Flatten that frizz!
Oh Kate, what happened to your Chelsea blow-dry? As she proves even royal have bad hair days, we test the latest treatments to polish her look
Having a bad hair day? Well, you’re not alone. Even the Duchess of Cambridge, queen of the sleek blow dry, succumbed to an attack of the frizz last week while on the Diamond Jubilee tour.
Her problem was probably caused by the humidity in Singapore, but even in the UK the weather can prove hazardous for the state of our hair.
‘One of the main reasons hair goes frizzy is because it absorbs moisture from the air,’ says high profile crimper Mark Hill. ‘A British summer is the enemy of sleek hair, because it’s hot one minute and wet the next. This means hair dries out and then absorbs moisture, which can trigger frizz.’
Frizz attack! The Duchess of Cambridge pictured on day 2 of the Diamond Jubilee Tour of the Far East
Hair is made up of a mixture of proteins surrounded by a layer of protective cuticles. Damage caused by colouring, over-styling or even rough brushing leaves the hair with ‘bubbles’ inside the protein layer, or the cuticles become rough. This then allows moisture to permeate the hair, causing it to expand.
It’s such a big problem for British women that one in three of us struggle to tame our tresses each morning.
Frizz control isn’t cheap, either — we spend an estimated £287 million on products and £3.5 million on treatments a year to transform our fluffy barnets into glossy locks. Salons, meanwhile, have reported a boom in the number of women opting for expensive keratin treatments that claim to keep hair sleek and smooth for weeks — or even months — on end.
Hairdressers agree that the best preventative measure is to keep hair fully hydrated by using a good conditioner. How you dry your hair is also important.
‘Always point the nozzle of your dryer down the hair from root to tip,’ advises Mark. ‘Not only will this give a smoother result, it will also make your hair shine more by closing the cuticles.’
But do the latest anti-frizz treatments, products and gizmos really work? To help Kate — and the rest of us — tame our tresses, we put them to the test . . .
THE KERATIN BLOW DRY
Nano Keratin Gold, from £175, pauledmonds.com, 020 7589 5958. Tested by Life & Style Editor Nicole Mowbray.
Keratin is an essential ingredient for strong, healthy hair. As we age, the levels of keratin in our hair naturally decrease (which partly explains why you have shiny hair as a child and it gets progressively less so as you age).
Thankfully technology has enabled us to fake this shine with the ‘three-month blow dry’ — a treatment which seals keratin into your hair with heat.
I became a devotee of this treatment three years ago, but my love affair went off-course when I realised some of the treatments contained high levels of formaldehyde, which is bad for your hair and the stylist performing the treatment.
Happily, though, as someone with thick shoulder-length hair that’s liable to frizz, I found a safer version of my ‘permanent blow dry’, called the Nano Keratin Gold treatment.
The treatment takes three hours.
First, hair is washed with a special shampoo to open the cuticles. Next, the keratin solution is painted on and left to absorb for about 30 minutes. Then comes the time consuming part — a stylist dries the formula into your hair with a hairdryer, then seals it in with special ultra-hot straighteners.
Hair is left poker straight and rather severe looking for the next three days, during which time you cannot get it wet or tie it back to prevent setting a kink into it.
Day three was purgatory, my hair hung greasily around my face, like Kevin the Teenager from Harry Enfield’s old sketch show. It was, however, worth the wait.
Washing the solution out left me with heavenly smooth, straight hair that even my inexpert blow-drying cannot frizz up. It’s also possible to let my hair go wavy, free from the halo of fluff that used to accompany it.
Most conveniently, it’s shaved about 30 minutes off the time it takes me to get ready, removed pounds from my luggage when I travel (no more straighteners or bottles of serum for me) and prevented the hysteria previously experienced when I was caught in the rain without a brolly.
Forever young hair: The keratin ‘three-month blow dry’ allows us to fake the shine of youth
THE MINERAL MASQUE
Bumble and Bumble Concen-straight Pro Treatment, from £195 at Bb salons nationwide, bumbleandbumble.co.uk. Tested by Emma Justice.
Offering a gentle mineral alternative to the usual keratin-based treatments, this new in-salon straightening process contains no formaldehyde at all.
Instead, it uses a mixture of crushed gemstones (pearl, tourmaline, Brazilian green malachite and sapphire powder) to calm unruly locks.
With thick hair which is prone to frizz, I did wonder whether a ‘gentle’ treatment would be good enough to tame my hair, but at least I knew it wouldn’t leave it damaged. It took three hours to apply as, after your hair is washed twice, the treatment is painted on methodically section by section — a bit like hair dye.
It has a strong chemical smell, so be sure to sit near a window!
It’s then left on for 30 minutes and carefully combed through again every five minutes to ensure even coverage.
As it dries, you can see the white powdery minerals deposited on your hair. After a final wash (my hair has never been so clean!) it was straightened with flat irons for a completely kink-free finish.
You can’t have colour applied less than two weeks before the treatment and it’s not suitable for some bleached or damaged hair in case the formula lightens the colour.
For the best results, you shouldn’t wash your hair for at least 24 hours afterwards, and resist the temptation to push it behind your ears, otherwise it will kink.
My hair looked great — and was very straight — immediately afterwards, but as soon as I washed it the curl came back.
Admittedly my hair is not as frizzy or flyaway as it used to be, but it’s not as strong a treatment as my hair needed to go completely straight.
The results are meant to last between 30 and 40 washes — longer if you use a sulfate-free shampoo and conditioner afterwards.
I’ve used both, and although I do find my hair easier to manage, my hair is still more Julia Roberts than Jennifer Aniston.
THE POKER STRAIGHTENER
Aveda Smooth Infusion Retexturing System, from £150, Aveda salons nationwide, aveda.co.uk. Tested by Ailsa Leslie.
I’ve battled with frizzy hair that makes me look a bit like Brian May since I started school. In fact, I’m so used to scraping it back into a tight ponytail and coating it in hairspray that I actually laughed at the thought a salon treatment could make it poker straight.
This is a natural treatment that is formaldehyde-free and uses a thermal straightening product made with organic ylang ylang and ammonium-thioglycolate, the main ingredient in a perm.
It works by permanently altering your hair’s natural texture by breaking the chemical bonds that hold the hair into curls. These are then set straight by the heat from a hairdryer.
Aveda promised the treatment would last for at least six months and leave me with sleek, yet still voluminous, hair. The stylist can customise just how straight you want it to be, and it can also be used on coloured hair.
It took five hours, but I do have very thick hair.
First, my hair was washed and conditioned and then the smelly retexturiser painted on and my hair blow-dryed. It was left to set for half-an-hour, then washed out and a neutraliser applied and left in for another 30 minutes.
When my hair was washed for a third time I noticed how different it looked and when it was dried I was amazed. I had smooth, shiny hair. Brian May was a distant memory.
To keep it this way I was told not to get it wet — or fiddle with it in any way — for three days. It was hard but worth it. Now, two months later, my hair still dries naturally straight. I can’t recommend this treatment enough.