The length and size of hair depend on the anagen, growth stage, of the hair cycle. However, at the cornerstone of these processes lies the blood flow in scalp: the transportation system for the oxygen and nutrients to the hair follicle.
We looked closely at the relationship between blood flow, hair growth and hair loss attempting to answer the question whether increasing blood flow in scalp to the hair root helps with hair growth. While the link is apparent: numerous studies support the view that better blood flow leads to better hair and reduction of hair loss, we examined this relationship below. We simplified and explained the mechanics and biology to better equip you in understanding your hair in your hair growing journey.
Anatomy of hair follicle
The hair follicles are situated in the lower part of the dermis, except in the scalp where the hair follicles are around in the upper part of the subcutaneous tissue. The lower third of the hair follicles is enveloped by a rich vascular plexus. In other words, the hair root is enveloped in a net of blood vessels. Hair root plexus is the entanglement of nerves that are linked all the way back to our brains and nervous system. This is responsible for making our hair “stand up” either when it’s cold or when we are terrified!
Hair follicles renew and reconsitute themselves though the hair cycle, which also suggests the presence of intrinsic stem cells. In contrast to the previous belief that stem cells reside in the bottom region of hair follicles, stem cells were actually detected in the bulge area, the middle, shared part of outer root sheath. The sheath provides the insertion point for arrector pili muscle and marks the bottom of the permanent portion of a hair follicle. These bulge stem cells has high proliferative (mutliplication) capacity and high potency to regenerate – not only hair follicles but also sebaceous glands and epidermis. The genesis of these stems cells are directly responsible for new hair formation and support of hair follicles.
The gene overview
Aside from that, some cell growth factors, such as VEGF, FGF-5S, IGF-1 and KGF, induce the proliferation of cells in the hair follicle and surrounding vascular system. This process further helps maintaining follicles in the growth phase. On the other hand, negative factors, like FGF-5, cab terminate the anagen phase sometimes prematurely. We look at two of them closely.
Blood vessel grow gene
Vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) is a signal protein produced by cells that stimulates the formation of blood vessels: “…people with hair loss may have fewer blood vessels. But no one had actually measured how closely blood vessel growth is correlated with hair growth, or what might cause scalp vessels to grow in the first place.” – researchers concluded when compared two groups of mice, one normal and one genetically programmed to produce an abundance of VEGF.
The VEGF-enhanced mice with an artificially increased amount of blood vessels, grew hair faster and thicker in the first two weeks of life than control mice. Control mice were treated with an antibody that blocks VEGF activity and then shaved, their hair grew back slower and was thinner than their untreated counterparts.
Longer growth stage gene
In addition to blood flow, science had recently found a number of genes that directly affect the length of anagen stage and transition into catagen (shedding stage) of a hair follicle. Namely, FGF-5S, fibroblast growth factor 5, a molecule whose normal function is to regulate one step in the progression of the follicle through the hair growth cycle.
FGF-5 inhibits hair growth by blocking the activation of dermal papilla cells, turning them from anagen into catagen. However, if FGF-5 is inhibited, anagen stage can be extended. Such FGF-5 inhibitor was found in an extract of Sanguisorba officinalis’ root, which, interestingly, in some folk medicine also have been found to have impact on blood. The root of the plant’s name itself means “blood” (Latin: sanguine means blood). Blocking FGF5 in the human scalp extends the hair cycle, resulting in less hair fall, faster hair growth rate and increased hair growth.
Catch-22 of ageing: reduced scalp blood flow
As we age, many men and some women fall victims to androgenic alopecia, which relates to the sensitivity to androgens in scalp. The hair follicles fall into a culprit – known as follicle miniaturisation: the hair follicle decreases in size and therefore requires less blood supply. In turn, the less blood supply there is, the slower hair growth as with the absence of adequate blood flow, nutrients – whether applied topically or consumed as part of supplements or balanced nutrition – never reach the hair follicle. This “starves” the hair root from much needed fuel even further. If it does sound like a downward spiral – it is.
Blood flow and medication
Some medication and medical treatments can cause reduction in blood flow, examples include targeted therapy and chemotherapy. Blood flow to scalp is so important in hair cell proliferation and synthesis, that for example, some cancer patients wear a scalp cooling cap during their chemotherapy infusions to prevent the drug affecting hair follicles – to slow down blood flow to scalp. While this slow down the effect, it can’t entirely prevent hair loss associated with some cancer treatments, and any hair growth and blood flow stimulating treatments should be postponed until full course of cancer treatment is completed.
Remedies for increasing blood flow in scalp
Unsurprisingly, amongst the popular remedies against hair loss are:
- Inversion method to physically instils higher blood flow to scalp
- Scalp massages to stimulate blood flow
- Caffeine, popular stimulant in hair growth serums
- Derma rolling to prompt micro wounding and production of collagen as well as improved blood flow
- Castor oil with its main active ingredient being ricinoleic acid, which activating receptors in hair follicles
All these aid the proliferation of stem cells to support new hair growth, as well as strengthening existing hair follicles. Hair miniaturisation commonly associated with ageing, have also been repeatedly reported to go into remission after topical stimulants for blood flow have been introduced.
Do you want to learn which natural oil is best to take care of your hair and help with healthy growth? Take our quick Hair Oil Quiz now >
Who we are:
The Hair Fuel is an all-natural hair growth mask created by Laura Sagen, who embarked on her journey of hair regrowth as she lost a third of her hair after one horrendous visit to a hairdresser. Started off as tinkering in the kitchen, she developed the formulation rooted in science of scalp blood flow which she has used for years, before a light bulb moment to offer it to other people. This is what has become The Hair Fuel.
We work closely with our lab and manufacturers to ensure the highest quality product. But we know that a product alone is never enough – so we hold your hand throughout your own, unique hair growth journey. Our flagship product – The Hair Fuel mask – coupled with our advice, digital tools and on-going web / chat support are there to help you grow the best hair you can. It’s a big claim – but we’re unafraid to make it. Check out our starter bundles >>
The Hair Fuel and blood flow in scalp
We developed The Hair Fuel formula based on the principles of “scalp blood flow comes 1st, 2nd and 3rd”. The mask works by improving your subcutaneous blood flow which increases the absorption of the nutrients by your hair follicles from the mask itself, as well as your own body. All these support hair follicle function in its hair growing task.
You can trial out by getting our on-going subscripiton or if you want to commit to your hair transformation fully, our signature 6-month subscription is the one for you.
Hair growth effect of minoxidil, 
FGF5 as a regulator of the hair growth cycle: Evidence from targeted and spontaneous mutations 
Waremochi extract has an inhibitory effect on FGF-5 activity and improves hair loss by prolonging the growth period, 
Subcutaneous blood flow in early male pattern baldness 
1. Why scalp blood flow is important to hair growth?
Each hair follicle contains a tiny blood vessel attached to it which carries nutrient and oxygen for it to grow
2. How does The Hair Fuel treatment work?
The Hair Fuel works by improving blood flow to your scalp and hair follicles. The blood vessels attached to the derma papillae – or the hair root – carry nutrients and oxygen to the hair, supporting its growth and health.
3. I feel tingling, warming, burning sensation when I apply The Hair Fuel, is it normal?
TYes! This is normal and expected. You might feel a tingling, warming or even burning sensation on your scalp once you applied Hair Fuel. It is the sign of that The Hair Fuel is activated and working.