By Lauren Gunn
What started as a put-my-hair-up-in-a-gym-knot every day during The Great Auckland Lockdown of 2021 turned into an obsession with growing my hair long and healthy and lush.
In the past, each time I grew my hair out, I could only make it to a certain length before the condition would get so bad that I had to chop it off. Thin scraggly ends, breakage, and frizz do not make for dream hair. I really, REALLY don’t enjoy hair when it is in bad condition.
Researching and writing about hair for colleen has taught me so much more about hair, science and ingredients, and the unexpected break of the lockdown gave me a perfect opportunity to rethink my routine and experiment with product combinations.
I thought about the key structural components of hair and built them into my treatment regimen. Hair is made up of Amino Acids, Keratin proteins, Di-sulphide bonds, Moisture, and Lipids. I figured if I could nail these cornerstones of hair health I might be in for a chance at some epic structural integrity and the long hair of my dreams.
An oldie but a goodie. Protein makes up around 80% of our hair structure. If protein breaks down hair becomes weak and prone to breakage. A little top-up every month can be a really good thing, especially for coloured or bleached hair.
Dry hair has many causes, and it is a bit like the canary in the coal mine, a signal of worse things to come. Luckily it is an easy fix. A regular moisture mask or leave-in moisturizer gets dry hair back on track quickly so there is no reason to suffer with dry hair.
Responsible for how strong our hair is and particularly important for supporting your curl or wave pattern, these bonds directly influence the structure behind your natural hair texture.
AKA Peptides. Amino Acids are the building blocks of proteins and work to support the hair structure as well as stimulate cell division in the follicle. Their effectiveness for skin and hair lies in their small molecular size which makes for better penetration and retention = longer, stronger hair.
The Lipid barrier on our hair shaft plays a crucial role in maintaining healthy hair. Made up of well-known goodies such as ceramides, squalene, fatty acids, and cholesterols, Lipids are the first line of defense against hair damage. The degradation of lipids over time has a huge impact on hair strength and longevity. A daily top-up of topical lipids will go a long way in helping to achieve any hair growth goals.
Taking a moment, I considered all the practises in my routine that could inflict damage on my precious hairshafts and entered mitigation mode. I have always been a believer in the concept of doing your hair super well once a week; in creating a style that is built to last, plus a suite of tricks to carry you through the week.
Heat is one of the main causes of damage to hair, but it doesn’t have to be. Using a heat protector is to me the equivalent of using an SPF for your skin. Would you ever go out in the sun without any form of protection, I don’t think so. Why in the world would you apply heat directly to your hair without protection?
Getting your hair off to a good start begins with a healthy scalp. Because I am not a daily hair washer, I incorporate targeted treatments into my routine to keep my scalp in top shape including monthly exfoliation to buff away dead cells and build-up, a balancing and replenishing scalp mask each month and a topical treatment for problem areas.
Over time our cuticle takes a hammering from brushing, colouring, styling, and general life really. To reduce the aging and decline of my hair cuticle I use a pH treatment which acts to lock the cuticle down, giving my hair more slip and shine. Slippery hair means less frictional stress on the cuticle and the long-term benefit is less breakage and split ends.
SPLIT ENDS BE GONE
Obvs the best cure for split ends is a haircut however we’re all familiar with the old saying prevention is better than a cure. As well as a semi-regular trim, look after those ends as if your life depended on it.