper does not necessarily start because you are approaching terminal. It can start long before terminal (even as short as shoulders) because the hairs on our heads can grow at different speeds, and because different hairs on your head can have different terminal lengths. For example, I have a number of face framing hairs that I'm pretty sure have a terminal length of only a few inches, because I've never seen them longer, but hairs further from my face (even just fraction of a centimeter further back sometimes) have a lot longer terminal length because I can pull those hairs into a ponytail easily.

    One thing about taper: Taper makes it easier to put up buns when your hair is longer, and tapered ends are easier to tuck in so that ends are not sticking out. So taper is not necessarily a bad thing as a long hair, and keeping the hemline blunt at the more extreme lengths (if your hair allows for that) can be a bit of a nuisance when you're trying to put it up into a bun. So it's not necessarily something to dread, it's more along the lines of if you like it or not.
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  6. #6

    Default Re: Why does hair naturally taper?

    Ok thank you so much for your replies. It completely makes sense. I am wanting a tapered hemline so I’m happy to hear it can start well before terminal. I actually think mine is just starting already because my strip of hair down the very back of my head appears longest. I always use that same strip for measuring so it’s consistent.
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    Member Lady Stardust's Avatar
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    Default Re: Why does hair naturally taper?

    Quote Originally Posted by NicoleJean View Post
    Ok thank you so much for your replies. It completely makes sense. I am wanting a tapered hemline so I’m happy to hear it can start well before terminal. I actually think mine is just starting already because my strip of hair down the very back of my head appears longest. I always use that same strip for measuring so it’s consistent.
    My hair grows faster at the back so it firms a U shape if it isn’t trimmed. The sides grow much more slowly. It’s different for different people.

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    Default Re: Why does hair naturally taper?

    Placement of hairs on the head, growth cycles, and breakage all attribute to natural taper.
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