Here Are Some of The Most Common Hair-Care Myths We’ve Totally Fallen For

July 22, 2019

Remember growing up and being told to brush your hair with at least 100 strokes to keep it looking healthy and shiny? Yeah, apparently that’s not actually necessary, but we’ll get to that later. This particular hair care “tip” is just one of a crazy number of rumors that we like to refer to as hair-care myths or old wive’s tales. And you know what? We’ve been exposed to so many of them it’s hard to differentiate between what’s true and what’s actually just clever marketing.

But when it comes to hair care, and hair-care myths, it’s important to note that it’s not one size fits all. Hair-care preferences can vary by hair type, culture, and hair goal — so when looking for tips that will work with your particular hair, you should probably, a) go with what you know works for your mane, and, b) follow your gut instinct before trying out the next hair care trend that sounds promising (and yet utterly disastrous). Or maybe you could make like the 1950s and skip shampooing your hair for a week in favor of a scalp massage. Sounds, erm, cleansing?

The problem with so much of the beauty and hair-care information out there is that it often doesn’t account for personal style, genetics, environment, culture, or, you know, financial ability. Not everyone can afford to get a professional blow-out weekly, while some people just don’t want to rock long locks. Hair is personal. Hair is part of our identity. And what works for you doesn’t always work for others. But that’s not the only reason these hair-care myths are the worst. Some just don’t make any sense!

Now, let’s get to debunking some of these wild hair-care myths!

1. Cutting your hair regularly makes it grow way faster.

True (sometimes)!

There seems to be a lot of debate around this one. As reported by Marie Claire, London hairdresser Andrew Jose says that the split ends — on uncut hair — can make your hair thinner and break more easily. And although the hair grows at the root, the frequent cutting can help you maintain healthy, fuller hair. He says, “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.” Makes sense!

But some disagree…

According to Luxy Hair, this is “probably the biggest hair myth out there.” How so? The science of hair growth tells us that hair grows from the follicles in the scalp — and so, with simple science, we know that cutting the ends has absolutely zero influence the root. Of course, people claim that the dead hair “weighs your scalp down,” but that’s just not a true statement.

Regardless of how often you get your hair cut, growth rates are largely based on genetics…

…meaning the rate at which your hair grows has a lot more to do with your own body than whether you’re getting a regular snip. According to the Academy of American Dermatology, we’re all born with about 100,000 follicles on our heads. And we lose about 50 to 100 hairs each and every day! No matter what, though, genetic factors are responsible for the density, length, color, and texture of hair, according to numerous studies.

Still, cutting your hair often can actually be pretty helpful.

According to Self, regular trims can keep hair looking and feeling healthy. So, if you have fine hair or color-treated hair, trim it every four to five weeks. For wavy hair, go for six weeks. Curly? Go for every eight. Coiled hair? Maybe every eight to 12 weeks. Again, there’s no one-size-fits-all for hair care! Try out a few different schedules and see which one gives you your dream hair.

2. Dirty hair actually grows faster, though, right?

Not true!

If you’ve heard that not washing your hair often gives it some extra growing power, you’re wrong. “Hair is at its healthiest and strongest when its clean and conditioned. Not washing your scalp clogs your follicles, which can stop its growth,” according to Brenton Kane Diallo, a celebrity hairstylist. So, this means that you don’t need to be skipping washes just to get your hair to grow. Glad that’s been cleared up!

3. When you wash your hair, the more shampoo suds there are, the better it’s working.

Nope, not true either!

People love foam and bubbles. They make us feel extra clean, as if they’re really getting the job done. But, sadly, that shampoo foam isn’t actually an indication of cleansing power. It’s actually what happens when your product-of-choice contains nasty ingredients like sulfates. In fact, lots of shampoos stopped using sulfates because they can actually irritate the skin. So, the next time you’re in the shower, don’t judge a shampoo by it’s suds!

Ready for another wacky hair-care myth?

4. If you pluck one of your gray hairs, two will grow back.

Not true!

