Common knowledge: Plucking a gray hair causes two more to grow back in its place.
True or false? There is absolutely no truth to this myth. Hair color is determined by the melanin in each follicle. As we age, our hair loses melanin, turning it white or gray. That means removing one strand can in no way affect its color or the hue of those surrounding it. “What may happen is that the hair around the gray you pull was already beginning to go gray and just had not appeared yet,” says Carolyn Plummer, CEO of It’s a 10 Haircare, also a former stylist and salon owner. “Once the hair you pulled grows back, the additional surrounding grays have appeared, giving the illusion that your plucking caused more gray to appear.” Still, try to refrain from plucking, as it can cause trauma to the scalp and potentially keep the hair from growing back in.
Common knowledge: Frequent trims help your hair grow faster.
True or false? Also untrue. “Hair growth stems from deep inside your hair follicle, so the ends have nothing to do with the root,” according to Plummer. Keeping your scalp and hair healthy, though, plays a big role in how well it grows: Trimming the ends regularly helps prevent split ends, which makes hair look healthier.
Common knowledge: Brushing your hair 100 strokes each night will make it shiny.
True or false? There is some truth to this one. “Brushing distributes hair’s natural oils throughout the hair shaft, keeping it from becoming dry or brittle and adding shine,” Plummer says. But 100 strokes might be overkill—and could do more harm than good: Brushing too much or too roughly can cause breakage. Never brush wet hair and use a natural bristle brush—try Earth Therapeutics Bamboo Natural Bristle Cushion Brush ($8.99, www.earththerapeutics.com)—because it’s better than plastic at absorbing the oils and drawing them down the hair shaft. Using a detangler like It’s a 10 Miracle Leave In Product ($18, www.Itsa10Haircare.com) before brushing can also help create slip and seal the cuticle to prevent damage.
Common knowledge: Stress makes your hair fall out.
True or false? If this were completely true, we’d all be bald right now. While the everyday stress everyone encounters won’t have you shedding strands, extremely stressful situations can lead to hair loss. Each strand of hair is constantly rotating through cycles of growth and rest. Stressful situations can cause these cycles to go awry and result in a larger percentage of hair switching into a resting phase. “The condition is called telogen effluvium and is characterized by non-scarring hair loss and thinning over the scalp,” according to Dr. Jennifer Peterson, a dermatologist in Houston. This type of hair loss usually occurs about three months after a stressful event—either physical like surgery or infection, or mental, such as the loss of a loved one or a divorce—and hair cycles will usually return to normal after the initiating stress is resolved.
Common knowledge: Using the same shampoo every day makes it stop working.
True or false? This one is false. Using the same shampoo every day can cause product build-up, though, which may make it seem like your wash of choice is no longer working. Whether your shampoo causes build up or not depends on the ingredients it contains, but keep in mind that cleansers made to boost body or shine are usually more prone to producing build-up. Dr. Peterson suggests using a clarifying shampoo (like Paul Mitchell Clarifying Shampoo, $12.99, www.walgreens.com) once a week if your hair seems to feel dull or dirty despite frequent shampooing.