Let’s talk about hair. It’s something I get more messages and emails about than anything else and it’s been a while since I’ve covered it so I thought it was time for an update, especially as I’ve been trialling some new products. One of the things I’ve learned this year is that hair goes through some significant changes during menopause and so just as you think you’ve found your look, you have to keep moving it on. It’s shocking just how much the fall in oestrogen that we experience in midlife affects everything. They tell us that we have oestrogen receptors in every cell in our body but it’s only when it reaches seemingly random parts such as your hair (and teeth) that you realise it’s true. So let’s talk about menopausal hair – how to keep it looking good.
We’ve discussed hair quite a bit over the years. As a lot of you know it took me a long time to find ‘the one’ – the hairdresser who had the eye to know what cut would suit me and even though I’m often offered free haircuts at various salons, I’ve stayed loyal to him ever since. He is, of course, Premlee and you can find him here – I know quite a few of you go to him now either on a regular basis or for a hair reshape once a year and I’ve never heard from anyone who didn’t have their looks transformed. If you want to see the haircut journey I took in full you can read about it in my ‘how to find a good hairdresser‘ post here.
My hair hasn’t been behaving recently so when I went to see him last week I collated a few photos on my phone of the way my hair was a few years ago and asked him to take it back to that. It was then that he told me gently that it was time for a chat – that I had to accept that the texture of my hair has changed and that we can’t achieve the silky smoothness it used to have. He talked quite a bit about the difference in the molecular structure of menopausal hair (even for women who are on HRT) and said that I could crush the life out of it with straighteners to try to get it closer to how it used to be – but that’s never advisable with a short cut like mine because the damage soon shows. And so instead we need to adapt my cut slightly and move on by embracing the new texture that it has and working it into the style. At the same time we need to take as much care of it as possible to keep it healthy. That’s a metaphor for the whole menopause journey really isn’t it? We have to stay as healthy as possible but also embrace the positives of our new selves and make the most of them.
Today I’m going to move on from cut and talk about colour, products and tools. So let’s start briefly with colour because quite a few of you have asked me recently what happened to my decision to go grey. It was a project I undertook with Josh Wood back in 2019 and you can read about it here. At the time I was about 50% grey (or actually white – hair only looks grey because the white strands blend with the colours) and this picture shows you the starting point – you can see the natural roots growing through to about 3 inches.
By January 2021 it had gone to this, very grey and a lot of people really didn’t like it. I had startled reactions from people who hadn’t seen me for a while over lockdown and none of them were positive. In fact over the course of a weekend in Newcastle my friend Matt begged me to get rid of it every ten minutes. Of course it doesn’t really matter what other people think but it made me look at it afresh and I realised that although so many women with grey hair look absolutely stunning, I don’t really have the depth of skin colouring to carry it off. I think you need higher contrast and a stronger, perhaps cooler skintone than I have for grey hair.
So, I talked to my colourist André and his advice was not to recolour it completely because that would spoil the authenticity of ageing and also require a lot of maintenance. Instead we took it back to about the 40% level. Now you see my white hairs blended with a mix of blonde highlights and ashy lowlights which mimic the same tones of my own original colour.
Last time I was with him I asked what colouring tips he’d share with you so here you are thoughts about menopausal hair from one of the best hair colourists in the country:
- If you’re nervous about trying grey hair, start by growing out a signature piece around the hairline (it immediately made me think of a Mallen streak but of course he hadn’t heard of that). It does sound like a good idea though, much easier than spending a couple of years waiting for your whole head to go grey before realising it doesn’t suit you as I did.
- Greying hair tends to have either a softer, fluffier texture or a more wiry one. Shorter more geometric cuts often work best and help the grey to look deliberate and stylish.
- Adding variations of light and dark works well whether you’re going completely grey or blending it in like me. Darker pieces give the look more texture, light ones make the shape pop.
- Silver shampoos are helpful but don’t overuse them as they can turn menopausal hair purple or sometimes they make it matte and dull.
- For this reason if you’re using silver shampoo, use a deep cleansing shampoo every three washes to take away build up and give you a fresh base.
- Never be tempted to use lighteners on holiday – lemon juice, spray ins or chamomile shampoos. This will result in any blonde and grey strands turning yellow and brassy.
- Don’t use oil based products in hot sunshine either as they quite literally cause the hair to fry.
- Deep conditioners are very helpful. Grey hair has no natural colour molecules and they are the ones that hold moisture, that’s why grey hair can so quickly look dry and frizzy. A weekly deep conditioning treatment will help to replace the goodness.
Whether we colour our hair or not, one of the many challenges that comes with ageing is keeping menopausal hair looking healthy because as you lose the pigment, you lose the moisture and hair becomes frizzy and dull. It matters more when you have a smooth hairstyle like mine and so I’m forever on the lookout for products that will make it sleek and shiny. I’ve always thought that watching me dry my hair would be as interesting as … well… watching paint dry but so many people ask me for it that I’m going to give you a quick run through. I’ll show you the products I use and then I’m going to tell you about a brilliant new hairdryer that I’ve been trialling for the last few months.
