How Often Does Hair Need Trimming? Myths About Haircuts, Split Ends and Speed of Hair Growth

For most of us, haircuts are an interruption to busy lives. Many men and women snatch time for haircuts during their lunch hour at work, only to be scolded by their stylist for being a few weeks late for their trim. The myth that hair needs to be cut every six weeks for its own good is extremely common; however, upon examination, it makes little sense.

Myth – Frequent Trims Prevent Split Ends​

Frequent Trimming Prevent Split Ends

It would be convenient if splits only occurred at the tips of the hair – if that were the case, regular trims would indeed solve the problem. Unfortunately, it is not the case. Splits usually, although not always, occur in the lower third of the hair, where it is more prone to damage. This means that a woman with twelve inches of hair would need to cut off four inches to get rid of most of the splits – hardly a mere trim!

Splits occur due to physical damage, often caused by dyeing, straightening or curling hair with heat, ripping a brush through tangled hair, and sun or wind damage. Older hair (the hair furthest away from the scalp) has usually suffered more than newer hair; however, short trims will not fix the problem of splits.

The best way to prevent split ends is to protect the hair from damage in the first place. Healthy hair requires trimming far less frequently than every six weeks, and some people prefer to snip the odd split ends out individually.​

Myth – Trimming Hair Makes it Grow Faster​

​It is surprising how common this myth is, considering it makes no sense whatsoever. Sadly, many women have given up growing their hair long because “it just doesn't grow”, not realizing that their hairdresser has trimmed away the growth as fast as it occurs! Hair grows at different rates, and a slow-growing head of hair, producing a centimeter or two of growth a month, can appear to be standing still if a hairdresser snips off that much at every visit.

The growth rate of hair is determined by a number of factors – dietary, genetic and hormonal. What happens to the tip of the hair has no bearing on what happens at the root – hair does not “sense” how long it is and adjust its growth rate accordingly. Hence, trimming will not make hair grow faster. Short hair does sometimes appear to be growing faster than long hair, as the change in growth is more noticeable around the face than down the back; however, this is only an illusion.

Myth – Untrimmed Hair Looks Ratty

This myth is largely a matter of perception. Frequent trimming ensures that every hair is cut, producing a blunt hemline. Hair that has never been trimmed tends to taper towards the hemline, as individual hairs naturally taper towards the end. (This is why baby hair looks so fine, a fact which has given rise to another myth – that cutting a baby's hair makes it come in thicker.

In actuality it just makes the tips of the hair thicker by removing the tapered parts, giving the illusion of thicker growth.) Taper, or thinning hair towards the hemline, also occurs due tp physical damage and the normal growth/shedding pattern of hair. As hairs fall out and grow at different rates there will always be plenty of hairs shorter than others, a fact which is more noticeable on long hair as the hairs take longer to “catch up”.

Many people prefer a blunt hemline; others prefer layers or “fairytale ends”, gradually tapering hair that occurs naturally on untrimmed hair. Many women who desire very long hair are happy to sacrifice thickness at the hemline for length. Women who prefer a blunt hemline still need not trim nearly as often as six weeks.

Hair that is untrimmed for a very long time may eventually show an uneven hemline. This is because most people's hair grows faster in some places than others. Often, due to a combination of growth pattern and damage, an untrimmed hairline will form a V or U shape. Again, whether or not this is attractive is a matter or perception – it was considered very beautiful in medieval times!

Myth - Short and Long Hair Styles Require Equal Trimming

As short hairstyles, particularly structured ones, show growth more quickly it stands to reason they require trimming more often than longer, plainer hairstyles. Nobody is likely to notice an inch of growth on hair that falls midback, but on a chin-length bob, the difference may be obvious enough to change the perceived shape of the face and create a very different impression. As a result, people with short and fast-growing hair may require trims ever few weeks.

Ultimately the frequency of trims is an individual matter. As long as the hair is healthy and looks attractive, automatic trimming is unnecessary – and for those who wish for long hair, counterproductive. In fact, the only person who benefits from constant trimming is the hairdresser!​

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