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The Science Behind 5 Famous Haircare Myths

Hello, my beauties! This is our 3rd episode since I got back, and I am SO happy to be able to share my knowledge with you every single week. Thank you for coming here to learn all things skin, hair, and nails. As I discussed in episode 46, I recently completed my journey to becoming a board-certified Dermatopathologist – for that, my schedule now allows more time for me to focus on creating content for you superwomen! 

With that, our blog and podcast schedules are now back on track and I started this month with a discussion on  How to Use Retinols in the Fall Season! Really, Fall is the perfect time to start your Retinol journey – check out the last episode for a full-on guide to incorporating Retinols in your skincare routine in the Fall!

More Hair Myths, Debunked

In Episode 45, I debunked the myth of “washing your hair too often” – now, let’s bust 5 more! BUT we won’t be simply debunking them; I’ll tackle the facts surrounding these myths and tell you the correct ways to achieve the results they promise! 

As I mentioned in Scalp and Hair Basics, the fact that hair issues are a huge aspect of dermatologists’ practice is commonly overlooked. So, let me remind you that board-certified Dermatologists not only treat skin conditions but also have extensive knowledge on all ~3000+ skin, hair, and nail diseases. With that, the diagnosis and treatment of various hair conditions – including hair loss – is part of our expertise. So, can you imagine our frustration when it comes to baseless claims on what (and what doesn’t) work for hair growth and loss?

1. “Frequent Brushing of Hair Increases Hair Growth”

Let’s take a look at how this myth justifies itself as fact. The claim states that brushing your hair 100 times/day (bit too specific, isn’t it?) stimulates more blood flow to your scalp – which in turn, facilitates hair growth. 

Yes, brushing helps distribute your hair’s sebum more evenly throughout your hair strands, helping it look shinier and feel smoother. However, there’s such a thing as brushing your hair too frequently (100x/day is definitely too much!). As I discussed in episode 44, studies show that unnecessary amounts of hair brushing leads to the wearing down of your cuticle scales – which makes your Hair Cortex way more vulnerable to damage! Most of all, brushing too much increases friction in your hair and damages the cuticle; then, you’ll have frizzy instead of shiny hair. 

Coupled with the fact that there is little to no evidence to support that better blood flow encourages more hair growth (except for delivering more nutrients and oxygen to the hair follicles), this myth is now 100% busted. In fact, following this myth does the very opposite of what it promises for your hair – it may even lead to hair loss. For reasons mentioned above, I advise you to keep your brushing to a minimum. 

2. “Hair Loss Supplements Increase Hair Growth”

While we’re on the topic of hair loss, here’s another myth that really gets me; let’s face it – people spend way too much money on these supplements. On top of that, throughout my career as a Dermatologist, I’ve received numerous emails from Hair Loss Supplement companies asking me to represent their products. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not trying to put down any supplement brands BUT when I don’t find enough scientific data to back them – I cannot back them as well. 

Speaking of data – as of now, there’s very limited data on actual supplements for hair loss. Most of the studies I’ve encountered were not well done; they had smaller sample sizes (which speaks for the precision of the study’s results) and they’re funded by supplement companies. With that, there’s little to no scientific evidence to support the efficacy of Hair Loss Supplements to increase hair growth. 

Moreover, these supplement products are not regulated by the FDA. This is crucial since some of these products contain Biotin – a chemical that could affect certain laboratory results (e.g., blood tests).  On top of it all, Hair Loss Supplements cost money (like a lot of money). With that, this myth tells us 2 things: (1) be wary of what supplements you take and (2) stick to consulting your Dermatologist about Hair Loss Supplements – stick with what they recommend. 

3. “Cutting Hair Makes Hair Grow Faster”

It’s understandable that people would commit to just about anything – let alone a simple haircut – to achieve thicker and longer locks. I mean, many would go for a thousand-dollar supplement, what’s a trip to the salon? Neither works to increase hair growth, however. 

Since what actually determines how fast and how much your hair grows are the follicles in your scalp, cutting the hair ends won’t affect hair growth. This fact doesn’t make hair trimming any less important, however. Regularly trimming your hair gets rid of split ends and reduces breakage (a.k.a. keeps your hair healthy). I myself set a quarterly appointment to get my hair trimmed – it really helps keep my hair look and feel healthy.

