The Happy Hair Series; No. 1 – Back to basics

Simple tips for healthier hair

Having healthy and happy hair is the dream for many of us ladies, isn’t it? Well, the good news is that getting there doesn’t have to take a lifetime or cost a bomb. There are lots of simple things you can do that will get you well and truly on the way to having the tassels you’ve always wanted.

When I came home from Asia last November my hair was in an awful state. It was extremely dry and damaged and there was even a weird green hue to it. A combination of sun damage, chlorine, salt water and some basic neglect on my part (including years of drying it using my hairdryer on full heat) had left me with a head full of straw.

I’d been blonde for as long as I could remember (excluding some pastel colours in between), but the idea of doing another round of highlights didn’t seem like a good one. I longed for healthy hair, I wanted it to be glossy and strong, so I decided the only way to achieve that was by giving up on the blonde and turning to the dark side.

Unfortunately, what I didn’t realise is that when your hair is as badly damaged as mine was, it acts like a sponge. My poor hair instantly soaked up the colour and I ended up with ends that were almost black – not a great look.

Enter – Kevin. My hair hero and knight in shiny-hair armour! Kevin is the owner of The Company Hair Salon and a legend in the Irish hair industry. He started his remarkable career in David Marshalls, where he rubbed shoulders with the likes of Annie Lennox and Bono and over the years he has become a regular on magazine photo shoots. Need more convincing? He once had a client who used to fly him to NYC every couple of months to do her hair! THAT is how good he is.

So, you can imagine how I felt when he reached out and offered to take me under his wing, help me to get my hair into good condition and ultimately get me back to a colour that I was happy with. One of the first things he said to me was “You can be blonde and still have glossy hair”.

SOLD.

I was delighted and quickly accepted his offer. I felt like I’d won the hair lotto!

I’ve spent many hours in the salon since January asking Kevin and his team all about hair care and trying to learn as much as possible. I’ve ended up with this bank of amazing tips and tricks that I know will last me and my hair a lifetime.

My plan is to share everything I am learning along the way in this Happy Hair series. Hopefully you will learn a trick or two with me and be able use them at home as well.

So, enough chat from me, let’s go right back to basics and talk about some of the simple things you can do to improve your hairs health.

How to get the most out of your washing regime

Tip No. 1 – Have a consultation

Before you touch a hair on your head, this is a must. I feel like it’s is something we’ve all heard, but how many of us have actually gone and done it? There’s a real Irish attitude around not wanting to cause a fuss or waste peoples time, so we tend to just rock up to salons and hope they can read our minds just by looking at us. Taking the time to meet with a professional in advance of any hair treatment means it gives both you and your stylist the chance to decide what the best course of action is for your hair.

They can help you to decide if and how much you need to get cut, as well as consulting with you on the best products for your hair. It’s important to remember that everyone is different and that the ‘miracle product’ that works wonders for one person, may not work for another. Being influenced by gurus online can be great, there are many people out there who are fountains of knowledge when it comes to this stuff, but there is no ‘one product fits all’ when it comes to hair (or skin for that matter). Speaking to a stylist, letting them see your hair in person and discussing your hair history is the only way to get product recommendations that are specific to you.

Tip No. 2 – Invest in a good shampoo and conditioner

While I don’t believe that one product fits all, I do believe that there is a difference between good and bad products. Although more expensive, the shampoos and conditioners you get from your salon are a much higher quality and have had more scientific research invested into them than those that can be bought in the supermarket or pharmacy. They are also highly concentrated, meaning you get a lot longer out of them. A bottle of salon bought shampoo would last me roughly two or three months and conditioner can last me about four or five.

One of the things your stylist can help you with, is figuring out what your hair needs in a shampoo. Maybe you need protein to tackle damage or you need something for clarifying or volume or colour – whatever it is, there is a product out there that will give you exactly what you need.

