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Brushing your hair doesn’t have to be rocket science, but if you’re doing it wrong, you may be damaging your hair in the process. We asked the pros what you can do instead
Brushing your hair a hundred times a day has been touted for centuries as the trick that’ll leave your hair shinier, stronger and healthier. But doctors say that over-brushing can actually do more harm than good, leaving your strands brittle and breakage-prone instead. The good news? With the right tools and a few adjustments, you can improve your hair’s appearance and health.
When you brush your hair properly, you can stimulate your scalp, “which improves the blood circulation to the scalp,” says Nikhil Patil, style director, Jean-Claude Biguine India. “It can help shed dead hair which is about to come out,” and since we lose 50-100 strands of hair a day, brushing will help you remove all that loose hair. In addition to scalp stimulation, brushing can nourish your hair in other ways too. “It can help condition your hair and make it more manageable. It adds bounce to your hair and removes tangles. The oil glands in the scalp release sebum, which is a natural conditioner. And since sebum cannot travel on its own, brushing helps to distribute it along the length of the hair. Like you exfoliate the body by scrubbing, brushing also removes dead scales of the scalp,” says Dr Rinky Kapoor, cosmetic dermatologist and dermato-surgeon, The Esthetic Clinics.
Start in the midsection of your hair and brush down to the ends. Then, move the brush up and continue brushing downward. “To detangle, start by brushing the ends and then work towards the roots. This way, you won’t pull on the hair and damage the hair cuticle. If your hair is really knotted, always use the tips of the bristles or the comb to detangle. Part your hair in two or four sections for better handling, as you will pull on your hair more if you go with the brush on all strands together,” says Patil.
Straight hair is best suited for brushing and helps reduce flyaways. If you have long hair, remember to section your hair. “In longer hair, the ends are weak and extra dry so are prone to damage, so use a serum or light oil to detangle,” says Patil. For best results, use a paddle brush with soft bristles to balance all the oil and leave the ends soft and shiny.
Wavy hair, if aggressively brushed when dry can become frizzy. “If you have dry hair that is prone to breakage, always use a serum for smoothening the strands, or a drop of light oil or hair sprays to condition your hair and then brush. Even though brushing through wet hair is usually a no-no, using a wide-toothed comb to set your hair while it is still damp can help prevent frizz and a lack of shine later.
Regularly brushing curly hair when dry will make them lose their definition and even lead to breakage and damage. “Use leave-in conditioner and then brush your hair when it is nourished for less than a minute,” suggests Dr Kapoor. The fluffing technique of using your fingers to set your curls or coils are a good play. “It’s best to scrunch curly hair, but if you need to brush them, it’s best to do when you are conditioning them. It will make help tame the curls and you can set them with your fingers once the knots are out,” says Patil.
If you suffer from hair fall and thinning, brushing is not recommended as it can lead to more breakage. “If you have fine hair, it’s best to use a wide-toothed comb for less breakage and brushing is not ideal,” says Dr Kapoor. For this hair type, brushing when wet (when the hair is the most fragile) should be skipped, as it can cause major damage. For a gentler approach, you can pick synthetic bristles over natural ones, which glide through the hair easier.
Dr. Debraj Shome is Director and Co founder of The Esthetic Clinics. He has been rated amongst the top surgeons in India by multiple agencies. The Esthetic Clinics patients include many international and national celebrities who prefer to opt for facial cosmetic surgery and facial plastic surgery in Mumbai because The Esthetic Clinics has its headquarters there.