10 Common Black Hair Myths: Fact or Fiction?


Dr. Phoenyx Austin

Dr. Phoenyx: Hola chicas- Phoenyx here!!

CN readers: And what are we going to talk about today doc?

Dr. Phoenyx: What we talk about everyday ladies—how to take over the curl!

Ok ladies, so today I decided 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? Well, many Black women spend hours of our time in salons and devote much of our hard earned money to hair products in the pursuit of fabulous hair. And many Black hair care myths have been passed down from generation to generation- from our grandmothers to our mothers to us.

I’m sure you’ve heard or maybe even said things like “greasing your scalp will make your hair grow longer,” as well as “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 will 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 is 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 the 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. 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 the weakest hair
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-preganant woman is not already taking any mutlivitamin/supplemement, taking a prenatal vitamin is better than no vitamin at all. Yes, prenetal vitaimins will help with hair growth. And there are some non-pregnant women who have taken prenatal vitamins and reported an increase in 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 a combination of 1. Natural hair “appearing” shorter due to its curly, unstretched nature, as well as 2. Increased breakage that occurs with Black hair that isn’t properly taken care of.

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.”

And that’s all ladies! Hope this list was helpful. And have a Happy Hair Day!

Dr. Phoenyx wants to be your curlfriend! Have a question or comment for her? You can find Dr. Phoenyx on her Facebook fan page. And on Twitter @Dr_Phoenyx

25 Weigh in!:
ChrLvsBks said...

So glad to read all these myths in one place. I see so many natural ladies wanting to grow their hair long that they will overtrim, take vitamins & oil their scalps often. I will definitely encourage others to read this. Thanks Dr. Phoenyx & Nikki!

Anonymous said...

Very informative post. :) I also want some braids or twist done sometime, but i dont want to hurt my hair.

Anonymous said...

And i love your hair on the photo.

J said...

Thanks! I knew most of these but will be passing this article along to others.

( In reference to Myth #10) although many "non-naturals" feel natural hair is hard to manage, I am so suprised by the guilt I received from them. I never pressure a relaxed-head to go natural, yet I constantly ( and randomly) told their hair is too hard to manage to go natural. Sometimes I just want to say: "I don't care, why are you telling me this?!"

Anonymous said...

"J" I know just what you mean. I have a family cousin who always tells me "you're hair is so thick and beautiful, if only you would relax it, it would be so long. I don't know how you keep up with it all these years. I could NEVER be natural" And my response is always "I'm not asking you to, and NO I will not relax my hair either. Thanks for the suggestion".

Sincerely Mel said...

I'm so glad you mentioned Myth #10. Some people think that going natural is supposed to mean that it's easier to manage. Well that may be true if you have a twa, but once your hair gets longer you have to be patient and just enjoy the process of re-learning how to do your hair. I've been natural for 8 months and I'm having FUN with my hair!

JC83 said...

I do know that keeping your hair trimmed every 10 weeks just the ends will allow your hair to remain healthy to avoid split ends so you should trim your hair. Trimming your hair is always a good way to stimulate growth so I will just agree to disagree on that one myth

Anonymous said...

JC83, I understand what you may think, but some people don't need their hair trimmed every 10 weeks.

I was suprised when I went for a trim after 6 months and the stylist told me I could go 3-4 months without trims, if this is the case for some people then you will be losing length unnecessarily.
So trimming on an as needed basis or as your stylist suggest is the best.

Black Girl Hair Care said...

I didn't trim for years before I learned how important trimming is and my natural hair grew very long (below bra strap length) As long as you are not damaging your hair, you don't need to go crazy with the trimming. I Micro-trim every 6 months and it works for me. Also just wanted to add. I used to braid my own hair with extensions and it did not damage my hair at all. Just make sure that the section you part off is not smaller in diameter to the hair extension that you add on. Adding a lot of synthetic hair to a very small section will definitely add strain to the hair. I would not recommend going to any hair salon without doing research because I've experienced some very tight braiding from certain salons. (I will not name any names) It was so tight to the point I had to take Tylenol! Thankfully I did not get alopecia. Also, make sure that you maintain moisture when you have braids in.

Anonymous said...

@JC83 Cutting the hair does not in any way affect the rate of growth you have. Cutting you hair unnecessarily will just hinder length retention, but if you do have damaged ends then you should cut them off; not because they will stop your hair from growing but because your ends will break off. This might make it seem like your hair isn't growing but really your ends are just breaking off at the same rate, if not faster, than your hair is growing. You should just trim your hair when you start to notice more split ends and single strand knots. The time in between trims will vary based on the person, so the "trim your hair every 10 weeks" rule won't apply to everyone. Hope this helps. :-)

Tia said...