Kevin also explained to me that the so called ‘benefits’ of chopping or changing shampoos is a myth, he says that your hair has specific needs and swapping shampoos won’t change that. You can however, easily swap between brands if you fancy mixing things up. I was using Pureology for the last year and decided to swap to Redken a couple of weeks ago, just to try something different. I stuck with a protein shampoo so I wasn’t taking away from what my hair needed by switching brands.

Tip No. 3 – Double Shampooing

I do this religiously, I don’t feel like my hair is clean if I don’t. Kevin explained to me that your first shampoo is for cleansing and that you won’t have too much lather because the product is mixing with the natural oils in your hair. Your second shampoo is the wash that really gives you that squeaky clean feeling. Sometimes, if I’m not in a rush, I leave the second shampoo sit in my hair for a few minutes and really allow it to work it’s magic.

My hair is naturally oily on the roots and I would never in a million years get three days out of a wash – I get two at a push and that’s with the help of dry shampoo and a hair tie. I do like it to be clean every day, but I often wondered if I was actually doing damage by washing it so regularly, especially since I double shampoo each time too.

Kevin assured me that I have nothing to worry about once I am using a professional shampoo. The reason being, the PH balance of your hair is 5.5 and professional shampoos are the same. If you use a shampoo that has a higher or lower PH, you can end of stripping the natural oils from your hair and drying it out.

Tip No. 4 – Use your conditioner correctly

Conditioner can be your best friend or your worst enemy, depending on how you use it. If you’re anything like how I used to be, you lob loads of it into your hair and hope for the best. This method, I have learnt, is not very productive. My hair would get oily very quickly during the day and I would always end up tying it up by the time I finished work.

Thankfully, I’ve discovered the right way to condition my hair and that fresh feeling has been lasting a lot longer. Firstly, I’ve learnt that you should keep a small cloth in the shower and squeeze out moisture before you apply it. This means you are getting a nice strong hit of your conditioner and it isn’t being watered down by too much moisture in your hair.

After giving it a gentle dry, you take a tiny amount (I use the size of my thumb nail as my hair is only bob length) and comb it through the ends of your hair with your fingers. You then take a wide tooth comb and comb it from the bottom up. This means you are covering every stand and not just the outer layers, it also makes it so easy to brush afterwards.

Conditioner is designed to coat the outer part of your hair so leaving it to ‘soak in’ doesn’t actually do anything. With my hair type it actually can wind up weighing it down, so I always rinse it out immediately.

Tip No. 5 – Drying

This is one of the most crucial steps to achieving healthier hair. Your hair is at its most vulnerable while its wet, so you have to be extra careful.

Towels can be very harsh, especially if you use them to rub your hair dry. Kevin advised me that instead of using a towel, use a large cotton t-shirt instead. Cotton absorbers moisture really well, while also being gentle on the hair. A mans T-shirt from Penney’s does just the job and they only cost €2 or €3.

If you have the time you should allow your hair to dry as much as possible before you go near it with a hair drier. However, I know that time is a luxury than many of us just don’t have in the morning. So, if you have to go straight in with the hairdryer, never EVER use it on full heat. Kevin says there is nothing more damaging for your hair than doing this.

Instead, dry it on low to medium heat and always keep it at a nice distance from your head. Be carful not to continually over dry the front, which is exactly what I did – it left me with a really frazzled patch. I guess it’s because the front is the easiest part to dry. Lesson learnt!

This also goes for when you are in a salon. If your stylist is drying your hair on a high heat, it’s perfectly ok for you to ask them to lower it. Remember that although there are many excellent stylists out there, there are also some who are not so good. Don’t just assume that because that’s their job that they are treating your hair correctly.

These are just some of the tip’s I’ve learnt so far on my hair journey with The Company. Over the next couple of months I’m going to share everything I’m learning about treatments, hair cutting, styling and also how Kevin and his team are going to take me from brunette back to blonde, while keeping my hair in good condition. Can it be done? I 100% believe so and can’t wait to share the results with you. We’re starting that this week so watch this space.

If you want to check out The Company salon you can find them on Instagram @thecompanyhairsalon

Written with love,

Rachael

x

Disclaimer – I was not paid to write this post and all opinions are genuinely my own.

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