Healthy hair is one of our most wanted beauty goals, but it can take a bit more than a wash and go. Here’s how to mane-tain gorgeous hair at all ages
From singeing strands with straighteners to wrestling out gnarly knots with a brush, we don’t always look after our hair as well as we should. And yet our ‘hair pattern’ – its texture and strand density – is as unique as our fingerprints, so embracing what you were born with, rather than fighting it, will put you on the road to achieving the best hair of your life. As for any damage or specific conditions? A little expert know-how and adding targeted solutions to your roster of products should set you on the path to a good hair day, 365.
Good curl guide
Whether your hair is curly or Afro-textured, it needs plenty of moisture. “Tight curls and coils in the hair strand mean the natural oils that are produced in our hair follicles reach the ends at a slower rate,” says Courtney Winter, product manager for Charles Worthington, explaining that this can leave strands drier and more prone to breakage. “You want to infuse the hair with oils such as jojoba, avocado, castor and coconut as much as possible,” adds Courtney. “Shea butter is also good as it contains essential fatty acids to protect and hydrate the hair and scalp.”
We love Hask’s Keratin Protein Smoothing Conditioner, £6.99/699 points (355ml), and Garnier Ultimate Blends Hair Food Mask Cocoa Butter, £6.99/699 points (390ml), while Shea Moisture 100% Virgin Coconut Oil Daily Hydration Shampoo, £10.99/1,099 points (384ml), steers clear of sodium laurel sulphate, a lathering ingredient that strips away the hair’s natural oils. Also look for natural antioxidants, which help to extinguish free radicals in your hair caused by relaxers and straighteners. Cantu Shea Butter Leave-in Conditioning Repair Cream, £6.99/699 points (453g), leans on olive fruit oil, which is rich in antioxidants such as vitamin E.
Get smart with your heat styling
Hairdryers, such as the BaByliss 2100W Hydro-Fusion Dryer, £59.99/5,999 points, apply less direct heat to your hair than straighteners, making them a better option if you’re worried about split ends. “Rough-dry your hair on a medium heat and medium power,” says BaByliss ambassador and celebrity hairdresser, Syd Hayes, rather than blasting it on the highest heat possible. “This will dry the hair efficiently without over-drying the ends. Then use cool air to set the hair and add a final boost of shine.”
Blow-drying your hair on a low heat until 90% dry is also surprisingly kinder to your hair than leaving it to air-dry (naturally drying your hair at room temperature). The longer hair stays wet, the more strands swell and break, which can lead to damage such as brittle ends and flyaways. Thicker hair is more susceptible as it absorbs more water than finer hair.
And if you love your heat-styling tools? “Invest in a heat-protecting spray,” says George Northwood, who’s looked after the hair of Meghan Markle and Rachel Weisz. “My Undone by George Northwood Wave Holding Spray, £15/1,500 points (250ml), contains creatine, which helps to defend against damage caused by heat styling.” For a heat-protective spray to be effective it needs to be distributed evenly, so take small sections of damp hair and mist up and down the length of each strand.
Blow-drying your hair on a low heat until 90% dry is surprisingly kinder to your hair than leaving itto air-dry at room temperature
You may not give your scalp much consideration but it’s essentially an extension of the skin on your face and can experience the same concerns, including blocked pores and irritation. While dry shampoo is a lifesaver on busy days, going too long without washing your hair can cause dead skin and oil build-up on your scalp.
Trichologist Anabel Kingsley suggests not going any longer than three days using dry shampoo before cleansing with ‘real’ shampoo to help keep your scalp in peak condition. Klorane Daily Dry Shampoo With Oat Milk, £9.99/999 points (150ml), is a gentle, moisturising option. “Pollution can also settle on the scalp, causing irritation,” explains Anabel. A weekly detox shampoo, such as Undone by George Northwood Unpolluted Shampoo, £12/1,200 points (250ml), which is especially good if you live in the city, or Bouclème Scalp Exfoliating Shampoo, £26/2,600 points (250ml), will both help deep cleanse. For a more intensive treatment, The Inkey List Glycolic Acid Exfoliating Scalp Scrub, £14.99/1,499 points (150ml), and Philip Kingsley Vitamin C Jelly Detoxifying Hair and Scalp Treatment, £28/2,800 points (20g), are both great choices.
