So here we are in the last weekend before Christmas! Have you finished your shopping, or perhaps just have “bits” to get? I encourage you over the festive season, to consider not only what to give to others but also what you can give to yourself-more specifically your hair!
Inspired purely from recent questions asked by my patients “how do I prevent damage” and “what’s the best way to grow out my split ends”, please find my advice that has helped so many over the 15 years I’ve been in practice.
No 1: From hat hair to static electricity, split ends to dry frizz, when winter weather hits, a bad hair day can last an entire season.
If like me, you have just had your colour ( highlights) done in preparation for the festive period, these need protection. I suggest an intensive conditioning mask is used such as Elasticizer by Philip Kingsley.
Used weekly on damp hair this really reduces the porosity of the hair, gives added strength and elasticity ( hence its name) and prevents further breakage.
No 2: “The environment can have some of the most damaging effects on hair in both summer and winter, however in winter it’s often worse because people generally don’t take as many precautions to protect their hair,” says celebrity stylist Nick Chavez, owner of the Nick Chavez Beverly Hills Salon and a QVC hair care expert.
Assuming we are all having regular trims and are washing the hair daily- as we wash our skin each day and the scalp skin behaves in the same way, this is the very best habit.
If however one insists on blow drying and possibly even using the dreaded straighteners ( you know who you are!), then a cool setting with the hairdryer used a head distance away from the hair and ideally only used to finish off the styling process, is preferred.
It may be obvious to most, but if the hair is split the only destiny for these ends are the hairdressers floor. It is surprisingly common for patients to remark they “break off the split ends themselves”, this serves no purpose at all and in fact moves the breakage further up the hair! These split ends will not heal themselves and have to be cut either in stages ( perhaps 2.5cm every 6 weeks, until split grows out, which equates to a month’s growth) or in one go.
No 3: Diet plays a large part in the strength and repair of the hair from within, the integrity of the hair, the way it’s formed and how the keratin forms within the hair structure is heavily influenced by the protein that is consumed, stored and supplied to the hair. The following is guidance in accordance with The Institute of Trichologists, who I both qualified with and am a member of:
Non vegetarians: Animal proteins provide all the essential amino acids’ needed to produce good quality strong hair, that will be less likely to break.
2 portions daily of an animal protein- such as 200g of chicken or 250g of salmon will each benefit the hair formation for several hours per portion. This has the added benefit of delivering just the right amount of essential amino acids’, including lysine, which aids iron absorption. A very important subject I will cover in another article as it’s too important to cover briefly here.
Vegetarians: We can obviously find proteins in other food groups such as nuts, seeds, tofu, humous, quinoa, soya…. However due to the fact these do not store as effectively as first class animal proteins, need to be consumed more frequently. A handful of nuts, even those with high selenium content such as Brazil nuts, would still only benefit the structure of the hair shaft for up to a couple of hours per portion. As the hair has a very high demand for energy, we should ideally eat every 4 hours.
If the vegetarian diet is organised carefully and the vegetable based proteins are combined correctly a healthy balance can be achieved, as no single source provides the full compliment of amino acids, that form the bonds of the hair and give it strength.
No 4: Protection: much like our skin, our hair needs to be protected against the elements. There is a large array of creams and sprays available, but my opinion is to apply after styling, let me expand:
Assuming we are using shampoos and conditioners that are the very best quality for our hair type, we are trimming the hair regularly, minimising the amount we brush or comb the hair in an aggressive manner, turning down the heat of our hair dryers and irons (if not cutting out the use altogether), the hair will thank you in return. Depending on the length of your hair, a typical damaged head of hair (for example from a hair band worn too tight, repetitively in the same location) could take between 9-12 months to grow out.
Many readers may have a heat protection spray/serum already, but I believe a lot of hair breakage actually occurs because of a false sense of security. These products can make the user feel they then have carte blanche to use straighteners often and not need to worry. When you apply something containing a high concentration of oil, how can it actually protect against heat of up to 270 degrees? (typical GHD temperature). Not only can it not effectively do this, but can have the reverse effect and just about fry the hair!
There is a broad variation of how people use straighteners, there are those who quickly run the irons over the top at the end of their drying routine, on occasion this should be acceptable. However, there are those who repeatedly go over and over the same piece of hair, this is where the damage occurs. It’s a vicious circle as the more the hair appears to frizz and gain static the more the hair is ironed and around we go again! As the hair at the front of the head and sides are more easily accessed, these are often damaged more.
There are some great cream based serums and daily defence sprays that Philip Kingsley make. A family member of mine was most impressed when slightly tangled highlighted hair ( following our lovely summer, which would have dried her hair before the bleach) became difficult to manage. With the use of Preen Cream the comb now flies through her hair and is left reflecting the light in healthier hair!
Seriously, we need to question what marketing blurb is being thrown at us and our common sense approach to hair care. It really can be very simple and easy to do.
I would genuinely love to hear opinions on this and whether you have any specific hair care conundrum I can guide you with?