Misinformation is dangerous. Whether you’re placing a bank-breaking bet, or taking Google’s word for it that the weird pain in your left hamstring has to be cancer, making conclusions based on falsity can have some serious repercussions.
The same goes for your hair. Blithely accept any and all advice people give you – from washing your hair every day to never washing it again – and your barnet could suffer. Don’t let your hair fall victim to false claims; follow our guide to telling follicular fact from fiction instead.
Plucking A Grey Hair Makes More Grow
One of the old wives’ favourites, this fib is rooted in the misconception that hair grows in the same way as a plant, says Iain Sallis, trichologist, hair loss specialist and director of Hairmedic clinics.
“If you split a plant’s root, both stems may flower, but plucking hair will do just that [and nothing more],” he says. “If you simply break the hair at scalp level – and you don’t pluck the entire hair out – it will still grow, but not in multiples.”
Since one grey hair usually means more to come, continuing to pluck them might not leave you much to work with either. If the silver’s spreading up top, stop plucking and read our guide to going grey gracefully instead.
The More You Cut Your Hair, The Faster It Grows
As above, your hair’s not a hedge. So as much you might like your twice-weekly visits to the barber to start yielding thick, bushy locks, you’re barking up the wrong tree.
“Hair is simply a protein fibre,” says Sallis. “Although the bulb that produces the fibre is alive, hair itself is not classed as living or dead (as to be dead it would’ve needed to be alive in the first place!) and so cannot be stimulated by anything, including cutting.”
The rate your hair grows at is mostly determined by your genes, so while quitting smoking, eating a protein-rich diet and avoiding stress can help, this one’s mostly down to what your parents gave you.
A Sudsy Wash Is A Better Wash
Blame the men on Madison Avenue, but there’s nothing intrinsically cleansing about a sudsy wash – we’re simply trained to think of shampoos that lather well as being particularly effective.
The truth is a shampoo doesn’t need to foam a lot to get the job done. If anything, a shampoo that’s packed full of sulfates (the chemicals that help them foam) could wreak havoc on your scalp if used too frequently, irritating it and drying it out.
If you like a lather, but don’t want the potential harmful side effects of sulfates, try a sulfate-free shampoo with glycerine, like Simple Kind to Hair Gentle Care Shampoo (£2.99, Boots.com).
Dandruff Is Just Dry Scalp
Think snowy shoulders are caused by a thirsty scalp? Think again. According to Sallis, dandruff is often mistaken for dry scalp because the symptoms of the two conditions are similar – but they’re not the same.
“Scientists believe dandruff is caused by a yeast imbalance in the skin,” says Sallis. “We all have yeasts on our scalp, but one in particular – known as Malassezia furfur – can, when it proliferates, cause an imbalance in the scalp which in turn triggers an inflammatory response in the skin. This causes the topmost layer of the skin to cleave off erratically, leading to the white flakes you see on your hair and clothes.”
Dandruff won’t be eased by drinking more water and cod liver oil capsules, so try a medicated shampoo like Nizoral (£6.05, Amazon.co.uk) to fend off the flakes instead.
Hair Needs To Be Shampooed Daily To Keep It Clean
In a world almost comically obsessed with cleanliness, you’d be forgiven for thinking your mop needs daily cleansing. But just like that industrial-sized bottle of hand sanitiser your hypochondriac colleague carries around with him, it could be doing more harm than good.
“Everybody’s hair generates sebum (oils) at different rates,” says Adam Brady of London barbershop Ruffians. “You should wash your hair when you feel it’s beginning to get oily – for some people that could be daily, for others it could be up to a week.”
You Can ‘Train’ Your Hair
Unlike your muscles, the way your hair grows can’t be honed. No matter how much you comb, blow dry or style your hair, using brute force (and a Boots-worth of styling products) won’t permanently change your hair type or shape.
“When you sleep with damp hair, then wake up and discover it’s been moulded into a weird shape, that hasn’t changed your hair growth – it’s simply altered the form of the hair’s shaft, not the direction the hair grows through the follicle,” says Brady.
Hair styling products and tools can offer a temporary fix, helping to mould your hair into a shape you like, but because these can’t influence how your hair grows at root level, their effects generally won’t last beyond a wash.
Your Mum Made You Go Bald
She might stress you out, but your bald pate is one problem you can’t pin on mother dearest.
Contrary to popular belief, male pattern baldness isn’t an X chromosome-linked trait. Rather it’s believed to be caused by multiple genes inherited from both parents.
If you are balding, don’t blame your mum, learn how to deal with it instead.