Misinformation can be just as stubborn as frizz or those pesky flyaways – it’s difficult to manage, impossible to reason with and it just keeps coming back, says longtime hair-care advocate and health scientist Audrey Davis-Sivasothy.
“Old wives’ tales and ineffective products that claim to treat or rehabilitate hair often have a placebo effect because people want them to work,” says Davis-Sivasothy, author of “Hair Care Rehab,” (www.haircarerehab.com). “But many of these ideas and products actually do the opposite of what’s intended, and they delay the user from seeking out real solutions.”
Davis-Sivasothy debunks the following common hair-care myths:
• Myth: There’s a magic pill (or oil, serum or balm) to grow our hair faster, stronger or thicker. Unfortunately, no. Hair growth is genetically predetermined and controlled by our hormones. Unless the magic pill affects our genes or hormones, there’s no hope that it might make our hair grow. (This includes prenatal vitamins. Credit the upsurge in hormone levels during pregnancy for those vibrant tresses!) Basic vitamin supplements can offer slight improvements in hair quality, but only if our body truly lacks the particular vitamin or mineral being taken.
• Myth: Trimming will make your hair grow stronger, longer, faster or thicker. Since hair is dead, cutting the ends has no effect on what happens at the scalp. Strands will grow at the same predetermined rate each month, and individual strands will grow in at the same thickness as before. While trimming or cutting the hair does seem to give the appearance of thicker hair, this is only because all of the freshly trimmed hairs now have the same, clear endpoint.
• Myth: Expensive products do more! Not necessarily. Always look for ingredients over brand names. There are just as many poorly formulated high-end products as there are bargain ones – and just as many worthy expensive products as there are bargain ones, too!
• Myth: Products made for or marketed to (insert race/ethnicity) cannot be used by those of other backgrounds. False! The ingredients in a product matter much more than to whom the product is marketed. In fact, most products have the same set of three to five base ingredients. Products for “ethnic” hair types tend to be more moisturizing and have more oils and proteins than those for other hair types. Damaged hair needs a good dose of moisture, proteins and oil to regain its healthy appearance. The same holds true for products marketed to those with color-treated hair. Even if your hair is not dyed, using a product for color-treated hair can be beneficial because these shampoo formulas tend to be gentler (to preserve easily washed away hair color) and conditioners tend to be super-conditioning, but lightweight, to help reduce dryness from the coloring process.
• Myth: Washing your hair too often leads to dryness. This depends. Hair can be cleansed as often as you like without dryness, provided you use the proper products to retain moisture. Those who generally have naturally drier hair types (including those of us with curls and highly textured hair) often shy away from frequent cleansing – but water is not the enemy! It’s the stripping shampoos and mediocre conditioners we use that are to blame. Using the proper moisturizing and conditioning products at wash time will actually increase your hair’s hydration.
About Audrey Davis-Sivasothy: Audrey Davis-Sivasothy is a Houston-based freelance writer, publisher and longtime, healthy hair care advocate and enthusiast. Sivasothy holds a degree in health science and has written extensively on the science of caring for hair at home.