I get the same amount of growth regardless of if I trim or not. What I retain is a different story. The more I trim the less I retain (unless my ends are unhealthy).

Great post. I would like to see more myth-busting posts.

Moonchyldcrab82 said...

I would like to see more emphasis on eating better rather than taking vitamins. I find that too many people think that they can eat whatever they want and take vitamins to make up for it. Bottom line is, if you have a healthy diet filled with a variety of fruits and vegetables, vitamins are unnecessary (unless a physician has told you otherwise, i.e. you have a diagnosed deficiency).

Anonymous said...

Great post. I also wonder if people take vitamins thinking just the hair on their heads will grow longer and stronger. What about the hair on the rest of the body? I know I get tired of tweezing my eyebrows almost every other day, lol.

Barbara Naturally Speaking said...

This is a great post! Number 10 is one of my favorites. There's just a different way of caring for natural hair, compared to permed hair. I didn't learn how to take care of natural hair until going natural a few years ago. Had I known what I know now, I probably would have taken the plunge earlier or enjoyed my natural hair the way it was when I was a teenager. Natural hair is manageable, and I'm grateful for learning that I don't need to comb my hair in it's dry state. Knowledge is power.

Anonymous said...

Great post! I also agree about the over-trimming. Old habits from relaxer days die hard. Going natural should make your hair healthier. If you're finding you need to trim often, you may need to tweak your regimen and get moisture to the ends.

Mella C said...

Overall a great post, but I have a bone to pick with #2. Technically it's correct, but we all know that's not the whole story. Frequent washing isn't a problem because of the *water* but because of the tendency to use shampoos with ingredients that strip our hair of moisture (which ingredients those are exactly are apparently up for much debate, so I'll keep it general here). Frequent washing is all well and good if you're talking a no-poo, but by default "washing" is interpreted as cleansing via use of shampoo or detergent, so that's something to keep in mind.

JC83 said...

I am pretty sure no matter the hair texture, and mine tends to be finer but with about a 4C curl that trimming keeps the hair healthy. Even straight textures make it a point to keep their ends trimmed. Not buying the whole no trim thing. I think it should be done on a regular basis. Depending on the person every 2-3 months. Of course it will vary from person to person. Trimming your hair stimulates growth, yes it is harder to observe the length of natural hair because our hair retains its length due to the curly texture. Trust me trimming makes your hair grow. Some of us around here are obsessed with the look of length unfortunately. As long as you know you have it then that should be all that matters lol

Anonymous said...

Hi, I would just like to say that while taking prenatal vitamins can help with hair growth, this is not recommended if you are not pregnant, reason being these vitamins have high iron levels and unless you have iron defiency this can cause damage to your liver!! Please share.

Kamesha said...

Love this article.

It has been proven scientifically that trimming the hair does NOT make it grow. It doesn't matter if someone wants to believe it or not...a fact is always a fact and won't change. Opinions can changes thousands of times. Here is another list of common hair myths.

http://www.goodhousekeeping.com/beauty/hair/hair-care-myths-0800#fbIndex1

C'est Moi, Samii™ (The Listener) said...

Oh Em Geee... This should totally be posted...LIKE..... EVERRRRRYYYYWHERE.....

Thank you so much for this information. I will be passing it along to all the natural I know.

Kudos....

-Samii

Anonymous said...

For those harping on cutting- are you saying that if you don't have split ends or damage to your hair ends- you should cut it anyway? Because somehow the use of scissors encourages the scalp to produce more hair? Just curious...

Anonymous said...

I have a natural hair style and I love it.

Anonymous said...

I have a relaxer and I love it! I think at the end of the day you choose what you're comfortable with I think my natural sisters are beautiful but its just not for me. I did trim my hair recently but the post made me understand trimming didn't make my hair grow taking better care of my hair did. I recently started tweaking a much better regimen and considering washing twice a week to see how my hair responds. Thanks for the great info keep it coming. Oh any suggestions for protective styling?

Anonymous said...

I was natural and I went back to permed hair depending on your hair texture natural can be more difficult to manage . It takes time and patience and if u have an abundance of both go for it . Trimming hair is necessary to maintain healthy hair . How often , it just depends. You should pay attention to the change in texture of your ends . Split ends can turn into a head full of unhealthy hair . They will continue to split up your hair shaft or just break completly off . Healthy hair is more important than length but if u moisturize daily and keep split ends to a minimum both can be obtained

Anonymous said...

I knew it!!! I knew trimming the ends a big nono in my book. It does make my hair super short. Thanks for this.

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