By SUSAN CALLAHAN, Featured Columnist
I love simple solutions. At least, I love them when they are simple and scientifically-grounded. This is one of them. It turns out that one of the main reasons we lose to much hair is something we control and can stop doing as much --- brushing our hair.
Brushing feels good to the scalp. To the hair? Not so much. Brushing is a violent act from your hair's perspective a pulling of the hair strands forcefully by a foreign object.
Remember that old adage we were taught to brush our hair 100 strokes each night? Well, that works when you're young and you've got plenty of hair to spare. But for anyone past the age of 15, you really should not be brushing that much each day.
You Can Lose up to 300 Hair Strands a Day If You Brush Hard
Each of us loses about 100 hairs a day, just as a result of the natural cycle of hair growth and loss. Hairs fall out and are replaced with new growth each day. But if you brush vigorously, you amplify the average up to 300 hairs or more loss each day.
At that rate, it doesn't take long before you will notice hair thinning or bald spots because the replacement rate of new hairs is slower than the rate of hairs loss through brushing.
In fact, loss of hair is proportional to the frequency of hair brushing, according to a 2009 study from Clalit Medical Services in Israel. A group of 14 women participated. Each was asked to brush their hair at different frequencies for 4 weeks. The researchers counted the number of hairs lost each week and the brushing frequency.
As expected, the more frequently a woman brushed her hair, the more hairs were loss. The study concludes that reducing the amount of times you brush will reduce hair shedding.
It's important to note that the women were not trying to brush any differently than they do normally.
What this suggests is that brushing will case hair loss, no matter how gently you try to brush. The more you brush, the more hair you will lose.
How Often Should You Brush Your Hair to Avoid Hair Loss?
The question of how often you should brush your hair is actually not that simple. Brushing helps to distribute the sebum that is secreted by hair glands. Without brushing or combing and washing, the sebum causes a dreadlocking effect. Untangling the hair is a hard process and itself causes hair loss.
So the real issue is, how long does it take your hair to start this process of becoming dreadlocks? If it takes two weeks, then you should be brushing at least once per week. If it takes longer, then you may be able t go longer without brushing.
The Right Way to Brush Your Hair
Hair grows naturally in one direction. If your natural wave is to one side, you should follow the grain of your hair to that side with your brush. Don't brush against the grain, or at least don't do it often, because it just accelerates hair loss.
What Kind of Brush Should You Use?
Some people swear by boar's hair brushes, a natural bristle brush. Others get along fine with synthetic brushes. Is there any advantage to one or the other?
Actually, not much. Boar's hair brushes tend not to tear the hair as much but the difference is small. Synthetic brushes help to manage thicker hair better.
Again, the bottom line is that , it's not the type of brush you use, it's the very act of brushing that causes hair loss. To avoid losing more, you simply have to cut down on brushing.