Thursday, 17 September 2009

10 Myths About Men’s Hair - The Well-Groomed Male - Your Look - MSN Lifestyle

10 Myths About Men’s Hair - The Well-Groomed Male - Your Look - MSN Lifestyle: "10 Myths About Men’s Hair

Men's Hair Myths

There are almost as many myths about hair as there are about sex. And why not? Your hair is one of the first things people notice about you. Hair has been an expression of every man's identity since Samson met Delilah. And while some men take their hair for granted (until it's gone), your hair says a lot about your health, grooming and personal style.

So maybe it's time to debunk some of the myths about men's hair. For example, can you really 'train' your hair to do what you want? Does cutting your make it grow faster? Is dandruff contagious? You'll find answers to these questions and more, as we uncover the truth about a few of the most common men's hair myths.

Myth #1: Cutting your hair makes it grow faster.

Fact: How often you cut your hair has no effect on how fast it grows. If it did, women would carry scissors all the time. Hair is essentially protein and the hair shaft is not alive, which mean there are no nerves in your hair (if there were, you'd be saying 'ouch' about more than the cost of your cut). Your hair doesn't know it's being cut, so it grows at its own pace, which for most people is about half an inch per month (slightly faster in summer due to increased metabolic activity).

Poor diet, illness and hormone changes can slow hair growth, however. So if you want your hair to grow at its optimal rate, eat healthy, get plenty of sleep, and see your doctor for regular medical checkups.

Myth #2: Split ends can be repaired.

Fact: The only fix for split ends is a healthy trim. When the end of a hair shaft splits, it's because the shaft has been damaged -- by sun, excessive dryness, chemical processes, chlorinated pools or rough handling, like tugging a comb through tangled hair or brushing when it's wet. And despite fantastic hair product claims, there's no way to paste those ends back together. Cut them off and vow to do better next time: shampoo and condition regularly, protect your hair from damaging sun and chemicals, detangle gently, and get regular haircuts to remove dry ends.

Myth #3: You can train your hair to grow in a different pattern.

Fact: That cowlick is part of you, like your height and your sense of humor. Hair follicles grow in an established pattern, and there's not much you can do to change things. Of course, with enough product and a blow dryer you can get your hair to do almost anything, but it's only temporary. Best advice for cowlicks, swirls and other hair anomalies? Work with your stylist to find a look that highlights your best features and downplays the ones you don't like.

Myth #4: Certain shampoos can make hair grow faster.

Fact: That's -- pardon the expression -- hogwash. There's no scientific evidence that shampoo will make your hair grow faster. For most people, hair grows about half an inch a month, and staying healthy will help your hair grow to its potential (see Myth #1). Keeping your hair clean, conditioned, and well-cut will help make the most of your locks, and if you want a bit more body, look for products that leave a coating on hair to give the impression of added thickness.

Myth #5: Dandruff is contagious.

Fact: While some forms of dandruff are very common, none of the causes of dandruff are contagious. Many people are plagued by flaky scalps in winter, when indoor air is especially dry. Seborrheic dermatitis (cradle cap in infants), sensitivity to yeast, diet deficiencies, and stress are also common causes of dandruff. And a fungus called malassezia, which we all have, flares up in some people to cause severe dandruff. If you have dandruff, see a dermatologist for accurate diagnosis and treatment, but don't worry. Whether you suffer from dandruff depends on a lot of different factors, but you can't 'catch' dandruff from other people.

Myth #6: Men inherit baldness from their mother's side of the family.

Fact: You can stop blaming your mother for your receding hairline. Baldness is hereditary, but it results from a combination of genes and hormones that can come from either your mother or father or both. If you really want to place blame, point your finger at androgen hormones, including testosterone, which increase beard and underarm hair follicles during puberty but may shrink hair follicles later in life. Those pesky androgens can cause baldness in women, too.

Myth #7: Wearing tight hats causes hair loss.

Fact: Tight hats may damage your hair, but they won't make you go bald. True story: I adopted a homeless cat who had been wearing a collar since he was a kitten. The collar was so tight it had to be cut off, and for the rest of his life he had a bald ring around his neck. To achieve this for yourself, you'd have to wear a painfully tight hat, continuously, for years, in order to kill the hair follicles on your scalp. So don't worry about hats.

But while we're on the subject, let's clear up another myth: Hats do not hide baldness. If you wear hats for all occasions because you're embarrassed about balding, all you'll do is make people wonder what you're trying to hide. Bald is cool (ask Bruce Willis).

Myth #8: Brushing your hair is good for it.

Fact: This one is sort of true, but only up to a point. Our great-grandmothers probably heard that brushing their hair 100 strokes every night would make it lustrous, but it doesn't. A bit of brushing can help to distribute oil from your scalp to the ends of your hair, and that's a good thing. But excessive brushing just damages hair, and this is especially true for longer hair. Use a brush to style your hair, then put the brush away.

Myth #9: Hair can turn gray overnight.

Fact: Only in old horror movies does hair change overnight. Want proof? Ask anyone who's tried to let hair color grow out naturally -- it takes a long time. Fun fact: Scientists say that rather than being a color, gray hair is actually transparent because it has lost its color due to a buildup of hydrogen peroxide in the body, among other factors. But no matter the cause, this process happens over time. Not overnight.

Myth #10: Pluck one gray hair and two grow back.

Fact: If this were true, it could be the cure for baldness. The fact is, you are only allotted so many hair follicles and so many strands of hair. Pulling your hair out doesn't add follicles, and it won't give you more hair than you started with. But constant pulling could damage the follicles permanently and leave you with less, not more.

Sharon O'Brien is a freelance writer in Portland, Oregon, who has learned to like her curly hair. She doesn't own a hairbrush.

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Wednesday, 16 September 2009