I think about hair a lot, and I talk about hair only marginally less. I’ve written about it before, but anyway that was ages ago. One might argue that there are more important things to think about and that’s the whole problem; I haven’t written properly in forever because the world is so freaking overwhelming. I am genuinely overwhelmed by it. Work has been very busy this year so far but yawn, whatever, work is hard. That’s capitalism, babes! But it’s the political landscape that I’ve struggled to fathom, the lack of generosity and empathy in the way we are voting in the Western world (thank Christ for Trudeau and Macron), the million opinion pieces that make me feel worse. The seemingly constant belief by the common man that the rich will lift you out of your inequality! Why ask to be treated fairly if a billionaire can help put a (brown) face to your frustration and disappointment? It is so utterly depressing my creativity seemed to give a tiny pfft and disappear. I am left with too much to say and no words to express it all. And now a General Election!
But y’know what we can have a bit of control over? Hair! Well, to tell the truth, I’m not even sure that’s accurate, but I have to search for some order in this shitshow and why not start with my sharing the painful learnings of years of hating my hair? Beats thinking about the other stuff! Now, if you don’t have hair that you would hand-on-heart call ‘thin’ then you have my best wishes but you don’t know my life. Truly fine hair is the kind that experiences a gust of wind and goes greasy, blow-dries with some oomph but is flat in an hour, is generally hard to work with and won’t hold a curl. Now I have empathy with our fine, curly haired sisters, but that’s a whole different ballgame; I’m talking MY hair: flat, fine, caucasian, straight but with the ability to kink in a hairband, prone to grease. I had one huge blow-dry that lasted a few hours once, and that’s about all anyone’s been able to do. So often all you can really do is take away the factors that sabotage your hair, and here are my tips.
1. Get your hair cut regularly
Ugh, haircuts are so expensive. Even where I live- where the hairdressers don’t have websites- a cut is £35-£39. Extortionate. I think lots of people get a lady round their house rather than go to a salon and if you have one you like, awesome. In an ideal world, all fine-haired wimmin should find a stylist who knows their hair. They may not be the most cutting-edge (sorry) stylist in the world, but if you think they do reasonably well with your hair and they understand how finer hair works, stick with them. And then get your hair cut, every 6-8 weeks. I know it’s annoying, I know it’s hard to find the time (I go to a salon near work so I can do lunchtime trims), and I know it’s expensive, but it really is the best thing you can do for your hair.
Fine hair damages easily and if yours is anything like mine, I always need to apply some heat to it to not end up with a flat mess. So every time I’m using the hairdryer, I’m probably doing some damage, and that can be seen in split-ends or broken hair (which can make hair look quite fly-away). The more precise the haircut, the more it will benefit from regular trims, but I would argue that fine hair needs those trims even when the cut isn’t high-tech. In my experience and opinion, fine hair just looks better when it’s regularly trimmed. It just keeps those bobs looking healthier, and long hair looking as thick as it can do. When your hair gets ‘end-y’, it looks thinner.
I always walk out of the hairdresser looking flat and sad, but it passes!
1a. If you have a fringe, get it trimmed
More trips to the hairdresser, sorry. And this is one that I have come to quite late, but now I know the truth: if you have a fringe, take your hairdresser up on those goddamn free trims! I’ve been offered these for years and had never gone for one; I just found it a bit mortifying and I tended to wait until I was getting my hair cut properly. This may work if you have a sweeping kind of fringe and you go fairly regularly for the cut as evangelised about above. But for a heavier or more classic fringe, a trim keeps it from separating; the bane of a fringe-owner’s (wearer’s?) existence.
I combat fringe separation with the following tools:
- Sali Hughes’ method of drying your fringe
- Dry shampoo, obviously
- Blotting papers for absorbing oil on the forehead (I like these; the case is cute and practical)
Even with all of that, if the fringe gets too long, it’s Game Over. But I do understand! Being a bit weird and awkward at times, the thought of going in to the salon to be told no-one could trim me seemed like a nightmare. But now I’ve realised how much neater and fresher I look (vanity will out), I just call them up, ask when the best time to come in for a fringe-trim is, and it’s relatively painless. At a push, a place local to you will probably trim your fringe- if they’re not too busy- for £4-£5.
2. Take B vitamins!
My gorgeous and clever big sister recommended Biotin to me and I was all like “Whu?” as I had never heard of it and I wasn’t much of a supplementer. Oh how times have changed! I didn’t use anti-ageing skincare then either and that time seems a million years ago. Now I take a tonne of supplements to help with joints and digestion and fatigue, and I sure do love my Biotin, which is basically a B vitamin that helps your hair, skin, and nails. It’s what’s in Perfectil, which I used to take, but the dose in just straight-up Biotin can be way higher. Since taking it, my nails grow so much faster and stronger and I feel that my hair is in better condition. My hairdresser has assured me that it will mean my hair is much stronger and a good friend recently told me that she’s been taking it for a couple of years, after she noticed some hereditary thinning hair, and she looks fantastic. It may not work for you but I’m certainly happy and it’s not expensive at all to try.
Big Sis did counsel caution with the Biotin as it caused a few spots on her and apparently, this isn’t hugely uncommon when taking the big old 10,000mcg strength; she cut down to half and the issues went away. There’s a variety of strengths out there and I’m thick with numbers so I get a bit confused between milligrams and micrograms… Anyway, I sometimes get a spot when I am, I suspect, hormonal, but that’s pretty infrequent and could just as easily be my wine consumption.
