14 Facts and Myths: Exploring Hair Care With An Expert
By Beatriz Martinez
reviewed by juliana ascolani
“Is it bad to wash my hair every day?”, “If I pull out one grey hair, will two or more grow in its place?”, “Does stress cause hair loss?” Josean Bea, a technician and expert in hair care with more than three decades of experience, answers all of our questions about caring for hair. How many of our statements are facts and how many myths? Let’s find out!
Washing your hair too often isn’t optimal
MYTH: How often you need to wash your hair always depends on different factors such as age, exercise routine, or hair type. The American Academy of Dermatology Association states that how often you wash your hair should be based on how much oil your scalp produces. Therefore, they recommend that if your scalp is oily, you may need to wash it once a day. Josean believes that the key here is to find the right shampoo: “What’s often understood with washing hair a lot is that people normally wash with the first hair product they get. If you have the right shampoo, you can wash your hair every day if you wish to.”
When you pull out one grey hair, several more will grow in its place
MYTH: Hair changes color based on the pigment cells found in hair follicles. Your hair follicles produce less color as they age, so when hair goes through its natural cycle of dying and being regenerated, it’s more likely to grow in as grey after you turn 35. However, this change depends on the pigment of the hair and not that time you pulled out a stray grey. When a grey hair is pulled out, another one might grow in its place, but this won’t affect the rest of the hair. As Josean tells us, “If you pull out one grey hair, the only thing that happens is that, if you pull it out many times in the same area, the hair will probably not grow back. This is because you’re pulling out the root of a part that’s going to weaken.”
Emotions can cause hair loss
FACT: Carl Gustav Jung developed the theory of complexes, demonstrating how trauma and life-conflicting events can cause imprints that remain in our unconsciousness and affect our behaviors. These complexes can become energised and develop into physical or psychic symptoms, a kind of somatic demonstration. In the case of hair, when we experience a stressful or emotional moment, we can experience hair loss — especially if we’re biologically susceptible to it. Josean explains that in the 32 years he’s been in the profession, he’s seen some amazing things regarding the somatisation of emotions and hair loss. “Hair loss or hair greying due to the health status of an individual is not a myth. Stress can cause certain hormones to stop working, and, through this, hair can suffer, change color, and age. Hair ages, it doesn’t just fall out, it ages. It changes colour and gets thinner. I don’t worry when a client comes with hair loss, what worries me is the quality of their hair at that moment, because it gives me a lot of clues as to what’s going to happen to them.” Stress can trigger telogen effluvium, a condition that can cause hair to fall out about three times faster than normal. The hair can grow again, but if you are middle-aged, it can grow grey instead of its original color.
Nutrition is important for hair care
FACT: Studies show that nutritional deficiency can affect the structure and growth of hair. Everything that has to do with diet and medication can change the process of hair growth and development. Hair is fossilised keratin — it’s actually dead. What’s alive is the root, and in the root there are many micro-veins (capillary vessels) that feed on blood. ‘To have good hair, besides genetics, it’s important to have a good diet. And above all, to drink water, because it’s very important for the nails and hair to be hydrated,” explains Josean.
It’s bad to use a mask and conditioner for every wash
MYTH: The key here is to find the right balance between these two products and to have a good understanding of our hair. As Josean puts it, ‘The conditioner is much more external than the mask. What it does is close the hair cuticle and make it shiner, but it does so with very few nutrients. The mask provides a series of nutrients that are introduced to the inner part of the hair, thus providing weight and flexibility.” When can these products be used? Each hair has different needs. Josean continues: “If you wash your hair three times a week, depending on what you need, I’d apply, for example, a mask once and a conditioner twice, and always from middle to end, avoiding the scalp. Too much nourishment, as I have seen working as a technician over the years, can cause hair breakage. Overfilling can make our hair lose flexibility and break.” Studies show that conditioning agents don’t affect hair growth and can’t affect cellular repair. However, conditioners can increase shine, decrease static electricity, improve hair strength, and protect against ultraviolet radiation.
Shampoo works on the scalp but not on the length of hair
FACT: “Most of the shampoos that take care of the hair’s loss and gossamer don’t take care of the lengths. Shampoo works on the scalp but not on the length,” Josean says. He recommends that when you wash your hair, you can wring it out and put it upside down. Starting from the ends, without touching the scalp, apply the amount of nourishment or hydration that you need. It’s recommended to avoid the root because it’s not usually dry or dehydrated as there are about 2-3 centimetres that always remain intact, unless there’s been chemical damage (dyed highlights, for example). The scalp is where the hair breathes, where the hair is really alive.
