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How Does Hair Grow Back After Being Plucked From the Root?

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Whether you’re trying to corral unruly eyebrows, just want to remove a rogue chin hair, or you have extensive patches of unwanted hair on your face or body, plucking them out with tweezers is a popular choice for dealing with all of the above.

Plucking a hair out from the ‘root’ may seem like the best choice for dealing with unwanted hair. There is no stubble because tweezing removes the whole hair from the follicle, which means it takes a lot longer for the hair to grow back.

In addition to lasting longer than other hair removal techniques, you avoid the razor burn and the mess of chemical hair removers, not to mention it’s more economical.

However, if you are not plucking the hair properly, it can lead to complications.

How does hair grow back after being plucked from the root? In this article, we are going to take a look at how hair grows, its structure, how hair grows back, and which areas you should not be plucking and why.


How does hair grow?

There are two types of hair – terminal and vellus. Let’s look at both.

Terminal Hair

Terminal hair is longer and thicker and grows for a much longer period of time. The hair on your head, as well as your eyebrows and eyelashes, pubic hair, and armpit hair are all terminal hair.

Men have more terminal hair than women, which also grows on their chest, back, arms, legs, and face.

Vellus Hair

Vellus hair is the fine, wispy hair that grows everywhere else on your body, with the exception of the lips, palms of the hands, and soles of the feet. Vellus hair is different in structure from terminal hair as it does not have a medulla, which is part of the inner core of the hair shaft that strengthens it, allowing it to grow longer.

That all having been said, it’s usually the terminal hair that is usually being plucked. Because apart from the usual hangouts, terminal hair can also pop up in all sorts of unwanted places for both men and women.

This includes on knuckles (both hands and feet), stomach, nipples, chin, ears…. pretty much anywhere you don’t want it to.

Terminal hair structure:

Technically a hair does not have a “root” per se, but is anchored within the hair follicle by the pili erector muscle and sebaceous gland.

So when you’re asking – How does hair grow back after being plucked from the root? – this question is really referring to pulling out the entire hair, from the base of the hair, known as the hair bulb.

Hair follicle source: Wikipedia

The phases of normal hair growth:

Anagen phase – This is the growing phase, which is the longest of the phases and is different for hair on different parts of the body. Hair on the scalp may grow for two to eight years, whereas the growth phase for eyelashes and eyebrows is one to six months.

Catagen phase – The catagen phase occurs after the anagen phase. The hair follicle shrinks, hair growth slows and the hair separates from the hair bulb in the follicle

Telegen phase – Also referred to as the resting phase, hair growth completely stops while new hairs start to form on the bottom of the follicle. This phase lasts approximately 100 days for hair growth on the scalp but lasts much longer for hair on other parts of the body.

Exogen phase – during this phase, the old hair is shed as new hair prepares to emerge.


How does hair grow back after being plucked from the root?

The normal growth phases shown above do not apply when you pluck hair. When you pluck hair, you are most likely pulling it in the prime of its growing phase. And if you are doing it properly, you are taking the bulb with it.

If you were to shave or trim the hair when it’s in the anagen (or growing) phase, where it spends most of its time, it wouldn’t be long before the hair is again visible.

Even if you manage to catch the hair within any of the other growth stages, even before the hair falls out on its own naturally, the new hair has already started growing from the bulb.

So if you shave it, the new hair is not far behind.

On the other hand, if a hair has been plucked properly (more on that later), a.k.a. in its entirety with the bulb, a new bulb needs to regenerate before it can start growing hair again.

This is why shaved and trimmed hair grows back so much faster than waxed or plucked hair.


Does hair grow back if you pull out the root?

When you pull out a hair the papilla, pilli erector muscles, and sebaceous gland, which all connect the hair to the follicle usually remain intact. If not, they will typically heal.

The follicle will regenerate a new bulb and the hair will start to grow again. Eventually. 

There is a condition called trichotillomania that is classified as an obsessive-compulsive disorder whereby a person cannot resist the urge to pull out their hair.

It’s most often hair on the head, but it may also be hair in other places. Repeated damage to the hair follicle can slow hair growth, thinning it out.

In severe cases, it may take 2 to 4 years for new hair to grow back. If this condition is left unaddressed and untreated, it can lead to permanent follicle damage and bald spots.


How long does hair take to grow back after tweezing?

Growth rates in different people will be different. But generally, during the growth phase, scalp hair grows for up to 8 years and grows about a half-inch per month.

Eyelashes and eyebrows have a growth phase of about 1 to 6 months. Hair elsewhere on your body has a growth cycle of about 3 to 6 months.


Risks of Plucking

Plucking does not come without its drawbacks. This method of hair removal is not painless and will cause at least a little bit of inflammation.

If the hair is broken off above the bulb, this can result in hair growing back thicker, as well as ingrown hairs. Again, this is similar to what sometimes occurs when waxing.

If you are not plucking properly or repeatedly plucking, you can actually damage the hair follicle. Repeated damage to the hair follicle may slow hair growth and can change the color and texture of your hair.

Damaging the follicle and causing the hair to grow back thinner may sound like a good thing if you’re talking about your eyebrows or that rebellious hair on your chin! But when it comes to scalp hair, it’s definitely not good.

Repeated plucking of scalp hair can lead to thinning hair and bald patches. Not to mention plucking can also damage the melanin production in the follicle causing it to grow back white.


Where you should never pluck hairs

While plucking is an effective and relatively safe way to remove unwanted hair in some places, there are a few places you should not pluck.

Nose

Your nose hair is there to prevent infection and bacteria. It acts as a filter to prevent you from breathing in bacteria, fungal spores, and all sorts of nasty organisms into your lungs. If you have out-of-control nose hairs, trim them with manicure scissors – do not pluck them.

Moles

Although it would make for the perfect accouterment to your Halloween witch costume, you may not want crazy errant hair growing out of a mole on the other 364 days of the year! We get it. But you have to resist the urge to tweeze because plucking out these hairs can cause an infection. Trim it instead.

Ingrown Hairs or Pimples

Leave them alone – plucking ingrown hairs or hairs that seem to have a pimple at the base can lead to infection.

Armpits and Pubic Region

If for no other reason than these are two VERY sensitive areas and let’s be honest – really hurts. This holds even more true for women during their menstrual cycle when sensitivity to pain is heightened.

And because of the sensitivity of these areas, plucking your armpits or pubic region can cause more than the usual redness and inflammation and can also lead to ingrown hairs.

Grey Hairs

We’ve all heard the saying: “pluck out a grey hair and several will come to its funeral.” This is actually an old wives’ tale and is simply not true.

But as you age, so does your hair. Although you won’t cause more grey hairs by plucking one out, the one that you did pluck will grow back (still grey) and thinner. 


How to properly pluck hairs

If you want to reap the benefits of plucking and minimize the associated risks, we’ve put together a few tips for you…

  1. First of all, steer clear of the areas we mentioned above that you should not be plucking. 
  2. start with a good pair of tweezers – not the old rusty ones you found in the back of the bathroom cabinet.
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  1. Clean your tweezers before every use with alcohol on a cotton pad.
  2. Have a shower or a hot bath before you start plucking. The heat and humidity will open your pores and the hair will come out more smoothly and easily.
  3. When plucking, pull the surrounding skin taught and grab the hair as close to the base as possible (without pinching your skin!). Make sure your tweezers have a good grip.
  4. Don’t yank! Pull it out gently in the same direction it’s growing. This will help pull out the whole hair and minimize the risk of breaking off the hair above the bulb, which can lead to ingrown hairs.

See also:

Can Hair Be Too Long To Wax?

Hydrogen Peroxide for Toenail Fungus