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Are you struggling with your locks? Same for these three readers. Time to call in the pros
Alex Swabe, 33, has naturally curly hair that she’s on a never-ending mission to straighten and smooth. ‘I use my hairdryer every day and always reach for the straighteners afterwards,’ she says. ‘But in winter I use them between drying, too, because my locks tend to frizz up even more when it’s drizzly outside.’
‘Alex should introduce a heat protector to her routine,’ says top stylist Lee Stafford. ‘Split ends are the first sign of heat damage and will make frizz look worse, but applying a primer before blow-drying can help prevent splitting.’
Lee also suggests that Alex give her hair a breather from the straighteners. ‘I know it’s a hard habit to break but, luckily, one of the big trends this year is an undone, naturally textured style,’ he says. ‘The trick to nailing this look involves no heat – it’s all about air-drying. To keep things smooth, apply a styling cream from the mid-lengths to the ends after washing; the better shape you get it in while it’s wet, the more fabulous it will look when dry.’ Another tip? ‘Don’t touch your strands too much while they’re drying – this can make the shape fall out and create frizz,’ he adds. ‘Leave hair alone and let it work its magic.’
Look for hair supplements that contain ingredients such as selenium, zinc and biotin, which contribute to the maintenance of normal hair.
Marian O’Leary, 63, has never had thick locks, but now she’s suffering from thinning, too. ‘I’ve spent my life trying to make my hair feel and look lush,’ she says. ‘At this time of year it seems to fall even flatter – the damp weather makes it lank. Plus, it’s trickier to deal with now that it’s started to thin around the crown and at the sides.’
‘Thinning around the hairline is sometimes caused by too much stress being put on locks when they’re pulled back into a bun or ponytail,’ explains hairdresser Mark Hill. ‘If this is the case, wrapping the band around your hair one less time or wearing it down more can help.’
For instant volume, try Lee’s double-mousse blow-dry technique. ‘First, apply mousse to wet locks, concentrating it at the roots,’ he says. ‘Then blow-dry hair with your head upside down, moving the roots from side to side with a brush to create lift. When dry, apply more mousse to the roots and blast again with the dryer – twice the product gives twice the volume. Lastly, tong the lengths to add texture and fullness.’
A gentle shampoo with no sulphates can be kinder to hair that’s already fragile.
Ashleigh Gibson Smith, 45, has suffered with a dry scalp since her teens. ‘In the colder months my skin gets even more parched,’ she says. ‘I try to ensure I’m using hydrating products and I even rub oil into my scalp. But is there more I can do to help reduce the itchiness and flakes?’
‘Not thoroughly washing out shampoo and conditioner can sometimes be a factor,’ says Mark. ‘So rinse hair a few more times than you usually would, and use warm or tepid water rather than hot, which can further irritate the scalp.’
Flakes can also be caused by seasonal dryness, as cold air may strip skin of its natural moisture. ‘If you suffer with dryness elsewhere, you’re more likely to have a flaky scalp,’ adds Mark. Think of your conditioner as being like a facial moisturiser – invest in a more intensive one for the colder months, and apply it from the roots so that your scalp can absorb some of the richness. Try using a hair exfoliator (yes, there is such a thing) once a week, as it helps remove dead skin and product residue.
Check the label – avoid products with SLS, parabens, colour and fragrance, as these can irritate a flaky scalp.
Why not visit your local Boots pharmacist for more advice? Go to boots.com to find your nearest store.
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Words Sarah-Jane Corfield-Smith Photography Getty Images, Pixeleyes