Brushing your hair 100 strokes per day for healthy hair is a dangerous myth that can result in excess frizz, damage to your hair, and even hair loss with excess breakage and spot balding. There is a direct link between how much you brush and how much excess damage or breakage you get because each time you brush you create friction which can strip the protective layer from the hair, and you stretch your hair like a rubber band.
Fortunately, you don’t have to completely give up your favorite brush and you can avoid excess damage with some simple cautionary steps. Here’s how “over brushing” damages hair and how to minimize the impact.
Brushing causes friction
The fine bristles of a brush can rub against your hair strands and strip off the protective cuticle layer. And according to this study at ResearchGate.com, this is why brushing your hair causes more damage than combing your hair. Whenever possible, use a wide tooth comb to straighten or detangle because the wider teeth and smoother surface will cause less friction and help keep your hair safer.
And if you struggle with frizz, try using your fingers and then finish with a comb for bigger tangles. That’s because even if the brush does not strip off the cuticles, friction can cause them to stick up instead of lying flat on the hair, which contributes to excess frizz.
Brushing stretches your hair
Your hair might not be as elastic as a rubber band, but it can stretch up to 30% when it’s dry and to 50% when wet. This is why over brushing (100 brushes per day is definitely over brushing) causes progressive damage to your hair strands called “fatigue behavior” and makes your hair strands more likely to break. How hard you brush also matters since more force means more stretch. So be gentle, don’t force the brush through your hair, and you’ll help keep your luscious locks intact.
If you are prone to tangles or repeated brushing of specific places on your head, be especially careful and gentle. If you repeatedly brush with too much force, it could cause the same effect as Trichotillomania, a condition where people can’t resist the urge to pull on their hair, like a nervous tick. This damages the hair follicles, which can cause baldness or misshapen hairs.
So, if you love your brush, use it gently. Brush just enough to straighten or detangle your hair, and if you can live without it, use a wide tooth comb instead. Also, try to use a detangling spray and don’t be afraid of detanglers with silicone. It’s an ingredient that gets a bad rap, but that’s another myth. Silicone does double duty by helping you comb out the tangles and also helping to prevent friction as your hair rubs against itself throughout the day.
And whether you use a brush or a comb, make sure to clean it regularly to prevent any buildup of product or bacteria to keep your hair and scalp healthy and strong.