We hear them all the time. Those “words of sage advice” warning us that doing this or that is going to mean that we’re going to lose our hair. And even worse in some ways are the myriad myths that are perpetuated every
day in a modern society, thanks to the spin doctors who create our advertising and “reality” programming. So, let’s take a look at the most-common modern hair myths (and some older ones) and learn the truth behind them.
Modern Myth: “New Ultra Shampoo and Conditioner Repairs / Heals Damaged Hair”
This is one of my BIGGEST pet peeves with the hair care producers. At least once each month, I see a new commercial for a hair care product that promises to “heal damaged hair” or “repair damaged hair” or to make
hair “healthy” again. The trouble with this is that such claims aren’t real.
The only way to get healthy hair is to grow it and tend it properly while it grows. These products can make the hair LOOK healthier, but
the results are cosmetic. And most commercially marketed products only offer minor changes in the hair, which may or may not have cumulative effects over repeat uses.
It’s best if you think of your hair as a textile product. The hair fibers that you see sticking out of your scalp are not made of living tissue. They are long strands comprised of keratinized protein (think of silk
strands). Looked at this way, would you expect a well-worn silk blouse or perhaps one that has been scorched by and iron or ripped and snagged to be made like new by a fabric softener or detergent? Perhaps the exact
treatment of each isn’t precisely the same, but the analogy is valid.
The key is to use the products that make your hair LOOK healthy while I resolve the issues that caused the problems in the first place. Once you eliminate bad habits and grow new, healthy hair, you can say that you’ve repaired the damage.
Modern Myth: “Over-processing the Haircolor during a Make-over”
Most of us love a good make-over show. The everyday plain-Jane or overworked mommy gets swept away by a team of do-good professionals and is given a hip, new look. And in nearly every episode of many of these shows,
the “victim” is taken from the salon with her hair in foils or a color cap to go shopping for her new outfit, but the host is concerned because they can’t be gone too long or the haircolor will “over-process”.
This makes for dramatic watching unless you know that haircolor mixtures that deposit color (even if they lighten the base color) only have an active lifespan of about 30 minutes before they stop working. They only work
because of the chemical reaction between the ingredients. It’s like mixing baking soda and vinegar in a bowl. It’s going to react and bubble up, but eventually the chemical reaction will use up all the components that
react to one another and will stop fizzing.
As the color mixture processes (the chemicals react to one another) the color of the product develops and the mix grows darker. The faster the stylist is at getting the color mixture applied once it’s mixed, the better
the color results will be. So, you see, it’s actually MORE likely for a stylist to “under-process” the hair in a color service.
The only time you run the risk of really “over-processing” the color of the hair is in bleaching the hair to lighten it. And in a lightening process, you generally use heat to speed the lightening, and it has to be
closely watched and monitored. You’d never let a client leave your salon with bleach on her hair. Most salons won’t even let a client go to the bathroom during a lightening process.
These are some of the “old wives’ tales” concerning the hair that should be dispelled. Some have a grain of validity to their warnings, but not for the reasons given, usually:
Old Myth: “Don’t go out in cold weather with a wet head. You’ll get sick.”
Modern medicine tells us that people get sick because they are exposed to bacteria and viruses that cause diseases and conditions. But probably anyone over the age of 40 has been warned by a grandparent against going
out with a wet head in cold weather. Of course, the fact that the spread of colds and flu are common occurrences in the winter months was used as evidence that the warnings were true.
The grain of truth behind this myth is that going out in freezing temperatures with wet hair is NOT good for the hair. If the hair is exposed to the elements and cold temperatures when it’s wet, the moisture in the
hair can freeze, which can cause damage in the form of raised and distorted cuticle layers and split ends. So when you have to go out in harsh weather with wet hair, remember to protect it.