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Common Hair Myths and the Truth From a Trichologist

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I enjoy informing others about hair care and health, as well as what home remedies work.

Healthy, shiny hair is a 'Mane' concern for most women

Healthy, shiny hair is a 'Mane' concern for most women

People can ask funny questions to a trichologist, such as, “Does your hair grow faster if it gets pulled?” As funny as it sounds, there is some truth to it. Pulling hair stimulates the circulation of blood, which can stimulate growth of hair. However, it could be damaging to your hair follicles as well. You might accidentally yank out a good portion of your hair, unintentionally causing permanent damage to the root of the hair. So almost all the myths about hair that you hear are part fact as well as fiction. Here are some common ones broken down.

1. Oil Makes Your Hair Grow Faster

Our hair growth is genetically programmed. Nothing from the outside can alter this biologically programmed growth. However, the input/output school of thought often works, which means whatever you will put in as the input will show on the outside. Hair is made up of dead cells. So it's basically dead, but the follicle or the hair root isn’t. Feeding the follicle will help it grow faster and it has to be done from the inside. So a healthy diet rich of vitamins, folic acid, iron, calcium and protein will result in overall healthy hair. Using coconut oil or olive oil as part of your diet might help improve the health of your scalp but you’ll have to have a substantial amount to see a result. It’s better to just apply it to your scalp and on your hair shafts because it conditions the scalp and the hair shafts faster that way. Oil is associated with faster growth because it helps prevent dandruff and split ends which often interfere with hair growth.

2. Shaving or Cutting Hair Increases Thickness, Density and Makes It Grow Faster

As mentioned before, hair is made up of dead cells. So cutting can’t alter the thickness or the growth. Although, a blunt cut can give an illusion of thicker hair. Also getting rid of split or damaged ends decreases hair breakage. So it might seem like your hair is growing faster as it doesn’t break anymore.


3. Pulling or Braiding Hair Makes It Grow Faster

The pressure from pulling or braiding your hair opens up the blood vessels and increases the flow of blood to the follicles, bringing all the necessary nutrients for optimal growth. Hence, the hair grows faster. However, as mentioned previously if the hair is pulled too tight the follicle can be damaged and result in temporary or permanent bald spots.

4. Split Ends Can Be Repaired

Once a hair splits it can never be repaired without cutting the split end off. Split ends can be temporarily merged with products like olive oil, hair serum, leave in conditioners, etc. However, it only lasts until your next shampoo.

5. Split Ends Can Travel

Yes, a split end can travel up the shaft and split into multiple ends before it actually breaks. So it’s better to get rid of them before the entire shaft is damaged.

6. Hair Will Always Remain the Same Texture

No, hair texture can be altered temporarily or permanently under different circumstances like pregnancy, medication, age and other variables that alter hormonal balance in our bodies.

7. Coloring Hair Makes It Fall Out or Slows Down the Growth

Color only deposits in or takes pigments out of your hair. Over processing hair with color treatment might break the hair shaft but it doesn’t have anything to do with your hair follicle. Your hair falls out, or grows, from the follicle. So, it can’t make it fall out or slow down the growth.

8. Shampooing Everyday Dries Out Your Scalp and Hair

Most of us think since shampoo takes all the moisture out from the hair and scalp in the process of cleaning, it dries out our scalp and hair, but this isn’t true. Our body constantly tries to compensate for the elements it lacks. When the body thinks the scalp is getting dry it starts producing more oil than it used to. So the more you shampoo your hair the more oil your hair will produce and the faster your scalp and hair become greasy.

9. Pulling Gray Hair Out Causes the Hair Surrounding It Go Gray

When our hair becomes gray it is also from genetics. So unless you are doing something like smoking, which alters the genetic programs in your body, your hair will not turn gray. Studies show that smokers are 4 times more likely to get gray hair than non-smokers.

10. Stress Causes Gray Hair

Stress can increase the level of hydrogen peroxide in the hair follicles which deactivates the enzymes that are primarily responsible for repairing hair follicles leading to the death of melanin-producing cells. Then, the hydrogen peroxide bleaches the hair follicle out till it has no pigments left in it. So yes, stress can lead to gray hair.

11. Leaving Conditioner on Hair for a Long Time Gives a Better Result

The hair can only take so much in. It’s like a sponge. A sponge will only absorb as much water as it can and after that no matter how much water you put in, it won’t take anymore. So hair will only absorb as much as it can and after a certain time no matter how long you leave the conditioner on, it will not help.

We all want faster hair growth, less hair loss and overall healthy looking hair. The key to get all those is to follow a healthy diet and to get your hair chemically treated as little as possible, which includes shampooing, coloring, re-bonding, and so forth.

This content is for informational purposes only and does not substitute for formal and individualized diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed medical professional. Do not stop or alter your current course of treatment. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.


Sapphire on June 13, 2017:

I'm suffering from PCOD for the past 16 years and my hair has been affected badly. Hav been going to a tricholohist and it became better but stress and diet just worsened it. Have been having a bad marriage for the past 5 years and am fighting with a lot of emotional stress and have got bald patches all over my hair all of a sudden and also my hairnets is thinning out so don't know how can stress add to such a level of hair damage and hair loss. Can you please help me in finding out what other tests should I do to check what else is causing the hair thinnin and massive hair fall along with te patches.


greeneyedblondie on May 01, 2014:

I actually knew all of these (wanting to be a cosmetologest and everything) but I'm glad you published this hub so people know better.