Getting a load of strong, hot summer sun is absolute bliss if you like that sort of thing. (I know I do.) But be careful with your hair. We’ve all felt the pain of sunburn at some point and remember to slap on sunscreen before going out. Hair though, is usually forgotten. I’m guilty of that one, and I ought to know better. It’s usually feeling quite worse-for-wear by the end of a summer holiday. The sun really does dry hair out, it lightens its colour and can leave it feeling damaged on the ends. The best way to protect it, of course, is to wear a hat. Another way is to comb coconut oil through your hair and leave it in.
The colour fade thing I don’t mind so much, it usually it fades to a nice, lighter version of my usual colour. If you’re not so happy about colour fade, a semi-permanent will not only refresh the colour but also add some shine to your hair. If you’re happy with the colour and feel it just needs some shine, a clear gloss semi-permanent will do the trick. You just get the shine without the colour.
Use treatments in your dry hair as you would after-sun on your skin. Or, if you have an aloe vera plant to hand, you can apply the pulp from it’s leaves directly to your hair, too. Just pull off one of it’s spikes and scrape out the pulp from inside with a spoon. Other things you may have at home that are full of hair nutrients are avocados, honey, egg yolks or olive oil. Mush together whichever you have and squish the paste into the ends of your hair. Leave it to sit for a bit before washing out. Or if you’d rather just eat those things, just use an actual hair treatment instead.
The good thing for me about hot days is that I blowdry my hair less. If you can, lay off the heated styling for a bit and embrace some summer hair freedom. If you do really need to blow-dry your hair, make sure you put in some heat protector first. Dry it until it’s nearly dry rather than bone dry then let the warm weather do the rest. Heated styling does the most damage on hair that has already dried. If you use straighteners or curling tongs to style your hair, try and let your hair air dry first to cut down the time your hair is exposed to heat.
And if it’s all getting a bit tangly because the ends are dry, be gentle when combing or brushing your hair. Try to use a wide tooth comb while the conditioner’s on your hair in the shower. It’s much easier than trying to do it once it’s dry. Start from the ends and work up to the roots to get the knots out. If you have split ends it’ll be more prone to snapping and creating more split ends so don’t be too rough with the comb or brush.
Then when you’re back from your holiday, book in for a hair cut. Even just a trim. The only way to repair split ends is to snip them off. Apparently your hair does grow more in the summer, so don’t worry if you’re growing it!
Ever wondered what’s in the bottle? And what all the hair care ingredients do?
This glossary includes the ingredients real names, official label names (INCI’s) and the products they can be found in.
Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Juice (Deep Cleansing Shampoo, Nourishing Shampoo, Light Conditioner)
Well known for it’s anti-inflammatory properties. Soothing and calming to irritated skin, so looks after the scalp. It strengthens the hair and is a very light moisturiser.
Argania Spinosa Kernel Oil (Pre-shampoo Treatment Oil)
A natural oil used by Moroccans both in their diet and as beauty oil. Argan oil is rich in vitamins and antioxidants. It contains natural squalene which heals damaged skin and essential fatty acids which help prevent moisture loss in the hair.
Cetearyl Alcohol and Behentrimonium Methosulfate (Cream Conditioner, Treatment Conditioner)
An emulsifier is a wax which, when melted, helps bind oil to water to make a cream. BTMS is derived from rapeseed oil and has detangling properties. It leaves the hair with a soft, powdery after-feel.
Camellia Oleifera Seed Oil (Light Conditioner)
Used as a beauty oil by Japanese women for centuries. Camellia Kissi Oil is rich in plant collagen, vitamins and anti-oxidants, and helps to smooth and soften the hair.
Cetrimonium Chloride (Light Conditioner, Cream Conditioner)
A conditioning agent that helps with detangling. It reduces the static which causes fly-away hair.
Citric Acid (Deep Cleansing Shampoo, Nourishing Shampoo)
Naturally occurs in citrus fruits. It is used in shampoo to adjust it’s pH level. The best pH level for shampoo is between 5 and 7. This is slightly more acidic than water to help close the cuticle and make hair shine.
Cyclomethicone (Cream Conditioner, Hair Perfume)
A very light silicone which makes hair feel silky. Cyclomethicone also protects it from the heat of styling tools and calms frizz. For more info about silicones see this post here.
Disodium Cocoamphodiacetate (Deep Cleansing Shampoo, Nourishing Shampoo)
A mild surfactant (detergent) derived from natural coconut oil. A sulfate free alternative to SLS, which is a more commonly used surfactant.
Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride (Light Conditioner, Cream Conditioner, Pre-shampoo Treatment Oil)
Coconut oil which has been modified to become lighter and less greasy. It is one of the only oils to get under the hair’s cuticles and into the hair shaft to moisturise and strengthen it from inside.
Various, below (In all products)
Essential oils (like any natural ingredient) and fragrances can sometimes cause allergic reactions in people. Therefore any known allergens in the fragrance must be listed on the label. They look like this: Limonene, Linalool, Geraniol, Citronellol, Benzyl Alcohol, Benzyl Benzoate, Benzyl Salicylate, Citral, Coumarin, Farnesol, Eugenol, Amyl Cinnamol, Butrylphenyl Methproprional, Hydroxycitronellal.
Glycerin (Deep Cleansing Shampoo, Nourishing Shampoo)
Glycerine is a humectant which means that it absorbs moisture from the atmosphere to hydrate the hair. Comes from vegetables.
Hibiscus Rosa-Sinensis Flower Extract (Deep Cleansing Shampoo)
Has astringent qualities, helping to reduce oily build-up. The use of hibiscus in haircare is big in China, Polynesia and South East Asia.
