You’ve probably heard them all — “don’t pluck a gray hair because two more will come back in its place” or “make sure your eyebrows always match your hair color”— hair myths that have been around so long, we've accepted them as wisdom.
So, which old wives' tales actually have truth behind them? We asked the experts to debunk this common hair advice.
1. Myth: Your eyebrows should always match your hair color
Reality: Semi-false, based on current trends. “The trend right now is to have darker eyebrows than your actual hair color,” celebrity colorist Kim Vo told TODAY.com. “But they shouldn't be more than two levels darker than (your current color).”
2. Myth: Hair grows faster when it’s trimmed frequently
Reality: False. “How often you cut your hair doesn’t have anything to do with how fast it will grow. It is actually the follicles in your scalp that determine how quickly your hair grows,” explains Dr. Doris Day, a New York City-based dermatologist. “However, cutting your hair frequently may make it appear longer and even thicker because you are getting rid of split ends and breakage that can leave hair looking thin and sparse, in some cases.”
Vo recommends a cut every few weeks: “We either ‘dust’ the hair or give it an ‘air cut’ where small amounts of hair are trimmed and kept in shape and form. If you're growing your hair out, trim every eight weeks and let the hair love flow.”
3. Myth: Gray hair is only caused by stress
Reality: False. While stress can accelerate graying, “gray hair is caused by the melanocytes that produce melanin (pigment) dying and therefore, [are] no longer producing color,” explains Day. “While many people think that stress causes graying it is actually determined by genetics.”
4. Myth: If you pluck gray hair, two more will grow in its place
Reality: As Vo calls them, gray hairs are “mother nature’s highlights” but, no, tweezing them out will NOT affect other grays. However, according to Day, plucking may create scarring that can lead to thinning or patches of hair loss. So, your best bet is to just avoid plucking all together.
5. Myth: Brushing your hair 100 times per day is important for hair health
Reality: “100 times is too exaggerated,” celebrity hair stylist Mika Fowler tells TODAY.com. “The key is to brush your hair enough so that the oils are being distributed throughout your hair.”
Dr. Day also adds that brushing can create friction on hair, which leads to cuticle damage, breakage and can make hair look frizzy. Additionally, if you are experiencing thinning or hair loss, brushing adds more stress to the already fragile follicle. “Brush gently and only as needed using a wide tooth comb or a brush with soft bristles to detangle without pulling,” Day says. “You can also opt for a scalp massage in place of brushing for a similar, therapeutic experience.”
6. Myth: If you use the same shampoo every time you wash, it will eventually stop working
Reality: Total myth. “Like a relationship, date until you find the right one,” says Vo. Shampoo will cleanse the same, even if you use it every day for years. However, “if you recently made a change — such as coloring or using hot tools frequently— you might want to switch to a more hydrating shampoo,” Day notes. “Sometimes it’s just fun to try new shampoos!”
7. Myth: If you have greasy hair, skip conditioner
Reality: A big fat false. “Greasy hair is not caused by conditioning your hair, instead it is naturally caused by too much sebum being produced from the tissues of the scalp,” explains Day. “For greasy hair, use a clarifying shampoo and only use conditioner on your ends,” recommends Vo.
8. Myth: The sun is the best way to lighten to your hair
Reality: While the sun will naturally lighten your color, it’s certainly not the best method to do so, or the healthiest. “The sun burns your scalp, just like it would your skin,” Fowler says. Vo adds that “the best color for your hair is ammonia-free lifting cream that actually lifts (e.g. lightens) hair without damage.”
9. Myth: You need to lather, rinse and REPEAT
Reality: Sort of false. According to Day, “most people should not have to repeat when shampooing.” In some cases if there is a lot of product being used or an excessive amount of buildup, you can repeat, but Day recommends using a mild shampoo so you aren’t irritating the scalp. Also, lather gently to avoid extra breakage.
10. Myth: Sleeping with your hair down will make it grow faster
Reality: So not true, but...”while there is no evidence to show that sleeping with your hair down will make it grow faster, the method is often recommended if you are experiencing thinning or hair loss to ensure that you aren’t causing additional breakage, damage or tension at the root, which will ultimately result in added thinning/loss,” explains Day. “If you prefer to have it up, go with a loose ponytail versus a tight one.”
This article was originally published Mar. 10, 2015 on TODAY.com.