Other than a terrible run in with a pair of scissors that left me nearly bald and bestowed me with a forehead covered by uneven, choppy bangs, I have had long hair for my entire life.  Maybe I’ve kept my hair long because of that particular incident, now that I think about it. In any case, I’ve been adorned with a pretty fantastic set of tresses. They’re long, thick and pin straight (the latter quality I used to hate, but have recently come to appreciate). The quality of my hair is all thanks to genetics, though, and not care; I’m just lucky that my lack of knowledge and proper maintenance when it comes to my hair hasn’t damaged it. Just how little did I know about hair prior to writing this article? Take a look below at some of the questions I had regarding hair care, and the answers I dug up:

Should I brush or comb my hair?

Apparently, I’ve been abusing my hair by taking a brush to it when it’s wet. Combs (preferably wide tooth ones) are for wet hair in order to avoid breakage, and brushes are for dry hair. Walk into any drug store or convenience shop, though, and you’ll notice that there are round brushes (good to use when styling with a blow dryer), paddle brushes (good for smoothing long hair) and brushes with boar head bristles. It was this last category of brushes that confused me.

The classic Mason Pearson brush, famous for its inclusion of top quality boar bristles, costs around $150. Definitely not cheap, and probably exorbitant to most. Celebrities including Victoria’s Secret model Marisa Miller are fans of the Mason Pearson, and loads of people on messages boards rave about the quality of the product (supposedly, the brush lasts a lifetime). But the real reason that a boar bristle brush may be worth the extra cash is because it actually helps to clean the scalp, thanks to the texture of the bristles. It also helps to distribute sebum, or the natural oils that occur in your scalp. Finally, the bristles are gentle, which prevents hair breakage and other damage.

Will trimming my hair make it grow faster, stronger and/or thicker?

People have been telling me that the answer to this one is a resounding “yes,” since I was a kid. Supposedly, snipping off the ends keeps hair healthy for some reason or another. Unfortunately, the truth seems to be that while hair may look better when split ends are chopped off, a trim has no affect on growth. But while trimming won’t help you lengthen your tresses, it is probably smart to keep the split ends at bay anyway if you’re looking to grow long hair, as any damage (including split ends) won’t help your hair grow. In general, hair grows approximately one half inch per month.

Why bother brushing my hair, other than for aesthetic reasons?

My hair is so straight that if I wanted to, I could get away without brushing it on most days. Still, I grew up with my mother brushing my hair every morning before school and every evening before bed, so I’ve always assumed that brushing your hair is good for you. And while it is good for removing dirt, massaging the scalp and spreading natural oils throughout the hair, that’s pretty much where the benefits stop. In fact, there is absolutely such thing as brushing your hair too much. According to some doctors, brushing should be kept to a minimum, as it can be a factor in hair loss.