By Emily London, Refinery29
From getting spots through eating chocolate to never shaving your legs for fear of growing coarse hairs, the myths ahead defy the laws of logic. And most of them are total lies (although, there are a few exceptions). To prove it, we've tracked down London's top beauty experts to get the skinny on precisely these belief systems. It's time to just say no, people.
"If I pull a gray hair out, three more will grow in its place."
When you actually think about it, it is almost unbelievable that this wives' tale is still doing the rounds. For once and for all, it is just not true. As celebrity and royal (Kate Middleton is a client) hairdresser Richard Ward explains: "This isn't true - only one hair can grow out of each hair bulb, but once you start graying it may just seem that way." Philip Kingsley, the U.K's leading trichologist, also agrees. "When your hair begins to go gray and you pull one out, the chances are that the hair next to it is ready to grow out white, so you may think that pulling one out will make two grow," he says. "Also, the placement of where your hair goes gray can vary and there are no specific reasons as to why. However, it is usually genetic." Sobering stuff.
The solution: Clairol Nice N' Easy Non-Permanent Range, £4.07, available at Superdrug, doesn't contain any ammonia, meaning that you can blend away the first signs of gray in an instant and the colour will slowly fade away after 24 washes. Pure genius.
"You can repair split ends."
There are so many hair care products on the market that it is easy to believe that a trip to the chemist will deliver an instant solution to dry, brittle split ends. We don't how to break this to you, but it just isn't true. Ward explains: "If hair is splitting, it needs to be cut off immediately, before it has the chance to spread and split further up the weakened hair shaft. A good stylist will know how much to take off, but for a safety measure, best to trim one inch clear of the splitting area. Once trimmed off, a course of intense conditioning treatments should follow."
The solution: Book a trim every six to eight weeks. In between appointments, try using Richard Ward Couture Hair Wheat Nutrient Masque, £22.50, available at QVC, once a week to keep hair feeling smooth and supple. Or, if your hair feels like it needs a full M.O.T. before a trip to the hairdresser, we swear by Philip Kingsley Pre-Shampoo Elasticizer Treatment, £27.50, available at Philip Kingsley, which leaves frazzled hair feeling like spun silk. Seriously transformative.
"Washing your hair every day makes it greasier."
You know that feeling: Your freshly washed hair starts to feel a little less squeaky-clean come the afternoon. Is it a case of you running your fingers through your hair too much, or are you doing something wrong? Philip Kingsley sheds some light on how this belief came into existence: "This may have come about because when clean hair (freshly washed) becomes a little oily, which is natural, you notice it more. When it becomes dirtier and oilier, a little extra oil is not noticed." But, is it actually becoming greasier, and does it really matter in terms of the health of the hair? Dr. Joe Cincotta, a cosmetics chemist at Color Wow, says, "Washing hair every day typically dries out the hair - especially if you don't use sulfate free shampoos. Perhaps the greasiness comes from using shampoos that contain silicones that stick to hair and build up causing greasiness."
The solution: If you do feel that you hair is feeling greasy straight after you've washed it, check your shampoo to see if it contains silicones. They can make hair feel a little on the greasy side. Or switch to a sulphate-free formula like Color Wow Color Security Shampoo, £16.50, available at Space NK, to see if that actually makes a difference.
"Cutting your hair will make it grow faster."
This little homily may have originated in the hairdressers' chair, but is there any proof that regular cuts (while fabulous for split ends) are actually going to speed up the growth of our hair? Well, no, actually. The Creative Director of Hari's Salons, Craig Taylor explains: "It doesn't have an effect. This is an absolute myth - hair has a growth cycle, growing resting and shedding within the body's natural working system." Meanwhile, JOICO European Design Team Member Kate Cunningham suggests, "Frequent trims will leave your hair in the healthiest condition, enabling it to grow as quickly as it possibly can. It won't, however, speed up the growing time."
The solution: Taylor suggestions that if a person really wants to grow their hair quickly, she needs to look at what she's putting into her body from a nutrition POV. "Only nutrition can make hair grow faster," he says. "Viviscal is a fantastic product which is taken orally." Viviscal Maximum Strength Hair Growth Programme, £89.96, available at Amazon.
"Changing your shampoo brand regularly is good for your hair."
This myth could be connected to one's continued FOMO anxiety, but somehow there is this tacit understanding that every couple of months, one will change the hair and conditioning range so that our scalps and locks can "have a bit of change." As if it were physiologically possible for a scalp to have an emotional response to the product that it was being treated with! But, like all good beauty myths, there is a small grain of truth to it. "Changing shampoo once in while is a good idea," Taylor says. "Hair can get a build-up of product over time, so once every two to three months, think about changing the brand." But, what ingredient in our shampoos could be causing this? Silicones, says Kate Cunningham. "They are notorious for creating a barrier around the hair shaft. They instantly make the hair appear glossy and frizz-free, but when used over time they can contribute to scalp complaints and eventually dull the hair, which is why it's good to use a 'detox' shampoo from time to time." Just don't use them daily if you have coloured hair, as they can strip your hue.
The solution: Try Neutrogena Anti Residue Formula, £6.99, available at Amazon, once a week to help remove any unwanted silicone build up from your hair. Or try washing with Joico K-Pak Clarifying Shampoo, £13.95, available from Feel Unique for a couple weeks before switching back to your favourite hair brand.
"Toothpaste helps to get rid of spots."
If truth be told, the soothing minty freshness of the toothpaste does feel like it's calming and reducing the offending spot in question. But, that is all in our minds. According to consult dermatologist and spokesperson for the British Skin Foundation, Dr.Tamara Griffiths: "Although there is no harm in doing this, and the menthol in the toothpaste may have a soothing or slight anesthetic effect, there is no medical evidence to suggest this would be helpful." Instead, she recommends using over-the-counter treatments such as benzoyl peroxide or salicylic acid.
