We dispel common hair care myths and reveal how you should really be taking care of your tresses...
There’s nothing more anti-ageing than a head of bouncy, glossy and gorgeous hair. Nourished locks can take years off your look, but the question is how do you get healthy hair?
The good news is that while genetics do play a role, there’s plenty you can do to make your hair appear healthier. Meaning that those of us who weren’t naturally blessed with thick, lustrous tresses don’t have to despair.
Dr. Paw Paw 7 in 1 Hair Styler does it all. This leave-in conditioning treatment protects against heat damage, whilst adding shine and rescuing split ends. Plus, the creamy texture has a yummy mango and coconut scent which smells like summer. Distribute a pea-sized amount through your ends before you blow dry for best results.
But the quest healthy hair can be confusing. How often should we wash our hair? Is it worth spending lots of money on expensive hair care products? What’s the deal with getting all those regular trims? And how important is the condition of our scalp?
With new haircare formulations continually springing up skincare ingredients, A-list hairstylist’s are recommending we employ a cleanse, tone and moisturise regime to our tresses too. We’ve chatted to leading hair experts and scalp specialists, so that you can finally get answers once and for all.
Myth number one? Good hair starts in the salon. ‘You should never underestimate the effect a diet can have on your hair. A low-fat diet is possibly the worst thing a woman can do for her hair,’ says hair guru Philip Kingsley.
Hair consists of protein (it’s made of keratin), so sometimes just a simple change in your diet will have a direct effect on your hair. A diet that’s too low in protein may cause thinning or weakness in hair. Likewise, a protein-rich diet will often result in stronger, thicker and even longer hair. Good protein sources include fish, eggs, pulses and yogurt. Soy protein, such as tofu, has also been found to help stimulate hair growth. So load up on the protein and make sure to include lots of healthy fats, like avocado, olive oil and coconut oil.
Find more expert advice for how to get healthy hair …
When it comes to conditioner, a little goes a long way! Realistically you only need a 2 pence coin sized dollop, anymore is a waste of product and money.
'Conditioner is a high intensity product that should be used sparingly - just on the mid-lengths and ends,' says hair stylist Jamie Stevens. 'If too much is applied or its not washed off properly, it will leave a residue.'
Dying the whole of your hair to cover up two inch root regrowth or a few greys is expensive and unnecessary.
Colouring hair swells the hair cuticle making your tresses appear thicker and glossier both great things but over do it in the salon chair and your locks will quickly become stressed, damaged and dry.
Only touch-up roots where needed to avoid over-processing (and therefore damaging) your hair. For stray greys opt for a bespoke contouring service. The stylist will hand paint dye onto the affected areas to create a variation of shading that frames your features, preventing a blanket of block colour which is instantly ageing.
Image: Rae Palmer
Misting hairspray over your hair before you apply heat is a big mistake. The minute you do this as you'll hear a faint sizzling noise, which is the sound of all the moisture in your hair evaporating - causing it to burn and dry out.
To avoid heat damage use a styling spray before your electrical tools and save products containing alcohol such as hairspray to hold your style once you've finished.
Washing fine hair every day causes hair loss
MYTH: This will never happen,' says hair and scalp expert Tony Maleedy. 'Washing your hair is the best thing - you might notice more falling out, but these are hairs that are ready to come out. Not washing it will not prevent this; indeed, leaving your hair unwashed is likely to result in greater hair loss over time. When the hair/scalp is greasy, follicles become saturated with sebum (the skin's natural oil), which contains substances that can cause the hair to fall out.' Wash hair frequently and you'll soon find that styling becomes easier, as you're helping to properly eliminate product build-up that clings to hair and, in turn, attracts dirt to each strand, which dries out your hair.
If you have particularly fine hair always opt for a gentle products such as Phyto Phytoneutre Shampoo and conditioner from £12.50. Whipped up almost entirely from botanical ingredients including soothing Camomile and softening Witch Hazel, it's extra kind to delicate tresses.
Wash hair thoroughly and often
FACT: 'Shampoo and conditioner are like skincare for your hair,' says top stylist George Northwood. 'And hair should be thought of in the same way. Shampoos are obviously cleansers, but I think of them like primers too. The benefits that some shampoos offer are brilliant at priming the hair for styling and blow-drying.' With prescription formulations, such as Richard Ward The Chelsea Collection Keratin Volume Shampoo, £5.99, George recommends doing a 'double cleanse' (just as the best facialists do). 'The first cleanse cleans your hair, while the second allows the shampoo to work its magic whether thats volumising or smoothing.'
How often you wash your hair depends on hair type and texture. Work out what's best for you by considering how your hair usually reacts when you wash or style it yourself. If your hair?
Often feels brittle - you only need to wash it every second or third day. Seek out hydrating shampoos such as Ojon Damage Revearse Restorative Shampoo with nourishing plant oils, £21 or Redken All Soft Shampoo, £14, which is designed to replenish dry damaged hair.
