Sunday, 7 April 2013

Curl Power


With a definite trend for curling hair and volume back in, one of the biggest issues many women face when curling is the fact that shortly after the curls are created, they begin to drop out of the hair.   Whilst many techniques and products exist for style retention, the issue of curl flop still resides with most.  Here I will try to explain why this happens and the methods which can be deployed to resolve it.

Understanding temporary curl 

A temporary curl is created in the hair when the internal hydrogen bonds are broken.  These bonds are broken whenever moisture comes into contact (eg when the hair becomes wet) and these same bonds will reform when the hair dries and as oxygen enters the hairs fibres.   Therefore, a curl (or any style) result can be achieved by moulding the hair around a tool during this drying phase.  Likewise, heat will also reset these temporary hydrogen bonds, hence why curls can be created from tongs, irons or heated rollers.

However, certain hair types are naturally very rich in keratin and will tend to draw moisture from the atmosphere.  A general rule is the silkier and softer the hair (naturally) is, the harder you will find it to hold a curl, whilst the courser and drier hair (naturally) is, the easier a curl or shape will retain.  This is due to the fact that if the hair readily accepts moisture and hydration from the atmosphere those temporary bonds will just revert back to their natural shape.  However, drier or courser hair types which (readily crave moisture) will not suffer this issue.  Ironically, this can be why naturally curly hair will hold a (set) curl pattern very well – because (in general) curly hair can lack moisture, hence why it becomes dry so easily. 

If you are a definite sufferer of curl flop, these below pointers should be able to help you retain your curl, volume and style:-


If you wish to create a curl in straight or silky hair that will typically not retain it, avoid all conditioners and even conditioning shampoos.  Many of these shampoos and conditioners contain polymers and silicones that draw moisture into the hair to enable it to retain softness, therefore hair that is treated with either a rich shampoo or conditioner will tend to suffer curl flop.  Instead, you need the hair to be a slightly drier texture.  Using a clear or simple shampoo and then following with a sea salt spray will cause the PH of the hair to rise and the cuticle to open slightly making the texture feel rougher.  This drier texture will help retain a curl.  For hair that is very stubborn to curl retention (and particularly silky), try mixing two tea spoons of salt into a mug of warm water and rinsing it through your hair for additional (temporary) dehydration.


Whilst probably 80% of people still use heat curling methods, the use of heat to create a curl in dry hair is never as long wearing as setting the hair on rollers or a curling tool from wet.   The internal hydrogen bonds will reset to their most effective level when the hair is wound from wet because at this point the hair holds additional elasticity which will stretch the hair and cause a tension that will form stronger bonds.   Whilst a good result can be achieved by allowing the hair to set overnight or (generally) air dry, by far the best method is to use a hood dryer.  A hood dryer blasts warm air across the head and causes an even, quicker and more effective long term curl result – even in the most stubborn of straight textures.


Using any silicone based serum or product is lethal for naturally straight hair wishing to retain a curl.  As stated, silicones are used in products to draw moisture into the hair, therefore if you create or finish a curl with a silicone based product it will increase the likelihood of curl flop (over time) because that moisture is being drawn into the hair which can cause the bonds to reset back to their natural pattern.  In addition, a second misconception is the use of curly hair products to create or retain a temporary curl.  These products have been designed for naturally curly hair which is typically dry in texture and needs moisture to form the natural curl.  If someone with very straight silky hair uses such products they will find (once again) the curl will begin to drop, as although their hair may be temporarily curly they do not have a naturally curly hair texture that would benefit from the product.  In general, setting lotions and hairsprays such as Elnet should be used to style straight hair that is not readily willing to hold a curl.

4.       PERM IT

The biggest misconception about perms is they are only capable of creating those scrunchy looks as seen in the 1980’s – this is untrue.   Traditionally, cold perming was created 100 years ago because women had suffered for centuries with the issue of curl retention.    Chemicals found in the traditional cold perm work by breaking the permanent disulphide bonds within the hair and changing its shape.   If the hair is left to dry naturally (once permed) it will have a curly or permed look, however the point of perms was not actually for the famous ‘wash and wear’ look, but actually to enable the hair to be set (as normal) on rollers or moulding tools.  When permed hair is curled or set, the temporary hydrogen bonds (which create the style look curls) will hold in place without dropping because those parallel disulphide bonds have been permanently changed.   Therefore, a perm foundation in very straight hair will enable you to wash and set or curl your hair but retain volume, movement and shape without fear of flopping. 

