Synopsis: Hair care tips and facts including some common hair myths and why they are not true. Frequency of washing doesn't harm hair. Wash it as often as you like, although the recommendation is three times a week. Lice and other parasites can be transported from scalp to scalp through the sharing of combs, brushes and other hair care tools.
There are a lot of misconceptions about hair and its care. Once one knows the truth, the solution for hair challenges becomes logical, not a hidden secret to be discovered.
The widely held misconception concerning hair is that is alive, and, therefore, its condition can be 'permanently' altered by using some newly discovered commercial potion.
The truth is that hair is only living matter at its base below the surface of the scalp. Like the tip of one's finger nail, hair is dead matter, and can be clipped shorter and discarded. This fact alone brings us to two important conclusions about how one may maintain stronger, healthier looking, shiny hair.
1 - We must be concerned with preventative maintenance by creating a healthy environment below the surface of the scalp, where hair is germinated or born. Since hair in its basic form is 100% keratin, our diets should consist of a good balance of easily digested protein, i.e. - dairy products, poultry and meat. For those of us who are vegans, good protein alternatives are nuts, beans and the old stand-by - peanut butter. I suspect that with the popular emergence of low-carbohydrate/high-protein diets, we in turn will begin to see more heads of hair with less frizzles and easily split ends.
Now, how do we ensure this quality protein gets to the living roots of our hair?
Just as we stimulate quality muscle growth through exercising and bringing protein-laden blood to specific body parts, we can do the same for our hair. This is easily achieved by simply massaging your scalp, once a day, while you shampoo and condition your hair. You'll not only have cleaner and more thoroughly conditioned hair, but you will have stimulated protein-supplying blood to feed the germinating roots of your hair. Be careful to use only the pads of your fingers in small circular motions as you gently massage your scalp. Never use your fingernails for this purpose as you can cause abrasions to your scalp that could lead to infection and possible skin disorders.
2 - Since the hair we visually see above the surface of the scalp is essentially dead matter, how can we repair it from external environmental and/or chemical damage? First, we must realize that any product remedy we might add to our hair is always a temporary fix, no matter how good it is at initially solving certain hair challenges. Any product that is effective at controlling frizzles must be used periodically to continue to be effective. Some haircare products work for longer periods between uses, while others must be used every day to overcome challenges like split-ends.
This brings us to several fallacies concerning the shampoo and conditioning of hair.
One of which is that a shampoo alone can increase the overall health of the hair. Shampoo, no matter what exotic or expensive ingredients are added to it, is designed to perform one single task - to cleanse the hair of excessive sebum (natural oils), body sweat and environmental impurities.
It is a scientific contradiction that cleansing the hair alone will keep it healthy, once you have stripped it of all of its natural protective properties, like sebum. The longer your hair is, the less the chance is that these natural hair oils will reach the mid-shaft to ends of your hair with daily shampooing. This leaves the older and more vulnerable sections of the hair-shaft exposed to further damage from heated styling appliances and chemical processes, such coloring or permanent waving.
The mid-shaft to ends of your hair do not need the same intense daily cleansing as the first few inches of hair closest to the scalp. The remedy is very simple - as you gently massage your scalp while shampooing, only apply and focus your shampoo within the first 2 - 3 inches of hair closest to your scalp. When you rinse the shampoo from this base section of the hair it will quickly pass though the mid-shaft to ends of your hair, thus providing these areas with the lighter cleansing they require.
Many people have the misconception that daily conditioning of their hair will cause flatness or added weight. This challenge is easily resolved by, first, knowing how to physically condition the hair and, second, by understanding the different intended uses of the main 3 types of conditioners, i.e. - rinses, daily and deep conditioners.
Daily conditioning (protecting) any type of hair, from thin & fine to thick & frizzy, is basically the same.
It is simply the reverse concept of shampooing hair as discussed above - considering that throughout the course of the day the first 3 inches of hair closest to the scalp will receive an adequate supply of naturally-occurring hair oil. Therefore, if you condition this area with a creme rinse or daily conditioner it can become over-conditioned, heavy & less manageable. The solution is to apply your conditioner from the mid-shaft (3 inches from scalp) of the hair to the ends. Then using a wide-toothed comb and holding onto the ends of your hair, gently comb the conditioner from mid-shaft to ends for even distribution, de-tangling and sealing split ends. By the time you finish doing this, the conditioner will have remained within your hair for the appropriate 3 to 5 minutes to be effective in temporarily repairing any damaged or frizzy areas.
The concept for applying deep conditioners is the same as above, however, the time the conditioner is left within the hair must be extended up to 20 minutes to allow penetration into the inner (cortical) layer of the hair-shaft - only 10 minutes if your wrap your hair in a moist, hot towel.
Deep conditioning should be done sparingly - once per week for most hair types. Deep conditioning the hair more than this is could cause the opposite intended effect. If you over-use a protein-based deep conditioner to strengthen and add body, it could cause the hair to become dry and brittle. If you over-use a moisturizing or oil-based deep conditioner, it could cause your hair to become limp.
Many people are misinformed that it is safer to de-tangle the hair while it is dry.
One must understand that the hair can stretch up to 50% of its length while wet without breakage, however, while dry, hair will break before it stretches 25% of its length. It is best to keep a wide-toothed comb within your shower to de-tangle & seal split-ends, as described above, while using a low pH (3.5 to 5.5 acidic) creme rinse or daily conditioner.
