Grizzly Adams
September 6, 2008 5:05 AM   Subscribe

Why do the white hairs in my beard grow so much faster than the brown hairs do?

When it comes time to trim my beard, the brown ones are much shorter, and this happens every time. There is a very noticeable and measurable difference.
posted by chuckdarwin to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (6 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Damn you've ruined my whole day...

Being a nice guy on a Saturday morning, I decided to check my beard to see if there was a similar situation.... and provide what feedback I could...... only to find that THERE ARE HARDLY ANY BROWN HAIRS LEFT! So, on a morning when I was already feeling old as shit, you made me look into the mirror to confirm it!

That said, I noticed that the few brown hairs I do have were the same length as the white hairs since the last time I trimmed it (about two weeks ago). So, whatever you're experiencing may not be universal.

And, for the sake of saving another askme down the road, my ear hairs are about the same length as my nose hairs.
posted by HuronBob at 5:43 AM on September 6, 2008

I have one single white hair. It's in my right eyebrow and yes, it grows about three times as fast as the rest of them. I will be curious to hear the answer to this one.
posted by louigi at 6:18 AM on September 6, 2008

I also would like to confirm this phenomenon and would like to know the answer.
posted by bonobothegreat at 7:38 AM on September 6, 2008

Best answer: According to the article "Different Growth Rates of Pigmented and White Hair in the Beard: Differentiation vs. Proliferation?" by W. Nagl (British Journal of Dermatology, 1995; 132:1 pp. 94-97), white (unpigmented) hairs grow at roughly twice the rate of normal beard hair (with the maximum rate being about three times the rate of pigmented hair). I am no scientist, but from what I understand, this research claims that the lack of pigment in white beard hairs apparently changes the keratin and chromatin make-up and the melanin synthesis of the hair nuclei. If I'm reading this correctly, these factors control the growth rate of hair, and unpigmented (white) hair exhibits a substantially higher growth rate.
posted by Heretic at 8:29 AM on September 6, 2008 [3 favorites]

Yeah, I have a few white eyebrow hairs, and they stick proudly above the rest. Until I pluck those bastards out and burn them, burn them with fire! I think it's the same process that causes your ears to start start growing hair as your head hair starts falling out.

It's a cruel, cruel joke played by Mother Nature, and the best response is to act like you don't notice in order to not give her the satisfaction of punking you.

And, Huron Bob... mirrors are overrated.
posted by Fuzzy Skinner at 9:02 AM on September 6, 2008

So, does Steve Martin have to get a ahaircut twice as often as the rest of us?
posted by o2b at 12:38 PM on September 6, 2008

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