Hair health can be a worry in winter.
Winter should be the time for hair to shine, says top Auckland stylist Lauren Gunn. Sadly, all too often, it is when women notice the exact opposite. Sun damage over summer is often followed by months of frazzled hair, with dryness an all too common problem.
Blame it on the heat pump or hairdryer, or lifestyle factors such as stress which can take a toll on hair condition, even leading to thinning. The trick is to safeguard your hair as much as possible and rectify any damage before it worsens.
If you colour your hair, use gentle shampoos developed to go easy on colour and for colouring itself, ask about ammonia-free options. For extra conditioning substitute a mask for your regular conditioner every few washes. Styling products with heat protection should be a given. If, despite these precautions, your scalp or your hair doesn't feel its best then consider root causes.
"There is a lot of misinformation about scalp problems out there," says Kristin Mesarich, national educator for Mediceuticals, an American salon hair-care range with a focus on scalp health.
"People see white flakes on their hair and clothing during winter and automatically reach for dandruff products - only to find they don't have the desired effect.
"Dandruff is actually a yellow coloured mixture of fungal activity and scalp tissue which is caused by an overly oily scalp. What many people are suffering from is seasonal flakiness, an over-shedding of white dehydrated skin cells."
If that sounds like you then you need to get the balance at the base right, with a mild cleansing shampoo that hydrates the outer layer of the scalp. (Mediceuticals makes a Scalp Therapies range for this purpose and other hair companies also have lines with formulas and pH balances to soothe scalps.
Davines Naturaltech has seven formulas using plant compounds which focus on the likes of brittleness, hair fall, flaking, sensitised scalps and oily scalps that need rebalancing.)
"It is important to correctly diagnose the problem before spending money on treatments," cautions Mesarich who works with salons to train hairdressers in what to look out for. An expert at this is trichologist and Holistic Hair founder Nigel Russell who not only scrutinises hair follicles and shafts but also considers other factors such as diet deficiencies, hormonal imbalances and general well-being.
To avoid hiding your head in shame try these five top tips from Gunn, creative director of Stephen Marr salons, who says winter is a great time for sharpening up your hair:
Moisturise in and out: Lipid depletion is one of winter's biggest dangers. Natural oils keep hair and skin soft, supple and shiny and protect against hot tools, heaters and climatic extremes. (Eat well and consider supplements. Gunn recommends Solgar Fish Oils or Waihi Bush Boost Flaxseed Oil to get a natural gloss from the inside out.)
Boost natural defences: Treat yourself weekly to an extra rich and luxurious at-home treatment. Check the label for products loaded with lipids, antioxidants and vitamins. These serve to retain moisture inside the hair fibre, prevent free radical damage and nourish and protect. (Try massaging a small dose of Kevin Murphy Luxury Rinse into your scalp, it contains shea butter lipids and kukui nut oil, a natural source of vitamin A.)
Sort scalp health: Keep the scalp in tip-top condition because cold air and wind can make blood circulation sluggish and skin metabolism lazy, depriving the cells of oxygen and causing scalp dryness, flaking and rough texture. (Try taking probiotics, such as Ethical Nutrients' Inner Health Plus. Try using vitamin A-enriched Sans Nourishing Wash and Hydratant.)
Prevention beats cure: Split ends and brittle hair can become a real problem. It's a myth that products can reverse split ends, you're probably going to have to snip them off, but you can paper over the cracks. (Try the clever technology of Prestocure Bio-serum capsules. Apply to rebuild hair's hydrolipidic barrier, preserve its structural integrity and reduce the damaging effects of blowdrying.)
Get the gloss: A wash of semi-permanent colour in the salon will boost shine and layer pigment into the cuticle, transforming flat brunettes and blondes or reds into richer more luminous shades for winter, which is right on trend. These colours have the benefit of sitting low on the pH scale to lock the cuticle down, making your hair more reflective to light. (Try the Shine on You Crazy Diamond package at Stephen Marr for $59.)
Chances are you have more than one hair concern, meaning you need a made-to-measure solution. Kerastase has come up with the answer in its latest salon ritual called Fusio-Dose.
This lets your stylist target a treatment at several worries at once, so if you hair has colour-fade and is dry, but also weak or even thinning, a mix can be made that intensively addresses all of these issues at once.
Fusio-Dose comes in four concentrated and four booster formulas, with the former addressing the priority concern and the latter mixed in to deal with the secondary issue.
As with the brand's shampoo and conditioners the doses are colour-coded.
My ritual was at Bettjeman's Orakei salon and began with a chat and a check before we moved to the basin room. The dose was mixed to fit the prescription of dealing with dryness and colour. Application was quick and easy and a beautiful scalp massage was included, followed by Bettjeman's signature big blowdry which guarantees you leave the salon feeling a million dollars in around an hour.
Hair not only swishes satisfactorily, but thanks to the ritual it feels like silk.
* Expect to pay from $32 for the ritual, plus varying salon blowdry charges. Until the end of August, Fusio-Dose is available as a complimentary service with another paid service at any Kerastase salon if you register for a gift voucher at kerastase.co.nz. Once you have received the voucher you can then book the ritual at your nearest salon. For locations ph 0800 657666 or see the website.
All in the family
Auckland husband and wife Jock Robson and Sara Allsop are competing against each other for the title of New Zealand hairdresser of the Year at Hair Expo in Sydney this weekend. The owners of Mt Eden salon Dharma will face up to Mana Dave of Blaze salon, Newmarket, and Adrian Barclay of Venom in Invercargill, all of whom demonstrated their work at the inaugural Hair X show held in Auckland last weekend.
The quartet will be joined in Sydney by other New Zealand awards finalists. Rodney Wayne creative director Richard Kavanagh is in an Australasian-wide category for the title of Session Stylist of the Year. Servilles is nominated against Australian providers for training, a category it won last year, and for marketing excellence.
Allsop and Robson were a driving force behind Hair X which drew together many hairdressing heavyweights to share their skills with colleagues and encourage emerging talent. Seminars on styling for shoots, colour trends, business tips and how to inject more creativity into client work went down well. Shows included installation and performance pieces, with Vada's Guy Roberts teaming up with graffiti artist Otis Frizzell for a Western-themed one.