Yeah, this one isn’t scientific — like, at all. It’s an old wive’s tale, as they say. If you pluck one of your gray hairs, you are doing nothing to the follicle, which is still alive and more than ready to provide you with yet another gray hair in its place. So, unless you want to have short, wild gray hairs sticking up all over your scalp, you should probably leave them the heck alone. Oh, and plucking one follicle has nothing to do with the sudden growth of another. That would be the hair-growth discovery of the century.

But the good news is that it could grow back less gray.

Yep, in a weird twist of fate when that unwanted hair grows back it might not be gray (though, you know, time will eventually catch up with you!). According to Marie Claire, “This is because melanogenesis (the process by which hair follicles make the pigment that gives hair its color) is not totally consistent from hair to hair.” This doesn’t give you permission to go pulling all your gray hairs out, though!

5. Stress can turn your hair gray–so you better chill.

The scientific-jury is still out on this one.

This might not be totally true. We know, we know — that year you were super stressed out was the same year you found your first few grays. Yeah, us too (and every single president in office). Apparently, going gray is entirely based on genetics. According to Scientific American, stress hormones could anecdotally generate more gray hairs, but there’s no observable, established direct link between the two. In short, they say, “scientists are beginning to gather clues that stress can hasten the graying process, but there is no scientific evidence demonstrating a cause-and-effect relationship.” We beg to differ!

6. Added oils are bad for greasy hair.

Nope, not true. Bring on the argan oil!

Although it feels a bit counter-intuitive, oils don’t add oiliness to already-oily or greasy hair. In fact, the added oils can be really good for you. It’s the same with skin-care, by the way. People with oily skin can totally use facial oil, something that derms have been trying to tell us for a while.  According to Marie Claire, the oils actually penetrate the hair shaft, making it healthier from the inside out.

Some of the very best hair oils include…

…argan oil, which can be used for dry and frizzy hair; coconut oil for all hair types (it’s very not-greasy!); almond oil, which is a favorite among people who have dandruff or an itchy scalp, and Abyssinian oil, which is hydrating for fine hair. Just use a few drops, smooth it into the palm of your hand, and comb it through your hair evenly.

7. If you leave your hair alone, it will self-clean.

Nope!

Some people believe that hair is a self-cleaning organism. Nope! Sorry to burst your bubble, but this isn’t true. Hair is fun, amazing, unique, and beautiful, but it can’t clean itself. Everyone needs to wash their hair from time to time — and of course, this differs per person and per hair type. But we want to make sure those follicles don’t get blocked!

But there are people who are part of the “no-poo” movement…

…which argues against using traditional washing products for hair. The no-wash movement and its followers skip the condition and shampoo in favor of natural products like vinegar, egg, and water. Lots of people love this approach, while others do not. 

The thing is, shampooing isn’t too harmful.

According to Bustle, dermatologist Dr. Nicole Rogers, the assistant clinical professor of dermatology at Tulane University, said, “For the average person with healthy, untreated hair, there is no evidence that the simple act of shampooing, so long as it is with the appropriate ingredients for your hair, will cause damage.” Just look for good-for-hair shampoos, and shampoo only as often as your hair needs it.

In the end, it’s all up to the individual!

Throughout history, people have done all sorts of things to keep their hair looking fresh. The Egyptians simply shaved it off and wore wigs. The Greeks and Romans used olive oil to condition their hair (a lot of people still do this!). And in the medieval era, people washed with vinegar, rosemary water,  mint, and thyme. Oh, and the Victorians loved their eggs. 

8. But towel drying your hair is totally cool, right?

Not true!

The American Academy of Dermatology has determined that vigorous hair drying with the help of a towel is a big-time no-no. That’s because the hair is at its most vulnerable when wet and can break far more easily–especially if it’s being shaken about and pulled by a cotton towel. Instead, detangle your locks with a wide-toothed comb if you need to, then delicately wrap the hair in a hair towel. Let this stay on your hair for a bit, and be mindful when taking it off.

