For most of us daily heat styling, eating diets high in processed foods and using hair products packed with chemicals, means our hair age won’t necessarily match the date on our birth certificates. So we called on top hairstylists for their tips to ensure your hair stays healthy, shiny and grows stronger for longer.
How hair ages
There are two ways our hair ages; the first is self-imposed factors otherwise known as ‘chronological ageing’ – “sun exposure, colouring, chlorine pollution, heat styling and poor quality hair products make the hair dry, brittle and weak” explains Trichologist Tone Maleedy of Avia Hair LTD.
The second is hormonal changes which occur as we grow older, “the progressive loss of hormonal activity over time, ultimately results in slower scalp activity” says Billie Crago, owner of The Chapel hair salon.
But how do you know you hair isn’t as strong as it should be? Split ends are a tell-tale sign of weak hair but there are other signs to look out for too. Dull hair and excessive tangling are indications that your hair isn’t in great condition. If left untreated your hair can become brittle and lose its elasticity.
The long and the short of it
Everyone knows that you should have your hair trimmed every six weeks, nothing new about that. You need the ends cut regularly to prevent any splits from travelling up the hair shaft, which can mean, in the most drastic cases, going for a crop if you’re tardy with your appointments. Getting your haircut right and eliminating irreparable split ends will give you the best foundation to work with.
Most salons cut the hair wet which makes it hard for the stylist to detect dry areas, split ends or what the style will look like dry. This is where Michael Van Clarke’s revolutionary Diamond Dry Cut, from £47, comes into play. At Michael’s salon all his stylists are taught to cut hair dry. Hair is washed and rough dried before the cut begins. By cutting dry, Michael is able to carve a shape out of your hair that suits your face shape, the texture and movement of your hair, as well as adhering to your styling preferences.
If length is a priority for you and you avoid the salon for fear your stylist may get carried away with your ‘trim’, then head to Headmasters for a Maxi, £150. This technique involves cutting out the split ends without taking any of the length off – clever. Click here for ELLE’s full review.
The right shampoo
If you find your hair just won’t grow try LA Science’s shampoo, £14, it is fast becoming a beauty industry secret and the results are impressive with hair looking thicker and markedly longer after just one bottle’s worth of use.
Another shampoo worthy of note is the Rahua Shampoo which is brand new to the UK. The Rahua nut is found in the Amazon; hairstylist Fabian Lliguin brought the nut to the US after discovering how shiny and smooth it left hair. Gwyneth Paltrow featured the brand on her website Goop so it is A-list approved. The shampoo, £24 at HQhair.com, leaves even-coloured hair healthier.
Try to avoid sodium chloride which is used in many shampoos to thicken the shampoo and as a foaming agent. Sodium chloride is otherwise known as sodium lauryl sulphate (sls), “it means that a lot of salt has been used to thicken the product and it could leave the hair dry and dull” explains Trichologist Tony Maleedy. Rahua shampoo is free from sodium chloride, so this is a good choice.
Moisturisers for the hair
Conditioning the hair is essential, think of it as the equivalent of moisturising your face after cleansing. “Look for conditioners rich in vegetable oils such as olive and avocado, these can help to protect the hair and prevent the signs of ageing” says Trichologist Tony Maleedy.
If you don’t want to spend money on in-salon treatments, make sure you have a trusty hair mask in your bathroom cabinet at all times. “Look for products that contain proteins and amino acids as these can have excellent effects on the hair by reducing hair ageing damage” says Tony Maleedy.
Tigi’s Treat Me Right, £13.05 contains proteins, while the cooling peppermint invigorates not only your hair but your scalp too – an ideal choice for the summer months. Malin + Goetz’s Intensive Hair Mask, £17, contains proteins and amino acids to restore dry, damaged hair to its former crowning glory.
Finally, if all else fails Paolo Lei from Neville swears by Kerastase’s new Age Premium Mask, £20.06. “This moisturiser sinks deep into the hair fibres and follicles and is rich in antioxidants. This mask has the advantage of lifting your hair, creating volume to give a plumped effect. Think of it as botox for the hair”.
Styling do’s and don’ts
No one expects you to give up your hair dryer and straighteners, it just isn’t realistic. “Keep the use of straighteners to a minimum as they can cause terrible damage” says Tony Maleedy.
Before you straighten you’ll inevitably blow-dry your hair. Michael Van Clarke recommends you throw away your hairdryer’s nozzle. “Unless you have thick, wavy hair that you need to dry dead straight, your nozzle unnecessarily concentrates heat and can lead to excessive damage”.
Always use a comb, rather than a hairbrush on damp hair and when looking for a brush follow Trichologist Philip Kingsley’s advice. “Choose a brush with long, widely spaced, plastic bristles, as plastic bristles are smoother, blunter and kinder. Natural bristles are sharper. Above all, avoid anything with metal prongs” explains Kingsley.
When it comes to putting your hair up, there are some simple rules to follow. “Do not use elastic bands to put your hair up, they tend to snag and tear the hair causing split ends; try to use kirby grips instead,” says Maria Nowakowska, Creative Director of Mahogany Hairdressing, London.
Another rule is to vary your updos. “If you do use a hairband, try to tie ponytails loosely and at different points so as not to put constant pressure on the same areas” explains Billie Crago at The Chapel.
Eat your way to better hair
“Hair and nails are a waste protein from the body, so we should eat plenty of protein to keep them healthy and strong” says Maria Nowakowska.
Celebrity hairdresser Richard Ward also puts importance on vegetable and omegas for healthy hair growth. “Go for foods rich in blood producing nutrients – like leafy green vegetables (curly kale, broccoli), and superfoods like blueberries, nuts and seeds that are rich in zinc. Foods high in Omega 3, 6 and 9 (oily fish like salmon and mackerel) are great for optimum hair health too.
Philip Kingsley’s Healthy Hair Diet recommendations –
- Protein-rich breakfast and lunch
- Eat at least two pieces of fruit daily
- Eat one salad daily
- Drink a litre of water
- Take a good supplement with minerals and vitamins
- Drink alcohol in moderation
- Avoid too much dairy such as cheese, butter and cream
- Avoid highly spiced food such as curry.
Boost your diet with supplements. “Zinc boosts the production of keratin (the ingredient hair is made from), also omega 3 and 6 supplements will help strengthen the hair” says Paolo Lai at Neville. You should also try biotin, sea kelp and spirulina which boost healthy hair growth. “Spirulina contains an unusually high amount of protein and vitamins. It also has amino acids, essential fatty acids, vitamin A and beta carotene all essential for healthy hair growth. It is claimed Spirulina can actually speed up hair growth and aide in the return of hair if you suffer from thinning” explains Maria.