I don’t mean to sound overly dramatic here but I think one of the hardest things about the challenges faced through 2020-2021, was being cut off from our essentials - you know: family, friends…hairdressers.
I mean, there’s natural, and then there is I haven’t seen my hair stylist in months and for me, that’s a step too far!
I am not alone, because this has been part of the surge in activity of hair related products coming to market and a deeper education around hair and scalp care.
Now, in the market there is plenty of noise around what is NOT in products – sulphates, synthetics, silicones and so on. However, I am not going to use this article to extol the virtues one way or another; this is an opportunity to share some information on scalp health and some rather wonderful products available in-store and online at Elys.
Skin is Skin…top to toe
Skin is one continuous organ; there is no beginning or end. The same factors that affect our skin facially have an impact on our scalp health. Hair and scalp health and vitality is as susceptible to intrinsic (hereditary / genetic) factors that dictate how skin will behave and age and extrinsic (external / environmental) factors such as UV, lifestyle, stress.
Whether your hair is long, short, straight or curly, there are some consistent characteristics we are all looking for; strength, bounce, shine, resilience and calm.
Strong hair growth and retention, starts with scalp health and resilience.
Hair Growth Cycle
There are three phases to hair growth:
- Anagen – a period of growth. This lasts between 2-7 years
- Catagen – a period of transition. Lasting around 2-3 weeks, the hair stops growing removes itself from the blood supply
- Telogen – a period of rest. This is the final stage of the cycle where the hair rests at the root, while a new hair grows beneath. This lasts around 3 months.
Following this cycle the hairs will then shed.
To optimise the strength and vitality of hair, it is important to prolong the anagen phase, nourishing the follicle and maintaining a healthy diet and lifestyle to minimise stress that can weaken the resilience of the scalp.
Free radicals and the effects on our skin health, are well documented. Even if we do not fully understand them, we know we need to avoid certain triggers and maintain some protection to minimise their damaging impact.
But, do we talk enough about the damage that the environment, our dietary choices and lifestyles have on the health of our hair, scalp and the impact this has on our mental health? I would say not yet, but it is starting to improve.
Free radical damage affects the structural integrity of our skin, weakens protection, causes irritation and can in turn, through weakened follicle collagen, lead to stress-related hair loss or excessive shedding and thinning.
Hair loss can happen to anyone at any age, regardless of gender. It is now increasingly common among women and young adults, driven in part due to stress, lifestyle and over styling.
It is something that, despite being common, has remained a subject off the table to discuss as people struggled to understand why they were faced with the challenge, frustrated with slow improvements, and fearing that the topic was shrouded in shame, embarrassment and misunderstanding. Mental health issues ensue and the cycle continues.
If this last year of challenges has taught us anything, we know that we must take control over stress and find time to practise self-care. When we are overwhelmed, we often compromise healthy habits.
The fact that we have seen a growth in scalp focused products and education from brands, is a huge step forward in giving people the tools they need to optimise their hair health.
Now, it may come as a surprise to you, but I’m not a natural blonde.
I know right?!
In fact, my hair at the grand old age of 45 is really quite grey. I like to refer to these as silver streaks or executive highlights…
….but the truth is, it’s grey.
So with that, has come a significant amount more dryness and texture change.
So I have had to consider different products for my hair these days, products with more power and efficacy.
Now, before I launch into some of my product thoughts, I would caveat a few things:
- It is impossible to do an in-depth timed review of the products in relation to hair growth cycle as to do so would require many weeks in hand
- These are my thoughts and each individual may experience different results depending on their hair characteristics.
A firm favourite known for reliably beautiful fragrances for you and your home, Molton Brown is celebrating their 50-year anniversary and as part of the celebrations, have launched The Botanical Hair Care collection.
The range is inspired by their heritage of creating natural hair care products in the original 1970s Mayfair salon.
Bringing together targeted formulas each enriched with a unique hydroponically grown herb designed to be layered and combined to create a ritual that's right for your individual needs. It is important to note here that the collection has been designed specifically to deeply cleanse, nourish and replenish hair as opposed to target scalp health.
Well, let’s just be clear – I’m a fan of Molton Brown. But I wasn’t sure if this would be a fragrance first, performance second range for hair.
