COMMON HAIR MYTHS
Trichologist, Dr. Kari Williams
Hair myths are all too familiar and our conversations about hair are littered with them. They are almost like a piece of oral history and now we can’t distinguish the truth from the tale. Most myths are developed partially by the hair industry for marketing purposes to sell products and also from a misunderstanding of hair growth as we began to grow our hair after reconstruction (era of Madame CJ Walker, who happened to also use marketing ploys to sell her products.) Lets explore some of these myths:
Trimming makes your hair grow: false. Trimming makes the hair neater and even; it is a maintenance step. It can also be used to cut away damaged parts of the hair strand to reduce or stop breakage but it does not affect hair growth
Split ends split all the way up the hair shaft: false. Split ends do not break evenly. When the hair splits it breaks or tears off. Now this may lead to continuous breakage because of a weak hair shaft but it will not split evenly all the way up the shaft- and if it does (which is unlikely) trimming wouldn’t help it anyway. Once we stop doing damaging things to the hair that cause split ends they will be kept to a minimum.
Don’t wash your hair too much or it will dry out your hair: false. Its not how often you wash your hair that dries it out but what you wash your hair with. If washing the hair dried it out Caucasians would be bald because they wash their hair everyday. Water is the number one moisturizer. Wash hair with pH balanced shampoo. Frequent shampooing with black hair is important because we put products on our hair daily to replace lost moisture. One shampoo is sufficient but sometimes two is needed if there is a lot of product/dirt build up. The first shampoo wont lather much because of the natural oils on our hair. If you are shampooing your hair more than twice a week one shampoo each time is enough. And don’t forget to deep condition and lubricate your strands so that they don’t dry out.
We have to grease our scalps: false. We put too much emphasis on the scalp. Greasing the scalp is not necessary because of our sebaceous glands that produce sebum. Sebum is a slightly acidic oil that lubricates our strands closest to the scalp and guards against lost moisture. The ends of the hair still lack lubrication and this makes them susceptible to breakage. We need oil to lubricate our hair but we don’t need to oil or grease our scalps. We need to moisturize our hair daily. A good moisturizer should contain water, oils for lubrication and to seal in moisture, a stimulant (to encourage cell replication) and humectants (an ingredient that pulls moisture from the air) is optional. Heavy greases, pomades or products that contain petroleum and mineral oil just coat the hair but do not moisturize it. In addition, if you have any type of flaking you do not want to use grease on the scalp thinking it will alleviate the problem. Grease will only plaster flakes to the scalp and cause the problem to get worse.
Scarves, wool caps and cotton pillowcases will break your hair: false.
Hair breaks because it is excessively dry or abused. These items will absorb some of the moisture from your hair and lead to dryness over time, especially if moisture is not replaced on a daily basis. If your hair is already dry and damaged, then these accessories contribute to the breakage when hair strands get caught in the fibers.
What hair myths do you need the facts about?