Trichologist Anabel Kingsley has a few urgent hair issues to clear up - from how often to wash, to what's really causing your itchy or oily scalp and whether you can be too addicted to dry shampoo. Guilty as charged
Q: My hair has become very dull. How do I add shine?
A: "The most common cause of dull strands is damage to the surface of the hair – the cuticle. A smooth and healthy cuticle reflects light well, while a raised one does not. The first thing you must do to promote shine is to improve the overall condition of your hair. Pre-shampoo conditioning treatments, such as our Elasticizer, £31 are very beneficial, as they not only close the cuticle (which is made of overlapping cells like tiles on a roof) but they strengthen hair shaft from the cortex through to the cuticle’ and plump it with moisture.
Another effective way to add shine is to gently comb conditioner through the mid-lengths and ends of your hair after shampooing. This ensures each strand is evenly coated and every cuticle is smoothed down. Follow by styling with a smoothing product – a lightweight cream if you have finer hair, and a heavier serum if you have coarser strands. A very common cause of dull hair is also insufficient rinsing out of shampoo. If you think you’ve rinsed enough – rinse again."
Q: How often should I shampoo?
A: "Every day if you can but no less than every three days. More than this is likely to cause itching and flaking - and a flaky scalp can cause hair loss.
Care for your hair and scalp as you do your face. i.e. shampoo frequently – and daily if possible. The scalp is simply skin; it sweats, secretes sebum (oil) and sheds dead skin cells. You also take your hair and scalp to the same places you take your face and they are exposed to the same pollutants. Daily shampooing is an absolute must if you have a scalp condition, such as dandruff or seborrheic eczema. It is also important if you have fine hair, as this hair texture has more sebaceous glands and therefore becomes oily quickly at the roots. It may not be realistic to shampoo daily if you have very coarse, long or thick hair – and if you must heat-style after you wash, the good of shampooing might be outweighed by this."
Q: My scalp is really oily at the roots, but dry at the ends. What can I do?
A: "This is an incredibly common problem, especially for those with fine and processed hair, or hair past shoulder length. To remove oil from your roots, shampoo daily. Just like your face, you must wash your scalp to remove excess sebum. I love our Shampoo for Flaky/Itchy Scalps, £24 as it’s an excellent anti-microbial cleanser, but does not strip the hair or make it dry. You should then apply a scalp toner containing an astringent (oil combatting ingredient), like Witch Hazel. To hydrate your ends, use a moisture balancing conditioner post-shampoo. Then, once to twice a week, apply an intensive pre-shampoo conditioning treatment like the Philip Kingsley Elasticizer, £31. Leave this on for a minimum of 20 minutes, preferably an hour, and then wash your hair as usual."
Q: My scalp is driving me crazy. What can I do to stop the itching?
A: "An itchy scalp usually occurs alongside flaking – most commonly resulting from dandruff and seborrhoeic eczema. Itching can also occur when you aren’t shampooing often enough. To placate your scalp, shampoo daily with a targeted shampoo containing antimicrobial agents, such as Piroctone Olamine. Daily use of a soothing scalp toner is also very beneficial, and handbag sized toners are handy as you can apply them throughout the day whenever itching strikes. Great anti-itch ingredients to look for in a toner are Sodium Salicylate, Witch Hazel and Camphor. However, more serious scalp conditions, such as psoriasis, as well as allergies and sensitivities, can also cause discomfort. These need further investigation, so it’s best to talk to a dermatologist or trichologist if you are concerned. A few ‘red-flags’ to look out for are very heavy scale, scale that’s firmly stuck to your scalp, pustules, bleeding, inflammation and pronounced redness. Try the Philip Kingsley Shampoo for Flaky/Itchy Scalps, £24 , Philip Kingsley Flaky/Itchy Scalp Toner, £9 and Philip Kingsley Exfoliating Scalp Mask, £8 ."
Q: What’s the best way to treat dandruff – do you need a specialist anti-dandruff shampoo?
A: "Dandruff occurs when there is an overgrowth of yeast that is naturally found on the scalp. This causes skin cells to divide too rapidly, resulting in those tell-tale flakes. To clear dandruff, scalp flora must be returned to normal – and this involves consistent, daily use of a targeted shampoo and scalp toner . The most effective ingredient is Piroctone Olamine, as it specifically targets the yeast responsible for dandruff. Weekly use of an Exfoliating Scalp Mask is also helpful as it gently lifts away accumulated dead skin cells. Another important point is to look at your diet. Full-fat dairy products, like cheese, as well as white wine and champagne can exacerbate dandruff. Trigger foods are not the same for everyone, so try to work out what yours are by a process of elimination. Stress can also cause a flare-up the scalp, so it can be useful to de-stress with weekly sessions of yoga, Pilates, mindfulness exercises and/or meditation."
