The pandemic has been hard on our hair. During multiple lockdowns, hairdressers were forced to close for months on end. A series of missed appointments, followed by some scorching summer weather, has led to lots of troubled tresses. Regular trims and treatments are vital to keep hair looking healthy. Getting your hair cut helps to stop split ends running riot and travelling further up the hair shaft, causing yet more damage. If, like me, you’re now starting to see and feel the effects of a lack of lockdown TLC, read on. I’ve investigated some of the most common hair problems for women, and sourced some excellent cruelty-free treatments to counter these issues and restore your crowning glory.
Dull hair usually lacks moisture, body and shine – or a combination of all three! I think it’s often more obvious if you have fair hair like me. You can have dull hair as a result of many different factors, such as using the wrong products, insufficient nutrients, exposure to sunlight and chlorine, and even not rinsing out your shampoo and conditioner properly! Obviously, some of these factors are faster and easier to address than others. I’m now taking care to include more protein in my diet, especially since I became vegetarian. Protein and healthy fats are essential for strong, shiny locks. I’m also rinsing my hair scrupulously even time I wash and condition it. And I’ve been using two products from The Hair Boss, which are really making a difference.
The Blonde Brightener is a bleach-free, detoxifying formula that tackles the metal and mineral deposits that can distort lighter hair tones. It’s especially good if you live in a hard water area, or do a lot of swimming. Do take a bottle on holiday if you’re lucky enough to be jetting off somewhere hot! You simply spray generously onto dry or damp hair, massage through, leave for 15 minutes and then rinse well. Brunettes, don’t despair – I’ve got you covered too! The Clear Shine Gloss is a semi-permanent treatment that delivers salon-quality shine at home, without changing your hair tone. Suitable for all hair colours, this clever formula smooths the hair cuticle, which helps it to retain moisture and enhances shine. One treatment can last up to six washes, so it really is brilliant value. Best of all, both products are cruelty-free and vegan too.
Dry hair and dull hair are often related issues. I’m certainly unfortunate enough to suffer with both! As with dry skin, the problem here is a lack of moisture, and causes can include heat damage from styling, colouring and bleaching, in addition to UV, salt water and chlorine exposure. In the past, I used to battle ultra-dry and static hair on a daily basis – and then I discovered Philip KingsleyMoisture Balancing Combination Shampoo and Moisture Balancing Combination Conditioner. Both are excellent cruelty-free options for rebalancing fine, medium-to-longer processed hair like mine. They hydrate the driest parts, usually the mid-lengths and ends, without weighing down the roots. I’ve noticed less breakage, too.
“Regardless of the condition of your hair, you should shampoo frequently – daily, if possible,” advises Anabel Kingsley, Philip Kingsley Brand President and Consultant Trichologist. “You take your hair and scalp to the same places you take your face, and they get just as dirty. Do not be afraid that shampooing will further dry out your hair. It’s water, not oil content, that keeps hair hydrated and supple, so shampooing helps to moisturise strands.”
She continues: “To specifically target dryness, use an intensive pre-shampoo conditioning treatment, such as Philip Kingsley Elasticizer, once to twice a week. Originally formulated for Audrey Hepburn, Elasticizer plumps the hair shaft with moisture, leaving strands stronger and bouncier. Leave a pre-shampoo conditioner on for at least 20 minutes, preferably an hour, and then shampoo and condition as usual.”
Nine Yards Sweden is a premium, cruelty-free hair care brand I’ve discovered, which uses natural ingredients. I love their innovative packaging and their moist shampoo, conditioner and repair treatment are perfect for dry hair. Free from parabens and sulphates, they are 100% vegan. Featuring extracts of shea butter, broccoli oil, jasmine flower extract, green tea and aloe vera in the All In Shampoo and Just Right conditioner, you’ll experience smoother locks in an instant.
This isn’t something I suffer from, but I’m aware it’s a very common problem. This sort of hair looks dull, limp and lifeless, and it’s often tricky to style. Again, just like oily skin, an excess of sebum causes this hair type. Touching your hair too often, over-brushing, a dirty hairbrush and product build-up can all exacerbate the problem. The trick is to strike a balance between shampooing thoroughly and over-washing. Stripping your scalp of all its natural oils is definitely not the solution!
I’m hearing great things about Hairstory, an innovative new company that offers a family of all-in-one hair cleansers that clean, detangle, and repair – with no need for conditioner afterwards. Its New Wash Deep shampoo cleanses without detergents, which stops your scalp from over-producing oil to compensate for what’s been stripped away.
Jackie Gilbert Bauer, head of product development at Hairstory says: “For those that get greasy hair very quickly after washing, they’re experiencing a higher level of oil production from the glands on their scalp. This excess oil production can have many causes; a common one – and certainly something that doesn’t help – is using shampoo. Shampoos contain detergents which are the foaming agents, and these are great for cleaning our houses but not our scalps! Simply put, detergents are too harsh. They strip away the scalp’s natural protective barrier, which exists for good reason – to keep our scalps ecosystem in check.
“When you constantly strip away these natural oils, the scalp will work overtime trying to replenish the oils. This results in a vicious cycle of stripping > excess oil production. By moving away from shampoo and switching to a detergent-free hair cleanser like New Wash (or New Wash Deep), you’ll only lift away dirt and impurities, and leave the natural protective barrier intact. By respecting the scalp’s protective barrier, you’ll also eliminate the need for conditioner, which really only exists to repair the damage that shampoo causes. With the New Wash formulas, we’ve also made sure to include non toxic ingredients that not only cleanse the hair but also help soften and nourish the hair. So, you really wont miss using a separate conditioner.”
