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If you’re like most women, you probably consider your hair your best accessory—so it’s no wonder that you’d go to great lengths to keep it in top shape. But are some of your most common beauty rituals, like switching up your shampoo every few months and applying conditioner everywhere, actually doing more harm than good?
Top stylists break down what’s true—and what’s oh-so false—when it comes to your mane.
The myth: Getting regular trims will help your hair grow faster.
The reality: Hair normally grows a half inch every four weeks, says Jae Cardenas, a celebrity hairstylist at Sally Hershberger Downtown Salon in New York City—and getting a fresh cut every two weeks won’t speed up that process. However, “Trimming your ends [every six to eight weeks] will help you maintain your hair’s shape and prevent splitting the hair shaft,” says Nicole Cichocki, senior stylist and lead educator at Bumble and Bumble Salon in New York City. So what can you do to grow longer strands? What you eat is key—try adding foods high in protein and omega-3s to your diet.
The myth: Plucking a gray hair results in a bunch more.
The reality: If you see a gray sticking out like a sore thumb, plucking it won’t make it grow 10-fold. But it can actually damage your hair follicle and prevent hair from ever growing back in that spot. “I’ve seen this in clients who have actually created bald spots from plucking their gray hair,” says Cardenas. “So don’t do it!”
The myth: You can become immune to your hair products.
The reality: “The environment and seasonal weather changes, like humidity, contribute to this,” says Cichocki. “[And] some mass market hair brands use large quantities of silicones and other [ingredients] that build up on the hair shaft.” At first, these coatings make your hair look smooth and shiny, but after using them repeatedly, hair can become limp and lifeless, explains Cichocki. The solution? Use a clarifying shampoo like Bumble and Bumble Sunday Shampoo ($25, sephora.com) once a week to remove excess buildup.
The myth: Going to bed with wet hair can be damaging.
The reality: It’s totally fine to be lazy—just don’t hit the sheets with your wet hair in a tight ponytail or bun, which can cause breakage. The really good news is that you can actually strengthen your hair while you sleep if you use the right product. Cardenas suggests wringing out the excess water, applying a leave in conditioner—we like It’s a 10 Miracle Leave-in Product ($18, ulta.com)—and putting your hair in a loose braid.
The myth: You need to apply conditioner from root to tip.
The reality: When it comes to conditioner, a little goes a long way. Cardenas advises focusing on your scalp when shampooing (because that’s where you’ll see product buildup) and then just running a small amount of conditioner through your ends. Just be sure not to rub your hands together too vigorously on the length of the hair; this can roughen up the cuticles and damage the hair shaft, says Cichocki.
More from Women’s Health:
14 Foods for GORGEOUS Healthy Hair
5 Surprising Ways You’re Ruining Your Hair
The 10 Biggest Hair Care Mistakes