It's not always easy to have a good hair day. Sometimes it can feel like there are a million forces working against us: bad haircuts, greasy strands, lack of time, and humidity, for starters. On top of it all, there is a ton of hair misinformation that makes properly caring for our manes even harder. Keep reading as we set the record straight on 11 common hair myths.
Myth #1: I Can Train My Hair to Do Something
Fact: Your hair's growth patterns are determined by your hair follicles; meaning, no amount of blow-drying, combing, or styling can permanently train your hair to bend to your will. But hey, we're not saying you shouldn't try. There are ways, albeit temporary, to rid yourself of that stubborn cowlick.
Myth #2: Shaving Will Make My Hair Grow Thicker or Faster
Fact: Since hair is essentially protein and keratin, there's no way for it to communicate with your body. So while some people believe that shaving causes hair to grow back faster or thicker, this is not possible since your body has no way of knowing whether you shaved or not. However, facial hair (including eyebrows) may grow coarser as you age, so it could be why shaving is often (wrongly) attributed to making hair grow coarser.
Myth #3: Getting Frequent Haircuts Will Make Hair Grow Faster
Fact: Contrary to popular belief, getting your hair cut more often will not make it grow any faster. And while eating a protein-rich diet, not smoking, and avoiding stress might slightly increase your chances of nailing envy-worthy strands, your genes are the determining factor in your hair's growth rate.
Myth #4: You Should Shampoo Your Hair Daily
Fact: In the United States, there is an obsession with cleanliness. As a result, many people follow the rule that they should shampoo their hair every day without fail. However, since hair produces sebum, or oil, at a rate that is unique to each of us, one person's hair might feel oily in a day and another's in three days or even longer. Rather than lather and rinse your strands daily, you should shampoo your hair when it starts to feel oily and begins to look flat.
Myth #5: Plucking Gray Hairs Will Make More Grow Back
Fact: Hair has color because cells in our hair follicles called melanocytes create pigment in the hair. When these cells stop producing the pigment, the hair loses its color. Your gray hair is actually transparent as it lacks pigment, but it appears gray. Plucking out one gray hair will not affect the melanocytes in the other hair follicles, so other hairs will not turn gray as a result.
While going gray seems as inevitable as death and taxes, there are certain changes you can make to push back the clock. Firstly, quit smoking since smokers are 2.5 times more likely to experience premature graying, and secondly, eat foods that help to prevent gray hair. Then again, you could just embrace your grays.
Myth #6: Hair Can Turn Gray Overnight
Fact: If you've read the answer to the above myth, you should already be able to figure out the answer to this one. Only chemically bleaching the hair can make an entire strand lose its color overnight, and not even that can do it completely.
Myth #7: Growing My Hair Longer Will Hide My Hair Loss
Fact: Actually, in almost every circumstance, growing hair longer makes the thinning and baldness appear much more noticeable. When the sides and back are worn fuller, it makes the top appear thinner. The rule of thumb: If you can see scalp on the top, cut the sides short enough so you can see an equal amount of scalp. This will give an overall uniform appearance and take the emphasis off of the thinning areas.
Myth #8: Shampoo Will Make My Hair Grow Faster
Fact: Any shampoo that claims to make hair grow faster is making a false claim. Hair will grow at a fairly consistent rate, about half an inch per month, no matter what you do. There are certain shampoos that will make the hair appear thicker by swelling the follicle and shampoos that will deeply condition the hair and help prevent breakage, but none that can actually increase the growth rate. Some say that doing things like taking vitamins and massaging the scalp can help your hair grow faster, but there's no scientific proof to support such claims.
Myth #9: Hair Loss Comes from My Mother's Side of the Family
Fact: According to celebrity stylist and S.Oil co-founder Jordan Blackmore, "One of the biggest hair myths I've heard during all my years in the industry is that your mother's father has an influence on your hair loss. That is completely untrue. The genealogy of your hair comes half from your mother and half from your father."
Myth #10: Wearing Tight Hats Causes Hair Loss
Fact: For a hat to cause hair loss, it would have to be so tight that it cuts off circulation to the hair follicles. If that were the case, the hat would likely be much too tight for you to wear comfortably, so it's not likely. Wearing a tight hat can, however, cause hair breakage and damage.
Myth #11: Dandruff Is Caused by Dry Scalp
Fact: Dandruff is actually thought to be caused by a fungus called Malassezia, which can grow when your scalp produces excess oil. This can cause an increased number of dead cells which, when combined with dirt and oil from your scalp, form flaky white scales. Dry scalp has nothing to do with it.
Combat dandruff by gently massaging a few tablespoons of Epsom salt onto your dry or slightly damp scalp for two to three minutes, then shampoo as usual.
Zayed AA, Shahait AD, Ayoub MN, Yousef AM. Smokers' hair: does smoking cause premature hair graying?. Indian Dermatol Online J. 2013;4(2):90-92. doi:10.4103/2229-5178.110586