A close-up photograph capturing the meticulous process of filing and painting nails, while simultaneously showing the elegant strands of hair being styled, highlighting the synchrony of hair and nail growth.

Do Hair And Nails Grow At The Same Rate?

If you’ve ever wondered if the hair on your head and the nails on your fingers and toes grow at the same pace, you’re not alone. Many people are curious about the comparative growth rates of different body parts.

If you’re short on time, here’s a quick answer to your question: hair and nails do not grow at identical rates. Nail growth is generally faster than hair growth.

Average Growth Rates

Hair Growth Rate

Human hair grows at an average rate of about 1⁄2 inch per month, which equates to about 6 inches per year. However, hair growth rate can vary significantly depending on factors like age, health, genetics, and hair type.

According to research, hair grows the fastest between the ages of 15 and 30, with hair growth slowing down as we age. During puberty, increased levels of hormones like testosterone can boost hair growth speeds. Hair growth rates peak at around 1 inch per month during the late teen years and 20s.

Genetics also play a major role. While the average rate is 1⁄2 inch per month, some people may grow hair over an inch per month, while others grow less than 1⁄4 inch. Ethnic background can also impact growth rates.

For example, Asian hair has been found to grow slightly slower on average than African American or Caucasian hair.

In addition, hair type makes a difference. For instance:

  • Scalp hair tends to grow faster than facial or body hair
  • Straight hair may grow quicker than curly or coily locks

Health and medical conditions can affect hair growth too. Illnesses, medications, poor diet, thyroid disorders and stress may slow down the rate.

Fingernail Growth Rate

Human fingernails generally grow at a rate of 3 to 4 millimeters per month on average. That’s about 1/8 inch per month or 1⁄2 inch every 2 months. However, nail growth slows with age – newborns may grow nails over 1 cm per month!

Fingernails and toenails typically grow at about the same pace. Growth rate can be influenced by health, genetics, season (faster in summer), and hand use and trauma. Nails also grow faster on the dominant hand.

Nail growth alternates through 3 phases:

  • Anagen – active growth phase (lasts 3-4 months for fingernails)
  • Catagen – transitional phase (lasts 2-3 weeks)
  • Telogen – resting phase (lasts 3-4 months)

So by the time the nail reaches the end of the finger or toe, about 6 months have passed since that part of the nail first began growing.

Toenail Growth Rate

While fingernails and toenails typically grow at about the same rate on average, some interesting differences have been observed.

One study found toenails grow a little bit slower at around 3 millimeters per month compared to fingernails. Contributing factors may be shoe pressure, decreased blood circulation in feet, or subtle differences in anatomy.

Additionally, toenails appear to reach their maximum length more slowly than fingernails. Toenails can take 12 to 18 months to grow from cuticle to tip, while fingernails take closer to 6 months.

In the elderly population, toe and fingernails grew the slowest compared to other age groups in one study. The researchers observed average monthly growth rates of:

Age Group Monthly Growth Rate
Under 18 years 5 mm
18-54 years 4 mm
55+ years 2 mm

So while toenails may grow a little slower than fingernails overall, keep both neatly trimmed for health and hygiene!

Factors Influencing Growth


Genetics play a major role in determining the rate of hair and nail growth. People inherit genes from their parents that control the rate of cell division and protein synthesis in hair follicles and nail matrix cells.

Those with genes that promote faster cell metabolism tend to have quicker hair and nail growth. For example, individuals of Asian descent on average have slower growing hair and nails than those of African descent.

Health and Nutrition

Proper nutrition provides the vitamins, minerals, proteins and lipids needed for optimal hair and nail growth. Deficiencies in nutrients such as biotin, iron, zinc, vitamin D3 and protein can lead to slower and more brittle growth.

Those who eat a balanced diet with the recommended amounts of these nutrients tend to have strong, healthy hair and nails. Being severely ill or having chronic conditions like thyroid disorders can also slow growth.

Damage and Injury

Damage to the hair follicles and nail matrix can temporarily alter growth rates. For example, a burn or other injury may damage hair follicles and completely stop hair production until the skin heals. Fungal infections of the nail matrix and nail bed also inhibit nail growth.

Once the damage is repaired, the hair and nails typically return to their normal growth rate.


