Hair can be the “root” of empowerment for many of us, and people have been known for their signature styles for centuries. And sometimes we want to change things up, but don’t want to wait for our body to naturally grow hair, so we go to our friends and family for tips. And this is where the myths about hair growth continue to thrive.
You’ll hear about trims making your hair grow faster and hats making you lose your hair, and while most are harmless tales, some are based in fact. Here is the truth behind 7 common hair growth myths so you can tell fact from fiction.
- Frequent trims make your hair grow faster
- Wearing A Hat Can Cause Hair Thinning
- The dirtier your hair is, the faster it will grow
- Plucking a gray hair makes more grow
- Shaving hair makes it grow back faster, darker, and coarser
- For healthy hair, brush 100 strokes a day
- Weaves and wigs prevent hair damage
Frequent Trims Make Your Hair Grow Faster
False: Frequent trims do not make your hair grow faster.
Hair is beautiful, but it can also get split ends. And split ends can climb the strand which is why it is important to get frequent trims when you’re growing your hair out. And as beautiful as your hair is, it’s actually made from dead keratin protein cells and structural lipids (source). Your body needs to produce and process these in order to form hair and help it grow. Going for a trim does not stimulate the growth on its own.
Your hair grows about half an inch per month (source) regardless of how often you cut it, because the growth occurs in the follicle beneath the scalp. Trimming is what helps your hair look better because you’re removing split ends. Knowing that your hair can only grow so quickly, make sure the stylist is trimming off less than the amount your hair grew. This way you continue to add length while removing split ends before they climb.
But that’s not to say trims don’t benefit your hair. Ask your stylist for a shampoo and conditioner treatment that cleans your scalp and works with your hair type. Because a clean scalp is important for hair growth according to this paper written and fact checked by two PHDs.
Wearing A Hat Can Cause Hair Thinning
False: A hat that fits properly and doesn’t pull, rip, or snag, will not cause hair thinning.
As long as you wear a properly fitting hat, you need not worry about it thinning out your hair (source). Actually, wearing a hat can help keep your head healthy since it blocks UV rays that can damage your hair and your scalp (source).
Even though the origins of this myth aren’t clear, it’s no surprise that it keeps going when people see hairs stuck to their hats after wear. But that’s normal as we normally shed 50-100 hairs a day (source). And if your hair gets stuck in the hat because it has netting or pulls, it may seem like it is thinning, but it is really your hat not being the proper fit or match for your hair, and you may want to update the style or size of your hat.
So feel free to don that Derby hat whenever you like, fashion police permitting.
The Dirtier Your Hair Is, The Faster it Will Grow
False: Dirty hair does not grow faster.
This is another myth with a murky origin, but one thing that is clear though is that scientists agree bad hygiene can lead to excessive “oxidative stress” and actually result in hair loss (source).
In other words, the dirtier your hair is the more likely it is to fall out. All of the stuff that gets into our hair and onto our scalps on a daily basis needs regular cleaning and care for healthy hair. And if your hair is dirty, there could be excess sebum (your hair’s natural oils that protect the strands). Although the right amount of sebum on your hair can be good, excess sebum on your scalp because you have not been cleaning your hair can lead to hair loss. This is because of the reasons mentioned above, and a dirty scalp is itchy. As you scratch you may rip hairs out making it appear you are suffering from hair loss.
Plucking a Gray Hair Makes 2 Grow in Its Place
False: Plucking a gray hair does not make two grow in its place.
“Pili multigemini,” or compound hairs, is the medical term for a hair follicle growing more than one hair, and having it is rare (source).
Your hair follicles grow one hair at a time, so plucking a gray one out is not going to make two come back in its place. Unless you start to stress out over gray hairs, since stress can cause some of your other follicles to grow gray hairs.
Shaving Hair Makes it Grow Back Faster, Darker, and Coarser
False: Shaving hair does not make it grow back darker, faster, or more coarse.
Hair color and texture comes mostly from genetics (source) with some additional influence from your lifestyle, especially your nutritional choices (source). Similar to the myth about getting more hair trims makes hair grow faster, any shaving or cutting only touches dead keratin cells and doesn’t change how your hair grows in the follicle, which is where it gets its color.
Brush Your Hair 100 Strokes a Day for Healthy Hair
False: Brushing your hair 100 strokes a day will not make it more healthy.
This is a potentially harmful myth as too much brushing can cause you to lose hair that you shouldn’t be losing (source). Also, brushing is more damaging to your hair than combing due to the friction that can damage hair cuticles (source).
Brush your hair as needed to straighten and detangle, but stop long before you get to 100 strokes. And if your hair is prone to tangles, snags, and the brush getting stuck, use a detangler so you don’t cause breakage if it is damaged, pull too hard on your follicles, or rip hair out.
Wearing Weaves and Wigs Prevents Hair Damage
Half True: Wearing a wig that protects your scalp and hair from UV light, pollution, and drying out in the sun can prevent some forms of hair damage. But if the wig is too tight, or your weave pulls, it can cause more damage, especially to the follicle and potentially slow hair growth.
Anything that causes undue tension or pulling on your hair can possibly result in traction alopecia (source), a.k.a. tension hair loss. Both weaves and wigs can create this extra tension on your natural hair, and wigs in particular can slow blood flow around the scalp if they’re too tight. And blood flow is needed to keep your scalp and follicles healthy. This is an important part of hair growth. To avoid damage and hair loss, it’s best to keep wigs that are not tight, don’t pull on your hair, and make sure your style choices with weave aren’t too tight or pulling.
And there you have it. Some of the most popular and “believed” myths about hair growth and if they’re real or not. If you have one you’d like us to research, leave a comment below and subscribe to the TELETIMES newsletter to find out when we publish the research.