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Is this tip relevant or an old fashioned myth?
vintage brush set photo: needful junque via etsy
There was a time when one of the most commonly practiced beauty tips for beautiful hair was to brush your hair 100 times per day. Today, it’s one of those beauty tips that has continued to spread among women searching for shiny, silky, lush hair. But has this antiquated tip turned into a Beauty Myth? And what made 100 brush strokes a night a viable thing to do? The wht Myth Squad is here to answer these burning questions!
Whether you were a pioneer woman or a lady in the 1950’s, things were different then. Two of the most notable differences that are relevant to this myth; the hygiene/cleanliness standards differed from those of modern days and the availability and variety of beauty items was slim compared to our never ending options.
Once upon a time, it was common that a women would wash her hair less than once a week (and in many cases even less often). Because the hair was cleansed less frequently, natural oils would build up. If you brushed your hair 100 times per day this helped distribute the natural oils on your scalp through out the length of the hair, while adding natural shine and protection.
You may ask what would happen if one did not have the time, energy or inclination to do that? If you would not brush your hair with so many strokes a day, oil and debris would build up on the scalp, leaving the hair looking unclean and unkempt. Think about all of that oil just sitting in one place. These natural oils were put to work by helping the ends from becoming dry and brittle.
Also of note, during this time the beauty business was not the huge industry it is today. There was not such a wide variety of products and tools and most were “one size fits all”, not the hair specific items we see today. Not to mention without online shopping and local stock filled beauty aisles, many women had to save and plan for months (even years) to purchase hair care items. The daily washing, conditioning, blow-drying, straightening, etc was just not an option. But 100 strokes a night to better hair, was possible.
This brings me to the next question. Is this beauty myth still relevant? Unfortunately, brushing your hair 100 times a day would not work well today. We have undergone an evolution to the opposite extreme. We are guilty of doing too much to our tresses, whether it is over washing, too much product, coloring, highlighting, blow drying and straightening.
Excessive stimulation such as brushing, straightening or using curling irons erodes the hair’s cuticle. The cuticle is the hairs protective covering and when it becomes “roughed up” it catches on other hairs. This causes mats or tangles. With continued over stimulation, the cuticle will erode. This weakens the hair and causes it split or break.
I purchased a smooth wide-tooth comb to reduce split ends and hair fall out for my chemically processed shoulder-length hair. The best combs that I found are made from cellulose acetate. This is a non-petroleum based material that is derived from wood pulp but, looks just like plastic. (I bought mine for around $8.) This compound is very tough but, flexible. It allows me to comb through my thick hair highlighted hair without risking harm to my hair or sensitive scalp.
This is good option for anyone with damaged hair that would normally use a brush to detangle. Brushes tend to be hard on hair when trying to remove tangles. Instead, start combing from the bottom of your hair and gently work your way up to the top. I was surprised how well this basic method works. I have been doing this for at least three weeks and have experienced much less fall out while combing, blow drying, styling (so there is much less hair to pick up off the bathroom floor).
The moral of this story is be gentle and cognizant of what you may be doing to your hair, especially when it is wet. Anything that is excessive will ultimately lead to damage. It does not matter if it is brushing your hair 100 times every day or doing something else. We have heard this before but too much of any one thing is not good for you.
So, the wht Myth Squad Verdict? 100 brush strokes a night may have helped other generations get gorgeous hair, but it’s a beauty myth for women in 2010!
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13 thoughts on “The Myth Squad – 100 brush strokes a night”
This was a very interesting and informative post, @hao9703! I don’t even brush my hair ever haha, maybe I should get a brush to use once in a while.
Thanks Holly @hao9703! for another great beauty myth explained!
I have very fine hair that has to be washed almost every day or it looks heavy and dirty. When I bought a fancy brush, it claimed I should wash every other day and use their brush much like you described. Brush hair upside down in the morning of my second day (without washing) and brush from crown to the tips in long, firm strokes. It distributes those oils and really does add a day between washings. ONE day, mind you – I shudder at the thought of waiting a week between washes. Fancy brush or not, my fine hair would be awful!
@hao9703 I love that you debunked this widely spread myth! I have highlighted hair that is very fine and it would all be gone tomorrow if I were to brush it like crazy. Currently a paddle brush has been my safest bet – dry only!
My thick, dry hair looks better the day AFTER washing. And I’m sure the oils are why. My hair looks frizzy when just washed, a day later (and some brushing, maybe only 6 strokes though) it’s calmer and lays flatter.
@hao9703 – I love this column!
This is an awesome post @hao9703 I used to do this when I was about pre-teen for ages and ages. I was all into natural beauty stuff at that point. I also did the lemon juice thing to highlight my hair, but it didn’t work because I never spent any time in the sun! To this day I always look for hair conditioners with olive oil because it is proven to increase hair strength by 3x. Which is important to me because I shed more them my dog does and I still have crazy thick hair.
What an awesome post! It is so intellectual and so fun at the same time! Ok, I struggle to wash my hair even 3 times per week, and over-brushing just makes it greasier! But what a fun myth bust!
This is interesting. I had never thought about why the 100 strokes a day thing started. I remember Marcia on The Brady Bunch brushing her hair like crazy every day! I used to never brush my hair (because it was so thick and curly) and now I don’t brush it for the opposite reason – there’s not enough to brush. So I’ve always wondered if not brushing it was bad as well (since brushing increases circulation to the hair’s roots).
Great article, Holly! :) I’m terrible about brushing my hair… it ends up a tangled mess either way.
great post! I too, wondered if 100 strokes a day was good or bad. Thank you for clearing that up!
@Tyna, I will try your tip for everyother day brushing, since the daily thing is taking atoll on my fine, color treated hair!
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Great article Holly!! I am having such trouble lately with my hair. When I brush I tend to have so many tangles and I end up ripping a lot out. It drives me nuts! I just need to be more careful and take it easy!
This was such an interesting post, @hao9703! I had no idea, for instance, that women washed their hair less than once a week in the past. Eek.
I do tend to be a little rough on my hair when it’s wet, so thanks for the reminder to be gentle…
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