How Many Brushstrokes Do You Need For Perfect Hair?

Nowadays, there are lots of tips, tricks, and products promising hair that is shinier, healthier, and more manageable. While new products seem to pop up on the drugstore shelf every year, some haircare adages and practices have been around for a genuinely long time. Hair oiling, for one, may seem like a new phenomenon, but it actually has roots in South Asian traditions.


While brushing is another example of a haircare exercise that has existed for a long time, this one doesn't come without contention. There are lots of different ideas about when, how, and with what you should brush your tresses, but possibly the longest-living adage is that at least 100 brushstrokes are required to keep the hair and scalp healthy.

Though we can look to the past for some meaningful haircare tips, there are many old wives' tales that should be left in the past. So, what's the truth about brushing your hair with 100 brushstrokes?

The truth about brushing your hair

The bottom line is that there's no scientific evidence suggesting that you need to brush your hair with 100 strokes to keep it healthy. While experts agree that hair brushing itself is generally good for promoting the health of your scalp and tresses, many actually warn against brushing it too much or too harshly. "Brushing the hair too much may cause friction and damage the cuticle," consultant trichologist David Adams tells Sunday Edit. "This, in turn, causes breakage and split ends...If the hair is sensitive due to chemical services, the hair will already be porous and damaged so extra caution is advised when brushing. Naturally fine and weak hair must be brushed carefully."


The 100 brushstroke myth also misses the nuances of knowing your hair type, as the texture of your locks is an important consideration for haircare practices. For example, Adams mentions that those with curly or coily hair may benefit from only brushing when it's time for a shampoo rather than every day. So, while experts generally recommend brushing your hair twice daily, it really depends on your personal haircare needs.

The origin of the magic brushstroke number

Naturally, you may be wondering where this 100 brushstrokes myth originated from and if there's any truth to it at all. Many experts believe it came out of Victorian haircare practices, an era in which frequent hair washing was uncommon. In this way, combing was viewed as a way of keeping the hair clean and healthy.


As an excerpt from a 1910 publication of "Every Woman's Encyclopaedia" reads, "Too frequent washing of the head is not advisable, as too much of the natural oil is thus removed...and the hair becomes lifeless, dry, easily broken, and falls out. Once a month, therefore, is often enough to wash the head. In the meantime, both scalp and hair can be kept clean and healthy by the daily action of the brush"

While our societal views about hair washing have definitely changed, historical publications that emphasize brushing as a way to improve the shine of locks aren't wrong. Modern-day experts explain that hair brushing spreads the scalp's natural oils along the tresses, giving them a healthy shine. While they may have gotten the 100 strokes wrong, at least Victorian haircare recognized the appeal of healthy, lustrous locks.