The fragrances do not disappoint, they are herbaceous, fresh and deliciously moreish. So that expectation is achieved.
Let’s address the lather.
I live in a painfully hard water area, so getting a really lovely lather can be a challenge for me, often requiring more product.
I had a cloud for a head with these products! The shampoos have a rich, light, whipped lather that crowns your head in bubbles. The rinse away is usually my nemesis, my hair is super thick and despite only being just below my chin, it can become a bit tangled with the rinse.
I needn’t have worried. Smooth, silky and ready for moisturising with the conditioners, which left my hair silky, shiny and light with bounce.
Overall, I think this range is glorious.
I massaged this generously into the scalp and all through the lengths and left it on for around 10 minutes.
My hair was noticeably smoother, more manageable, ends smoothed, shine intensified and overall a marked feeling of texture improvement.
Now, this range does not claim to be anything overtly technical, scientific or otherwise. There are no big claims. This is about hair luxe. This is about a beautiful experience in use that will give you that unmistakable Molton Brown treatment of quality fragrance, luxurious texture and a sense of treating your body.
Percy & Reed
Established in 2011, this brand is the product of in-salon practical knowledge and expertise, true hair specialists collaborating to bring the brand mantra to life, ‘The effortless way to seriously good hair™’.
The brand has a myriad of ranges and are a wonderful source of education for hair health. I tried some products from the I Need A Hero! – Wonder collection. This multi-award winning range brings that sense of London salon style and luxurious fine fragrance together in formulations that give you that salon-finished style.
The shampoo and conditioner partnership is wonderful. I loved the scent and the textures are gorgeous to apply with plentiful lather for the shampoo and a creamy, coating texture for the conditioner. The formulations absorb into the hair shaft to intuitively know what needs to be done to optimise luminosity, soothe and protect hydration of the scalp, achieve stress damage control and manageability.
This is, to me, a perfect combination for so many hair types as it is positioned as a rescue solution; it’s a perfect place to start with the brand if you aren’t familiar with Percy & Reed’s products. You simply cannot be disappointed.
But the treatment products are where I was delighted.
Finishing balms, serums and oils are always an area that we treat with caution and trepidation that all that hard work of cleansing is unraveled with an ill-suited formulation that then weighs down your locks in styling.
We’ve all been there.
Light, silky, tames frizz and fly-aways, non-greasy, add shine, layers together…I could go on.
The Primer can be used as a foundation product for other styling products to help speed up the styling, giving greater control and longevity without weighing down your style.
Affordably priced, these are definite winners in my eyes.
Hair Rituel by Sisley
The other end of the price scale, Sisley is known for high performance products that nourish the skin from head to toe.
I had a few products sent to try in the Hair Rituel by Sisley treatment line that help repair and protect hair and scalp health.
My first observation is the utterly wonderful scent. I would wear this as a perfume it’s heavenly and made my hair smell fabulous!
The Cream 230 is a leave-in styling cream that helps to protect and repair the hair during heat styling. Helping to tame fly-away hair, smooth frizz and protect the hair shaft from the stress of heat styling, this product is flexible to use pre styling on damp hair and on dry hair to follow if needs be.
I used this straight after shampoo and conditioner as an additional leave-in style conditioner. The formulation is heat activated, it coats the hair and made even my thick hair much more manageable when styled.
The Precious Hair Oil is for me, again, the hero though.
It is heavenly to use. I tried it both post cleanse and as a finisher. Because it has a light dry feel, it won’t weigh down your style, it simply defines layers and ends, creating a multi-dimensional shine and an addictively divine perfume.
Beauty Insider Tip
Remember your skin doesn’t end where your hairline starts. You need to think of your scalp as a continuation and treat it accordingly with products targeted at optimising a healthy microbiome for hair growth and resilience to stress factors from everyday life.
Whether you use a product that is specifically targeted as a serum for the scalp like Hair Rituel by Sisley Revitalising Fortifying Serum or you simply add massage to your cleansing routine, make sure you spend time pressing your fingertips in circular motions over the scalp to help distribute product and stimulate the blood flow to the follicles.