Think brushing your hair 100 strokes each night is healthy? Will frequent trims really make your hair grow faster? Read on to discover the simple truths behind great hair.
By Melissa Foss
Myth: Frequent trims make hair grow faster.
Truth: "Hair grows a half-inch per month, whether you cut it or not," says John Barrett, owner of the John Barrett Salon in New York City. Hair may grow slightly faster in the summer, but that has nothing to do with the stylist's scissors and everything to do with hormones, which do speed growth a little. One thing a trim will do: Eliminate split ends, making hair look better.
Myth: Stress can make your hair fall out.
Truth: Although your hair is falling out all the time, to the tune of 50 to 120 strands per day, it's possible that you may lose a few more strands when you're "catastrophically" stressed, meaning you have had a major life change such as a divorce, lost job, or surgery, says Gerome Litt, M.D., an assistant professor of dermatology at Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine in Cleveland. "Other culprits are pregnancy or antibiotics. After a few weeks, it will almost certainly grow back."
Myth: Switching shampoos can make hair look healthier.
Truth: It may seem so, but experts scoff. "Hair can't tell the difference between brands or build up tolerance to any product," says London-based hair and scalp expert Philip Kingsley. "Your favorite shampoo will work the same every time you lather up, week after week, month after month." If you have very oily hair or favor a particularly sticky styling product that contains wax, it does pay to use a clarifying shampoo once every two weeks to wash away residue. Good Housekeeping's Beauty Department recommends Redken Hair Cleansing Cream and Neutrogena Anti-Residue Shampoo.
Myth: If you pluck out one gray hair, two or three will sprout in its place.
Truth: While this isn't true, plucking out those gray strands is a bad habit. You can damage the roots, causing infection or leaving a scar.
Myth: You can't make flat, fine hair look full of body.
Truth: Five minutes with a set of large hot rollers will add life to straight hair.
Myth: To get really clean hair, you must "lather, rinse, and repeat."
Truth: One thorough washing will do the trick.
Myth: Rinsing with ice-cold water after a shampoo will give you shinier hair.
Truth: It might wake you up, but a dousing of cold water will have no effect on the shininess of your tresses.
Myth: Coloring your hair causes major damage.
Truth: Products today — both at home and in the salon — are gentle enough not to weaken hair. In fact, some contain extra conditioners that may leave hair more manageable than before. Although it's not necessary, "it can't hurt to consult a professional stylist the first time you do anything permanent to your hair or scalp," Kingsley counsels.
Myth: You can mend split ends with the right products
Truth: Once they're split, that's it. The only thing you can do then is cut them off. Celebrity stylist Jimmy Paul suggests making split ends less noticeable by applying a product containing silicone or beeswax. It will temporarily seal ends together, making hair softer and more manageable. Try: John Paul Mitchell Gloss Drops and John Barrett Bee Hold.
Myth: You should brush your hair 100 strokes every day
Truth: "Brush it only to style it, because brushing pulls hairs out of their follicles and possibly weakens individual strands," says Kingsley.
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