The solution: For breakouts that need to be gone FAST, switch toothpaste for Mario Badescu Drying Lotion, £14.95, available at BeautyBay or Clearasil Rapid Action Treatment Cream, £6.89 at Boots, to kick those pesky blemishes to the kerb.
"Eating chocolates gives you spots."
We've thought this ourselves many times, but is that really the reason? For a long time, the answer would have been a resounding no, but new research is causing the medical community to think differently. As Dr. Tamara Griffiths explains, "There may be some truth to the old wives' tale that too much chocolate can cause spots. Hormones influence spots or acne, which is why flares often occur in teenagers, and around the menstrual cycle in women. Recent research suggests a diet high in refined sugars and high glycemic index foods can cause surges in the hormone insulin, which also seems to trigger acne. However, moderate or severe acne is unlikely to be controlled by diet alone." It seems that eating chocolate occasionally is sort of okay, but it can't become a daily habit. We can live with that.
The solution: Eat chocolate as and when you want to, but don't make it a daily routine. For those of you with acne, speak to your GP or dermatologist about ways to control your breakouts through treatments and diet.
"Burning a little bit at the start of a holiday helps to get an even darker tan."
The first day of a holiday is a beautiful thing. But, so many of us seem to want to ruin it by rushing out into the sunshine without any form of UVA or UVB protection as "burning a tiny bit creates the perfect foundation for a solid tan." Wait, what? As Griffiths explains, "There is no such thing as a healthy tan, as it is the body's response to the harmful sun's rays. Some skin types will burn before a tan, and the burning causes even more damage." As far as getting a "base tan" from a sunbed? Don't do it. "I tell my patients that if they like a 'healthy glow', then fake tans are the way to go. There are a lot of sophisticated false tan products available now, which look very natural. Just don't get lulled into a false sense of security that it will prevent burns, unless there is added SPF in the product."
The solution: If you want to arrive at the airport looking golden from head to toe, may we suggest a quick a spritz of James Read Instant Bronzing Spray, £24.50, available at James Read, before you walk at the door? It's a silky spray that gives the most realistic tan we've ever seen. Just remember that this product doesn't contain any SPF, so do slap on the sunscreen when you actually get to your holiday destination.
"Shaving your legs makes your hair grown back thicker and darker."
This scenario is as old as the hills: You're between waxes but the sun is out (for once) and you want to wear your new pencil skirt. What do you do? You can't shave, as your leg hairs will grow back as coarse and dark as a horse's tail. Right? Nope, not at all. Grab that razor and shave away. As top London waxer Otylia Roberts reveals, "Shaving removes the surface hair, so it encourages re-growth. However, shaving does not cause the hair to grow back thicker. When you shave, you slice off the hair giving it a blunt tip, which makes it more noticeable when re-growth occurs. Waxing is more destructive to the hair follicle as it pulls the hair from the root. Therefore, the hair will grow back finer and take longer to come through. I recommend waxing every four to six weeks."
The solution: Feel free to shave your legs as and when you need to! To thin the hairs on any part of your body, consider booking regular hot wax or strip wax appointments.
"Give nails a break from polish to let them breathe."
This summer we spent a fair amount of time in our local beauty parlour, topping up our mani and pedis whenever the mood took or the colour chipped. From time to time this little rule kept on cropping up: "Give your nails a breather between polishes. It's good for them." But is it? Lynn Gray, a nail ambassador for Mavala, says no. "Nails do not have a respiratory system so they cannot essentially breathe," she says. "In fact, the nail you see is in fact dead. The living part of the nail is found within the matrix which is underneath the base of the nail." But, London's top podiatrist, Margaret Dabbs has other ideas. "Nail varnish can be very toxic and because of the intensity of the colour and the chemicals this can be massively dehydrating on the nails. This dehydration can affect the nails in various ways, including ridging, scaling, brittleness, discolouration, and it can also cause white flecks to appear on the nail. Whilst the nails are covered with polish the damage to the nails will continue, but also with the nail covered you cannot see the damage that is being caused so by the time you do see it the damage is done. Polish-free days are essential when looking after your nails as it allows them time to breathe and recover, rehydrating naturally. Your nails will be in much better condition if you take a week between each polish as they will have had enough time to revitalize and strengthen." Um, looks like we might actually want to believe in this beauty myth.
The solution: If you want to give your nails a "breather" try the Margaret Dabbs Super Shine Buffer, £7, available at Margaret Dabbs, to polish your natural nails until they gleam like freshly buffed mirrors. If you do notice some white flecks or nail irregularities, slick on a couple of coats of Mavala Mava-White Optical Nail Whitener, £9.40, available at Feel Unique. This cosmetic treatment leaves dodgy-looking nails pearly white, though beware: There is a UV quality to this liquid so the next time you go clubbing, your tootsies are going to glow in the dark.
"You should file nails back and forth."
How many years have you been filing your own nails? And how many different
explanations about how to do it properly have you been given? One of the oldest myths regarding nails that you should file them back and forth to get seriously good shape. Wrong - this old-school method is out of date. "Filing your nails back and forth weakens the nail plates, making them more prone to splitting and flaking. Always files lightly in one direction," says Lynn Gray. While Dabbs suggests,"Make sure to file you nails straight across. Straight across is the most flattering and healthiest option."
The solution: Throw out those emery boards and invest in a glass file like the Leighton Denny Crystal Nail File, £15.50, available at Leighton Denny that files nails smoothly and quickly without causing damage to the nail bed.