Hydroxypropyltrimonium Honey (Nourishing Shampoo, Treatment Conditioner)
Honeyquat is a conditioning agent made from honey which is a humectant, like glycerine but more so. It has a lower molecular weight than honey so it gets into the hair shaft and moisturises the hair from within. Also reduces static.
Lauryl Glucoside (Deep Cleansing Shampoo)
Glucosides are mild, sulfate-free surfactants (detergents) made from corn and coconut. They are biodegradable and sulfate-free. The irritation score of glucosides is the lowest of the surfactants so they’re good for sensitive scalps/skin.
Cetearyl Olivate and Sorbitan Olivate (Light Conditioner)
An emulsifying wax just like BTMS but lighter and derived from olive oil.
Olea Europea Fruit Oil (Cream Conditioner, Treatment Conditioner, Pre-shampoo Treatment Oil)
Used by the Ancient Greeks as a beauty oil and well as in their diet. Olive oil is still well known today as a nourishing oil for skin and hair.
Olive Oil PEG-10 Esters (Deep Cleansing Shampoo)
Derived from olive oil and used to decrease any potential scalp irritation or dryness caused by surfactants (makes shampoo milder on the scalp).
Panthenol (Deep Cleansing Shampoo, Light Conditioner, Cream Conditioner, Treatment Conditioner)
A pro-vitamin B5 and a hair strengthener.
Alcohol Denat and Isopropyl Myristate (Hair Perfume)
A denatured (undrinkable) alcohol which carries fragrances, allowing them to be sprayed. It evaporates into the air, leaving behind the fragrance.
Punica Granatum Seed Oil (Pre-shampoo Treatment Oil)
The oil from pomegranate seeds has anti-inflammatory properties, soothes the skin and fights scalp bacteria. Nourishes the hair to make it soft and shiny.
Phenoxyethanol, Caprylyl Glycol and Chlorphenesin (all products except Hair Perfume and Pre-Shampoo Treatment Oil)
A paraben-free preservative, necessary for use in products containing water to prevent the growth of mould and bacteria (which you don’t want on your head). Post about parabens here.
Oryza Sativa Bran Oil (Light Conditioner, Cream Conditioner, Treatment Conditioner)
Another oil that can be used both for beauty and cooking purposes as it is rich in all the good things. Rice bran oil has a long history in Japan and China as a beauty ingredient.
Sodium Cocoyl Isethionate (Nourishing Shampoo)
SCI is a mild surfactant that is derived from coconut oil. It softens hair, is completely bio-degradable and sulfate free. Another alternative to SLS.
Hydrolyzed Silk (Treatment Conditioner)
Made from pure silk protein fibres – silk amino acids are super moisturising, make the hair feel very smooth and help retain elasticity in the hair (meaning less breakage).
Aqua (all products except Hair Perfume and Pre-Shampoo Treatment Oil)
Controls the consistency and dilutes the surfactants to make them milder.
Hydrolyzed Wheat Protein (Light Conditioner, Cream Conditioner, Treatment Conditioner)
Wheat protein is obtained from natural wheat gluten. It can absorb up to twice it’s weight in water and forms a film on the hair to reduce the hair’s porosity, making it smoother and shinier.
Xanthan Gum (Deep Cleansing Shampoo)
A powder used to thicken liquids and foods. It is totally natural (and edible).
There you have it! Any ingredients in there that you particularly look for?
Why do I use essential oils for hair care? I love lovely smells, and to me essential oils evoke nostalgia. I love the way that a whiff of a scent that you no longer wear can transport you back to a moment in time instantly. Or the way that a scent can be so intriguing that your nose and brain just have to work together to figure out what it is. Anything with patchouli in it gets my snout twitching. And it’s such a personal experience – for me heavy, spicy, oriental fragrances are my bag but for others they can be way too heady.
Which is why the hair perfumes come in a choice of three scents. For most people, when they first sniff them, the order of preference is either Citrus, Floral, Musk or Musk, Floral, Citrus. Citrus is the lighter end of the spectrum, Musk the heavier (my end!). Floral sits perfectly between the two, getting along really well with both of the others. All of the shampoos and conditioners that I make come in the Floral fragrance (for now). It’s the most popular one and it goes well with all of the Hair Perfumes. One day I plan on rolling out the shampoos and conditioners in the Citrus and Musk fragrances too.
When I use essential oils to make fragrances, I use them more for their botanical aromas than their therapeutic properties. More as mood enhancers than remedies. Apart from in the Pre-shampoo Treatment Oil. The combination of the Clary Sage, Lavender, Bay and Ylang Ylang does smell very fresh and herbal. The choice of these oils was more for therapeutic reasons, as these essential oils are thought to stimulate the scalp and follicles, preventing hair fall. And the Lavender is known to be a sleep promoter, which is good for a product that you can leave in overnight.
Which is your favourite essential oil for fragrance?
As part of the Makerhood Uncovered event this year in, I’ll be doing my first workshops ever. I’ll be teaching how to make your own hair products by sharing the process of making conditioner and hair perfume.
The event, which is on September 13th, is kicking off the Brixton Design Week as part of the London Design Festival. The idea behind Makerhood Uncovered is to show people what goes in to making handmade and artisan wares. The theme is collaboration, so for my workshops, the participants will be customising or personalising the finished products to their tastes to take home.
They’ll get to choose ingredients and additives to suit their hair type. And then have an essential oil sniffing session so they can choose their own fragrance. I’m really excited and intrigued to see the end results!
There are plenty of other very interesting workshops happening on the day, including up-cycling, illustration, printing etc. Even if you don’t pre-book a ticket, it’s worth coming down to check out not only the makers, but the venue itself. It’s at Six Brixton, which is a community led development and a very unique place.
For the full list of workshops and a chance to book a place click here: