One of the disadvantages of a late spell of warm weather – or a late holiday – is that all the accumulated months of UV, not to mention the effects of swimming pool chlorine or saltwater, can wreck your hair and leave it crunchy, rough, lifeless, dull and dry.
As for that fabulous colour job you paid for, it probably faded faster than your suntan. Fortunately, you don’t have to wait for all that damage to grow out in order to return your hair to soft, smooth, silky condition.
Ordinary conditioners are designed to coat the outside of your hair but, when it is seriously parched, those softening, moisturising ingredients are needed on the inside, too. Fortunately, the outer coating of each hair – its cuticle – isn’t a solid surface but composed of tiny overlapping scales rather like roof-tiles. These scales open up with heat, but the molecules of standard conditioners aren’t usually small enough to pass through their openings, so they just sit on top.
Intensive conditioners, however, remain on the hair for anything between three and fifteen minutes to allow maximum penetration, although you can boost this with extra warmth. After combing them through just-washed hair, try wrapping your head in kitchen clingfilm, then cover with a shower cap (or even a hot towel) to hold in the heat, before rinsing off and styling as usual. Give yourself an intensive treatment every week (using your usual daily conditioner in between) until the condition improves. After that, once a month is usually enough for maintenance. Philip Kingsley Elasticizer, £31 is an excellent pre-wash thirst-quencher for dry, dull, brittle, damaged hair. It can be left on for as little as five minutes before shampooing and conditioning as normal, but the results are seriously impressive. Alternatively, TRESemmé Restructuring Deep Conditioning Treatment Mask, £5.49, is a more traditional, post-shampoo conditioner with superb softening benefits.
However, you won’t get the most out of your treatments if you’re still killing your hair with heat from your styling tools. According to Kala Kilshaw, Creative Director of Ego Professional, ‘The temperature you use to style your hair will ultimately be one of the biggest contributors to hair damage. Every hair type needs a temperature adjustment, whether you’re drying, straightening or using a curling wand. After all, you wouldn’t iron a delicate silk shirt at the same temperature as a cotton one. So for fine to normal hair that’s been chemically treated, you need to use a Low temperature – that’s 130oC – while for normal to thick hair that’s also been chemically treated, it should be 170oC. For hair that hasn’t been coloured, you can add 20oC to each of those temperatures – that’s equivalent to a Medium setting. For frizzy hair, you can add another 20oC again. That’s now a High temperature setting of 170oC for fine-to-normal hair, or 210oC for normal-to-thick hair.’
For extra help always apply a protective styling spray or mousse first, and remember that your blowdrying technique is also important. Hold your dryer so that its airflow is pointed down the hair towards the ends, and each pass of the dryer should be followed with downward strokes of your hairbrush to encourage the cuticle to lie as flat as possible. The smoothed hair surface then reflects light rather like a polished table.
Finally, you can also add extra moisture and gloss by smoothing a little argan oil over blowdried hair. It even smooths frizz and flyaways without feeling heavy. Try award-winning Moroccanoil Treatment, £32.85.
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