5 Hair Myths You Need to Stop Believing

Creating beautiful blonde color at the Wella Studio.

Add a little Sweet‘N Low to your hair color for sensitive scalps. Rinse with cold water for extra shine. “People swear by these concepts and have used them in salons for years,” says Lynette Tatum, Wella Studios Signature Artist, who teaches their “Sexy Science” class* aimed at understanding the chemistry behind salon services, “but we’ve tested each one, and we know what’s real and what’s simply a myth.” Read on for a mind-blowing experience.

Myth #1

Adding Sweet’N Low to your color stops burning and irritation. 
This myth is so overarching that clients stop their colorists and ask, “Did you add in my Sweet’N Low?” Some colorists add in the cream of tartar sweetener because they truly believe in its irritation-reducing powers, while others simply want to keep their clients happy. “It’s thought that the pH for Sweet’N Low, which is acidic, reduces the pH of the color, which is alkaline, creating less sensitivity from color,” says Tatum. “But, in our experiments, adding Sweet’N Low did not reduce the pH significantly, and in clinical trials there was no reduction in irritation.” So, save your sweetener for the coffee station, and either educate your client, or see if the placebo effect works without adding the pink packet.

Myth #2

Rinsing with cold water closes the cuticle and boosts shine. 
When Tatum announces that this myth isn’t true, jaws always drop. “They have such a hard time believing it’s not true because they’ve been told this so many times,” says Tatum. “In our research, cold water has no impact on the cuticle. Anytime the hair is wet, the cuticle is swollen and doesn’t close until the hair is completely dry.” Still can’t give up your cool-water rinses? Don’t worry, it won’t hurt the hair. 

Myth #3

Hair becomes “immune” to the same shampoo over time. 
The problem with this myth is the word “immune.” The reason why the hair stops changing is that the hair has received the full benefits of the shampoo with repeated washes—the hair is moisturized, volumized or protected. “Then, we get used to the feeling the shampoo gives the hair,” says Tatum, “and we switch to another shampoo—which contains different amounts of conditioning agents, silicones and oils—and we get a new feeling.” It’s not “immunity,” it’s “familiarity.”    

Myth #4

Red color molecules are smaller, so they fade faster. 
Repeat after me: All hair color molecules are equal in size. But it seems like red hues fade faster for many reasons: “Oxidative colorants used in formulas may not produce the vibrancy that the red shade requires, so direct dyes are also added, leading to faster fading,” says Tatum. “Some red dyes are more UV sensitive, making them fade quicker in sunlight. And finally, our eyes can detect smaller changes in vibrant shades, like red, more easily than in a brunette and blonde shade, making it appear like reds fade faster.”

Myth #5  

Alcohol in products is drying to the hair. 
Well, if we were talking about the rubbing alcohol in your bathroom cabinet, then this statement would be completely true, “But that’s not typically what’s used in hair care products,” says Tatum. “In care products, fatty alcohols—like cetyl, stearyl, cetearyl and lauryl alcohol—are used to condition, detangle and add slip to the hair. Alcohols also keep your products from growing fungus and mold.” The bottom line: Not all alcohols are “created equal”—some can dry out the hair, while others pamper each strand. 

*The “Sexy Science” seminar is held in New York City at the Wella Studios. The next class will be March 4-5, 2018. For more information visit WellaEd.com.