Hairstory is also very environmentally-friendly. Its formulas are biodegradable, sulphate-free, mostly plant-based and cruelty-free. Its New Wash collection is packaged in pouches, not plastic bottles, significantly reducing plastic consumption. There’s even a refill subscription service.
Brittle hair is another very common hair problem – or to be more precise, a combination of problems! It can be dry, dull, frizzy and full of split ends. This combination of damage means it breaks easily when brushed or styled. Causes vary from hormones to over-processing .
Deep-conditioning salon treatments are the best solution for brittle hair. There are lots of different types available, but I’m a big fan of Olaplex, which restores damaged and compromised hair from the inside out. Olaplex isn’t just a cosmetic conditioning treatment, it actually repairs broken hair bonds. It’s often associated with colour treatments, but it works just as well for coarse, heat-damaged and over-processed hair. You can add Olaplex to a colour treatment, or enjoy it as a stand-alone salon top-up. Take-home treatments are also available.
Hair loss and dandruff
Both dandruff and hair loss/thinning can be very distressing hair problems. The latter – often thought of as a male problem – is increasingly presenting in women, especially as they age. Many different factors, including illness, stress, medication, hormones and even certain hair styles, can cause hair loss. If the problem is severe, it’s worth visiting your doctor to rule out any health conditions. Improving your diet, and drinking plenty of water to keep your hair cells hydrated, is another sensible tactic.
Specialist hair care products can also achieve good results. The Chāmpo brand harnesses its founder’s Indian heritage, and uses Doshas (an Ayurvedic diagnosis system) to identify hair types and address specific concerns. Its new Pitta Growth Serum incorporates breakthrough trichology to instantly volumise roots while toning the scalp, to promote stronger, thicker and fuller hair. It features anti-hair loss and anti-dandruff actives, for optimal long-term hair health. It’s vegan, cruelty-free, and manufactured in the UK – I’m still using it and I love it!
Kuldeep Knox, founder of Chāmpo Haircare, says: “We harness cutting-edge anti-hair loss actives technology to tone, condition and energise the scalp, plus a pioneering complex of biomimetic peptide amino acids, lipo amino acids and biochanin a-rich Red Clover Extract, designed to calm the scalp and prevent hair loss. Alongside these, Caffeine targets the hair loss hormone, DHT, helping delay shedding and stimulate growth, while Ayurvedic Haritaki Fruit is added, due to its renowned soothing, strengthening and nourishing properties. From as little as four weeks, testers reported resounding improvements to hair’s thickness, fullness and faster, stronger growth.”
Everygreen has a fabulous collection of vegan, trichology, organic products, which can help with a whole host of issues. This professional haircare line from Italy only recently launched in the UK and they feature formulations based on plant extracts and certified organic ingredients. Take their Loss Control collection for example, which is suitable for anyone who is suffering from abnormal, abundant hair loss. You should act promptly with a treatment programme if this applies to you and, according to their research, this tends to increase in autumn. You can use their energising shampoo, volumizing regenerating treatment, energising treatment and I hear there’s even an organic oil, for prevention and/or maintenance.
Frizzy hair is yet another common problem – and heat often exacerbates it. In lockdown we could all simply twist our hair back into a ponytail and forget about it, but with weddings and other celebrations back on the agenda that’s no longer an option. We all want to look our best at special occasions – especially having missed out on so many. Laura Courtie is a high-end bridal hair stylist and make-up artist based in Scotland. Argan oil and silk are her secret weapons in the fight against frizz.
“Frizzy hair can be a pain, especially if you’re born with it,” Laura acknowledges. “A lot of my brides look to combat this problem for those big days. Whether you are a bride or a guest you will want your hair to look amazing. On our clients we use silk-based products, which help to reduce frizz and smooth out the hair for a longer-lasting result.”
In particular, Laura recommends Balmain Hair Argan Elixir, a versatile oil, which you can use on dry or wet hair. It creates a smooth, shiny look, taming frizz without leaving any oily residue.
One of the best ways to keep hair looking and feeling healthy is to use shampoos and conditioners that are formulated specifically for your hair type, texture and concern. That’s especially important for coloured or bleached hair. The right products will help to counter fading, as well as care for your processed hair. Phil Smith Hair’s Be Gorgeous colour-enhancing range is a brilliant collection of affordable, Leaping Bunny-approved, cruelty-free products for blonde, brunette and grey hair. They have recently upgraded their vegetarian formulas to be vegan-friendly. And everything is packaged in 100% recycled and recyclable plastic, to make it even more sustainable.
Phil Smith tells me: “Highlighted hair looks great when it’s healthy and full of moisture. To get the most from your highlights, I would advise making sure your hair is in optimum health before visiting the salon. From here, you want to keep as much moisture locked into the hair. So, I recommend using my Smith England Guardian Shampoo and Conditioner (£10 each). With highlights, you don’t want to enhance colour, you want to prolong the freshness of colour. My sulphate-free products are gentle on colour, they clean the hair effectively without stripping out the colour. The Guardian range contains a natural UV filter to project highlights from the effects of sunlight. Both also contain Pro Vitamin B5, which boosts vibrance and shine, making them the perfect highlighted hair products.”
Love all things hair and hairdresser-related? Click here to read my interview with Marc Luickx, and how he redesigned his renowned East End Idol Hair salon in response to the challenges of COVID.