Will brushing my hair every night keep it healthy?

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By Michiko Boorberg

You may have heard that 100 brushstrokes before bed improve hair, but it's a myth. Although gently brushing out tangles is smart, excessive brushing can actually cause dryness, frizz or breakage.

Too much friction from your brush can damage or lift the hair's cuticle (its outer layer). The cuticle normally lies flat, and its sections overlap like fish scales or roof shingles. This arrangement seals in moisture and keeps out frizz-causing humidity. Light also bounces off the flat surface more evenly, creating shine.

But too much brushing or rough styling may lift or degrade the cuticle, weakening your strands. Moisture can also escape if the cuticle is lifted, leaving strands dry and opening the door to frizz.

The trick is to brush only until you remove any tangles. Use a paddle brush with plastic bristles, or a wide-tooth comb. Both are gentlest on strands because of the wide spaces between the bristles or teeth. 

Michiko Boorberg is a hair stylist based in New York City. Her work can be found in such magazines as O, The Oprah Magazine, Redbook, Lucky, Family Circle, Vanity Fair and Martha Stewart Living. Boorberg also styles hair for fashion shows, including those by Victoria's Secret and Diane von Furstenberg.

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