Is fine or oily and feels greasy the day after shampooing - you need to wash it daily. Look for shampoos that don't exacerbate the oil production in the sclap by being too stimulating. Try Bumble and Bumble Seaweed Shampoo, £18.50 to balance the scalp.
Is ok the day you wash it and the following day too - This means your hair is considered 'normal' and you can get away with washing it every other day.
Shampoo in small, circular movements and remember to focus on areas that attract dirt, such as the nape of the neck and behind your ears.
Regular trims are the key to fabulous hair
MYTH: While regular trims are important, scalp care is the new focus because a happy scalp means healthy hair.
Diets that are high in salt, sugar or spices and accompanied by too much alcohol make scalp conditions worse. Make sure you also get plenty of vitamins E, B6 and B12, EFAs (essential fatty acids, such as omega-3 in fish), selenium and zinc.
Dandruff can form whether the scalp is too dry or too oily, but it's actually more often due to the latter (caused by an overgrowth of the fungus malassezia), which is why regular shampooing can be key.
Philip Kingsley Exfoliating Mask, £17, is great for reducing the build up of sebum (grease) and maintaining a healthy scalp. Simply apply this weekly deep conditioning treatment to your scalp and leave for 10-20 minutes before rinsing thoroughly.
Many scalp conditions are labelled as dandruff, so consult a professional trichologist if you have a problem.
The trick to healthy hair is a toned scalp
FACT: Yes, you can tone your hair! Ideal for those of us with sensitive, itchy or even flaky scalps, toning means regularly massaging your scalp. This will stimulate the blood supply to the root of the hair follicle, encouraging growth and stimulating the hair's natural oils, so you get silkier, shinier hair in the long run. We truly underestimate the amount of stress we hold in the scalp - which often results in dandruff, psoriasis, hair loss or even just plain itchiness.
How to massage your scalp:
Spread your fingers apart then, using just the pads, place them firmly on your scalp. Starting at the base of your neck, entry and firmly work your way up to the front of your hairline, moving in tiny little circles.
Look after your scalp twice a week. This will help to nourish and strengthen your hair from the roots. Choose from almond, coconut or extra virgin olive oil or try a specially blended scalp treatment such as Weleda Revitalising Hair Tonic, £9.95, with rosemary essential oil and horseradish extract to improve nutrition to the roots. Soak a cooton ball in oil or apply two drops to your fingertips and massage gently but firmly into your scalp using circular movements either before or between two hair washes. Leave for 15 minutes to 30 minutes then rinse out with warm water. Finish with a cold rinse to help smooth the cuticles flat.
For an intensive leave-in scalp treatment try Kérastase Initialiste, £34. It contains the best skincare technology - such as ceramics, antioxidant green tea polyhenols and plant stem cells from apples - which help to nourish hair right from the roots.
Shampoo is more important than conditioner
Opt for a leave-in conditioner, such as the luscious Kerastase Nutritive Lait Vital Nourishing Care Conditioner, £16.70. Rich in glucose and essential proteins it will leave the hair nurished and soft.
A good conditoner is vital to hair health
FACT: Just like your face moisturiser pr body lotion, conditioner os moisturiser for your hair. It will keep your strand hydrated and manageable and also protect from dehydration and heat (from stylers).
'Always squeeze excess water out of your hair with a clean towel before applying conditioner, as excess water prevents the conditioner from penetrating the hair shaft properly, so it won't deliver the maximum amount of moisture you need to keep hair shiny.' says Charles Worthington. For an even application use your hands and a wide-toothed comb. Try Denman Carbon Antistatic DC11, £7.25.
If you have dry, corse or brittle hair - try a conditioner that is both hydrating and smoothing. You can apply it right from your roots to your ends, unless your hair is fine. You will love Redken Diamond Oil Shatterproof Shine Intense for thick/corse hair, £25.59, or try L'Occtaine Repairing Conditioner £15, which contains mandarin, cedarwood and camomile - it smells good and is great on sensitive scalps too.
Fine or oily hair - use a lightweight conditioner such as Liz Earle Botanical Shine Conditioner for fine oily hair, £8.75 but avoid putting it on your roots, instead, evenly distribute it format he mid-lengths to the end of your hair.
Normal hair - you can use most types of conditioner. Apply it around two or more inches from your roots to your ends, but do avoid overloading your hair with the product, as this can make your hair too soft and slippery to style. Feel Good You favourite is John Frieda Full Repair Full Body Conditioner, £5.99.
Highlights are the only way to inject shine
MYTH: The warmer your hair shade, the shinier your locks will look. Brunette and auburn tresses tend to look a lot glossier than blonde or grey. Next time your in the salon ask your stylist to work in a rich golden hue or subtle auburn highlights to give your tresses an instant lift.
Image: Karine Jackson
Masks are the quickest route to glossy
FACT: You can transform dry, dehydrated hair, dull hair in a matter of minutes. For extra pampering and TLC for your hair, much as you would for your face, a hair mask takes a bit more effort than one for your skin, but it's worth it. So if you haven't made time for a mask before now, try one of these...
5. For a sensative scalp - Philip Kingsley Exfoliating Scalp Mask, £17