Listen to this article
The sun is shining, holidays are booked, sunscreen is at the ready – and all set to be applied to your hair? Just as SPFs have become an essential part of skincare, the haircare industry is pushing anti-ageing shampoos, conditioners and treatments on beauty consumers. But is it really necessary to lavish your locks with as much attention as your face?
“Every client who comes for a consultation is concerned about the effects of ageing on their hair,” says trichologist Philip Kingsley, who has clinics in London and New York. “Hardly anyone over the age of 35 doesn’t have a few strands of grey, and after 40, the hair shaft becomes finer in dimension so there’s a reduction in volume, although not always in the number of hairs.”
“The most obvious change is loss of pigmentation, as we see more grey hairs over time,” says Frauke Neuser, principal scientist at Procter & Gamble Pantene. “In addition, the hair’s geometry [or shape] becomes more irregular, leading to changes in flexibility and manageability. Lastly, the scalp produces less sebum as we age, which can lead to dryness.”
Although it may sound like marketing to play on the insecurities of women sprouting their first greys, there is some research to back up the claims. Working with its fellow P&G stablemate Olay, Pantene has been exploring whether anti-ageing skincare ideas could be applied to haircare too in a study that began in 2000, examining the genes of 2,000 women. Researchers found that as we age, our hair changes below the scalp as fewer genes are active, so when it reaches the surface it is also more prone to damage, unruliness and breaking.
Featuring skincare technology and ingredients including B vitamins and caffeine, the Pantene Expert Collection Age Defy (from £5.99) will be launched in the UK in September, having recently been introduced Stateside. The four-strong collection aims to boost thickness, stop unruliness and prevent dehydration. New, too, is Kérastase Initialiste (£40), a serum applied from a pipette that uses apple stem cells, green tea and ceramides with the aim of adding shine and volume, as well as diminishing breakage. The Alterna Caviar Anti-Aging range (from £33) uses extracts from vitamin C, sea silk and caviar to try to return locks to their former glory.
Colour is also being given an anti-ageing focus, via products aimed not just at grey hair but dullness in tone. “Colour fades as the shine and natural oils in hair lessen,” says Harry Josh, global creative director at John Frieda, which addresses the issue with its Sheer Blonde, Brilliant Brunette and Radiant Red products (from £5.19).
The key, advises Josh, is to choose a targeted colour-protective range that matches your shade and the effects of too much sun. “Red loses vibrancy quickly, blonde becomes brassy or pale, and brunette loses its lustre fast,” he claims. For roots there is L’Oréal Paris Préférence Mousse Absolue (£10.99), a reusable home colourant that can be used all over the hair or for targeting grey strands. Root Cover Up from Color Wow (£28.50 in four shades) is a new pressed powder applied to camouflage regrowth, which the company claims will hold colour between shampoos, blend pigments to avoid flatness and conceal dark roots.
All of the above issues can be exacerbated by exposure to hot summer weather. “The sun, combined with salt from the sea or chlorine from swimming pools, has a weakening effect,” says Kingsley. “Not using a sunscreen, like you would on your face, is neglecting your hair.”
“Hair is not immune to the elements,” agrees Josh. “Being out in peak sunny hours will make hair colour fade faster, while free radicals damage the protein so it’s weaker and more brittle. Added to that, the bright summer light is like a spotlight: any imperfections are more obvious.”