x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 18 January 2018

Keep your hair on

Mike Ryan, aka the Dubai Hair Doctor, shares some of the common myths he hears from patients seeking treatment for hair loss in his office.

Mike Ryan, the 'Dubai Hair Doctor'. Satish Kumar / The National
Mike Ryan, the 'Dubai Hair Doctor'. Satish Kumar / The National

It’s not the water

New arrivals in Arabian Gulf countries frequently complain of unusual hair loss within three to four months of arrival and blame the water, which is mostly desalinated. Desalinated water can cause dry skin, hair and scalp and it can dry out the hair, causing it to become brittle and break – but not fall out. Instead, the main reasons for hair loss are low vitamins D, B12, ferritin (iron storage) levels, high stress, humidity, air conditioning, poor diet and dehydration, as most expatriates don’t drink enough when they move here. Another culprit can be chlorine, which is also present in low levels in desalinated water. Chlorine can cause the air and sun to oxidise hair and damaging its cuticle and proteins.

Your shampoo doesn’t get tired of your hair

The same shampoo, used on the same hair under the same circumstances, always gives the same result. Shampoo buyers are noted for their disloyalty and manufacturers frequently take advantage of consumer dissatisfaction with competitors. Very few people are truly happy with their hair’s performance so they try to improve it by switching products.

Washing your hair every day makes it fall out

Those hairs at the bottom of the shower are already released strands that your shampoo has simply removed. Not washing for a couple of days may make certain “bed head” hairstyles easier to achieve, but it’s certainly not extending the lifespan of your follicles nor is it preventing baldness.

Natural is always healthier or better

This is a psychological ploy adopted by advertisers. Products labelled “botanic”, “organic” or “herbal” carry the connotation that they are “natural” products and therefore healthier or better for us. We could easily say that poison ivy and bee stings are “natural”, however, and these are hardly good for us. Although “chemical” has negative connotations, it’s good to remember that everything is chemical – even water is composed of hydrogen and oxygen. By the time a natural ingredient has reached a commercial product it is completely different from its original form. Any plant, fruit or food will spoil without preservation and the most effective preservatives are chemicals, which are found in so-called natural products. The ingredients on labels are printed in descending order of percentages, the highest first – look and you will see where the “natural” ingredients are. Truly natural products created with expressed oils of flowers, herbs or fruit are many times more expensive. If you are buying a reasonably priced product, the chances are that the fragrance is not natural either.

Losing 100 strands of hair a day is normal

Most of us have between 100,000 and 150,000 hair follicles in our scalp, 90 per cent of which are, if you’re lucky, growing at any one time. The saying that we lose 100 of these hairs per day is a gross overestimate; it’s actually more like 20-50 a day. The upside is that those hairs you see in the bottom of the bath or shower every morning are totally normal.

‘Build-up’ and ‘product overload’ are things to worry about

Hair and make-up products often have similar ingredients. Women who use make-up simply wash their products off at the end of the day. You wouldn’t consider that your face suffers from build-up or product overload, so why should your hair be any different? You can remove whatever you put on your hair simply by shampooing it. You may want to build up your hair with leave-in styling aids or conditioners to add body or texture. The myth is that it is dreadful and you need special products labelled as “clarifying” to remove them. You don’t. The same goes for so-called product overload.

Cutting your hair short will make it grow back thicker

While frequent haircuts do not prevent hair loss or genetic balding, hair does feel and look thicker after a haircut because your hair is naturally thicker at the base. Also, shorter hairs are less noticeable when they shed ­naturally.