Washing your hair with cold water makes it shinier
MYTH: It’s important to wash your hair at the right temperature, depending on your scalp. Josean explains that if greasy hair gets washed with very hot water to remove the dirt, the pores can dilate and cause the sebaceous glands to hyperfunction. When that happens, hair will remain clean for less time. Josean breaks this down for us: “It’s convenient to wash your hair with lukewarm water, and with the last rinse you can lower the temperature a little because hot weather can cause dilatation. When you finish washing your hair and lower the temperature, the leaves that form your hair can close and cause the visual effect of shine. If you wash and rinse with very hot water, you leave all that hair structure dilated and rougher — but you don’t get more shine by washing with cold water, because you need hot water for the foam to clean your hair well. In addition, if you rinse porous hair with hot water, the moment you enter a place where there’s a strong smell, you’ll be the first to take it with you.”
Cutting the ends often makes hair grow faster
MYTH: You might have wondered why your hair isn’t growing fast. Perhaps you’ve already asked yourself: “What can I do to have longer hair?”, “Should I change my hair routine?”, “What if I need to cut it more often?” Keeping hair healthy and cutting the ends when they start to split is a good habit, but this doesn’t make it grow faster. “By cutting the ends of your hair, you maintain the right structure so that the hair doesn’t break off, because the ends don’t normally break off and fall out completely, they open up. But that doesn’t mean that the hair will grow faster,” explains Josean.
The optimal way to brush your hair is from ends to scalp
FACT: We need to untangle the ends first. Because if we start from the top, we’re going to encounter a knot when we get to the mid-lengths. It helps to first detangle the bottom and then work our way up and back. Josean recommends having a good brush, especially with long hair. Hair brushing can provide a very nice massage for the scalp and it’s one of the best ways to stimulate it, as it brings more blood to the head’s microcapillaries.
Sleeping with a ponytail is better for the hair
MYTH: The British Association of Dermatologists states that tight hairstyles like ponytails can be related to traction alopecia, a type of hair loss caused by constant pulling. Hair should preferably be worn loose when sleeping. Josean recommends that if you use a rubber band to hold it, it’s good to use a safety rubber band, because the raw silicone plastic with which the rubber band is made can end up cutting the hair. “That’s why the rubber band needs to have something that covers it, something that doesn’t rub the hair.”
It’s better to let hair dry naturally rather than use a hair dryer
MYTH: It depends, says Josean. “If I have short hair, I can dry it with a towel and within five minutes, it’s dry. What I can’t do is keep it wet for a long time. A good blow dryer and good temperature is the key. Too much moisture at the roots isn’t good either”.
Dry shampoo is more effective when used as preventive method
FACT: Dry shampoo is usually applied to the scalp the next day after washing it, when the grease is noticeable. Josean believes that the correct way to use dry shampoo is to apply it the same day that the hair is washed: “Applying dry shampoo on the roots can provide more volume and lengthen the cleansing. There are some dry shampoos very similar to talcum powder. However, nowadays there are also other types of dry shampoos that contain the cellulose of paper. Paper normally absorbs liquids, and what the cellulose does when applied on the scalp is to collect the grease, the humidity. I recommend it as a preventive method.”
Always using the same shampoo is the best option
MYTH: Hair changes depending on lifestyle and health status. Factors like starting or stopping regular exercise, washing with different water, and experiencing a change in hormones or seasons can also affect our hair. Josean tells us that, “As your hair evolves throughout the seasons, spring and autumn are the two most important hair loss periods of the year, you have to find a balance between using several shampoos, usually two or more.”
If a baby’s hair gets cut before they turn one, it grows thicker
MYTH: Pediatrician Dr. Cindy Gellner affirms for the University of Utah that a baby’s hair won’t grow thicker just by cutting it earlier. Babies have a genetic memory that affects hair growth, and hair won’t grow stronger by cutting it before their first birthday.
I am a journalist specialised in international relations, and writing is my absolute passion. I translate my knowledge and feelings into words, a process that has become my profession and at the same time my personal healing practice. I believe that being curious about what surrounds us is the key to educating ourselves and to further being able to express it to others. I love reading and am mostly interested in politics, human rights, social movements, and the passionate world of health.
I am a health researcher who bridges data science and health research with direct experience in healthcare and university institutions, passionately and collaboratively pursuing the integration and synergy of all key areas of health and wellness. I believe in inclusion as the main pillar of our society, especially when it comes to health. Promotion and prevention in health empower people to adopt healthy decisions, thus I have been working during the last years in the development of inclusive and holistic health systems. What do I enjoy the most about my job? Realizing how we are making a difference in people’s lives, and seeing the result in their health journeys. I enjoy the challenge of questioning new paradigms and creating debate around them.
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Healthcare Utah University (2021). Debunking Old Wives’ Tales: Baby’s Hair. Retrieved 18 February 2021, from https://healthcare.utah.edu/the-scope/shows.php?shows=0_3tcvsb6o.
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