When assessing your hair’s damage, it’s easy to forget that you might be doing more damage than good with the products you’re using as much as the tools. Good genes are a key factor in the texture of your hair but many women torture their hair with treatments that they think are doing a world of good. The recent revelations surrounding the controversial Brazilian Blowout system have only intensified our curiosity about the products we put on our hair. London-based celebrity stylist Michael Van Clarke, developer of the cult beauty range 3’’’ More Inches, has over 30 years experience working with London’s social elite, including members of nine royal families, as well as clients from across the country at his revered salon. He is an advocate for healthier hair and is adamant that most women don’t realize the damaging effects some products and practices can have on the hair.
To understand how to fix your damaged hair, you first have to understand the composition of your hair. “The structure of hair is about 97% protein and 3% moisture,” says Van Clarke, “so it’s actually a very small moisture content. When the protein structure is interfered with the hair becomes quite brittle and breaks down and that speeds the aging process.” While most women are careful and considerate with their skin, they rarely show the same respect to their hair. “One of the aspects of dry, frizzy looking hair is that the cuticles open up on the surface," says Van Clarke. "So as the hair ages, the cuticles start to open and that gives the hair a rough texture and it doesn’t reflect light as well so it looks duller.”
It's combating that dullness that has fueled the beauty industry’s fascination with treatments and this season has seen the release of dozens of oil and silicone-based products claiming to smooth and repair damage, but not all is what it seems. “Most treatments on the market operate by trying to seal in the surface to give the illusion of healthy hair and it’s really just cosmetic," says Van Clarke. "Heavy oils don't penetrate and with things like silicone, what’s we’ve found is that overuse of silicone actually ages the hair quicker. The reason it's used to stop brittle ends is because it stops moisture getting in; but when you put heat on the hair it doesn’t stop the water that’s in the hair getting out. So it’s reducing the natural moisture content of the hair and then not allowing moisture to come back in."
Because of this, many women are dissillusioned about their inability to maintain long, healthy locks. In order to promote hair growth you have to take care of what’s already on your head. “A lot of people think their hair doesn’t grow,” says Van Clarke. “It’s actually growing at the same rate but shrinking at the ends. If a treatment slows down the shrinkage, it will appear to be growing faster; in truth it’s growing the same. The key product in the 3’’’ More Inches range, the pre-wash treatment $38, was designed to actually slow down the wastage of the shaft and it does this by rebalancing the moisture content an feeding proteins back into the hair.”