Menopausal hair – how to keep it looking good
Shampoo and conditioner
I’ve mentioned the Sam McKnight range before and to be honest I love it most for the fragrance – if he bottled it, it would be my perfume. This shampoo and conditioner are the ones I use every other day to keep my hair soft, shiny and smelling amazing. Now that André has said I should add a silver in I will and every few washes I use Mal’s Head & Shoulders to deep cleanse – it works, my hair’s always bouncier afterwards.
Rich cleanse shampoo; Rich nourish conditioner (20% off Friday 14th July only)
Serum – Menopausal hair – how to keep it looking good
When I’ve towel dried it I add a pump of Kerastase serum along the lengths but avoiding the roots. I’ve been using it since my hair got very damaged in the sea and chlorine in Turkey one summer – I wince when I look back at it here, it was literally snapping off every time I brushed it.
It’s the one hair product I would never be without, I take it everywhere.
Therapist serum; root lift spray, heat protector spray (20% off Friday 14th July only)
Styling products – Menopausal hair – how to keep it looking good
The other two styling products above take me back to that amazing fragrance again – I spray the orange one on my roots for a little lift and the green one over the ends very lightly for heat protection. And then it’s time to dry my hair.
Tools – Zuvi hairdryer
This new, multi-award winning Halo hairdryer from Zuvi was sent to me a few months ago to review and I’ve been using it ever since. Glamour magazine describes it as ‘the Tesla of haircare’ and that pretty much sums it up because the difference is all in the technology. The founder, Brett Wang was inspired when he thought about the way that things dry naturally – water evaporation is generally caused by the mix of light and wind.
Did you know that the hairdryer you use has a big impact on the health of your hair? Most hairdryers rely purely on hot air which of course dries your hair out very quickly. The Zuvi Halo has patented ‘Light Care’ technology; it incorporates infrared light to mimic the sun’s natural rays. The warmth from the light means that you can use a lower air temperature when you’re doing your hair but still dry it just as quickly. As a result the inner structure of the hair follicle suffers less damage and retains up to twice as much moisture, the colour doesn’t fade as fast or go brassy and the cuticles stay flat giving you more shine.
All of this is what I need to try to keep my hair looking as smooth and silky as I can. So let me show it in action because it’s only with a video that the light power comes across.
You start with the hairdryer in care mode without any attachments and I use it this way until my hair is about 75% dry. My hair blows about far less than it does when I rough dry it with other hairdryers and so it’s already softer at this stage than usual. I then add the styling vent which attaches magnetically (there’s a diffuser for curly hair and a gentle air attachment for sensitive scalps too). I change it into style mode and smooth it off with a vent brush.
Zuvi Halo hairdryer with attachments (gifted for review purposes March 23)
The Zuvi Halo is quieter and lighter than any other hairdryers I’ve tried – and that makes it good for travelling because it doesn’t add as much weight to my suitcase. Grey hair requires more gentle care to avoid heat damage, the Zuvi never goes above 43 degrees (normal hairdryers go up to 60) and it uses 60% less energy than standard hairdryers. Drying my hair takes less than ten minutes from start to finish now and I’ve found it makes a difference to my menopausal hair, it’s softer, less frizzy and the ends are less crunchy. Here’s a slightly speeded up overview of the whole process from start to finish.
It isn’t just me who’s raving about it, it’s quietly sweeping up a number of top awards including:
- Time Magazine’s Best Inventions 2022
- Cosmopolitan’s Holy Grail Best of Beauty Awards 2022
- Allure’s Best of Beauty Awards 2022
- Marie-Claire’s Prix d’Excellence de la Beauté 2023
- Stylist Best Beauty Awards 2023
It isn’t a throwaway purchase; the cost is up there with other top level hairdryers but I have a code for 12% off for you with code nikki12 – you can read more about it and buy it here. The condition improves as you keep on using the Zuvi Halo so it should earn its keep. As I always say, hair is really worth investing in at this stage of life – if your hair looks good you can throw on a pair of old jeans and a t-shirt and still look stylish. The finishing touch I add to my hair styling journey is a blast of Cool Girl which adds oomph to my new, adapted cut, making the most of the stronger textured finish as opposed to the smooth, sleek style I used to have.
Cool Girl Texture Mist (20% off Friday 14th July only)
We have two choices at this stage of life – we can either fight against our changing bodies or work with them. To me it makes far more sense to adapt and work with them than battle against them. After trialling it for a while the Zuvi Halo is something I’m happy to recommend, it’s a great way to help your hair to look shinier and healthier.
We’ve been having an exciting time in Newcastle with our boys this week at the middle one’s graduation – I’ll bring you thoughts and pictures next Friday. You don’t realise what a huge step in the parenting journey it is until you get there do you? Anyway I just have a few hours left with them before they all scatter again so I’ll leave you to your weekend, I hope it’s a good one and I’ll see you next week.
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