Looking great and caring for your appearance is a top priority for many individuals. The fingernails and hair command a lot of attention in the beauty world. The health and growth of the nails and hair are often a beauty consumer’s main concern. Although your hair and nails share the same physical growth process, their individual growth rates are different.


Features

Both hair and fingernails nails are made from a strong protein called keratin. This hard protein also is present in animal hooves and skin. With both hair and nails, the only living, actively growing part is located underneath the skin.


Growth Process

Hair and fingernails grow out from a matrix. In hair, this matrix is known as the hair follicle. Cells grow out from the matrix, and older cells eventually are pushed out by newer cells growing in. The newer cells cause the older cells to become compacted, and as the cells are further removed from their blood supply, they form keratin proteins and begin to harden into the hair fiber, or nail, that we see.


Growth Rates

Fingernails grow approximately 2 to 3 millimeters, or about 1/8 inch, per month. Toenails grow slower than fingernails, at a rate of about 1 mm per month. Hair, on the other hand, grows at a much faster rate: roughly ¼ to ½ inch per month, or 6 inches per year. In fact, after bone marrow, hair is the fastest growing tissue in the body.


Growth Factors

For both hair and fingernails, growth rates are affected by season, gender, age and heredity. Hair and nails grow faster in the summer months than at any other time of the year. Men’s hair and fingernails typically grow faster than women’s hair fingernails; pregnancy and old age are the exceptions to this rule. Fingernails grow fastest on the hand that is used most often. Pinkie nails grow the slowest, the index fingernail grows the fastest.


Considerations

Several factors can slow hair and nail growth, including disease, hormonal imbalances and natural aging. Additionally, poor blood circulation, malnutrition and some medications can slow down the growth rates of the hair and nails.


Hair and Nail Vitamins

Many hair and nail vitamin supplements exist on the market. These products typically contain proteins such as biotin and B6 and purport to strengthen and grow both the hair and nails.