Q: Is it bad to go to bed with wet hair?
A: "As long as going to bed with wet hair doesn’t disrupt your sleep, it’s fine. Lack of sleep might affect your general health, and anything that impacts your health can impact your hair."
Q: What’s the best way to wash your hair if you are in a hard water area?
A: "Water doesn’t have any bearing on hair loss or hair growth. However, it may affect the texture of the hair and how it feels and behaves. Many people notice their hair is dryer when they shampoo with hard water, that it frizzes more easily and that not as much lather is created. There is no need to make a massive shift to your haircare routine if you are in a hard-water area, but if you find your strands feel parched, use a pre-shampoo conditioning treatment twice a week. To combat frizz, apply a lightweight smoothing cream or serum. You may also want to consider a heavier conditioner."
Q: What about keratin treatments? Many hairdressers say protect the hair as they add protein and others say the complete opposite. Good or bad?
A: "Keratin treatments can – initially - tame frizz, add shine and can make unruly hair more manageable. However, even though your hair may appear healthier, it actually isn’t. While the keratin itself isn’t damaging, the heat and other chemicals applied during a keratin treatment are. If your hair is in poor condition or is fine and processed, I would steer clear. However, if you struggle to manage your hair and need to apply intense heat/use straighteners every day to get the desired result, keratin treatments can be beneficial. This is because they often reduce daily damage and wear-and-tear from other styling methods.
However, while your hair may be able to withstand an initial keratin treatment, overlapping previous applications can be very damaging – and can make your hair even less manageable and frizzy than it originally was. It’s therefore important to be careful and not to do them too frequently - ideally, no more than twice a year. But again, this depends on the existing condition of your hair. In between keratin treatments, make sure you look after your hair with deep conditioning masks."
Q: Digital perm – are they a good idea?
A: "Perms, whether digital or otherwise, permanently alter the structure of your hair by breaking and re-setting disulphide bonds with strong chemicals – and, in the case of a digital perm – also with heat. While some bonds reform, others do not. As such, hair is always left weaker. Just how damaging a perm is, depends on the existing condition of your hair. If it is already processed, damaged or dry I would strongly caution against having one as it’s likely to cause substantial breakage. Overlapping of previous applications can also cause this. However, if your hair is in good condition, and you feel a perm will reduce the amount of heat you use on your hair when styling, it could have its benefits."
Q: If you cut your hair short or shave your head will it grow back thicker?
A: "No – your hair is not like a lawn that is stimulated by cutting. However, trimming your hair can make it appear thicker as it evens out the ends and removes splits and frays."
Q: Silk pillowcases – do they make a difference to your hair?
A: "Silk pillowcases can reduce the formation of static, so your hair may look less ‘ruffled’ and tangled when you wake up in the morning."
Q: If you are going to put your hair up, what’s the best thing to do it with (bands, grips etc).
A: "It’s best to tie your hair back with fabric-covered elastic bands and soft scrunchies as they do not cut into the hair shaft. Steer clear of uncovered hair ties and those containing metal coverings. It’s also important to be careful when using metal embellished grips and clips. While they look pretty, hair can easily get tangled in them. In terms of how to put your hair back, make sure you don’t scrape strands back harshly. Tight styles can place too much traction on the hair and hair follicle. This may initially break strands, but can also pull them out. If done repeatedly over a long period of time, permanent hair loss can result. Rule of thumb – if a style makes your scalp sore, it’s most likely bad for your hair."
Q: Dry shampoo – can you overdo it?
A: "It’s OK to use dry shampoo once in a while on days you cannot shampoo. However, it should not be used as a replacement for real shampoo; It simply doesn’t cleanse the scalp effectively. The condition of your scalp has a huge impact on the health of your hair.
We make a dry shampoo that contains beneficial scalp ingredients, such as zinc PCA (controls sebum), allantoin (soothing) and bisabolol (anti-inflammatory). It’s called One More Day, £19 - appropriately named as it’s meant to be used to give you one extra day between proper shampoos – not three or four. It’s important to note that dry shampoos should not be used if you have an existing scalp issue, like dandruff. In these cases, you really must shampoo daily to clear the problem."