“I will never be that woman with the perfect hair, who can wear white and not spill on it” – so said the inimitable Carrie Bradshaw.
Very few of us could claim to own the kind of flawless, glossy locks that are just crying out for an Instagram brag.
And yet, there are easy ways to tackle the glut of hair-bound issues that bombard us on a daily basis.
Here, some of Britain's most dynamic hairdressers tell Stylist their quick-fix tips for solving a host of common hair problems, from frizz to breakages and limp, lifeless strands.
Because while perfect hair is a myth (unless you happen to have an army of stylists on-hand), these tricks will give you the armoury needed to achieve happy, healthy and easy-to-manage tresses each and every day.
Grease is the word
Danny may have revelled in his slick barnet, but it’s not a look many of us cherish these days. So, how to eliminate our old friend grease? A lot of it comes down to the way we wash our hair.
- Avoid very hot water
“Don’t have the water too hot when you wash hair as this stimulates the sebaceous gland, creating more oil,” says Karine Jackson of Karine Jackson Hair & Beauty.
- Avoid over-massaging the hair
“Don’t over massage the scalp too much as this will activate the sebaceous glands causing more greasiness,” says Rae Palmer, founder of WeLove Salons. The same goes for over-touching your hair; “your fingertips produce oil, which will transfer over to your hair,” says hair artist Nigit Begum of Bristol Hair And Beauty.
- Assess the products you’re using
“Heavy masks and hydrating products can make the hair oily,” says Anya Dellicompagni, Francesco Group’s director of hairdressing. “Opt for a gentle cleansing shampoo and look out for products that have silicone in them, as this is a very heavy product that can make the hair greasy.”
“Use soothing products on the scalp, like mint,” says Ashleigh Hodges, creative director at Jamie Stevens Hair.
And, “you need to apply shampoo onto dry hair before wetting it,” says Ky Wilson, founder of Ky’Cut Wilson. “It removes the oil build-up.”
- Don’t use conditioner on your roots
“Don’t put conditioner directly onto the scalp, your hair is producing enough natural oil on its own - you only need to condition the ends,” says Karine.
Nigit agrees. “Use conditioner only on the mid-length to ends of your hair. Avoid your roots as this part of your hair is already in the best condition.”
A number of our panel of stylists recommend using dry shampoo, as it soaks up excess oil and will allow you to delay hair washing for a day or two.
- Look at your diet and lifestyle
“Make sure you avoid excessive oils and fats as much as possible and have good fats instead like natural yogurt and avocado,” advises Ashleigh. “If you've not had greasy hair before it might be hormonal - check any changes in lifestyle or medication you have had and see a doctor as a precaution.”
Split ends are the bane of many a woman’s life but there are ways of taming a perennially dry and brittle mane.
- Book in for regular haircuts
“The best thing for breakages is a good haircut to take away existing damage,” says Ashleigh.
“It’s important to have regular trims,” agrees Karine. “We can just dust your hair which means just the very ends are taken off. You don’t lose length but hair is kept healthy.
“You need to think about hair as being like fabric - once it starts to tear it’s damaged. If you don’t cut off a split end promptly it will split further up the shaft and do a lot more damage meaning more will need to be cut off.”
“Essentially, cutting your hair is almost like resetting your hair, giving it a ‘fresh start’ and making it look and feel healthier,” adds Anya.
- Use weekly treatments
“If your hair is dry, brittle and prone to breaking off easily, you should also make sure you are giving your hair enough moisture,” says Anya. “Using a good conditioning hair mask a couple of times a week will ensure your hair is getting the nourishment it needs.”
“Alternate protein and moisture treatments to build the strength back up again,” recommends Rae.
- Go easy on straightening
“Avoid over-using hair straighteners,” says Nigit. Ray agrees, urging people to “turn down the heat on your irons!”
- Look at your daily habits
“Breakage can caused by over-processing hair, sun damage, and general life stress,” notes Nigit.
“Don’t tie your hair back tight in the same spot with elastic - this is the most common form of breakage,” says Karine.
Limp and lacklustre
Creating a good foundation and working in some volume are both key when it comes to nipping limpness in the bud. Follow these pointers to give your hair a boost.
- Work your hair cut to suit your head shape
“Start with a great cut, which means working your hair cut to the shape of your head - don’t fight against hair texture and work with your head structure so hair naturally sits nicely,” says Karine.
“The best thing for breakages is a good haircut to take away existing damage and a weekly treatment to prevent more,” says Ashleigh. “Using a small amount of oil through the ends of your hair, while both wet and dry, will help nourish the ends and prevent breakages.”
- Interrogate the products you’re using
“Limp hair can be caused by product build-up and excess sebum on the scalp,” says Karen Brown, owner of Hair By JFK. “Always be aware of how many products you are using; are they the right products and the right amount of them? Try to apply only a little amount of product to avoid too much build-up.”
- Create some volume prior to blow-drying
“Apply a volume or even a gel spray to the roots (don’t be afraid of gel, it gives really good hold), then vigorously ruffle the root area with your fingers,” says Karine. “This works by ‘confusing’ the follicles, they don’t know which way to lie so they stand up straight. Now dry the hair. This is a great foundation to give you lift which will last all day - if your volume starts to drop then simply re-ruffle the roots with your fingertips and they’ll remember to stand up again.”
