I am on an infuriating, ongoing search for haircare products which actually work. One of the chief issues arising from my health problems over the last decade-plus is that my hair has really suffered. I have always had lots and lots of baby-fine hair – it looks thick but is very difficult to maintain. Too much condition makes it slippery and impossible to style; to little, and it’s a bird’s nest of frustrated waves. Since becoming ill it has been thinning year on year, and hitting the menopause has only added to the problems. Miserably thin with lots of scalp show-through and ultra-fine frizz around my face, the rest of my fulsome and fluffy ‘lob’ remains stubbornly resistant to any treatment. It either sucks up moisture with no discernible result, or sulks into an over-conditioned strop. Not nice.
I have always been fussy about my hair, yet most of the time now I clip it up or tie it back and forget about it, preferring to devote my energies to reading, writing and pottering. But every time I shower and wash it, followed by the exhausting struggle with the hairdryer, I am again confronted by the pitiful results.
The current contents of my bathroom (in no particular order) are:
- Redken Time Reset shampoo and conditioner (discontinued)
- Tresemmé Colour Thrive Brunette shampoo and conditioner
- Pantene Pro-V 2-in-1 Smooth & Sleek (empty)
- Pantene Pro-V 2-in-1 Classic Clean (bought because I couldn’t find another Smooth & Sleek)
- L’Oréal Hair Expertise Pure Sleek shampoo and conditioner
- Garnier Ultimate Blends The Glow Replenisher 1 Minute Treatment
- Richard Ward Anti-Ageing Argan shampoo and conditioner.
The Garnier worked for a while, until it didn’t. My increasing grey makes the Tresemmé more or less redundant. Not on the list is the sample size of the bestselling Philip Kingsley Elasticizer purchased a few months ago and already discarded. A pre-shampoo treatment which has garnered rave reviews, it did nothing for me. I can’t even remember what happened when I used the L’Oréal.
I had high hopes for the Richard Ward, bought on a whim when I saw it in the aisle at Waitrose (I’d gone in to look for Tommy Guns shampoo and conditioner, no longer stocked). Once I got home I checked it out online. Lots of you will know that Ward is hairdresser to the Duchess of Cambridge and the products seemed to have a few good reviews. Sadly, the shampoo and conditioner just weren’t equal to the challenges posed by my hair. I have a head of oddly-textured, slightly strangely-perfumed hair [Note to Self: avoid the scent of blue agave and cacao] which has been just as impossible to style as ever.
For the purposes of this experiment I used Richard Ward’s Keratin Smoothing Mist. The other products I have bought at various times to try and help my hair through the blowdry stage (directional nozzle firmly in place) are:
- Redken Outshine 01 Shine Anti-Frizz Polishing Milk
- Redken Smooth Down Heat Glide (discontinued)
- Redken All Soft Argan 6 Oil
- Phyto 9 Nourishing Day Cream.
I know many swear by the Phyto cream, but I find it just soaks in and leaves no trace other than a rather strange smell which makes me think of mushrooms (the inedible sort).
For days when I simply do not have the energy to blowdry (more frequent than I would like or should have to tolerate, but that’s another story) I bought a trial size of Bumble & Bumble’s Don’t Blow It (H)air Styler. The idea is that you towel-dry your hair, comb through the product, then tie it up into a ponytail or bun and just let it dry naturally. This worked really well on the first couple of occasions that I tried it, but that’s not to say there aren’t issues. First, my hair is so thick that if it’s up in a bun it takes forever to dry. I’m talking hours and hours. I can wash my hair in the morning and it still won’t be dry come bedtime. Secondly, although this method encourages my natural wave, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, I do think it should be possible to run my fingers through my hair, to the ends, without getting them stuck. Using the BB styler more than a couple of times in succession made this more and more difficult. My next-day hair started to feel snarled and almost ‘crispy’ to the touch.
Just about the only product that works and which I would buy again (I’m on the second bottle) is the Redken Argan 6 Oil. It is good for detangling my hair for a comb-through prior to blowdrying, and if my hair looks dry and frazzled a few hours later or on the next day I can reapply it to the ends, which does improve it. But, as you can see, there’s been an awful lot of trial and error along the way.
In my quest for answers, I stumbled onto Sara’s post on her lovely Me & Orla blog, where she writes about a couple of products which I think might work for me. Sara’s obviously a lot younger than I, but since my blog is supposed to be about simplifying my life, finding what works for me now and not getting too hung up on anything, her closing words really struck a chord (thanks, Sara). I can get by most days without worrying about my hair, but then there are the days when I really need it to look … better.
There are other considerations, too. My bathroom and dressing table audit has revealed an array of ugly plastic bottles and tubes in various states of decrepitude. The lists of ingredients, apparently mostly industrial chemicals, are a long way from my
new attempt to pay more attention to what actually goes into my beauty and hair care. I resent the money spent on products which do not work (money which could have been better spent on … oh, let’s say books, for example).
As you can see, it’s all adding up to a distinct absence of joy.
The one hair issue which does not bother me is greying. I do not and will not colour my hair. I embrace and hope to embody the whole ‘older and wiser’ cultural mindset, but I’ve always imagined myself becoming an elegant silver sage rather than the wild woman of the woods who threatens now.
I’ll be looking into organic hair care – John Masters Organics have a wide range, if I can find the right products for me – and might even pick up a jar of coconut oil such as the widely-available Lucy Bee Extra Virgin. If you think there’s something else I should consider, do please leave me a reply.
Meanwhile, I’ll be donating the Richard Ward products to the tombola at the church fête.
© Lipgloss and Wellies 2016