4. “Oils Can Stimulate Hair Growth”

Not at all. This is another concept that the scientific community is yet to confirm. Much like how there is little to no data in support of Hair Loss Supplements, there is a lack of randomized control studies to confirm oils’ efficacy in stimulating hair growth. 

The most popular oil used for this myth is probably Coconut Oil. While this oil can’t help with hair growth (at least, it hasn’t been proven to do so yet), it can protect your hair. It does so by moisturizing and sealing the hair strands. Thus, it prevents the scalp from drying out, having Dandruff, as well as keeps hair from split ends and breakage. Overall helping to keep the hair healthy and minimizing damage. 

Another oil of interest – especially for those with Androgenetic Alopecia (a type of non-scarring hair loss disease) – is Rosemary Oil. Quite a number of studies in the literature point out the oil’s potential in easing the disease’s symptoms. Despite this, the scientific community needs more studies to make a firm confirmation of the Rosemary Oil’s efficacy. This need goes with all and any claims for what (and what doesn’t) work with hair loss. 

5. “Frequent Hair Washing Leads to Hair Loss”

Many things could lead to hair loss such as hormonal changes, stress, heredity, medical conditions, aging, among others but frequent washing isn’t one of them. If you’re losing hair from washing, it’s more likely that it’s because you’re stressing out whether it’s time to wash your hair already or not. My advice: if you want to get to the bottom of your hair loss issue, consult your Dermatologist. 

Other hair washing habits associated with hair loss is Over Shampooing. This one doesn’t lead to hair loss either. As I discussed in Scalp and Hair Basics, washing more and using more shampoo than necessary strips your hair of its natural oils – making it dry and brittle (i.e., more susceptible to damage!). Losing your hair’s shine and volume isn’t the same as shedding a couple of hair strands. 

Again, you’re more likely to lose hair from Stress than from frequent washing (or brushing). A good example of stress-induced hair loss is Post Pregnancy Postpartum – and this is completely normal. Another one is Telogen Effluvium which happens when stressors push hair roots to go into the Resting State prematurely. These, and many other reasons induced by stress, hormones, age, medical conditions, etc. are what cause hair loss – for any of these, you should consult your Dermatologist for assistance. 

Myths Make the Hair a More Complex Subject

You know, Hair is definitely one of the most challenging Dermatology and Dermatopathology topics – it’s also the most rewarding, however. Which is why I absolutely have a passion for Hair as a subject. So, don’t worry if you’ve been caught in one or many of the myths we uncovered today, my beauties! I’m here – as your go-to Dermatologist – to bust them for you and craft for you an easy-to-follow roadmap for all things hair care.

However, let me remind you that if you’re losing hair, for any reason, please see your Dermatologist for a thorough evaluation and proper treatment. Don’t worry, the Dr. Nikoleta Show will be here to guide you through your Healthy Skin, Hair, and Nail Journey. We’ll see this through! 

Wanna get on top of myths and keep yourself from getting caught in them? I’m now accepting waitlist applications for the first round of The Healthy Skin Blueprint!

Also, if you forget to apply your sunscreen in the morning, or totally forget to wash your face and apply retinol and night cream at night, text “PODCAST” to 480-530-8187 to get skincare routine reminders and healthy skin affirmations directly from me.

If you enjoyed this episode, be sure to let me know on Instagram! You can tag me, @drnikoleta, with a screenshot of the episode and your greatest takeaways. I’d also really appreciate it if you would subscribe and leave a five-star rating on Apple Podcasts — that helps us share the podcast with more people like you who are looking to achieve the skin, hair, and nails of their dreams! 

Until next time, Step Out with Confidence® and continue taking action with your science-backed skin, hair, and nail habits! 

Dr. Nikoleta

I'M DR. NIKOLETA BRANKOV!

I am a board-certified dermatologist, CEO and Founder of Healthy Skin Blueprint, an acclaimed podcast host, best-selling author, and nationally recognized skin, hair, and nails expert. Welcome to the Skin Talk with Dr. Nikoleta blog.

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