Fact or Fiction? A Hair Scientist Answers All of Our Burning Questions

Shannon Farrell
Alexander Wang bbt S14 006

Photo: ImaxTree

We abide by certain hair rules—or rather, hair myths—that even our grandmothers followed back in the day, and some of them, when you pause to think, don’t make any more sense now than they did back then … especially when it comes down to science. We caught up with Eric Spengler, the Living Proof Senior Vice President, R&D and Chief Commercialization Officer—in layman’s terms, he’s our go-to hair scientist when we need a lesson on what biology class skipped. Here’s what he had to say on the four most common myths.

Myth: Getting more frequent trims will make your hair grow faster.
Hair grows at the scalp, so why would trimming the ends matter? Spengler backs this up, yet adds that it will allow your hair to grow longer over time. “Hair typically grows about a half-inch every month, and while cutting your hair won’t have an impact on the rate at which your hair grows, it’s important to note that regular haircuts will help eliminate any split ends,” he confirms. Split ends will eventually lead to breakage and make it difficult to get any type of length, so it’s best to nip them in the bud before it’s too late.

Myth: If you pluck a gray hair, two more will grow in its place.
We chalk this one up to women fearing old age, and namely, accelerating the aging process. “Urban legend, pure and simple,” says Spengler. “Your hair follicle can only grow one fiber at a time.” Fear grays? Start by getting subtle highlights to blend one-offs into the rest of the hair.

Myth: Biotin causes hair to grow longer and faster.
“Biotin deficiencies have been linked to hair issues, and as such, its use is also linked to helping hair grow healthier and stronger,” Spengler says. However, he adds that there are no scientific studies that prove it will help with thinning hair. Since stronger hair will help prevent split ends, it can serve to help hair to grow longer by reaching the end of its cycle, right? Perhaps—Spengler adds that it only makes hair stronger if you’re actually deficient in that material as it is, so those with normal levels aren’t likely to see a difference.

Myth: You should brush your hair 100 strokes a day.
“Brushing can temporarily align hair fibers and help improve shine, but [it] also causes stress that can lead to breakage,” says Spengler. This proves even more true on wet hair, when you’re most likely to brush post-conditioning. “Hair can stretch an extra 1/3 of its length when wet. Rather than brush your hair 100 strokes, it’s best to detangle your hair by brushing it before you get in the shower. Then, gently towel dry after you get out,” he advises.

And thus—that concludes the end of our science lesson.

Read more: How to Determine If Your Hair Loss is Normal

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