At one time or another we all have fallen for the okie-doke and believed old wives' tales when it comes to Black beauty. We’ve even preached these myths to others as if they were written by Jesus himself. I have to admit that I, too, have been a victim of both believing and disseminating beauty information that simply wasn’t true. Here are a few popular Black beauty myths that are fiction and not fact:
Dirt makes your hair grow faster
Um, no. All dirt does is make your hair dirty. That’s it, that’s all. The reality is your hair and scalp thrive when they are clean and not covered with residue or debris. Want to ensure that your hair grows? Properly clean your scalp and moisturize your hair, focusing on the ends and you’ll be good to go.
Alcohol is a good facial astringent
If you use alcohol on your face, I’m giving you a major side-eye right now. Alcohol is only good for killing bacteria and drying your skin out. It’s way too harsh to be used on our delicate skin. A great alternative would be witch hazel. It’s easy on the skin, very inexpensive, and is a great natural astringent.
Braiding or pulling your hair tight makes it grow faster
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard this one. I even had a stylist tell me this as she proceeded to try to braid my then 3-year-old daughter's hair clean out of her head. Listen and listen well—pulling one's hair tight doesn’t make it grow. On the contrary, it can potentially cause permanent hair loss. Can you say traction alopecia?
Putting toothpaste on pimples makes them go away
If by "makes them go away” you mean “makes them grow three times larger” then, yes, toothpaste makes pimples “go away.” I’m sure I am not the only one that has tried to get rid of a pimple with toothpaste. I’ve tried it tons of times and each time was a complete fail. Toothpaste only irritates breakouts and oftentimes makes them worse.
“Greasing” your scalp is an important part of your hair care regimen
According to Dr. Kari Williams, greasing your scalp can cause more damage than good. It can clog your pores and exacerbate problems you already have. Adding grease to a flaking scalp only plasters those flakes to your scalp. It does not get rid of them. Instead of focusing on greasing your scalp, focus on applying light oils to your hair. Regular styling and scalp massages will distribute the oil naturally to your scalp.
Women with darker skin can’t wear red lipstick
Lies, I tell you. All lies. All Black women, no matter how light or dark the complexion, can wear red lipstick. It’s all about finding the shade that best complements your skin tone. In my experience as a makeup artist, I’ve found that MAC Cosmetics’ Ruby Woo and Russian Red work on any shade of brown skin.
Black hair doesn’t grow long
There are a ton of myths surrounding Black hair. One of the biggest myths is that our hair doesn’t grow long—and if it does grow, it is because the Black person is mixed with another race. This couldn’t be further from the truth. Truth is, Black hair, no matter how kinky it may be, can and does grow long. There’s no genetic trait held only by Black people that keeps our hair from growing. Chemical overprocessing and improper haircare is what keeps some hair from growing. All hair grows. We have to protect and nourish it to keep it from breaking off.
Are there any beauty myths I missed? Let me know your thoughts in the comment section below.
Briana McCarthy is a writer, blogger and editor of The Mane Source. When she's not blogging about hair and beauty, she's enjoying her Chicago hometown with her hubby and two children. Chat her up on Facebook and Instagram.