On the subject of misperceived hair loss - many people turn fearful upon seeing their hairbrush & shower drain filled with an inordinate amount of their hair.
I wish to relieve some of this fear by stating the fact that each strand of hair has a lifespan of 2 to 7 years before a new hair begins to grow in its place, pushing it out to end up in one's brush or shower drain. This means everyone sheds 50 to 80 hairs from their head everyday. If one has longer hair it may give the false appearance that they a shedding more hair daily than the average amount.
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.
More shampoo equals 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 texturing perm or color treatment.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Dry hair is damaged by too-frequent washing
FALSE: Hair is more likely to be damaged if it's left too long between washes. Not washing can cause the scalp's natural oil to be blocked, and unable to lubricate the hair shaft. As a result, hair can become dry and brittle. Things that damage hair include bleaching, coloring, styling and brushing when wet.
To stop the frizzles, use shampoo only twice a month. The rest of the time, rinse daily with conditioner
FALSE: Oil becomes rancid when it stays on the surface of the scalp, so regular shampooing is required to keep hair and scalp clean and healthy. Avoid frizzles by conditioning after every shampoo and try a leave-in conditioner, too.
A rinse out conditioner does not provide benefits because it is rinsed out
FALSE: Rinse out conditioners applied to your hair after washing will leave a deposit of moisturizing proteins and other ingredients on the hair shaft giving hair that is softer, shinier and better conditioned.
Blow-drying hair can cause it to smoke
FALSE: This strange myth has circulated in different variations for many years. On the rare occasion that hair "smokes" it is due to the evaporation of condensation on the hair from styling gels or similar hair care products.
Brushing thinning hair makes it fall out faster
FALSE: Although, brushing can damage hair (see above), as long as you use a good brush, normal daily brushing will not accelerate the normal loss of hair from the scalp. If your hair is suffering from a hair loss condition like alopecia brushing will only cause you to lose hair that is already ready to fall. Excessive brushing is always discouraged under any circumstances.
Shaving a baby's scalp will alter their natural hair texture
FALSE: The hair that a baby is born with may or may not be the hair that they grow up with. Shaving a baby's head will not alter the texture of their ultimate hair nor will it cause their hair to grow faster or thicker.
Gray hair can only be covered with permanent color
FALSE: Depending on the percentage of gray hair that you have, you may be able to blend or cover the budding gray with a semi-permanent or demi-permanent blend that does not contain harsh chemicals.
Excessive use of hair products causes hair loss
FALSE: There are no known, (professionally produced) hair care products that cause hair loss. You may sculpt your locks with as much gel, mousse or spray as you desire. However, be careful of home-made remedies, or any product that you don't know the contents of.
Hair care products advertised as natural are chemical-free
FALSE: Not all hair care products sold in health food establishments, etc are completely natural; some may contain chemicals like SLS. When in doubt read the label.
Eating Jell-O will make your hair grow faster
FALSE: According to dermatologists, there is no evidence that Jell-O will do anything for hair growth. Synchronized swimmers use Gelatin on their hair to protect against chlorine damage), but there's no evidence that it will stimulate growth.
Stress causes your hair to thin
FALSE: Everyday stress won't cause your hair to thin. The problem may be hormonal or nutritional in nature.
Steroids have no side effects on hair
FALSE: Bodybuilders beware! Anabolic steroids are very potent chemicals that have some treacherous side effects including acceleration of hair loss. The problem is that these side effects are usually delayed by several years.
Standing on your head cures hair loss
FALSE: Hair follicles need more than blood flow to grow hair. Standing on your head to increase blood flow to your scalp, may be great for your gymnastic skills, but will have no effect on your hair.
Split ends will travel
TRUE: Uncut split ends can travel up the hair shaft towards the roots. Hair that is not tended to, over time, may develop splits that migrate and split all or part of the entire hair. Some ends can actually tear multiple times so that your split ends have splits.
Hair will always remain the same texture
FALSE: Although you may be born with straight, curly or wavy locks, there are many circumstances under which your hair's ultimate texture can be permanently altered. Pregnancy, medication, chemotherapy, age and other variables can cause your texture to be temporarily or permanently altered.
It is often said that wearing a hat increases the wearer's chances of Male Pattern Baldness. Men lose hair every day, without even noticing. This is due to the natural growth cycle of the hair, and they will ultimately be replaced by new hairs. If a man wears a hat for most of the day, any hair lost will gather in the hat, and this will probably be obvious to the wearer when he removes the hat. So, the man who wears a hat will perhaps notice natural hair loss more than the man who doesn't wear a hat. There is nothing to suggest that wearing a hat can cause hair loss, but the actual wearing of the hat will make the natural loss of hair more obvious that it otherwise would have been.
Another urban myth is that cutting the hair will make it grow back stronger and quicker. This is perhaps due to the fact that when cut, the hair feels thicker. There is no evidence to suggest that cutting the hair makes it grow back any differently. A person's hair will grow back at the same rate as before.
There is a school of thought that brushing your hair is good for it, even compared with combing. The reasoning is that brushing is just like massaging the scalp, which will increase blood circulation, and hence stimulate hair growth. This is also nonsense; in fact too much brushing could damage the hair by causing split ends.
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