Everyone has a favourite myth about hair care – and we usually never let the truth get in the way of a good legend! This article examines some of the most widely known – and the reality behind the myths.
1. Excessive washing of hair causes hair loss/dryness.
FALSE: Frequency of washing doesn’t harm hair. Wash it as often as you like, although the recommendation is three times a week. The right shampoo for your hair type and texture will actually add moisture, body and beauty to your hair.
2. More shampoo = cleaner hair.
FALSE: Don’t waste your shampoo! A dollop of shampoo, about the size of a quarter is usually enough for long hair. Very long hair may take a little more.
3. Conditioner helps repair split ends.
FALSE: No conditioner can “repair” damaged hair. What it can do is smooth down the cuticle and make hair seem in better condition. A good conditioner can also prevent damage from occurring in the first place.
4. Blow-drying produces hair loss.
FALSE: Blow-drying can damage, burn or dry hair, which can cause it to fall, but the hair will grow back immediately. This is not permanent hair loss.
5. Sleeping with wet hair causes scalp fungus.
FALSE: Scalp or fungal diseases can’t be caught from sleeping with wet scalps. Scalp infections require prior involvement with infected sources such as humans, tainted hair care tools or animals. Scalp fungus (tinea capitis) mainly affects children, whose immune systems make them more susceptible to skin infections.
6. To get your hair to grow, brush 100 strokes each day.
FALSE: Brushing that much can damage the hair cuticle. NOT recommended! Actually, your hair reacts better to a comb than a brush. Brushing it will only lead to split ends and hair breakage.
7. Sharing combs and brushes can spread scalp diseases.
TRUE: Lice and other parasites can be transported from scalp to scalp through the sharing of combs, brushes and other hair care tools.
8. Cutting hair makes it grow faster and/or thicker.
FALSE: This common misconception comes from the fact that hair is thicker at the base than it is at the tip, so shorter hair appears thicker at first. Cutting your hair does not affect its normal biologically determined growth rate or overall texture. Thin, limp or fine hair will not ever grow thicker in response to a haircut. Plump up your hair by using volume enhancing hair care products, experimenting with a hair fattening blunt cut or getting a texturizing perm or color treatment.
9. Color treatment causes hair loss.
FALSE: Most hair coloring products contain chemicals that can do serious harm to the hair itself if not properly used, but it wont instigate hair loss.
10. Salon products are identical to drugstore products.
FALSE: Although there are exceptions, salon products generally contain higher quality, more expensive ingredients that are designed to consistently provide more intensive cleansing, moisturizing and conditioning results. The quality ingredients found in salon products are not usually found in drugstore brands. If in doubt – read the labels.
11. Long sun exposure favors hair loss.
FALSE: Your hair acts as a shield against the sun. Hair loss appears at the follicle level and so the sun would have to penetrate at this depth to do any damage.
12. Diet is related to hair loss.
TRUE: it’s important to eat right in order to be generally healthy. However, no individual food has been proven to be beneficial or detrimental to hair.
13. Stress causes hair loss.
TRUE: Severe stress (e.g. surgery or a death in the family), can shut down hair production, causing temporary hairloss (alopecia areata). The scalp usually recuperates, though, and hair grows back
14. Wearing tight braids, ponytails or buns causes baldness.
TRUE: Traction alopecia is a very real hair loss condition that is quite common amongst older African American women. It results from wearing tight ponytails, cornrows or buns over an extended period of time. Over time, hair breakage or loss as the result of tight, stressed styles, can become permanent. Avoid this potential problem by opting for looser styles that minimize scalp tension.
15. Smoking causes gray hair.
TRUE: According to J. G. Mosley of the Leigh Infirmary in Lancashire, England in an article in Science News (January 11, 1997) smokers are four times more likely to have gray hair than non-smokers. Even worse, smoking has been conclusively linked to accelerated hair loss.
Heard another myth about hair? Do your research – ask an expert! This doesn’t include your grandmother, best friend or local barmaid. Instead, talk to an experienced hairdresser or a trichologist. Always get the real facts before you act on any hair myths – you owe it to your hair.
(With thanks to Daniel Mcullough and Karen M. Shelton)