Stylist catches up with hair and scalp expert Anabel Kingsley to find out how we can all get our best hair ever…
Anabel Kingsley is one of the best trichologists in the business.
Having learned from her father, the late, great, hair hero, Philip Kingsley, there isn’t much she doesn’t know about achieving healthy, shampoo-ad worthy lengths.
From essential vitamins to the best way to wash your hair, Stylist got the lowdown from Anabel herself.
1) You are what you eat
“Like all tissue, hair benefits from a healthy, balanced and varied diet containing all essential nutrients,” says Anabel.
“As a non-essential tissue, it’s the first to take a hit when our diet is lacking and the last to benefit from what we eat. If I had to choose the two most important food groups they would be proteins and carbohydrates. Protein, being what our hair is made of (keratin), is needed to bolster the strength and integrity of strands, while carbohydrates provide energy to sustain hair growth.”
“Another nutrient of note is ferritin, a stored iron, which helps the body to produce hair cell protein. Ferritin deficiency is one of the most common causes of hair loss that we see in our clinic. Make sure your diet is varied with good proteins like, fish, eggs, quinoa and nuts, carbohydrates such as brown rice, pasta, and porridge, and iron from red meat, dark leafy greens and prune juice.”
2) Ace your shampoo game
“When it comes to hair health, shampooing is important,” says Anabel. “This is because your scalp is essentially skin. It’s living tissue that sweats, produces oils and sheds dead cells. Just like your face, it needs to be cleansed regularly to ensure it’s in good condition. Shampooing every day isn’t for everyone, and if you have very long hair or coarse hair, it may not be realistic.”
“My advice is not to leave more than three days between shampoos. If you are not washing your hair every day, use an antimicrobial scalp toner, such as the Philip Kingsley Scalp Toner, £19.50, in-between shampoos. Don’t be concerned with scrubbing your hair when you shampoo. The suds that run through the lengths of your strands will be enough to remove daily debris.”
3) Check your vitamin D levels
“Vitamin D is key to hair growth as each hair follicle has a vitamin D receptor attached to it,” explains Anabel. “Deficiency is very common and I would say at least 80% of my clients are lacking – most notably those who work in an office or live in a city, like London, where the sun is a rare commodity.”
“To boost vitamin D levels, the NHS recommends regularly going outside for a few minutes around the middle of the day without sunscreen as the more skin that’s exposed the greater the chance of producing sufficient vitamin D before burning. Many people find it helpful to take a daily vitamin D3 supplement, which you can in almost any pharmacy.”
4) Tools maketh the hair
“I’ve consulted women who are intensively conditioning, eating well, protecting their strands from the sun but their hair is still split and frizzy,” reveals Anabel. “The problem? Their hair brushes. Using a damaging hair brush, or being too vigorous with one, can cause a lot of damage. Metal prongs can get too hot when heat styling and burn the outer hair cuticle and scratch the scalp.”
“Boar bristle brushes are similarly menacing as they easily tear away sections of the hair cuticle and the cuticle is very important. Composed of tightly packed scales that overlap like tiles on a roof, it protects the inner part of your hair, the cortex, from moisture loss. Use a brush with rounded, plastic prongs and a vented, cushioned base. Always be gentle with your hair and don’t try to forcibly pull a brush as you’ll snap the strands.”
5) Hair loss isn’t necessarily permanent
“Hair loss is incredibly distressing and can be psychologically exhausting,” explains Anabel. “For those experiencing telogen effluvium, AKA excessive daily hair fall, it’s important to know that it is not permanent and completely reversible. You will not go bald. As for the causes, there are many potential sources but it’s always brought about by an internal upset or imbalance.”
“Your hair is very sensitive to physical and emotional stressors and because of the nature of the hair growth cycle, you won’t experience hair loss until approximately six to twelve weeks after the event that caused it. It can be something as simple as having had the flu, or being very stressed. Other times the cause of hair loss is not obvious and further investigation is needed. The most common triggers are crash dieting, iron and ferritin (stored iron) deficiency, vitamin D and vitamin B12 deficiency, stress and thyroid imbalances.
“As for when the excessive hair loss will stop you can expect to experience it for at least eight to twelve weeks,” Anabel continues. “This is due to the length of the hair growth cycle. If your hair loss is due to an underlying nutritional deficiency, or hormonal imbalance, it may take a little longer but it will stop and your hair will regrow once the underlying cause is put right.
“If you aren’t experiencing excessive hair fall, but notice your hair is becoming ‘thinner’, you may be experiencing a gradual reduction in hair volume (hair thinning/androgenic alopecia). This is not the same as telogen effluvium. Androgenic alopecia occurs very slowly and is reliant on having a genetic predisposition to follicle sensitivity, meaning hair follicles on your scalp are sensitive to normal levels of circulating androgens (male hormones).”
“In response to this, follicles gradually shrink and produce finer and shorter hairs with each hair growth cycle. Treatment for androgenic alopecia almost always involves daily application of stimulating anti-androgenic scalp drops. If you are concerned, speak to a trichologist, a dermatologist, or your doctor.”
6) Fine hair needs conditioning, too
“A lot of people with fine hair shy away from using conditioner as they worry it will make their hair limp, floppy and greasy,” says Anabel. “The problem isn’t about using the conditioner but using the wrong one, using too much or applying it incorrectly. The right conditioner will add shine, manageability, reduce fly-aways, tangles and static and really improve the overall appearance of the hair.”
“Choose a conditioner based on your hair texture. For fine hair, I recommend a light-weight volumising conditioner, like the Philip Kingsley Body Building Conditioner, £22. Ingredients such as wheat protein are great as they add texture and bulk to strands. Pour a small amount into your palm, rub both hands together and with your palms flat smooth it through your mid-lengths and ends. Don’t go near the roots as this will weight them down. Rinse well with water and ensure all the product is out.”
7) Don’t despair at dandruff
“Almost everyone will get dandruff at some point and it’s very common,” says Anabel. “If you have a flaky or itchy scalp, it’s important to address it. Scratching can damage the scalp tissue and result in an infuriating ‘itch-scratch cycle’. Beat dandruff by shampooing your hair each morning or evening with an anti-microbial shampoo and follow by applying a soothing scalp toner.”
“You can also apply this throughout the day to irritated areas. Once a week, use an exfoliating scalp mask to gently remove the flakes. And it’s not just about products. Stress and diet can cause scalp issues. Try weekly sessions of yoga, Pilates, mindfulness and/or meditation and avoid full fat dairy products, as well as white wine and champagne as these can all exacerbate flaking.”
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