Fashion & Beauty

Getting a Head Start

By Janet Kelly

The most distressing (pun intended) of all hair problems is hair loss (often a result of hormones or heredity). About one-third of women experience it at some point; in postmenopausal women, almost two-thirds suffer hair thinning or bald spots. Originally prescribed for high blood pressure, the most common hair-loss treatment—Minoxidil (contained in Rogaine and generics)— was found to stimulate hair growth when directly applied to the scalp.

According to an article in last week’s Wall Street Journal, poor diet, not enough exercise or sleep and extreme stress can also be responsible for hair loss. So can age. As we get older, hair growth slows down. Hair becomes thinner and coarser and changes texture; curly hair, for example, will lose some of its curl.

Some smaller, independent companies are changing their focus to the scalp as the key to healthy hair and are targeting funds for research on hair thinning. A new brand, Arey, proposes that vitamin deficiencies from diet and lifestyle choices and even the chemicals in dyes used to cover gray hair, can be contributors. Its vitamin supplement, which is currently sold out, is supposed to delay graying.

This all brings me back to a discussion I had with Jeremy Buchanan, my talented colorist at SalonOne80 in DC. Several years ago, he and I were pondering why there was such a multitude of skincare products but not nearly as many—sophisticated ones at least — for hair. Somebody must have been listening because today the number of shampoos, serums, oils, conditioners and gadgets/tools on the market to treat every hair and scalp woe has exploded.

Here are 10 we’ve tried or want to:


LEFT: The next best thing to having someone else massage your scalp may be you doing it yourself with this Scalp Revival Stimulating Therapy Massager ($16, Brigeo). You hold the massager and gently press the rubber tips to the scalp, spreading shampoo or treatment oil. You can use it on wet or dry hair, with or without product.

RIGHT: I’m on the fence about silk pillowcases myself, but I know several people who are smitten. Instead of thread count, silk fabrics use momme (fabric weight). In tests done by Good Housekeeping, the top-rated silk pillowcases were 22 momme or higher. “Silk pillowcases create a smooth surface for your hair and skin to glide over, and with less friction there will be less creases on your skin and less frizz in your hair.” The latest favorite of our own Mary Carpenter, who looks for the most momme at the lowest price, is Fishers Finery’s 25 momme Silk Pillowcase ($46.99).

LEFT: Research studies have shown that minoxidil could stimulate hair growth. The FDA originally approved over-the-counter 2% minoxidil to treat hair loss in women. Since then a stronger 5% solution has also become available. Specially formulated for females, Women’s Rogaine 5% Minoxidil ($44.97, Amazon) also “contains botanical extracts and emollients to help maintain a healthy, conditioned scalp.”

CENTER LEFT: Revitalash Cosmetics is better known for its serums to enhance the look of eyelashes and eyebrows. It must have been a natural for the company to move into hair shampoos and conditioners. Their Thickening Shampoo ($36, Amazon) contains loquat leaf, willow bark, biotin and panthenol for scalp health. I’ve used it several times and love that my hair looks shinier, plus it smells quite yummy. They also sell a Thickening Conditioner ($37, Dermstore).

CENTER RIGHT: Rene Furterer’s Tonucia Concentrated Youth Serum ($36, Dermstore) is touted for those experiencing thin, weakened hair due to age and stress and environmental factors. Ingredients like lemon balm extract slow down the loss of collagen from the scalp, while tamarind seed extract and orange essential oil and B vitamins help to plump  hair fiber.

RIGHT: Tim Gunn on “Project Runway” was always announcing that the contestants used a Tresemmé styling product on their models. One nit I have to pick with my hair color is that toward the end of its run (six weeks), it begins to lose luster—a lot. The brand’s Gloss Color-Depositing Hair Conditioner in Dark Brunette ($7.99, Target) works as a temporary hair color spray to revive faded hair, add shine and extend the life of your color.

LEFT: Until she was vaccinated and not until weeks after did my NYC pal return to her salon. She decided to let her hair go completely gray during the year. What she needed was a moisturizing product that would tame the frizz that comes with gray. For that, she gives a nod to the Gold Lust Repair and Restore Conditioner ($52) from Oribe.

RIGHT: If you like your sterling hair, you can keep it looking topnotch with Silverati Shampoo (Oribe, $46). It takes the dull and yellow tones out of your gray and white strands.

LEFT: Too many procedures, especially repeated bleaching, can leave hair feeling like straw. Le Bain Cicaextreme Shampoo ($35, Kerastase), used post-highlighting or color, is supposed to leave hair feeling hydrated, nourished and not weighed down.

RIGHT: Deep blue pigments in DPHue’s Cool Brunette Shampoo ($26, Ulta) neutralize orange, red and brassy tones that appear unwanted and unwelcome a week or three after a color process at the salon. The foam formula is sulfate-free, which means it won’t strip hair color and you can use it on color-treated or natural brunette and dark hair.

3 thoughts on “Getting a Head Start

  1. This may be a stupid question, but: wouldn’t an oil be bad for your hair if you are going to expose
    it to the sun? I’ve always been afraid that
    it would “fry” it (?) I love these tips though and will definitely be using them!

    1. Janet Kelly says:

      Hi, Vanessa,
      Glad you like the tips in “Getting a Head Start.” As to your question about oil “frying” your hair if you’re exposed to the sun, I tend to doubt it. However, I’ll look for a more expert answer to your question and get back to you.

  2. Carol says:

    Again, I’m late to the party… This is one problem I don’t have. Yayyy! Probably due to heredity since my mom ( I’m her clone) had the best head of hair ever. Of course she never colored or permed her hair but still. Even her graying was attractive, she was asked where she had her frosting done?! I have been “self-saloning” for the year, not sure when I will be ready to return, maybe I’d I have an occasion but so far I’m OK with my “look”. I am not ready to be gray yet, maybe never, but I don’t want the hair loss that I see on some friends.
    Thanks Janet!

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