 My only word of warning on perming is that it is not compatible with bleached hair.  In bleached hair the permanent bonds have already been weakened and the hair will not withstand a second process.  However (and in my experience), bleached hair will often hold a curl better than natural hair because it has a slightly drier texture.  The only exception to this is damaged bleached hair which has lost its elasticity.  When hair is very damaged it becomes difficult to create any curl or shape in the hair as the structure has begun to deteriorate.

5.       DRY CLEAN

If you are passionate about sporting curls and movement as part of your everyday style and look, reduce the amount you wash your hair.  Spending time washing and then setting the hair to dry (especially with a perm foundation), will create effective, durable and long lasting curls.  However, if you wash your hair everyday it will just not be possible to retain this level of hair upkeep.  Instead, washing maybe twice a week and then using a dry shampoo daily will clean the hair but retain the style.  Because dry shampoos contain no moisture ingredients they will not unrest the temporary hydrogen bonds – therefore, you can clean the hair without needing to wet it.

Remember, these above pointers are designed for individuals with straight hair who suffer curl flop soon after styling.   The principles are somewhat different for those who have naturally curly or wavy hair. 


Friday, 5 April 2013

It's Too Light!

Following on from my piece about going platinum, it would be unfair of me to tackle the opposing issue – ‘light out’.  This is an occurrence whereby someone has permanently coloured their hair blonde and discovered the result to be a garish artificial light colour they just didn’t want nor expect - unless they were going for the Draco Malfoy look! 

The most common reason ‘Light Out’ happens is seen when someone (who usually goes to the salon for highlights) decides (for whatever reason) to tackle their regrowth at home.  They select a light blonde colour, but do not realise the roots will lift up quite significantly and the darker (non- highlighted) areas will also lift to create an overall light blonde shade.  In addition, this shade is often brassy or yellow due to the levels of natural darker colour which were still present in the hair upon the application and lifting of the colour.

‘Light Out’ is actually a very easy issue to rectify quickly and requires a principle of attempting to duplicate the look of a natural blonde.  In general, natural blondes will not have one block hair colour, the base tends to be an 8.0 (light blonde) which will then lift with the sun and become a multi-tonal shade.  

Therefore, if you have found ‘Light Out’ in your hair, follow these simple principles:-


Home colourants contain conditioners in their final stage which will close the colouring session and put a seal on the hair to allow the new shade to settle.  If you want to rectify a colour result, you must immediately clarify the hair to remove this conditioner and re-open the hair.  If you do not do this, a subsequent treatment applied may sit on the hairs surface and not work effectively.


This tip may seem incredible, but a natural blonde does not have even lightened hair up to the scalp.  To eradicate the ‘Light Out’ look you are going to have to create natural blonde (looking) roots.  With this technique you buy a base shade permanent colour of an 8.0 level and apply it only to the root area (not the mid-lengths and ends).  You must use a tint bowl and brush to do this and the best product I can recommend is Clairol Root Touch up Medium Blonde 8.0.  On dry hair (only), you must apply the colourant to just your pale root areas.  If your roots appear coppery pale blonde, go with a cool based 8.0 shade.  After you have applied the colourant (to just the root areas), you can pick out very fine strands of hair and colour them (downward) throughout some random sections across the head.  This will create additional depth in the block blonde colour and take away the artificial look.  

3.       TONE

The hair will also need to be toned (after creating your natural blonde roots as outlined in point 2).  You can use Colour Restore Iced Platinum to create an even crisp blonde (and remove yellow) or if you just have mild yellow tone wash the hair several times in a blue shampoo such as Lee Stafford Bleached Blonde.  

4.       BATISTE IT!

If you don’t have the time to deepen your regrowth and tone, an immediate quick tip for ‘Light Out’ is to reach for Batiste medium and brunette coloured shampoo.  If you lightly spray this dry shampoo into your lightened out root areas plus along and within the length of your hair, it will create a shadow effect and disguise the block blonde result and instead create a more natural blonde look.  This tip is particularly good if you intend to go to your salon and get the hair colour corrected or if you just don’t have time to rectify it yourself on the day of your home colour application.   

