Ban the Brush: Use a Comb That Won't Break Hair
By Jennifer Bahney
We've all heard the recommendation: "If you want healthy growing hair,
be sure to brush 100 strokes a day." But quite the opposite is true;
the less your brush your hair, the better - especially if your hair is
already damaged from chemicals or the environment. Your best bet is to trade
in your brush for a comb that won't break hair.
When the "100 strokes a day" method first materialized,
women washed their hair with soap just once each month, or once every
three weeks if they were wealthy and had a lot of time on their hands.
Serious brushing was needed each day to remove debris from the scalp and
to evenly distribute the scalp oils down the hair shaft.
Without brushing so many strokes a day, this oil and debris would have
built up on the scalp, leaving the hair looking unclean and unkempt.
In addition, the ends would have become dry and brittle unless a substitute
oil were applied. And, since scalp massage wasn't widely practiced,
circulation to the scalp would have been diminished, seriously hampering healthy growth.
Get Proven Results With Combs That Won't Break Hair
Fortunately, today we wash our hair much more frequently, and with
slightly acidic shampoos that don't swell the hair shaft and cause
cuticle damage like soap does. We also have a plethora of conditioners,
both rinse-out and leave-in, that fortify and protect our strands.
Despite the modern hair care marvels, however, the advice to "brush 100
strokes a day" continues to persist. In fact, it's one of the top hair
care questions I'm asked on a regular basis.
I always recommend against brushing 100 strokes a day and here's why:
Excessive brushing wears away the hair's cuticle - its protective covering.
The cuticle becomes "roughed up" and catches on other hairs, causing matts
and tangles. If the cuticle continues to erode, the inner cortex will be
exposed and wear down, seriously weakening the hair. Once the cortex goes,
the hair is likely to split and break off.
For women with shoulder-length and longer hair, and especially those who
chemically process their hair, I recommend only using a brush when you
absolutely must. Instead, invest in a smooth wide-tooth comb that won't break hair.
The best combs that won't break hair are handmade from cellulose acetate,
a non-petroleum based material that's actually created from wood pulp even
though it resembles plastic. Cellulose acetate is very tough and resists breaking,
yet is smooth and flexible, allowing you to comb without hurting your hair or scalp.
I recommend that women with damaged hair use a comb anytime they would normally
use a brush - to detangle, style, or to "comb out" before bed. Be very gentle,
and always start combing from the bottom of your hair and work your way up as
you undo any snarls.
The Combing Solution
When using a comb that won't break hair, you're more likely to take your time
instead of tearing through it like you would with a brush. That's because a
comb won't slide through tangles, even with a lot of force, like with a brush.
You have to gently work out the tangle, which is ultimately better for your hair.
Instead of brushing as a way to stimulate the scalp and promote circulation,
opt for a soothing scalp massage instead. Scalp massage is much more effective
than brushing for promoting circulation, plus it doesn't affect the hair shaft
if done properly. To encourage hair growth, be sure to massage with a mixture
of thyme, rosemary, lavender, and cedarwood essential oils in a carrier oil
such as grapeseed or jojoba. With regular use, this mix has been proven to
correct temporary hair loss and promote new growth (Archives of Dermatology,
Since the only way to "repair" split or severely damaged hair is to cut it
off, it makes sense to prevent the problem in the first place. The first step
is simple: ban the brush and opt for a smooth wide-tooth comb that won't
break hair or cause excessive damage.
- This article was written and submitted by Jennifer Bahney,
a professional tricologist and long hair care expert.
Her web site is www.LongHairLovers.com.
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