Inside Out

I have said it before and I will say it again - This year I want to go back to basics and try to live in a more wholesome and celebratory way. I feel tired of reading about faddy diets and listening to everyone claiming they have this allergy or that intolerance. Being in this business I know that good hydration and a varied, balanced diet is essential to grow healthy, luscious hair as well.

Most of us have about 120,000 hairs on our scalp and these are made up of very fast growing cells – in fact, hair cells are the second fastest growing cells in out bodies, (slower only than intestinal cells). This vigorous growth must be sustained and supported.

The only problem is that since our hair is not a vital tissue or organ it is not - and will never be - prioritised in terms of the nutrition and hydration sent its way. As a result, nutritional shortcomings and dehydration often lead to hair loss or depletion in hair health.

I personally believe that the vast proliferation of fruit and vegetable heavy diets in recent years has led many people to believe that their bodies won’t be compromised by a diet that doesn't contain sufficient proteins, carbohydrates and calories. This isn't right. Yes, vegetables and fruit are hugely important, but nutritionists remind us constantly that happy, healthy bodies (and hair cells), need protein, complex carbohydrates, iron, vitamins, minerals and good hydration to work well.

Trichologists (hair and scalp specialists), advise that to enhance hair health we should try to eat protein for breakfast and lunch, as well as a portion of complex carbohydrates such as potato, sourdough bread, oats, brown rice, pasta or whatever.

Water is equally essential to the health and vitality of all our bodily cells, delivering essential nutrients and removing waste. Put simply, a dehydrated body can’t function properly. Those who don't drink enough water on a long-term basis will compromise the health of their hair follicles and cells, which won’t be able to grow sufficient hair to replace that which is shed naturally.

Hair loss caused by dehydration is easily fixed by making a conscious effort to drink more water. Note that the best water for hair health is natural spring or mineral, and that in a cooler climate like ours, doctors advise consuming at least 1.2 litres of water a day. Prepare to drink up!

The Truth About Patch Tests

I think it’s safe to say that we probably all feel the same about patch tests - They’re a bore!

Because with work, family, friends and endless to do lists, it’s difficult enough to find the time to get our hair done at all, let alone to make additional salon trips for patch tests in the days before - Especially when the majority of us have probably never had an allergic reaction in our lives.

I get it. I really do. We all want to look fabulous and to make that happen as quickly and efficiently as possible. Life is busy!

The most common allergen, paraphenylenediamine or PPD, is found in over 99% of permanent hair dyes. And from cases of rashes and hives, to hospitalisation and even fatalities (a poor 19 year old Parisian woman had a near-fatal reaction in only November last year), 5% of people suffer negative reactions of some kind to hair colour.

These reactions often occur when the sufferer least expects them – Did you know for example, that we can all develop new allergies at any stage of our lives? Moreover, hair colour formulations are tweaked constantly to modernise them and make them kinder to our hair, the downside being that a product that doesn't irritate you now, may - frustratingly - do so in the future. It’s inconvenient but true! Safety therefore, should be at the forefront of all our minds when colouring hair both at home and in salon.

You may or may not be aware that it has been a legal requirement for all hairdressers to carry out patch tests prior to colour services. Reputable salons will never guarantee your appointment until that test has been done.

So let’s face it, while patch tests are far from convenient, they are essential and continue to save lives worldwide on a daily basis. Perhaps, just perhaps, next time you are asked to book in for one, swap your irritation for reassurance that you are using a reputable salon that is fulfilling its legal requirements and puts your safety first.

Patch tests should be booked at least 48 hours before the colour appointment. A pea-sized quantity of the colour formula will be applied to the back of your ear or nape of your neck. If you subsequently experience a reaction of any kind, notify the salon immediately so that you can be advised on the correct procedure.