Every woman knows summer can play havoc with your hair – but did you know the damage could develop from more than just a dip in the salty sea or an afternoon in the sun? Frizz, split ends, dullness, lack of softness and failure to grow are all down to how you treat your hair all year round. Get the lowdown on your locks…
An old wives’ tale suggests that trimming your hair will help it to grow – but is this true? Sadly not. Hair outside your scalp is dead, so nothing you do to the ends will physically speed up the rate it grows. Hair grows from the follicle, which is fed by blood vessels that give it nourishment. Each follicle lives in a cycle of a long period of growth, followed by a relatively short space of rest, when it is still attached to the follicle but is not growing. It is then shed and a new hair begins to grow.
There are three stages of hair growth: catagen, telogen and anagen. Hairs spend a different amount of time in each of these phases, and that period is determined by genetics, hormones and where on the body it is growing. On average, hair grows 6in per year. If your active growth cycle is only a couple of years, your hair will only ever grow to 12in long.
OK, so modifying your DNA is not possible, but you can choose products that reduce scalp build-up and boost circulation to give your hair the best start. Massaging your scalp while shampooing also increases circulation.
THE THICK OF IT
Some women are born with lots of glossy locks, but once you hit 40, hair fibres get thinner.
Everyone sheds 100-150 hairs per day, but the more strands you have in your growth phase, the fuller your head of hair looks.
To keep these hairs active, you need a healthy diet that includes protein (it makes up 97% of hair), iron (which helps blood carry oxygen to follicles) and zinc (to produce enzymes to build and repair hair).
A thinning mane can benefit from styling products that contain vegetable protein or acacia gum, as these temporarily increase strand width.
For a long-term solution, look for ingredients like panthenol (vitamin B5) and oat protein, which will fatten up your strands. And, contrary to popular belief, don’t skip conditioner if you have limp hair.
Doing this creates more friction, which further damages hair.
Split ends are damaged strands of hair and it’s impossible to repair them. Once the damage is done, there’s no going back. The only option is to cut off the ends and adopt healthier haircare habits in order to prevent them in future: brush through your hair before washing to minimise tangles and breakage; use conditioner and a leave-in treatment – the lubrication will help stop the splits; limit the heat – dryers, tongs and straighteners are very damaging.
Book yourself in for a trim (every six weeks). This will get rid of any split ends. Then stick to a good haircare regime.
DAMAGED HAIR ISN'T ALL DOWN TO AGE AND HORMONES, YOUR LIFESTYLE CAN HAVE A NEGATIVE EFFECT ON IT TOO. THE SUN, AIR POLLUTION, CENTRAL HEATING AND APPLIANCES DRY OUT HAIR, LEAVING IT IN NEED OF MOISTURE
AVOID THE FRIZZ
As you get older, your hair tends to gets coarser, which makes it feel wiry rather than soft and silky. It also has reduced levels of melanin (the pigment that colours hair), particularly in grey hair which, in turn, reduces oil production, resulting in less moisture. All of this adds up to dry, coarse hair that can become frizzy.
But it’s not all down to age and hormones – your lifestyle can have a negative effect on your hair, too. The sun, air pollution, central heating and heated appliances dry out hair, leaving it in need of moisture.
Your best defence, from a diet point of view, is to eat food containing antioxidants, especially polyphenols, which are found in deeply-coloured fruits, such as berries.
Give your hair some essential moisture and a satin finish with weekly treatments that have natural oils in them. Coconut and avocado oils are a triple hit – they help retain moisture, are super nourishing and smell divine. Use a mask once a week.
FADE TO GREY
Like wrinkles, greying hair is a natural part of ageing. Dermatologists call it the 50-50-50 rule: 50% of the population has 50% grey hair at 50.
Hair becomes grey due to a lack of melanin. It can be an inherited trait, but Caucasians seem to grey earlier than other ethnicities, and some health conditions may cause premature greying, such as diabetes, or thyroid problems.
Reports suggest copper can prevent the onset of greying hair, and you can take a multi-vitamin that contains this mineral. Foods that are naturally rich in copper include pineapples, blackberries, almonds, pumpkin seeds and walnuts.
If you’re dead set against going grey gracefully, don’t be afraid to colour. If you have a small percentage of grey, use a non-permanent colour that blends it away – choose a product that lasts either up to eight or 24 shampoos, depending on how much you have. Do you have a lot of grey and want to cover it completely? Then you’ll need a permanent product.
Dull hair can be an issue at any age. Often, this is caused by a build up of residue from conditioners and styling products, and all you need is a good, deep clean to remove this and restore shine.
But drab hair could be down to a lack of omega-3 essential fatty acids, found in flaxseed and walnuts, and oily fish.
Upping your intake can help regulate oil production, increasing levels in follicles so that hair can gleam.
Blasting your hair with cold water for around five seconds after you’ve washed it helps seal in conditioner, adding a natural shine. But for long-lasting glossy locks, oils are the key.
LORRAINE SAYS 'My hair gets 'done' for TV every weekday by Helen Hand, our fab make-up artist. I go to the hairdressers every six weeks for a trim and colour with vegetable gloss that makes my hair healthy and shiny'