“Use a thickening spray to make your hair feel more full and try applying a volume spray to the roots prior to blow-drying,” says Nigit. “Mousse is seen as an old-fashioned product but I use this a lot and it’s my all time favourite for making your hair feel and look thicker. A good hair masque will also perk up limp hair, and velcro hair rollers will add volume.”
“Volume products and dry texturising sprays are great for creating that gritty texture,” says Ky.
“The not so-old lady Perms could be an awesome option to explore for more movement,” he adds.
You know how it is. No sooner have you shelled out top dollar for a brand new look than the colour begins to fade and lose its vibrancy. To prevent this from happening too quickly involves a host of simple yet crucial protective measures...
- Ask your colourist for protective treatments
“What most people forget is that excessive colour fade comes from damaged hair,” says Sophia Hilton of Not Another Salon. “Your hair is covered in scales, little tiny doors that open and close when you colour it. If you damage your hair when colouring, the doors break off.
“Imagine how fast your colour is going to fade, when it has nothing to hold it in. Prevention is better than cure; my advice is to make sure your colourist is using something to protect your hair (and those little doors!).”
“Excessive colour fade usually means your hair is really porous and the colour has nothing to lock onto,” says Karine. “Pre-colour treatments are key, as well as post treatments… If the hair is too damaged you’ll need to grow the porous section out. Have chemical-free refreshers in-between colour services.”
- Avoid washing your hair too often
“To keep hair colour from fading, try to not wash your hair too often,” says Suzie McGill, owner of Rainbow Room International’s Uddingston salon. “Use a dry shampoo between washes and even try co-washing, where you use conditioner only and no shampoo, as this will help prolong hair colour.”
“Make sure you wait for 72 hours after your hair is first coloured to wash your hair,” adds Nigit. “Try to wash your hair less frequently.”
- Use professional colour protective shampoos
“When you do shampoo your hair, go for a sulphate-free shampoo that’s colour-enhancing,” advises Suzie. Nigit agrees, saying, “always use 'colour safe' shampoos and conditioners”.
“Give your colour a cold rinse in the shower when taking off your conditioner, to lock down the cuticle and prevent fade,” says Ashleigh.
“Always use a professional colour-protect shampoo over any supermarket brands,” adds Ky.
“Avoid products containing sulphates as these will strip the colour,” Rae suggests.
- Protect your hair from the sun
“The sun can also make our hair colour fade faster, so always ensure you use hair products with UV protection to prevent colour from fading or wear a hat when in the sun,” Suzie says. “Using a hair mask a few times a week will also help to keep your hair colour looking vibrant.”
“On holiday, always use a sun protector spray,” adds Nigit.
“Avoid heat of any kind; the high heat of a hairdryer or straighteners can draw out colour,” advises Ashleigh.
Aah, dreaded frizz. Contrary to what Bridget Jones believes, it can’t really be beaten by means of an iron. However, our hairdressers have a multitude of tactics up their sleeves which might do the trick...
- Use the right shampoo and conditioner
“When it comes to combatting frizz, make sure you always use conditioner after washing your hair with shampoo,” says Karen Thomson, owner of KAM Hair and Body Spa. “Frizzy hair needs to be rehydrated, therefore, you should always use a conditioner every time you wash your hair and a conditioning treatment a couple of times a week to seal the cuticle and smooth down the hair.”
“To deal with frizzy hair, use sulphate-free and glycerin-packed shampoo and always use hair conditioner,” says Nigit.
- Rinse using cold water
“You need to lock in that moisture with frizz,” says Ashleigh. “Rinse your conditioner off in cold water to lock down the cuticle and apply an anti-frizz and moisturising product - a cream-based one for thicker hair, a spray-based one for finer hair.”
“Rinse the hair with cold water after washing,” agrees Karine.
- Aim your dryer down the hair shaft
“Use an oil-based product pre-blowdry to coat the cuticle and keep hair smooth,” says Rae.
“When you dry your hair aim the hairdryer down the hair shaft to flatten the cuticle and reduce frizz,” says Karine. “Make sure your roots are completely dry, if they aren’t the ends will go frizzy.”
“After blow-drying your hair so it is 100% dry, blast your hair with cold air from the hairdryer, as this helps to remove any humidity and frizz from the hair,” says Karen.
“Increasing condition and reducing drying time” is a must for tackling frizz, according to Ky.
- Use serums and oils
“Serums and oils are beneficial when it comes to combating frizz as they will smooth the hair down, get rid of any flyaways you have and create a sleek, soft finish,” says Karen.
“I recommend using hair serums to be used after your hair is dry,” says Nigit.
“For curly hair , use a curl serum,” says Ky. “Apply to damp hair and twist the hair sporadically in small sections going with the direction of hair growth and air dry.”
“On straight hair, blowdry first applying a smoothing cream into damp hair. Then spray a little hairspray onto a bristle brush or make-up brush and glide over the top of your hair to remove any flyways.”
- Brush your hair regularly but avoid touching it
“Try to avoid touching your throughout the day,” says Ashleigh. “Our hands create their own moisture & oils which can break down the product and encourage frizz.”
“Always use hair conditioner and regularly brush your hair to help distribute its natural oils,” says Nigit. “I also recommend using hair serums to be used after your hair is dry.”
Photos: iStock and Rex