Almost every day in the salon I'm faced with the task of trying to overcome many of the common myths about men's hair. Guys think they can train their hair to go back when it grows forward or they won't let me trim their eyebrows because they think it will make them grow back faster. I'm here to set the record straight on the top ten common men's hair myths and facts.
Myth: I can train my hair to do something.
Fact: Your hair's growth patterns are determined by the hair follicle. No amount of blowdrying, combing, or styling can "train" your hair to grow differently. Certainly, you can use a dryer and/or styling products to temporarily change your growth pattern, but permanent change is not possible. If your hair has a natural cowlick or part, there's not much you can do about it.
Myth: Shaving will make my beard grow thicker or faster.
Fact: Hair is basically protein and keratin and has no blood supply or nervous system. Your body does not know that your beard is shaved (or two inches long for that matter) because it has no way of communicating this information to your body. People often believe that shaving causes the beard to grow faster or thicker, but facial hair typically grows thicker and faster as you age so it's only a coincidence.
Myth: Trimming my eyebrows will make them grow faster.
Fact: See the answer to the myth above. Same rules apply.
Myth: Plucking gray hairs will make more grow back in in their place.
Fact: Hair has color because cells in our hair follicles called melanocytes create pigment (color) in the hair. When these cells stop producing the pigment, the hair loses its color. Plucking out one gray hair will not affect the melanocytes in the other hair follicles, so other hairs will not turn gray as a result. Gray hair can occur as a result of age or a medical condition.
Here are a few more interesting facts: Your "gray" hair is actually transparent, but appears gray due to the dead cells that make up the strand. Also, smokers are four times more likely to have gray hair and premature hair loss -- another good reason to quit.
Myth: Hair can turn gray over night.
Fact: If you've read the answer to the above myth, you should already be able to figure out the answer to this one. Only chemically bleaching the hair can make an entire strand lose its color overnight -- and not even that can do it completely.
Myth: Growing my hair longer will hide my baldness.
Fact: Actually, in almost every circumstance, growing hair longer makes the thinning and baldness appear much more noticeable. When the sides and back are worn fuller, it makes the top appear thinner. The rule of thumb: If you can see scalp on the top, cut the sides short enough so you can see an equal amount of scalp. This will give an overall uniform appearance and take the emphasis off of the thinning areas. Guys with comb-overs are only fooling themselves.
Myth: Shampoo will make my hair grow faster.
Fact: Any shampoo which claims to make hair grow faster is making a false claim. Hair will grow at a fairly consistent rate -- about half an inch per month -- no matter what you do. There are certainly shampoos that will make the hair appear thicker by swelling the follicle and shampoos that will deeply condition the hair and help prevent breakage, but none that can actually increase the growth rate. Some say that doing things like taking vitamins and massaging the scalp can help your hair grow faster, but I've found no scientific proof to support such claims.
Myth: Baldness comes from my mother's side of the family.
Fact: Complete myth. Hair loss can be inherited from either side of the family and it may (or may not) skip many generations. It is entirely genetic and can come from either side of the family.
Myth: Wearing tight hats causes hair loss.
Fact: In order for that to happen, the hat would have to be so tight as to cut off circulation to the follicles. If that were the case, the hat would likely be much too tight for you to wear comfortably, so it's not likely. Wearing a tight hat can, however, cause hair breakage and damage.
Myth: Dandruff is caused by dry scalp.
Fact: Dandruff is actually thought to be caused by a fungus called malassezia, which can sometimes grow out of control and begin feeding on the oil on your scalp. This can cause an increased number of dead cells which, when combined with dirt and oil from your scalp, form flaky white scales. Dry scalp has nothing to do with it.
Now that you know the facts behind the common men's hair myths, please let your barber trim those eyebrows!