Another common scalp complaint is dandruff, which is caused by yeast overproduction. One of the biggest misconceptions about dandruff, according to Anabel, is that it’s a dry flaky skin condition, however it’s actually much more common in oily scalps as yeast thrives in an oily environment. Your best tactic is to use an anti-dandruff shampoo with every other wash, such as Philip Kingsley’s Flaky/Itchy Scalp Anti-Dandruff Shampoo, £12.50/1,250 points (75ml), or Head & Shoulders Derma X Pro Shampoo Repair, £6/600 points (300ml). “You can’t cure dandruff, but shampooing regularly removes excess oils, which makes it harder for yeast levels to rise,” advises Anabel.
Research shows one in three women, and the majority of men, will experience some type of hair loss in their lifetime*. Hair loss can be genetic, caused by a medical condition or treatment or related to fluctuations in your hormones.
Hormones have an influence on hair loss as they’re a major part of the hair growth cycle. “Oestrogens are ‘hair friendly’ and help to keep your strands in the anagen phase (actively growing) for anywhere between three to seven years,” explains Anabel. “Meanwhile androgens (male hormones) can have the opposite effect.”
Male pattern baldness is a very common condition. By the time they reach 50, half of men will experience some form of male pattern baldness and by 60 most men will have some level of hair loss**. It causes gradual hair loss and typically starts with thinning, a receding hairline or loss from the crown. Male pattern baldness runs in families and will be inherited from one or both parents. It’s a normal part of the ageing process for men, but if it’s causing you distress there are treatments that can help with male pattern baldness. Speak to your GP or visit Boots Online Doctor Hair Loss service† for access to advice, information and treatment.
There are also over the counter topical treatments for male pattern baldness that contain minoxidil and you apply directly to your scalp. Minoxidil works by increasing the blood supply and nutrients to hair follicles, assisting in strengthening existing hairs and encouraging growth. They don’t work for everyone and results will only last for as long as it’s being used. If hair loss in either sex is sudden or coming out in clumps, make an appointment with your GP, as it may be the result of a medical condition that needs further investigation.
For women, hormone changes after pregnancy can be a trigger for hair loss. It causes a rise in oestrogen levels, often making hair luscious and thick in the third trimester. “After childbirth or breast-feeding, oestrogen levels return to normal and approximately 50% of women experience post-partum shedding,” says Anabel. (This should resolve itself within three months, but speak to your GP if you have any concerns).
A simple trick to make hair appear thicker, if you’re experiencing post-partum loss around the hairline and want to disguise it, is to fill any gaps with an eyeshadow the same colour as your hair or to use a root covering spray like L’Oréal Magic Retouch, £8.99/899 points (75ml).
Another hormonal shift occurs during the perimenopause and menopause, when women may notice hair loss or thinning due to a drop in oestrogen levels. Skin medical specialist, Dr Ifeoma Ejikeme, says it’s important for women to talk to their GP if they’re experiencing any kind of hair loss. “They’ll normally recommend you come in for blood tests to check your iron levels, vitamin D and B12 and thyroid function.”
Shiny happy people
For mega shine try a nourishing, oil-based styling lotion or serum. Curly and Afro hair will love Shea Moisture Jamaican Black Caster Oil Strengthen & Restore Styling Lotion, £12.99/1,299 points (236ml), while Pantene Day and Night serums, £19.99/1,999 points (70ml), give all-day hydration too. And if you can bear it, a cold blast of water after shampooing and conditioning seals and smooths the cuticle, helping your hair to shine.
One in three women, and the majority of men, will experience some type of hair loss in their lifetime