How to have stronger hair
Roula Khalaf, Editor of the FT, selects her favourite stories in this weekly newsletter.
The obsession with improving hair strength is growing. Recently there’s been a major shift in focus to the scalp and protecting the scalp’s microbiome.
Some of this focus can be traced to a returning interest in textured hair. The “Curly Girl method”, where you wash only with conditioner (or “low-poo” sulphate-free shampoo), has seen a surge in popularity. This Hair of Mine Scalp Serum (£46) – with pea peptides to stimulate follicle regeneration and “microbiota friendly” apple stem cells to soothe irritation – is useful for non-curlies too. Scalp‑focused brand Monpure’s Clarifying Scalp Scrub (£48) is essentially an exfoliator and uses biodegradable jojoba beads.
Notting Hill-based hairdresser Gustav Fouche’s Fabulosity range of shampoos and conditioners (from £35) also focuses on hair “nutrition”. Fouche has created a five-point system with differing ingredient levels to offer more or less moisture or protein to the hair. Depending on individual requirements, you might need more Cupuaçu butter, to promote moisture retention, or rice aminos to keep hair elastic and prevent breakage.
Some stylists still swear by good old-fashioned brushing. “It stimulates the scalp, makes the hair shine and, if done regularly, prevents breakage,” says LA-based Ric Pipino, who considers it a long-term habit for improving hair strength. He chose to launch his own line with a hairbrush – a dual-bristle paddle brush. To make best use of the Large Pro Brush ($110), he advises a strong hold and “vigorous brushing” all the way through the hair – “do it at night if you plan to wash the next morning”. Parisian brand La Bonne Brosse has launched four brushes (£120 each) for different hair types at Harrods this November. Founders Flore des Robert and Pauline Laurent argue that the golden rule still holds true: “One hundred strokes a day is the best way to stimulate blood microcirculation in the scalp and remove pollution particles and residue,” says Laurent.
Typically an enemy of long-term hair health, the hairdryer has been reconstructed. When the Zuvi Halo (£329) launched last year, it was trailed as “the Tesla of hairdryers” – but isn’t every hairdryer electric?! It has won plaudits for its use of infrared light, to minimise damage to hair (it dries the hair’s surface but avoids dehydrating the hair cortex) and to limit energy use. Hershesons’ The Great Hairdryer (£295) also has hair-protection technology that emits oxygen for softer, shinier results.
Sam McKnight has expanded his range to incorporate the “care” part of haircare too. His Deeper Love Hair Treatment (£48 for 200ml) aims “to make hair more resilient” and to that end contains proprietary ingredients Rep’Hair, for strengthening, and Crodabond, which should seal 50 per cent of split ends from first use.
Lastly, cult brand Living Proof’s Triple Bond Complex (£42 for 45ml) is a bond builder that – instead of the usual pre-wash requirement – can be quickly combed through after showering. Think of it as adding one more crucial step to the old commandment: wash, strengthen – and go.