Long, loose, air-dried tresses at Chanel; finger-brushed waves at Alberta Ferretti; styles so easy to achieve there wasn't a curling tong in sight backstage at Donna Karan. If you take away just one tenet from the spring/summer shows, it's this: the blow-dry is officially over. While laissez-faire styling creates all manner of permutations, the haircare behind it is not low-maintenance.
"The more insouciant the look, the more wholesome, gutsy and glossy hair has to be," explains Gary Baker, creative director at unite. "And without the polish of a big, bouncy blow-dry, hair troubles simply have nowhere to hid."
With the stresses of modern-day life, such troubles, including thinning, shedding and flaking, are more abundant than ever. And it's all down to the same pressure, poor diet and lack of sleep that ruin our skin. Our scalps, and in turn our tresses, readily show signs of under-par health. "As a barometer for well-being, hair is an extremely sensitive indicator," says Philip Kingsley, owner of the eponymous haircare line. "As it is not necessary for survival, the body will never prioritise it when essential systems are overworked." This translates to hair often being the first to highlight internal imbalance or illness.
Thankfully, there's been an about-turn in consumer haircare this year. In response to heavy demand, beauty industry behemoths have shifted their focus from styling to scalp health. They've channelled skin-science developments into high-impact hair products, cleansers, serums that work like follicle-plumping fillers, and products boasting anti-ageing ingredients. And for women suffering hair loss and thinning, there's an array of efective treatments to ensure hair reaches its full potential.
It's time to start treating your scal the same way you treat your skin...
When it comes to the basics of washing hair (how often and with what), the messages are mixed. Some women swear by twice a week, saying the reduced heat styling keeps their hair in tip-top shape, but others lather and rinse far more frequently. "Your hair goes to all the same places and attracts all the same pollutants as your face," says Kingsley. "It only makes sense then that it should demand the same daily care." And as an extension of the skin on your face, your scalp deserves the same attention. If you're prone to overactive sebaceous glands, it's likely your scalp also produces excess oil and requires more regular washing. Look for a gentle shampoo containing salicylic acid, such as La Roche-Posay Kerium Shampoo, which blends the exfoliating ingredient with the brand's renowned thermal spring water for added soothing. If dry, dehydrated or reative skin is your key complaint, you'll require a nourishing cleanser with added humectants. Lather up with Liz Earle Botanical Shine Shampoo. Its naturally derived cleansers work alongside extracts of apple, orange and shea butter to clean, hydrate and soften without stripping.
Just as congested skin cells lead to a dull, lifeless pallor, clogged follicles produce hair lacking shine, body or vibrancy. And that's not all -- as sebum and dead cells build up, they produce pore-blocking toxins that cause excessive oiliness, flaking and even the onset of conditions such as psoriasis. Look to skincare-inspired hair exfoliators packed with the active ingredients found in your face products. Aveda Invati Exfoliating Shampoo is a turbo-boosted alternative to your regular cleanser. Featuring salicylic acid for light exfoliation and extracts of turmeric and ginseng to speed up cell renewal, it leaves hair revived and the scalp feeling squeaky clean. Or try Kérastase Chronologiste Revitalizing Exfoliating Care. Combining buffing micro-particles with natural purifying agents, it gently removes build-up from the scalp and hair. The follicular equivalent of a monthly facial, Nioxin Scalp Renew Dermabrasion Treatment is targeted and intensive. It uses dermabrasion technology to thoroughly cleanse the scalp, accelerating regeneration and repair for healthier, younger-looking locks.
We are so well versed in the importance of regular massage that we incorporate it readily into our daily rituals. When cleansing, we use light sweeping strokes for lymphatic drainage; we use oils and balms with deep-muscle massage to lift and firm; and when we're stressed or tired, soothing circular motions pep us up. A touch of manual manipulation can totally transform listless, lank tresses -- boosting blood supply, increasing oxygen uptake and ensuring delivery of vital nutrients to the hair follicles. Make time before shampooing to massage the scalp using the fingertips, applying firm pressure and a specific treatment such as Sisley Extract for Hair and Scalp. Just a few moments each day will actively encourage the growth of strong, glossy hair.
When hair woes such as thinning and shedding become acute, cleansing alone no longer cuts it. Instead, a commited inside-out approach is called for, tackling internal stresses, enhancing your diet -- particularly with protein, healthy fats and hair-specific supplements -- and adopting a routine that includes one of the latest scalp-specific products.
Look to Phylia de M to nurture your hair's recover. While studying the correlation between stress and nerve function, scientist Dick Miyayama (the godfather of Phylia founder Kazu Namise) discovered that thinning and shedding occur when the nerves supplying vital keratin become disconnected from the hair follicle. The remedy? Reconnect them with an organic and natural keratin renewal formula, featuring Phylia's custom blend of aloe and tannic and fulvic acids.
However, it's not just stress and illness that increase the chance of hair loss. Research by Japanese brand Sensai points to increased production of the protein TGF-Beta, a naturally occurring substance that prevents the healthy growth of hair cells, resulting in the thinner, finer, and faster-molting hair we experience as we age. To counter this, the brand has developed the Shidenkai Hair Loss Treatment for Women. Boasting T-flavanone, a hair-growth agent that reduces levels of TGF-Beta, and a high-tech moisturising ingredient, the scalp treatment promotes follicle strength and volume, and reduces hair loss.