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Why can’t I grow my hair past a certain length? Ask The Kit | Fashion and Beauty

“Every time I decide to grow my hair long, it gets past my shoulders and the ends get terribly thin and it just looks awful. I always end up giving up and chopping it off. Why won’t my hair grow long and healthy past a certain point?” — Short-haired and sad

That is a frustrating feeling indeed, Short-haired, to be stuck in an in-between place.

Upon reading your question, I realized I do not know why and how hair grows — or stops growing. So I asked Dr. Jeff Donovan, medical director at Donovan Hair Clinic in Whistler, B.C., who is a dermatologist specializing in hair loss. “I treat patients from every corner of the world and see some extremely challenging issues,” he says.

His website lists no less than 45 potential causes for hair loss, ranging from medication side effects to conditions such as alopecia or Hashimoto’s disease to general aging. The scalp’s health can also affect how hair grows. “Seborrheic dermatitis, dandruff and psoriasis can all affect the growth of hair to some degree,” Donovan says.

In your case, he says, one possibility is androgenetic alopecia, also known as female pattern hair loss (it’s quite common: approximately 35 per cent of women will experience this by age 50). But other types of hair loss would “need to be excluded.” Like every good doctor worth their salt, he would want to see the full picture before prescribing a fix. “This patient ‘Short-haired and sad’ needs a proper examination including a review of her entire story and examination of the scalp,” says Donovan. “Blood tests are absolutely necessary before proceeding with a treatment plan.”

If you were to go that route with a doctor, know that there are lots of treatments that can potentially help. “Treatments may include topical

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