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5 Hair Myths We All Need to Stop Believing (and 3 Surprising Truths)

What really makes hair grow, fall out, change color, and more fascinating facts about how to best care for healthy hair.

istock/shvili

Myth: Brush 100 times a day for healthier hair

This is now known to risk damaging your mane. Brushing pulls out hair that isn’t ready to fall out, often breaks healthy hairs, and scratches the scalp. Brush gently for styling only—not to stimulate the scalp.

istock/PeopleImages

Myth: Black hair is stronger than blonde hair

Despite this widespread belief, particularly among African Americans, black hair is one of the most fragile. Nor is it true that braiding and beading the hair makes it grow more quickly. Tight braids and beads can damage the hair.

istock/Antonistock

Truth: Being stressed can make your hair fall out

Severe stress can take a toll on your hair. All hair follicles normally undergo periodic “rest” periods; sudden stress can cause them to enter this resting phase prematurely, making the hair fall out in the three months following the stressful event. Normally hair growth restores naturally, but it’s important to deal with stress and seek medical advice to rule out any underlying illness, hormonal imbalance, or drug side effects.

istock/Kuzma

Truth: Worry brings gray hair

It seems that the stress hormone adrenaline may damage DNA in the genes responsible for the production of melanin, the pigment that gives hair its color.

Death to stock/BodyTruths

Myth: Hair can turn white with fright

You can’t lose pigment in your hair because hair is dead when it leaves the scalp. But a severe shock could trigger alopecia areata, an autoimmune condition that causes pigmented hair (black, brown, red, or blonde) to drop out, leaving only gray and white hair behind.

istock/mediaphotos

Myth: Shaving the head of a newborn prevents baldness

There is no truth in this myth. Most male baldness is inherited. If a father has a tendency to early hair loss, any sons he has are very likely to inherit the same tendency. If a baby boy’s maternal grandfather and his own father both have this genetic characteristic, the boy will always inherit it.

istock/shironosov

Truth: Hair grows faster in the summer

When it’s cold, blood is diverted to internal organs to maintain body temperature, which decreases blood flow to the scalp. In warm weather, enhanced circulation to the skin boosts follicle activity and increases the rate of hair growth. Hair grows 10 to 15 percent faster in the summer than in the winter.

istock/photographer

Myth: Cutting hair by the moon speeds its growth

One Brazilian myth is that hair cut between a full and quarter moon grows more strongly; in Asia, some people think that cutting hair under a waxing moon promotes growth. Neither are true. Hair does not grow back more strongly after it’s cut—at any time.

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Originally Published in Reader's Digest