Brushing your hair after a shower is a good idea, though…

Depending on your hair type, it can be helpful to brush after a shower just to detangle and smooth the hair. All you need to do is brush it enough so that the brush makes its way through the hair without pulling. If you can do that in 10 strokes, cool. 20? Great! No need to tire out your arm — and break your hair cuticle — to hit the “100 strokes” goal. Speaking of…

9. You should be brushing your hair with 100 strokes a day.

Not even a little bit true!

This one is just categorically false. First off, who came up with this arbitrary number? Second, while it’s true that brushing your hair can help distribute the naturally occurring hair oils, it’s not necessary to do so to make it happen. For one, it can make certain hair types super frizzy (was this rule invented by a straight-haired gal!?), it’s tiring, and it can cause breakage and cuticle damage. Plus, people with certain hairstyles don’t need to brush their hair daily at all.

10. Brushing your hair while in the shower is a good idea, right?

Nope!

Attention all curlies: You should listen in here. According to Naturally Curly, some people with very curly hair like to brush while in the shower — but this can be particularly harmful to your hair. As they say, “Hair that is damaged, already fragile, or in a compromised state becomes even more prone to breakage when wet.” If you do have to brush your hair in the shower, use a super wide-toothed comb, and don’t do it while the water is running right on the hair.

11. You need to switch your shampoos all the time.

A lot of people argue that switching your shampoo out can keep your hair from getting used to certain shampoos. But this just isn’t true. If you do need to switch your products, it’s most likely due to seasonal or environmental changes, no the hair itself. For example, in the wintertime, our hair gets way, way dryer.

12. Washing your hair under cold water makes it extra shiny.

Sort of.

Even if you do wash with cold water, it might not be worth it.

According to Atelier Emmanuel, “Technically, cold water will cause the hair cuticle to lay flat; this creates smoothness and some shine. However, any benefit this brings is negated if you apply any heat, such as with a blow drier or flat iron. If you wanted to get the marginal benefit of rinsing with cold water, you would also have to air dry your hair to maintain it.”

Lukewarm water may actually be better…

Atelier Emmanuel recommends using lukewarm water, which can actually avoid the disadvantages of both temperatures. Lukewarm water doesn’t strip hair of its oils, and it may even make your hair look shinier. This may all seem a little tit for tat, but hair science is a real thing and the water temperature we shower in does have an effect on our bodies and hair.

According to American Pregnancy, chemicals in both semi-permanent and permanent dyes are not highly toxic. This means they’re okay to use during pregnancy. In addition, they write, “Only small amounts of hair dye may be absorbed by the skin, leaving little that would be able to reach the fetus.”

But what about dying your hair if you’re breastfeeding?

There’s actually not much data, but the general idea is that not much of the chemical enters into the bloodstream. This is good news, but lots of people don’t want to chance it. For that reason, many turn to organic, all-natural dyes. It’s important to note that the American Pregnancy Association recommends waiting to dye your hair until your second trimester. The first trimester is a pretty delicate time.

14. You have to rinse out every drop of conditioner.

According to Reader’s Digest, you should probably leave some of that conditioner in your hair! As Doug Martucci, Creative Director at PRORITUALS says, conditions helps protect your hair, so leaving some in as a good idea. It won’t make your hair oily, so just go for it. You can also opt for a leave-in condition, too.

15. White flakes mean you have dandruff.

Okay, so people think of dandruff as white flakes, but seeing these little specks in your hair doesn’t automatically mean you have dandruff. In fact, white flakes can come from having a dry, super-thirsty scalp in deep need for exfoliation. It can also happen when there’s a major temperature shift due to the changing of seasons. If this is the case, use a scalp-loving hair mask or be sure to use extra condition.

At the end of the day, just treat your hair with love and kindness!

Whatever hair care means to you is what you should be doing. If that means skipping the shampoo and getting regular cuts, cool. If that means making DIY scalp treatments and using sulfate-free products, go for it. Your hair is a part of you, and it deserves lots of love!