Monday, 16 January 2012

Damaging Hair "Advice" From Around The Internet

Would you take hair advice from a clown?
Like the saddo that I am, I spend my free time looking on the internet for interesting new information and styling ideas for hair.

Unfortunately I tend to discover a lot of silliness instead.

Some of it is harmless, like using mayonnaise as a DIY conditioner. It works great, but it's more expensive than a properly formulated conditioner and it doesn't smell nearly as good.

Others are damaging or designed to separate you from your hard earned money.

Don't be fooled. These are my 3 Most Irritating "Tips" uncovered on a recent surf round the internet.

1. How to make my hairdo stay without hairspray

I received this from Top Tips For Girls this weekend as my tip of the day. 

"If you run out of hairspray chop up one lemon and place in a pot with 2 cups water. Boil until half of the initial amount remains. Cool, strain, and place in a spray bottle. Store in the refrigerator. If it is too sticky, add more water. Add one ounce rubbing alcohol as a preservative and then the spray can be stored for up to two weeks unrefrigerated."

Lemon juice is corrosive to hair. The only scenario in which putting lemon on your hair is a good idea is if you have fine hair and want to add a "beachy" volume to it. By intentionally roughing up the cuticle, you force the individual hairs to lie apart, which will give you a small degree of added volume.

Obviously it will weaken your hair and make it more prone to split ends and breakage.
Repeated use of lemon juice will also, as is widely known, break down the pigment in your hair and lighten it, as well as continue to eat away at your cuticle with each application.

If you seriously run out of hairspray and can't cope without it, a better emergency alternative would be to rub conditioner between your hands and apply where needed with your finger tips to your hair when dry.

The conditioner coats your hair, blocking moisture in the air from entering your hair and causing frizz. It also will have the added benefit of reducing static, which may have built up while blow drying your hair.

It also won't be eating away at your hair. Duh.

The vast majority of DIY hair tips I've seen on this site are either pointless or damaging.

2. Improve weight and fullness with a "hair friendly" diet

Josephine Fairley has recently published The Anti-Aging Beauty Bible. In an article giving advice on how to improve your hair she writes,

"No miracle shampoo and condition regime can compensate for the wrong diet."

Crikey. A wrong diet?

"I 'prescribe' to just about any wannabe-gorgeous woman ... Ideal Omega 3. The B vitamin family is also fantastic for hair, as well as selenium and zinc. (Fact: few of us eat a perfect diet - never mind a hair-friendly diet - so supplements really do have a role to play in hair health.)"

Seriously, this sort of advice makes me insane.

This information (putting aside the Omega 3, for a moment) is based on pre-World War II research into why pig's hooves were growing brittle when raised on a diet of industrially produced pig nuts.

So instead of giving the pigs food they might eat "in the wild", they just added, you guessed it, B vitamins, selenium and zinc to their diet.

And, presto! Those derned hooves started growing okay.

True Fact: The only hair-friendly diet going is one that isn't starvation based.

Basically, if you're eating your 4 food groups, your hair is fine. No food is going to "increase blood flow" or give your follicles "building blocks" for hair.

The follicle is a pretty miraculous little engine, manufacturing what it needs to spin hair. It is driven by your relative hormone levels, and messing with these is what messes with your hair.

Besides, once cresting the age of 30, most women have figured out screwing up your hormones on purpose isn't the greatest idea in the world unless your doctor really, really, really insists.

Returning to the issue of Omega 3 and fish oils and all this wonderfulness.

Back in the olden days I was lucky enough to attend a food science conference in Austin, Texas (in July for crying out loud) where research was presented on the wide ranging health benefits of Omega 3 from eating oily fish.

The evidence was so compelling, I started eating salmon two to three times a week.

It was another 10 years before I ever saw any mention of this research in the public press.

Omega 3 oils are very good for your health.

They are incredible for your heart and for your mental health.

But they do nothing for hair growth.

Indeed, the only published scientific paper I could find on the subject was from February 2010 in Revue Medicale de Liege involving 272 individuals.

The following nutrients were found to have no statistically significant relationship to alopecia (hair loss):

calcium, copper, iron, iodine, magnesium, manganese, phosphorus, potassium, selenium, zinc, omega 3 and omega 6.

Another study (on pigs) published in 1995 looked at skin cell growth after daily oral doses of essential fatty acids. Skin thickness improved, but peaked at four weeks.

But the improvement was only temporary. By eight weeks, skin measurements returned to normal.

Other than that, I couldn't find any other peer reviewed research on the topic. If you know otherwise, please share the link  in the comments section below.

I love a good research paper.

3. It is important to learn how to massage your scalp

"...because your scalp needs a good supply of blood to produce the cells for new hair growth."

This sort of rubbish is all over the internet, women's magazines, everywhere, but this particular quote comes from, another site where almost anyone can post advice on anything.

Like any good myth, there is a grain of truth to it.

The follicle does need a good supply of blood to do its job. However the big news is that massaging your head does not help increase blood to the follicle. The follicle needs to grow (all by itself, without help from you or that nice girl in the salon) a network of capilliaries to supply specifically that follicle.

You cannot manually "stimulate" a follicle. As I said above, only hormones can send the correct signals for this to happen.

If you started rubbing your chin, would you grow a beard? If you have back massages, do you end up with a hairy back? No, of course not.

The other aspect of this advice that drives me nuts is the idea that the supply of blood to your head must be insufficient if you aren't happy with how much hair you have.

First of all, the single most important organ for your very biological survival is located in your head: your brain.

Funny how no one recommends head massages to make you smarter.

Or do they? Yikes!

Anybody who thinks our body isn't organised in such a way to sustain brain activity (even if it ends up being wasted on personal insecurities most of the time) doesn't know much about anatomy and should get off the internet and go read a book on the subject.

This isn't to say a head massage isn't a good idea. They're nice. They're relaxing. And nice, relaxing things are good.

But don't have them imagining you're going to start sprouting more hair.

It's not going to happen.  

Good Advice on the Internet

It does seem the tide is starting to turn on hair advice, though.

I found this article, for instance, from Good Housekeeping, which (aside from the massaging business) I'd fully agree with.

Visit Stone Bridge for some really nice hair clips

Sunday, 1 January 2012

Living Dangerously So You Don't Have To

Melissa Dances With the Devil And Lives To Tell The Tale

What do I always say?

Practice new hair styles before the day of your formal event.

Use your mirrors.

And what do I do?

Never mind about that. I made a little video for you about an updo hair style that (thank goodness) works without a lot of effort and looks pretty good.


Visit Stone Bridge and see some pretty hair clips perfect for tucking into your messy bun