When it comes to hair, mine has never been magazine-cover style swishy, but in the last few years, it’s gotten decidedly worse. Years of colouring, bad attempts at high-heat styling and horribly damaging hair bands have taken their toll and 2019 was the year that broke my camel-coloured hair’s back. Broken strands, frizz, dull, split ends, candyfloss texture….by late spring, my hair was looking decidedly awful and was making me feel really quite shitty to boot. Yes, it’s only hair, but when a pile of what basically resembles straw is sitting at all kinds of funny angles on your head, it’s never going to make you feel great about yourself (unless you’re Boris Johnson, and I really do not want to resemble Boris Johnson).
And so, I decided to do something about it. And, the good news? It’s working. I do of course, have to caveat this with the fact that it still could never be called ‘great hair’ and now, in the depths of drizzly winter, it’s a challenge to keep it in check, but it’s definitely a lot, lot better than it was. Healthier, shinier and generally, less frizzy (although on those drizzly days, it’s pretty much a lost cause), it’s slowly becoming hair that I’m less conscious of.
For those of you who have naturally thick, ‘good’ hair, then this won’t be of interest, but for you have hair like mine, then this is what I’ve found works and what most definitely doesn’t.
PUT DOWN THOSE STRAIGHTENERS. THROW AWAY THOSE TONGS!
Yes, those Instagram-ready waves look fabulous in pictures, but getting them can cause carnage with your hair. The same goes for straightening. It’s probably obvious, it is obvious, but I still did it. Putting that much heat on your hair will fry it, break it and just make any frizz problems worse. If you really can’t live without them (and trust me, I do know the feeling – they really do flatten out frizz), then you must use a protective heat spray and try and restrict the amount you use them. I would also add that trying to curl fine hair is a really bad idea. Aveda and Living Proof make great heat protectors, although I would probably use any from the shelf at Boots!
FIGHT THE FRICTION
Swap your elastics for a softer kind of hair band. Placing all the pressure in one place on your hair is terrible and encourages mid-strand breakage. I’ve started using (and have seen on countless people) these twirly bands, which spread out the pressure (if only someone could invent a non-plastic version!) and stop hair looking kinked when you take it out. I also have some of these fabric bands. Also don’t pull your hair too tight and try to vary the height of your pony tail. Apparently scarves are also really bad for breakage, as anything that rubs against the hair can damage it, so don’t do a Phoebe Philo tuck however good it looks!
IT’S ALL ABOUT THE BRUSH
Well, it’s not all about the brush, but they type of brush you use is important. Metal brushes can cause static, so use a wooden brush to fight the flyaways.
I always thought these weren’t necessary and would always leave visits to the hairdresser until I was desperate. But, regular cuts (every 8 weeks) really do help your hair to maintain condition, however, grating it is to pay for what essentially is a two-minute tidy up! At the moment, I’m trying to grow out the broken strands of my hair and keep split ends at bay, so 8 week cuts are essential – and are making a difference…
I always used to rush drying my hair in the morning. Sometimes it looked ok, but would inevitably look awful only an hour or so later. I’ve found that if I really take time to dry my hair properly (in sections, slowly), then it seems to ‘last’ better. Again, an obvious one, but it helps. If you can’t resist a little bit of extra styling, Babyliss’ Big Hair heated brush is good (I bought it having been recommended it by two hairdressers), although to be honest, if I blow dry my hair properly, I don’t need it. More about the amazing Virtue line of products below, but in terms of styling, I use Virtue’s styling cream followed by the split end serum, which are expensive, but excellent and considering I use a pea-size amount each time will last me for a year.
I still colour my hair. Yes, it would be good to not do it, but my natural colour is a flat, mousy dark blonde that zaps joy. I think anyone with similar hair will agree just how much a little highlighting can help. But, obviously, the key here is little, and not that often. And, most importantly seeing a (new, in my case) hairdresser who understands my breakage/condition issues. I only colour the roots leaving the overcoloured ends alone. My hairdresser also uses the in-salon Olaplex treatment, which helps protect the hair during colouring (see below). I also would never go as light as I once did a few years ago, which involved a lot of bleach and a lot of breakage.
This is probably what you want to know about. So here goes. Products work. Seven months ago a friend came to stay and I was boring her with how horrible my hair was, when she revealed that her hair had got drastically better having used an Olaplex mask once a week. Obviously I jumped on board. Olaplex is a ‘bonder’, which means that is helps mend broken bonds in the hair (the result of colouring and heat), helping rebuild the strength and structure of the hair. Having started life as a salon-only product, it is most effective when used during a colour treatment (when bonds are broken down) and comes in four stages – the first two salon only. The third – Olaplex 3 is the one I use at home, leaving it in overnight for maximum impact. My hair has undoubtedly become softer and shinier since using it, and it’s quite frankly a brilliant and effective product. I’m currently on my third bottle.
And, there’s more. Hands down the brand that I feel has had the biggest effect on my hair is Virtue. It has truly changed my hair for the better. Originally sent some to try by their PR, I am a complete convert and have just bought my second bottle of Recovery Shampoo and will continue buying it as nothing comes close to it. Hair repair in a bottle, it was created by an ex-army man who used keratin for encouraging wound healing and tissue regrowth. He discovered how to extract keratin, which had similarly restorative effect on hair. The formula is also free of sulfates, parabens, colours and dyes – and is magnificent. I have been using the shampoo and conditioner since July and my hair is noticeably shinier and healthier. It’s expensive, but you use such a tiny amount that my first bottle of conditioner is still in use and the shampoo only ran out in December. I also use a tiny dollop of the split end serum to flatten down frizz. It’s is BRILLIANT.
Finally, washing your hair as little as possible is a good thing, so try and eke it out a day more with dry shampoo. A hairdresser friend recommended Living Proof’s Perfect Hair Day Dry Shampoo or Batiste if you’re on a tighter budget.
You get what you put in – or when it comes to better hair – you get healthier locks when you’re nutritionally on point. I’ve been taking hair loss expert Simone Thomas’s range of supplements specifically designed to help improve the condition of hair. Obviously when you are trying so much – supplements, products, a more caring regime, it’s hard to say exactly what works, but I do feel that it’s a combination, and that these supplements are good. I have also been recommended kelp supplements and Philip Kingsley’s Tricho Complex supplements, and as a big fan of Wild Nutrition’s ethos and products, I think these hair and skin supplements would also be worth trying.
- Olaplex, £26, Cult Beauty; 2. Invisibobble, £5 for 3; 3. Virtue Recovery Shampoo, £36 for 240ml; 4. Fabric hair ties, £8 for 5, Popband; 5. Babyliss Big Hair spinning brush, £39.99; 6. Simone Thomas haircare plan, £130; 7. Perfect Hair Day dry shampoo, £18, Living Proof.; Tricho Complex, £45, Philip Kingsley