Purchase at Holland & Barrett, Amazon, or most shops where you’d buy supplements…
3. Styling product balance is KEY
I do not have the answer to this: whenever I think I’ve reached an Hallelujah moment with my styling products, I feel like they kind of stop working. And, if I don’t keep up with the other rules on this list, my styling products don’t work as well. I would say that the golden rules are:
- Usually more than 2-3 products are going to weigh your hair down so don’t overload; and
- If someone tells you some light-hold, all-natural spray is the answer to your dreams, she doesn’t have fine hair and do not pay heed
That second one might just be because I’m bitter. Either way, any time I casually Google ‘fine hair tips’ or similar, I get terrible articles about blow-drying your hair upside down. No shit! I need product recommendations, specifics I can use. I’m glad the Aveda product worked for you, but I need something to change the texture of my hair- fine, fine baby hair needs work (and if you have a less baby-like texture then I am very jealous).
I am currently enjoying the Oribe Maximista Thickening Spray, but it’s extortionate at £27. I got it with my Space NK loyalty points and while I’d like to buy it again, I’m not sure it’s demonstrably better than a bog-standard thickening spray. I need mousse in my roots, and I have been impressed with the TIGI Catwalk Root Boost Spray, which you can find for about £8 if you’re savvy. I spray it right into my roots in little bursts and then rub it in. I think it keeps a little lift in those roots through the day, and a bit of dry shampoo (I like Colab) helps refresh my hair when it gets a bit flat. I also usually use a bit of hairspray to finish everything off, and as long as it has a nice fine spray I’m not sure the brand matters too much.
I still stand by the products I recommended in my post a while ago, but I try different things when I’ve used a product for a while and the initial excitement has worn off. TIGI products are pretty good in my experience, and I love Fudge Urban Iced Coconut Cocktail hairspray because you need so little of it and it’s very handy to sling in your bag for trips and going out.
Ultimately it’s about trying different products and seeing what works on you, but too much product in your hair- even if it’s promising the world- will just weigh your hair down.
4. Go easy on the conditioner
This may be stating the obvious for most, and for fine-haired lovelies with dry lengths and ends, it’s also not helpful. But goddamn did it take me a long time to realise the truth of this statement. I think it was a hangover from having highlights and needing to use umpteen products to both boost and tame my dry, damaged blonde hair. So many brands that have a volumising range include a conditioner as part of it and I just continued to use it, but not conditioning has been a revelation.
My general advice would be that if you have fine hair prone to oiliness throughout, try skipping the conditioner; if you have a bit of dryness, then try conditioning first and then washing out with your shampoo; and if you’re dry through your lengths and ends or have processed hair then do what needs to be done, deep-condition, and ignore this tip. Philip Kingsley Elasticizer is a great choice if you do need a full-on conditioner but want to avoid heaviness; pop it on while you’re brushing your teeth and then shower and shampoo off (you can leave it on for 10-20 minutes if you really need to condition deeply).
5. Dye your hair regularly
If you don’t dye your hair then I’m not suggesting you start! I’ve always found that my porous hair likes a bit of semi-permanent dye, but I’ve no idea whether this is the case for other fine-haired peeps. What I do know is that if you do dye, keep it up because hair that has had the colour stripped out- which is essentially what is happening when you’ve dyed your hair and the colour starts to fade- tends to feel weaker and thinner. My personal experience is that my hair looks stronger, shinier, and thicker when it’s freshly dyed (well ok, after I’ve washed out the custard-y conditioner that you put on afterwards a couple of times), and sadder and thinner after about 4 weeks.
I realise this isn’t easy if you’re fancy and go to a salon, but I am ride or die for my Blue Black at home.
6. Volumising shampoos and conditioners will promise the earth…
…and sometimes they’re not bad. But honestly, I go into every new bottle of shampoo with my eyes shining and with hope in my heart, and I just don’t think that there’s a magic bullet. It pains me to say it, but there’s only so much shampoo can really do. Gah! It’s so sad.
I have tried many different combinations and I’ve often thought I found a keeper, only to get halfway into the bottle and lose faith. Philip Kingsley and TIGI Bed Head were pretty good. The L’Oreal Fibrology range is ok, and is nice and cheap. Sali Hughes rates the Bumble and Bumble system and what I find interesting about this, even though I haven’t tried it, is that part of the aim of that range is to avoid hair-loss, which is a more long-term aim than a lot of ranges will work towards but worth thinking about, and definitely part of the benefit of taking Biotin.
I’m currently using STEMM by Deciem and I really love it. I’ve stopped using the conditioner because as light as it was, it still weighed my hair down, and the shampoo is mildly conditioning anyway. I also use the Density Stimuli from the same range and I have no idea whether it works but I’ll probably keep going for a bit. I think my hair currently looks the best it ever has and I’m sure it’s a combination of all of the tips I’ve set out here; and there’s no scientific way to see whether that’s the case or not cos I did them all at the same time! But the STEMM feels really good when I use it and I just make sure to do a proper shampoo once every 1-2 weeks as it hasn’t got any of those chemicals that are so handy for cleaning the crap out of your hair.
So that’s it; these are the things I’ve learnt the hard way. Maybe everyone else knew and I just hadn’t cottoned on? Very possible. But hell, this piece was long. I wanted to get a few words about hair down as I hadn’t written for so long and here we are at 2300. Congratulations if you got this far- email me and I’ll send you some hair styling products that are still 90% full!
In the mean time, I’ll be throwing more money at the problem and pretending we’re staying part of the EU. Ciao.