It is shocking to hear that something as little as brushing your hair, could lead to hair loss.
It is still surprising to me that even something like combing your hair could damage it. Yes, it is true, combing can increase the risk of hair fall. This is due to the frequent combing which could could damage the hair roots and the scalp. Especially the teeth in the comb could be too rough for your scalp, which could damage the hair follicles thereby weakening your hair.
In this article I will discuss about, how even a simple act like combing could lead to hair fall.
How combing could damage your hair
Combing could damage your hair, especially if you have long hair or use the wrong kind of comb.
The Clalit Medical Services in Israel did a research to find out whether combing would increase the hair fall. Although they observe that there is an increase in hair fall among individuals with more combing frequencies, the institute could not establish a direct link between hair fall and combing.
So is it a myth? The short answer would be yes and no. Let’s take a look at what the experts point out regarding combing and hair loss.
1. Combing wet hair
Right after a shower, although you dry your hair, it would still retain some moisture and be wet. The wet hair is weak and prone to break more easily.
According to head and shoulders, the wet hair is much weaker than the dry hair. According to the source, the keratin forms a weaker bond when the hair is wet. As a result the wet hair will break more easily than dry hair.
When you comb your hair from the scalp to the end, especially if you have long hair, then the hair will be pulled back. Since it is wet, the risk of hair breakage will be high. Therefore you must be extra gentle and careful when combing wet hair.
2. Hard teeth of the comb
There are various kinds of combs in the market. However be mindful when picking your comb, if you want to take care of your hair.
Combs with hard teeth could damage the cuticles in your scalp when combing. When the cuticles are damaged, the hair will be weak and break easily.
This is a common mistake made by many. They would simply grab the cheapest comb in the shop, without even realizing the damage it could do to their hair.
3. Combing tangled hair
This is a common issue mostly faced by people with long and curly hair. Such type of hair will get tangled easily.
Your hair gets tangled due to various kinds of reasons. It can be due to lack of moisture, damaged cuticles, overusing heat styling equipments etc.
The problem with tangled hair is that it pulls back hard when combing. This could damage the hair roots or cause hair breakage.
Why your hair falls when combing
Each hair strand on our head goes through its own hair cycle and falls off at the end. Therefore it is completely normal for a healthy person to lose about 50 to 100 hair strands everyday. (For further details on normal hair shredding, check this article)
Hair falls off naturally, when our hair is mostly at its weakest state. It can be during a shower when the hair is wet, while sleeping when the hair is rubbed against the pillow, or it could be while combing your hair.
If you see some hair strands falling off while combing your hair, don’t freak out. It is completely normal.
However, make sure that the hair is not shredding due to the above mentioned reasons. If your hair breaks due to the above mentioned reasons, then you should adjust your routine immediately.
Does combing stimulate hair growth
A healthy flow of blood to the scalp is essential for hair growth and strength. Massaging the scalp will stimulate the blood flow to your scalp. Along with the blood flow comes the nutrition which is essential for your hair.
A research done by the Taro Koyoma emphasized that standard scalp massage increased the hair growth of healthy Japanese men.
Likewise combing will also stimulate the blood flow to your scalp. This will stimulate the hair growth. However be mindful when choosing a comb. It should not be hard on the scalp and it should not damage the cuticles in your scalp.
Most people consider the fact that combing could stimulate hair growth to be a myth. However in my opinion, safe combing would be the same as a massage to the scalp. Which will increase the blood flow to the scalp, thereby promoting hair growth.
Is hair loss from combing permanent
Combing could lead to hair breakage or damage the cuticles, if it is done wrong. So in order to determine whether the hair loss from combing is permanent, we have to analyze the scenario properly.
The hair breakage due to tangling and wet hair is rather considered as hair fall than hair loss. This kind of hair fall is considered to be temporary since it does not damage the hair follicles or the cuticles.
However, it could be more serious, if your comb damage the hair cuticles or the follicles. As it is mentioned before, hard teeth in a comb can damage the hair cuticles.
This damage could be little or severe depending on various conditions. If the damage is little, then, your cuticles will recover naturally. However, if the damage is serious, then there is a possibility that you might be experiencing permanent hair loss.
Severe damages to the cuticles are highly unlikely to happen through a comb. But it is always wise to take precautions than seeking treatments later.
How to prevent the damage caused by combing
1. Do not comb wet hair
The hair is much weaker when it is wet. Do not comb your hair when you are straight out of the shower, especially if you have long hair. Gently soak away the water from your hair using a clean towel and allow it to dry naturally.
Do not wrap your hair with a towel to dry your hair after a shower. This tangles the hair and create knots.
Once it is dry, then you can use the comb. If you have long hair, do not start combing from the scalp. Instead start from the end so that the tangles are removed and then move up to the scalp. This will minimize the damage caused by tangled hair.
Be gentle and extra careful when combing your wet hair even though it has dried out.
2. Use detangling spray
Tangling of the hair is a common problem faced by the individuals with long hair. The problem with tangled hair is that it can cause hair breakage.
The experts suggest that detangling sprays would add moisture to your hair and it will help to get rid of the hair knots. However be gentle when combing after using detangling spray. Too much moisture could also weaken your hair
3. Ditch your old comb with hard teeth
Most of the time, the hair loss due to combing occurs due to the poor condition of the comb that you are using. According to Kignsley, the best type of combs are the ones made out of vulcanite rubber. And the teeth should have a smooth finish.
Kingsley further states that, metal combs and cheap plastic combs can damage your hair.
If you are choosing a brush, then go for brushes which have widely spaced, safely barbed bristles. The brush that I use have bristles which are barbed with smooth rubber balls on top.
Make sure to clean your brush or comb every once in a while. This is since, unclean combs can cause scalp infections and irritations, especially if you have sensitive skin.
4. Give your hair an oil treatment
Well giving an oil treatment every once in a while, is not relevant for “how to comb safely”. But oil treatments can nourish your scalp and help to retain the moisture in your hair. This will also help against hair tangling.
Supplement your hair with vitamin E and olive oil every once in a while. If you want to learn more about this, check out my previous article.