Above all, if you have found your hair has lightened out due to home colouring, you must act quickly and within 10 days.  If you leave it for longer than 2 weeks, you will begin to get a very dark root strap appearing and you will need to either lighten this out or go darker to disguise it.
However, if you rectify the unwanted blonde shade quite soon after you achieved it, the additional depth you subsequently apply to the hair (as outlined above) should reduce the appearance of the subsequant root strap and you can either continue using your previous method to retain blonde or simply apply a medium blonde (8.) hair colourant to the new regrowth to lift it to a shade which matches the 8.0 shade you applied to cover the 'Light Out'.


Wednesday, 3 April 2013

10 Tips to Platinum

Platinum hair has become one of the biggest must have shades of 2013, a direct contrast to the more naturalistic Ombre and in keeping with the inspired looks from the 1960’s and 1980’s.   

However, achieving Platinum is not a task that can be approached without some trepidation.    In my experience, Platinum hair is grown in and not obtained in one hit.  Should a darker base (be it natural or artificial) attempt to achieve platinum in one process they could at best find they have buttery tresses that won’t tone or (at worst) find their hair going into melt down, breaking and refusing to budge from a deep orange!

Below are my top 10 Tips for achieving Platinum Blonde safely and effectively


If you currently have an artificial (darker) colour, use a hair colour remover to take this out, before attempting to bleach the hair.  Hair with artificial colour molecules sitting within it - will not lighten to pale evenly or effectively.  You should ideally wait 4 weeks from removal of the artificial colour to the first lightening stage, this allows your hair optimum time to normalise and gain strength.


Unless you are currently a medium to light blonde, do not expect to achieve platinum hair in one session.  For darker blonde to brunette bases, view platinum as a long haul transition and start by introducing highlights into the hair.  These should be built up over several months to lift the overall base.

3.       ROOTS

The best result found for achieving a pure platinum shade is when a lightener is applied to regrowth hair only.  Virgin regrowth hair will lighten evenly and quickly because it is so close to the scalp and the heat emitted by it.  Therefore, existing blondes should consider switching to regrowth lightening and opt out of foils if they intend to go for a long term platinum result.


A natural Darker base is by far the hardest to achieve platinum in, it can be done, however you will need to firstly (and slowly) reach a new mid-blonde base via highlights and then start to lighten out the regrowth every four weeks or so as it grows through.    Eventually this pure regrowth will overtake the remaininder of the hair and begin displaying a platinum depth.

5.       PASTEL

During transition to platinum, using Pastel toners can give the hair an interesting/on trend effect and hue which will blend with darker areas.  Once the desired level of lightening has been achieved (over time) you can stop using the pastel shades and begin to tone platinum throughout. 
6.       HEAT

Restrict heat usage.  Lightened hair is very vulnerable and it will not withstand regular high heats in the manner non lightened hair can.  Use of excessive heat could cause breakage in platinum and transitional platinum hair.

7.       CARE

Use a product such as Philip Kingsley Elastizer at least once a week to prevent breakage and after wash items such as Redken Anti-Snap.


If you are dead set on achieving a pure platinum, do not give up midway and colour dark if you feel there is a chance you will change your mind (again).  Bleached hair can often stain when darker permanent colours have been applied and once you do this, it will be unlikely you could recover a clarity from the shade via removal.

9.       HOME OR SALON

Remember, platinum hair is very high maintenance and for best results, regular regrowth should be conducted in a salon.  If you wish to do your own regrowth, ask a trusted friend to apply the lightener carefully to the new hair once every four to six weeks using a tint bowl and brush.  Any overlapping of the product onto previously lightened hair could cause breakage.

10.   TONE

There is no such thing as Platinum Blonde Hair without a toner.  Hair is naturally yellow in colour (due to the Keratin Protein).  Therefore, lightened hair will only ever achieve a pale yellow.  A violet based toner must be applied to newly lightened hair to neutralise the yellow and create white.  Using Colour Restore Iced Platinum immediately after each lightening treatment will keep the shade pure white and healthy. 

Lastly, all the above principles also apply to those who wish to have pale pastel pink and blue colours.  The hair has to be white in order for the applied tone to display.
Be sensible and approach this hair colour wisely and you will find in time you will achieve a pure platinum shade without risk of high copper tone or damage.