As we age, cell division slows down, reducing the rate of hair and nail growth. Hair and nails grow fastest in our teens and 20s. Growth begins declining around age 30 and continues slowing as we get older. For example, fingernails grow about 3.5 mm/month at age 20 but only 0.9 mm/month by age 70.[1]


During pregnancy, increased estrogen levels accelerate the rate of hair growth. Many women experience thicker, faster growing hair when pregnant. However, after childbirth hair shedding increases, which may offset the increased growth.

The effect of pregnancy on nail growth is less pronounced, with limited research showing a slight acceleration in growth rate.[2]

Improving Hair and Nail Growth

Vitamins and Minerals

Consuming vitamins and minerals is key for healthy hair and nail growth. Deficiencies in nutrients like iron, zinc, biotin, vitamin D and protein can lead to problems like hair loss and brittle nails (1). Getting enough of these vitamins can strengthen strands and promote growth.

Some great natural sources include:

  • Nuts and seeds for zinc
  • Meat and eggs for protein
  • Leafy greens like spinach for iron and vitamin C
  • Fatty fish like salmon for omega-3 fatty acids
  • Yogurt and cheese for biotin

If improving your diet isn’t enough, supplements can be extremely useful. But speak to your doctor before taking any, especially biotin which can interfere with lab tests.

Strengthening Practices

You can also take extra steps to actively strengthen your hair and nails so they grow in healthier:

  • Use a heat protectant spray when heat styling hair
  • Avoid very tight hairstyles that pull on hair follicles
  • Massage your scalp regularly to increase blood circulation
  • Trim split ends frequently to prevent extra damage
  • Apply a strengthening base coat under nail polish

It’s also important not over-wash or over-style hair, as too much manipulation can cause damage and breakage over time.

Lifestyle Changes

Your day-to-day habits significantly impact the quality and growth rate of your hair and nails too. It’s crucial to lead a healthy lifestyle with:

  • Adequate sleep and limited stress
  • Regular exercise and activity
  • A balanced diet with plenty of protein
  • Staying hydrated by drinking enough water
  • Avoiding excessive sun, cold weather and chemicals

The key is consistency. Stick to these strengthening practices and lifestyle factors as much as possible for improved fullness and faster growth!

Hair Growth Rate Fingernail Growth Rate
0.3 to 0.5 inches per month 0.1 inches per month

So in the end, hair tends to grow faster than nails. But paying attention to your nutritional intake, hair and nail care, and overall health can optimize both!

When to Seek Help

Signs of Abnormal Hair Loss

Hair loss can be worrying, but some amount of shedding is normal. It’s best to seek medical guidance if you notice these signs of abnormal hair loss:

  • Sudden loss of large patches of hair
  • Increased hair loss over a short period of time
  • Hair falling out in clumps while washing or brushing
  • New bald spots developing on the scalp
  • Itching, burning, or pain in areas where hair is thinning

Seeing more than 100-150 hairs on your pillow or in the shower drain daily may indicate a problem. If you’re concerned, consult a dermatologist or trichologist to identify the cause and get proper treatment.

Symptoms of Nail Fungal Infection

Nail fungal infections, also called onychomycosis, can damage nails and cause pain or discomfort. Watch for these common signs:

  • Thickened, brittle, or ragged nails
  • White, black, or yellow streaks on nails
  • Nail crumbling or separating from the nail bed
  • Foul odor coming from under nails
  • Nail debris building up under nails
  • Pain or tenderness around infected nails

If you have any of these symptoms, see a dermatologist or podiatrist. Leaving nail fungus untreated can increase the severity and lead to complications.

Other Warning Signs

In addition to increased hair loss and nail problems, be attentive to:

  • Sudden changes in hair or nail texture
  • Hair looking dull or fragile
  • Nails becoming thick or detached from the nail bed
  • Itchy or painful scalp or skin around nails
  • Hair or nails breaking easily

These could indicate an underlying health issue that requires medical care. For example, thyroid disorders can sometimes manifest with hair and nail changes. See your doctor if you have any unexplained or worrisome symptoms related to your hair or nails.

By being aware of the warning signs, you can get the right diagnosis and treatment for any hair or nail problems. Don’t hesitate to consult a specialist like a dermatologist, trichologist or podiatrist if you need guidance.


While human hair and nail growth is related in some ways, the two processes differ in speed and influencing factors. Knowing what’s normal for your own body is key.

Pay attention to any sudden changes in growth patterns, as that may signal an underlying issue warranting medical attention. With proper nutrition and care, you can help support healthy development of hair and nails.

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