HAIR MYTHS: separating truth from fiction

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In 19th century England, 'shampoo' stood for the kind of massage you got in a Turkish bath. It came from the Hindu word 'champu' - to knead - and came into currency around the time that all things Indian became fashionable. Shampoo as we know it needs a detergent to remove the scalp's natural oil from the hair shaft - it's the oil that causes the dirt to stick - and although some believe that you should never wash your hair because its natural oils will keep it moisturised and clean, most of us like to start the day with a clean head of hair ..




The more lather there is, the more effective the shampoo and the cleaner the hair.

WRONG. One common mistake is to equate the amount of lather with a shampoo's ability to clean. Lathering agents are often added to shampoos but that doesn't mean they clean hair better. It generally just means they feel nicer to use.

The more shampoo you use, the cleaner your hair will be.

WRONG. Just one dollop of shampoo, about the size of a 10p piece, slightly diluted and activated in the palms of your hands, is usually sufficient for shoulder length, regularly washed hair.

Conditioner helps repair split ends.

WRONG. It smoothes down the cuticle and makes hair seem in better conditioner and shinier, but it can't mend split ends. The only solution to that is the scissors ..

Not rinsing out conditioner properly is a good thing.

WRONG. Not giving hair a thorough final rinse - and ideally in cold water which flattens the cuticle and makes hair shinier - will undo all the good you have done by washing it. Unless it specifically tells you not to on the packaging, it's always a good idea to rinse until the water runs clean.

The longer I leave conditioner on the more effective it will be.

WRONG. Conditioners usually only coat your hair, they don't penetrate the actual hair shaft. So they are only as effective after a minute as after 10 minutes. Oil or panthenol-based deep conditioning treatments can penetrate the hair shaft and can be left on longer.

Dry hair is damaged by too much washing.

WRONG. Dry hair is generally only damaged if your shampoo is too harsh, stripping it of natural oils. Hair is much more likely to be damaged if it's left too long between washes, clogging the follicles of the scalp with dirt and dead skin cells, blocking the flow of sebum and making hair dry and brittle. Apart from permanent hair styling and bleaching, damage is most likely if hair is combed harshly when wet with no conditioner.