Dr. Phoenyx Austin: 10 Common Black Hair Myths: Fact or Fiction?

Hola chicas- Phoenyx here!! And I’m soooooo excited to be a guest blogger on Beyond Black & White. And today I wanted to discuss “hair myths.” It’s no secret that healthy hair is very important to me. And through the years I’ve educated myself on how to achieve healthier and longer hair. So today I decided to share a list of the 10 most common Black hair myths. Why? Because many Black hair care myths have been passed down from generation to generation- from our grandmothers to our mothers to us- and it sometimes leads us to make unhealthy decisions in the pursuit of gorgeous hair.

I’m sure you’ve heard or maybe even said things like “trimming your ends will make your hair grow longer,” or maybe you’ve heard that “prenatal vitamins make your hair grow faster.” If you ask most Black women about their hair care regimen, there’s always someone that will swear by at least one Black hair care myth. But how do you separate fact from fiction?

Well, I’ve compiled a list of the 10 most common black hair care myths, and separated fact from fiction. What are they?

Well I wrote a song about it… Like to hear it? Here it goes!

MYTH # 1: Trimming your ends with make your hair grow
FICTION: Trimming your hair will not make your hair grow. Furthermore, trimming your hair does nothing but make it grow “fuller.” When you trim the ends of your hair, you just shorten your hair. And trimming you hair doesn’t make another strand of hair shoot out of your scalp like a rose bush. Hair grows on average 1/2 inch a month. So if you want your hair to grow, trim your ends on an “as needed” basis. And if you are taking care of your hair correctly, you will rarely need to trim your hair.

MYTH #2: Washing your hair more than once a week will dry it out.
FICTION: This is something I’ve heard quite often. But it’s totally false. Washing your hair more than once a week does not dry it out. Water is actually a moisturizer and does not dry hair out. Furthermore, if you’re using hair products with ingredients like (mineral oil, petroleum, and alcohol), then you should try to wash your hair at least once a week. One of the major things that stunts hair growth and damages hair is product build up. And this is easily prevented when we wash our hair.

MYTH #3: Braids and weaves can cause hair loss
FACT: A recent article in The Grio touched on this and it also touched a nerve with many Black women that didn’t want to accept that things like braids and weaves were damaging their hair and even causing hair loss (alopecia). The truth is that braids and weave pull on your hair strands. And continuous hair pulling for extended periods of time can in fact lead to hair loss- sometimes reversible and sometimes non-reversible. So if you like to wear weaves/braids, or if you use them for “protective styling, just make sure the style isn’t too tight and make sure you give your hair scalp a rest by alternating braided styles with loose ones every few weeks.

MYTH #4: Greasing your hair/scalp will help hair growth
FACT & FICTION: The answer is two-fold. We all need keep our hair moisturized to prevent dryness and breakage. And technically grease can provide that by locking in moisture. However, most products that contain “grease” (which is basically mineral oil or petroleum) are too heavy and will actually clog pores, cause build-up, and ultimately do more bad than good. So I avoid most products that contain mineral oil and petroleum jelly. There are way better options. For instance, I use light spray and water based moisturizers to protect my hair and promote growth.

MYTH #5: Wearing a satin/silk scarf/sleeping on a satin pillowcase protects your hair
FACT: This is very true! Satin and silk scarfs/pillowcases reduce friction on hair, and because of this, prevent split ends and hair breakage. And if you like wearing hats, particularly in the winter, it’s also wise to wear hats with a satin/silk scarf inner lining to avoid hair breakage.

MYTH #6: Brushing your hair daily will make your hair grow
FICTION: Black women do not need to brush our hair to make it grow. Furthermore, brushing can actually be very damaging because it causes friction and damages to your hair shaft and cuticle. So toss your brushes- you really don’t need them. I threw away my brush (and comb) over 6 years ago and haven’t needed them since. Think about it– how often do Black women with sisterlocks, dreadlocks, and afros brush their hair? Never. And they are able to grow very long hair.

MYTH #7: Black hair is naturally weaker than other races
FACT: One of the major characteristics that distinguish Black hair from other races is our tight curl pattern. And scientific research has shown that this tighter curl pattern actually makes our hair drier and weaker. The tighter the curl pattern, the drier and weaker the hair will be.

MYTH #8: Prenatal vitamins make hair grow faster
FICTION: Vitamins are important for hair growth. And prenatal vitamins do have a nice, elevated mix of certain nutrients that promote hair growth. So if a non-pregnant woman is not already taking any multivitamin/supplement, taking a prenatal vitamin is better than no vitamin at all. Yes, prenatal vitamins will give you nutrients for hair growth. But there is nothing in the medical literature to support that prenatal vitamins make hair grow faster. And it should also be noted that in the case of pregnant women, increased hair and nail growth are due to hormonal changes- not prenatal vitamins.

MYTH #9: Black hair grows slower than other races
FICTION: All hair (regardless of race) grows at approximately ½ per month. The reason why Black hair appears to grow slower is due to 2 things. One, when in its natural state, our hair “appears” shorter due because or curls tend to draw-up and hide our true length. And two, Black hair has an increased rate of breakage because we tend to do things to it (i.e. relax it) which cause damage.

MYTH #10: Natural hair is hard to manage
FICTION: Natural hair will be hard to manage if you attempt to treat it like relaxed hair. The truth is many Black women have never learned how to care for or style natural hair because all they’ve known is relaxed hair. Many women had their hair relaxed at an early age and don’t know anything else. Natural hair is not “harder” to manage. It just requires patience and “re-learning.”
Ok ladies- that’s all for now. Hope this list was helpful- and I look forward to next week.

Have a Happy Hair Day!

Have a question/comment for our guest blogger Dr. Phoenyx Austin?
You can find Dr. Phoenyx on her Facebook and Twitter!
Dr. Phoenyx is a physician, writer and media personality who offers tips on natural hair and wellness.

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