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Wednesday, February 20, 2008


There are many myths concerning hair and its management. Read on to separate fact from fiction.

Our hair is a natural fashion accessory. It is the part of our body that is most easily amendable to the whims of fashion. We cut it short, let it grow wild, or even shave it all off. We comb our hair, tie it in braids, or just let it loose. An entire industry has grown around our fixation with hair. Manufacturers, saloons, parlours, and stylists help us indulge this collective fantasy to have our hair permed, straightened, curled, smoothened, bleached, dyed, and subjected to countless other beautifying exercises.

As something that occupies our imagination, it is natural that we have grown a number of myths around hair and its management. Below, we debunk some of these common myths.

Myth: Too much washing is bad for your hair.
Fact: Actually, how much you wash your hair does not really affect your hair. What is important is that you match the shampoo you use to the type of hair you have.

Myth: Cutting hair helps it to grow better and faster.
Fact: Because hair is generally thicker at the base, it may give an illusion of being thicker when cut. Cutting your hair does not improve either its length or the rate at which it is growing (about half an inch in a month). However, in case of split ends, trimming helps to prevent the split from progressing up the strand and allows the hair to continue growing normally.

Myth: Hair oils do not really help hair, only massaging the scalp does.
Fact: It is true that scalp massages improve circulation in the scalp and stimulate the follicles, leading to healthy hair growth. However, coconut and other oils such as amla applied before a bath also play a role in preventing the hair from drying out after shampooing.

Myth: Rinsing out a conditioner destroys its beneficial effect.
Fact: Rinse-out conditioners are designed in such a way that they leave behind beneficial proteins and other elements in the hair, even after they are washed off. Leave-in conditioners, on the other hand, are meant to be left on without washing off, for their benefits to have effect.

Myth: Split ends can be repaired with conditioners.
Fact: While a good brand of conditioner generally improves the health of the hair—which may prevent the formation of split ends—it cannot repair already split hair. Certain hair care products do join split ends, but their effect is very temporary and will last until the time you next wash your hair. The only way to prevent the split from affecting the entire strand of hair is to trim it above the split with a good pair of scissors.

Myth: Fashion treatments such as blow-drying and colouring can lead to hair loss.
Fact: Treatments such as blow-drying and the chemicals in hair colour products can damage hair. However, this will not be permanent and the lost or damaged hair will usually grow back. You may also try products, such as shampoos and conditioners that are designed specially for chemically treated hair, to contain the damage to your hair.

Myth: Colouring hair during pregnancy can harm the baby.
Fact: There is a school of thought that believes that the chemicals involved in hair colours may harm the yet unborn baby. However, this is a disputed point, with no conclusive report yet. Some doctors believe that inhaling the strong hair dye is more harmful than its application. It is always better to play safe and discuss this with your doctor before making up your mind.

Myth: Sun rays do not harm hair.
Fact: While hair plays a role as a natural protection for the scalp against the Sun, over-exposure to sunlight can damage your hair. Wear a hat, cap or scarf if you are going to be in direct sunlight for some time.

Myth: Hair grows at the same rate all over the scalp.
Fact: This statement is not entirely true. Studies show that in some people, the rate of growth of hair differs marginally on different parts of the head. In babies, the growth of hair is indicated to be faster on the crown than on other regions of the head.

Myth: Smoking does not affect hair growth.
Fact: On the contrary, smoking has been proved to cause hair loss. According to a study, smokers were also predicted to be four times more prone to developing grey hair as against non-smokers.

Myth: Brushing hair causes it to fall out.
Fact: Brushing hair, unless done in a vigorous or over-zealous manner, does not harm healthy hair. However, in the case of a person suffering from a hair loss condition (such as alopecia), hair strands with weak roots may be shed due to brushing. In fact, even under normal circumstances, the scalp sheds up to 100 loose strands of old hair daily, which may come out while brushing.

Myth: The health of one's hair is entirely determined by hereditary factors.
Fact: This is only partially true. While hereditary factors do determine the type of hair one is born with, other environmental factors such as stress, diet, and hair care practices followed are equally important.

Myth: Hair products that are labelled as 'natural' are free from chemicals and safe to use.
Fact: Many products labelled natural, nevertheless, contain skin irritants such as Sodium Lauryl Sulfate. The only way you can guard against being duped, is by scanning the contents on the label.

Are you worried about your hair loss? Do you believe cutting your hair will help it grow faster? Are you keen on colouring your hair but hesitant because you have heard it harms hair? Are you unsure about dyeing your hair if you are pregnant? To share your opinions and experiences regarding hair care, click here.

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