Going bald or facing hair fall? 14 myths about hair growth you shouldn’t believe

Hindustan Times, New Delhi | By
Mar 04, 2017 10:56 AM IST

Can washing hair in cold water prevent baldness? Does cutting hair promote hair growth? We junk common myths about hair loss, hair fall and hair growth. We also bust myths that say direct sunshine and some hair care products cause baldness.

Along with the facts come the myths. For years, people have believed in old wives’ tales about hair growth and hair loss. Delhi-based hair stylist Sunetra Singh says she’s heard everything from blaming the mother’s side of the family for hair loss to hats causing baldness, and even myths about how dead follicles can grow back into shiny healthy hair.

Aging is not the only cause. There can be several reasons for hair loss, such as hormonal changes.(Shutterstock)
Aging is not the only cause. There can be several reasons for hair loss, such as hormonal changes.(Shutterstock)

Hair restoration consultant with Delhi’s Mane Solutions Dr Sanjeev Mehra says myths and misconceptions around why men and women lose their hair and how they can make it grow leave people confused and disheartened.

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Unless you’re under major traumatic stress, it has no direct relation to hair loss. (Shutterstock)
Unless you’re under major traumatic stress, it has no direct relation to hair loss. (Shutterstock)

“Hair loss is a common condition that can happen to anyone. But common myths lead to a lot of people believing that they can actually prevent it by using some techniques. It often disheartens them when a lot of methods they have been using fail to prevent their balding,” he says.

Singh and Dr Mehra hope by discerning the truth from the lies they can help people understand more about hair loss and why it affects some people. Among the myths they are dispelling at the outset are that direct sunshine and some hair care products cause baldness. They also junk rumours that washing hair in cold water can prevent baldness and shampoo causes balding.

Below are the 14 most common facts and fictions you hear about hair loss and growth:

1) MYTH: Cutting hair promotes hair growth.

TRUTH: Hair is non-viable tissue, and there is no way to make it grow or not grow by cutting it. In addition, cutting hair does not make it stronger or weaker, curlier or straighter. Although cutting the hair may make it appear thicker due to the removal of split ends and added volume, the hair will not become fuller.

2) MYTH: If you massage your scalp, your hair will grow faster.

TRUTH: Maybe that’s what Rapunzel was up to all alone in that castle, yeah? There is no direct effect of any physical stimulation of the scalp on the hair follicles, although prolonged massaging may cause frictional damage to hair. Yikes!

3) MYTH: Dandruff causes hair loss.

TRUTH: Extensive research by experts has revealed that there is, in fact, no scientific co-relation between dandruff and hair loss, other than the fact that vigorous scratching, because of a dry scalp, may cause hair to break, resulting in hair loss.

4) MYTH: Changing shampoos regularly causes hair loss.

TRUTH: Our scalp does not become used to one kind of shampoo. So next time you want to experiment with different kinds of shampoo, go ahead.

5) MYTH: Hair loss doesn’t affect young women.

TRUTH: Hair loss and thinning can occur in girls as young as 12-years of age! There can be several reasons for hair loss, such as hormonal changes, and aging is not the only cause.

6) MYTH: Stress is affecting your hair growth and causing your hair fall.

TRUTH: Unless you’re under major traumatic stress, it has no direct relation to hair loss! Only severe traumatic stress has been known to cause a temporary and a sudden thinning of hair, known as telogen effluvium. Researchers say that once the stress is reduced or eliminated, in almost all cases, hair growth returns to normal.

7) MYTH: Washing hair in cold water will prevent baldness.

TRUTH: Washing your hair with cold water may increase blood circulation, but it will not prevent baldness. There are some benefits of washing your hair in cold water, such as frizz prevention and cuticle tightening. However, there are no direct associations between washing your hair in cold water and baldness prevention.

8) MYTH: Taking vitamins will help hair growth.

TRUTH: Since your hair is basically a dead tissue, taking vitamins or rubbing a vitamin potion on the scalp does not affect hair growth or hair fall in any way.

9) MYTH: Using a conditioner causes hair fall.

TRUTH: Many people believe that using conditioner may cause hair fall, but this is also a myth! Using a conditioner helps in detangling hair thus leading to prevention of hair fall due to breakage. Excessive use may weigh the hair down, but does not stop its growth.

10) MYTH: Hair care products cause hair loss.

TRUTH: Gel, wax and hairspray have no effect on hair loss. There is no link between most hair care products and hair loss. The main hair product culprits with a direct association with balding are the chemicals found in some hair dyes. Harsh heat treatments used in hair straightening or styling can also cause hair loss.

11) MYTH: If you pluck one grey hair, it will result in multiple grey hairs sprouting from your scalp.

TRUTH: Hair colour is due to the melanin producing hair follicles. When these cells stop producing pigment, the hair turns to white or grey. This does not mean that plucking a grey hair might result in 20 more! Thank god.

12) MYTH: Wearing a hat will cause baldness.

TRUTH: Hair follicles don’t need to breathe as they get their oxygen from the blood. The only time hats cause baldness is when you wear the one that exerts excessive tension or friction on your head. Hair follicles don’t need to breathe on the exterior, meaning that you can wear a hat 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Hats will not cause hair loss.

13) MYTH: Hair loss comes from the mother’s side of the family.

TRUTH: There are approximately 200 genes that regulate hair and hair growth, Mehra says. “We know today that there are generally some genes from both sides of the family that play a role. Your maternal grandfather deserves some of the ‘blame’, but perhaps not all of it.”

14) MYTH: Direct sunlight on the head causes balding.

TRUTH: It doesn’t affect the hair follicles, as your hair acts as a natural shield to protect the top of the head from the sun. Your hair will not fall out because of this.

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    Sanya Panwar is an online journalist with Hindustan Times. She writes on health, wellness, travel, fashion, relationships, films and pop culture.

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