Exclusive: Expert Trichologist On The Most Common Haircare Myths And How to Deal With Hairfall
With our social life, there is one more thing that has completely gone for a toss during this pandemic and that’s the health of our hair. Have you been experiencing more hairfall, greying and just bad hair days than usual? Cause, same! When the lockdown started, I thought my hair would finally be healthy and better since I always blamed heat and pollution (and no time to care for my mane) the reasons for my unruly and damaged tresses. However, even with nowhere to go and so much time in hand for haircare, I am not too sure if I am seeing positive results. What am I doing wrong? I spent nights thinking that and maybe that stress is now showing in the form of my grey hair. This was supposed to be the time when I could bring my dull and drab hair back to life but one year later, I am exactly where I started. Haircare wise, and socially too since we are still in quarantine.
Well, one good thing about the lockdown is that we again have some extra time on our hands to give some TLC to our hair, since we are saving time on not travelling to our workplaces or going to parties (regardless of how much we are missing that). But this time, you can actually make sure you are taking proper care of your hair and pamper those lockdown-struck mane of yours. We have got some expert help to make things easier for you.
We sat down with Dr Chiranjiv Chhabra, Chief Dermatologist & Director of Alive Wellness Clinics to understand haircare and how lockdown stress is making it worse for us. She also debunked some haircare myths for us, talked about what we neglect (which is probably that answer to what I am doing wrong) and also told us when it’s time to see a trichologist and seek medical help for our tresses. Read the full interview.
Q. The lockdown has caused a lot of hairfall. Is this common and how do we stop it?
Dr. Chhabra: Emotional or physical trauma, pregnancy, hospitalization or infection can cause hair to switch from the growing phase to the shedding stage. While shedding hair is a normal part of the hair cycle, excessive shedding should not be taken lightly. Usually, some people shed noticeable amounts of hair after a profoundly stressful experience such as an illness, major surgery or emotional trauma. There are many stresses surrounding this pandemic which could be a cause for hair loss. Good nutrition, intake of vitamins like biotin, medicated procedures like PRP (platelet rich plasma), Stem Cell Therapy are some of the proven ways that help in hair growth. At the same time, stress-reduction techniques like yoga, scalp massage or mindfulness meditation can also help a lot.
Q. What are some of the haircare myths you would like to bust?
Dr. Chhabra: Here are some of the common hair care myths and truths:
1. If you pluck one grey hair, the rest of the hair will also turn grey.
Truth: Tweezing one or two grey hair will not lead to more grey hair as grey hair are mostly governed by genetics and aging.
2. Shaving the head can regrow thicker and better hair.
Truth: Hair growth occurs at the roots, hence, shaving the head doesn’t actually affect the follicles that are in charge of hair growth. Hence, shaving has nothing to do to with the living follicles underneath the scalp.
3. You can stop shampooing to prevent hair fall.
Truth: Your scalp, like facial skin, is a magnet for dead cells, product buildup, excess oil and bacteria. Washing your hair 2-3 times in a week is recommended.
4. Split ends must be repaired or you will go bald.
Truth: Split ends do not lead to baldness but actually lead to poor quality hair. Do not handle the hair when wet, use a wide toothed comb, trim your hair regularly, use hair shaft repair treatments and ensure good nutrition to avoid split ends.
5. You should skip conditioning if you have oily hair.
Truth: Greasy hair is not caused by conditioning your hair. Instead, this happens when too much sebum—a type of oil your body naturally produces—is produced by the scalp tissues, causing buildup.
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Q. What are some of the wrong practices that women follow for haircare that are absolutely no-nos?
- ABRASIVE WASHING: Hair is at its most vulnerable when wet, therefore using back and forth or circular action to wash your scalp can cause tangles, breakage or weaken the follicles.
- SHAMPOOING ONLY HAIR, RATHER THAN SCALP: It’s the scalp that needs the most attention while shampooing because the roots are often the oiliest.
- CONDITIONER APPLICATION ON SCALP: The ends of the hair are the driest and need additional moisturizing. Hence, it is advisable to provide sufficient conditioning to the shaft and tips because the requirement of conditioners is more in these areas than scalp.
- RUBBING THE HAIR VIGOROUSLY AND HARSHLY WHILE DRYING: Gently pat to blot dry your hair initially and allow your hair to dry naturally.
- OVERWASHING THE HAIR – When you wash your hair every day it strips away the natural oils and proteins that you need to keep your hair and scalp healthy. So try to limit hair washing to three times a week if possible.
- OVER USAGE OF DRY SHAMPOO – It can cause build-up on the scalp and clog hair follicles which can impede hair growth.
- ABUSING HEAT TOOLS: Direct heat from curling irons/flat irons/blow dryers saps the hair of moisture and hydration, leading to dry, damaged hair. It also causes excess breakage and split ends.
- SCORCHING HOT WATER FOR HAIR WASH: High temperature strips your body’s essential oils, making your hair drier, duller, and more prone to frizz and breakage. Use lukewarm water instead.
- WRONG BRUSHING: When your hair is soaking wet, it is weaker, more fragile and more susceptible to breakage.
Q. Please share with us an often-ignored aspect of haircare.
- Ignoring scalp health: If you’re constantly scratching your head due to dryness and itchiness, and drugstore shampoos aren’t helping, consult a doctor immediately. A chronic itch can traumatize the scalp.
- Not maintaining a healthy diet: Include protein, iron and several vitamins to micronutrients in your diet to keep the hair and scalp healthy.
- Not using heat protectant spray: One of the most ignored but best haircare tips. Always use a heat-protective spray on your hair before using hot tools like blow dryers and straightening and curling irons.
- Wearing tight ponytails: If your hair is pulled taut from your scalp every day for long periods, it’s going to cause strain and breakage. Some of the best hair care tips to help with this is including wearing lower and looser ponytails and letting your hair down for a while in between.
- Ignoring supplements: It is advisable to get regular blood tests done to keep a check on the diet deficiencies which cause hair loss, thinning and dryness, and fulfil them by using supplements.
Q. When does someone need to go to a trichologist?
Dr. Chhabra: Trichologists examine the hair and scalp to diagnose and recommend treatment for your condition and its severity. Conditions in which you should consider visiting a trichologist:
- MALE AND FEMALE PATTERN BALDNESS: in addition to the emotional aspects of hair loss and the heredity factor, pattern baldness in women is associated with an elevated risk of polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), a hormonal imbalance that can cause irregular menstruation, acne and weight gain.
- HAIR SHEDDING: or telogen effluvium occurs when large sections of hair fall or detach from the scalp. This can be caused by several conditions including stress, surgery, high fever, blood loss, hormonal change and childbirth. Hair shedding is a common side effect of some chemotherapy drugs as well.
- SCARRING ALOPECIA: A condition where hair follicles are destroyed which leads to irreversible hair loss. It is caused by inflammatory disorders, chemicals like hair relaxers, and several fungal conditions.
- EXCESSIVE BODY HAIR GROWTH IN WOMEN: PCOS often causes hirsutism in women. It can also result from disorders of the pituitary, adrenal, or thyroid gland or medication side effects. A trichologist may be able to help guide you to the right physician to get a diagnosis depending on its root cause.
Once the trichologist arrives at a diagnosis, they will either refer you to another professional, specialist, or primary care physician or advice hair care lotions and creams.