Let's tell the truth about those old wives' tales...
Did your mother tell you that if you cut your hair frequently, your hair would grow back quicker? Or that you should blast your hair with cold water after a shower to make it shiny? Maybe she told you that you shouldn’t pluck grey hairs because two would grow back in their place.
These may be familar old wives’ tales, but are they actually true? We decided to investigate what we should and shouldn’t be doing with our precious locks…
Myth #1: ‘Cutting your hair frequently makes it grow faster’
Who knew there was actually some truth in this tale? According to London hairdresser and Brand Ambassador for Salon Science Andrew Jose, although the growth of the hair happens in the follicles of your scalp, frayed and split ends make hair look thinner and can make your locks appear shorter. So, although cutting your hair won’t determine how fast your hair grows, it can certainly help avert hair shaft breakage, keeping your tips looking healthy and preventing splits from working their way up strands.
‘If you wait so long that splits are causing your hair to break off high up on the strand, your hair will actually be shorter than if you get consistent trims,’ he advises. Jose suggests using a hair masque at least once a week to minimise hair splitting because ‘hair that touches your shoulders or beyond can be several years old and most likely needs more TLC than a normal conditioner.’
Myth #2: ‘If you pluck one grey hair, two will grow back in its place’
Phew! So, why do we think it? Well, one grey hair means that there are arguably more greys hidden underneath. Once you have noticed one, you’ll probably start to notice more.
Plucking the hair will indeed get rid of the grey, but only temporarily. The follicle is still alive and will produce another hair to replace the one that was pulled out. However, what you do to one follicle doesn’t affect its neighbour, so it is impossible for two hairs to sprout. Some more good news: when the new hair grows back it may be a little less grey than its predecessor (if you’re lucky). This is because melanogenesis (the process by which hair follicles make the pigment that gives hair its colour) is not totally consistent from hair to hair – so here’s hoping.
Myth #3: ‘Shampooing makes your hair shed’
According to those in the know, the worst thing you can do for thinning hair is to wash your hair less, as your barnet needs a clean environment to grow through with no debris.
People often lose hair in the shower, so they associate shampooing with shedding – but if you cut back on washing in an effort to spare your hair, you can actually make the problem worse. The debris and oil build up can cause inflammation, which actually stunts hair growth.
Myth #4: ‘Oils are a no-go if your hair is greasy’
We’ve suspected this is false for a while, as applying facial oils has paradoxically made our skin less greasy and, by the laws of beauty, what applies to your skin must also apply to your hair. Oils are absolutely fine to add to your ends and hair shaft – they’ll add shine and lustre, and help repair split ends.
Oils, unlike other products, do not sit on the hair’s surface creating the illusion of healthy hair. Some oils have the ability to penetrate the hair’s cuticle and actually make it healthier. Coconut oil moisturises dry hair – and it’s great for your skin and even gums, too.
Myth #5: ‘If you leave your hair for long enough, it will begin to clean itself’
Trichologist Philip Kingsley says this is ‘utter nonsense’, arguing that a clean scalp and hair means a healthier scalp and hair.
‘You should wash and condition your hair daily,’ he says. ‘When left for 3-4 days the scalp can become flaky, itchy and uncomfortable with a mild tenderness whilst the hair itself will become dull and lank.’ However, other experts say that when you wash your hair too much, you strip it of its natural oils. We recommend trial and error and seeing what works for you, as everyone’s hair is different.
Myth #6: ‘You should brush your hair with 100 strokes a day’
According to the American Academy of Dermatology, this is an old wives’ tale that can actually end up causing split ends and huge damage to your hair.
They advise: ‘Brush and comb your hair only to style it. Hair never needs 100 brush strokes a day. That’s a myth. Use a wide-tooth comb, and use it gently to comb your hair. Avoid pulling and tugging on your hair as you brush, comb, or style it.’ They also advise using a moisturising conditioner to remove any stubborn tangles rather than tugging at the hair.
Myth #7: ‘You should always switch your shampoo’
Well, this is a good one to know because it was becoming expensive. ‘Your hair will never build up a tolerance to a specific shampoo and conditioner,’ says Jose. ‘However, like any other beauty regime fundemental, your hair products should change based on several factors, such as seasonal shifts, maturating hair and over processing.’
You can also look to your foods to see what is causing any changes to your hair. Eating fat (good or bad!) can give your hair that much-desired shine and gloss. If you’re getting essential fatty acids from red meat or an avocado, you may feel like you need less moisturising products products for your hair – and if you forego fat, locks can end up looking dry or parched, so you may be in need of a masque twice a week.
Did you guess which myths were true and which were false? Let us know @marieclaireuk
All GIFs via giphy