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Trichologist Reveals the Top Hair Myths and What to Do Instead for a Thick, Healthy Head of Hair

Your hair loss questions answered!

With so much advice and varying opinions out there on how to reverse thinning hair, support healthy hair and reduce damage – especially in the age of social media – it can feel overwhelming knowing who and what to trust. That’s why we turned to Taylor Rose, a certified trichologist who posts hair care tips on Instagram and TikTok (see her Instagram Reel below) to debunk the most common hair myths and answer your most pressing hair care questions. Wondering which are correct and which are old wives’ tales? Read on!

1. Hair myth: Hair slugging reverses thinning hair

woman oiling hair

Q: “I’ve seen a slew of social media posts about how ‘hair slugging’ (applying oil to the scalp and letting it sit overnight) can reverse thinning. Does it really work?”

A: “Hair oils are great for moisturizing hair and promoting growth, but many dermatologists now think that using them overnight can clog hair follicles,” says Rose. But if you do want to try the trend, in order to prevent the viscous formula from clogging follicles, it’s best to do it on a freshly washed scalp or hair, since eliminating all the product buildup, debris and other impurities will leave room for ingredients to penetrate. And stick to using the oil two to three times a week max.

Related: 6 Best Hair Oils That Treat Thinning Hair, Restore Shine, Fight Frizz + More

2. Hair myth: All ponytails can lead to hair loss

Q: “I read that wearing a ponytail can lead to hair loss… is that true?”

A: “Only if you wear the style very tight and more than once a week,” says Rose. This can lead to traction alopecia and a receding hairline as the repeated motion of pulling hair into a tight ponytail or bun damages follicles, leading to fallout around the hair line or at the temples. Another thing to consider? Tight elastics can also cause breakage in the middle of the hair shaft that makes hair appear thinner. Instead, opt for a silk scrunchie, like Slip Silk Skinny Scrunchies, which won’t tug on or pull out hair. 

3. Hair myth: Hot tools don’t contribute to hair loss

mature woman with rollers in hair

Q: “I use hot tools on my hair every day. Can that actually lead to hair loss?”

A: Yes. In fact, this is one of the fastest ways to damage your hair and lead to premature shedding, says Rose. Instead, she advises only using hot tools once or twice a week. And to give hair a break from harmful heat without sacrificing style, try out heatless styles, like braiding wet hair and letting it dry, to create effortless beachy waves, or rolling 1″ sections of hair up toward the scalp and pinning to the head until dry to create bouncy curls. 

If your hair is already feeling overly dry or brittle from overuse of hot tools, Rose recommends using a hair mask, like SheaMoisture Raw Shea Butter Deep Treatment Masque, once a week. These masks have nourishing and hair-repairing ingredients that mend any damage caused by heat.

4. Hair myth: Skipping conditioner is a good idea for thin hair

Q: “A hair stylist once told me it’s best to skip conditioner since I have fine, thin hair. But my hair is so dry, how can I condition it?”

A: Conditioner promotes healthy moisturized ends, says Rose. “But since the thicker consistency can weigh down finer strands, I always suggest applying from mid-lengths to ends only.” Also smart? Use conditioner before shampooing. This way, hair gets hydrated, but then the shampoo rinses away any excess conditioning oils so strands won’t fall flat. 

Related: “I Tried Reverse Hair Washing and Was Shocked at How Thick and Shiny My Hair Looks Now”

5. Hair myth: Going to bed with wet hair won’t cause damage

Q: “Is it ok to go to sleep with wet hair?”

A: “Hair is at its weakest state when it’s wet,” says Rose. So when delicate hair rubs up against a harsh pillowcase all night it can damage strands, leading to breakage that makes hair look thinner. To help hair dry faster before going to bed, use a cotton T-shirt instead of a towel. The soft yet absorbent material wicks away moisture to speed drying time without pulling at strands or altering hair’s cuticle. Simply use the tee to gently squeeze moisture from hair, working from roots to ends. Then slip hair through the neck opening of the tee, twist it up turban-style and let it sit atop the head for 10 minutes.

mature woman brushing hair in mirror
Ekaterina Demidova/Getty

Bonus: The way your brush your hair when it’s wet can also lead to breakage and shedding. The smart strategy? Brushing in small increments of hair while working from bottom to top prevents that tension from reaching the scalp. This reduces pulling and damage for fuller-looking hair. To do: Separate hair into four equal sections. Hold the first section of hair in your hand 3″ above the ends; brush the free hair below it in downward strokes until it passes through snag-free. Move your hand up another 3″ and repeat. Continue up to roots; repeat on remaining sections.

See more expert-backed hair care tips and tricks:

How to Protect Your Hair and Scalp From the Sun, Plus the Products That Make It Easy

Understanding the Hair Growth Cycle Can Help Pinpoint Why Your Hair Is Thinning

Hair Dusting Keeps Strands Looking Youthful and Healthy! Plus You Can Do the Haircut Technique at Home

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