Fine, coloured or swim-stressed hair (or all 3!)? Check out my chat with an expert hair colourist for key tips

I have fine hair. Lots of it, but it is really fine. It just doesn’t “do” anything- it doesn’t hold curl or volume, it slips out of clips, re-tangles within seconds of detangling and general serves to annoy me. On my wedding day, my one wish was to have “big hair”. I didn’t care about losing weight or the perfect shoes, I just wanted big hair for one day. I got there in the end, through clip-in hair extensions, LOTS of backcombing, a can of spray and a wonderful hair stylist. Needless to say I have never managed to get anywhere close to repeating the effort myself, so have resorted instead to focusing on making my hair look as healthy as possible.

Not easy, given I also highlight it and I swim pretty regularly too, adding bleach and chlorine into the mix.

So I had chat (and a colour!) with an expert hair colourist from a top London salon, Sanchia Hayward, about the colouring process and what I can do to help offset the effect of harsh chemicals.

What do you mean by fine hair? Hit me with the biology bit. Fine hair is hair where the diameter of each individual strand is fine, and doesn’t actually refer to the actual number of hairs on your head. The average person has 150,000 follicles, each containing a hair and from this we lose approximately 100 hairs a day. The average Caucasian woman has approximately 3 layers of hair whereas in Asia, particularly China and Japan, there can be up to 7 layers on a head. However, people like me with thinner hair may only have 2 layers. :(

Is bleaching really that bad for me? You need make sure you are seeing a specialist to apply colour correctly and ideally someone who uses salon-strength hair bonding products, which typically use maleic acid to help repair the damage caused by the colouring (and over-styling).

However, we can't get away from the fact that colouring is quite brutal on the hair shaft: it increases the ability of the hair to absorb water as the process leaves cuticles open, which means the inner cortex, where the main bulk and pigment (colour) are, is exposed and unprotected. Porous hair totally changes in elasticity and texture. Maybe this is what you are after, but forget about a shine if so, and take care you don’t take it too far, as overly porous hair just can’t hold a style.

How can I help my hair recover? Constant colouring or lightening treatments can lead to the bonds deteriorating and they then have troubling fusing back together, so you need to invest in a quality product to help recover. Our Ultra Luxuriant Hair Elixir is perfect for this – made from 9 incredible natural extracts and cold pressed oils known to have a molecular structure small enough to penetrate the hair shaft, it prevents the hair absorbing more water than it needs, reducing breakage and increasing shine.

 Have you ever really thought about your scalp? I had never given much thought to my scalp before and it seems I am not alone: most people don’t realise how important it is to get the right ph balance on their scalp, which naturally is between 4.5 – 5.5 (anything under 7 is considered to be acidic). Our natural levels are maintained by the layer of sebum oil, water and salt, called the mantle, which prevents our hair from drying out. Our Hair Elixir is amazing for scalp health as well - massage in a few drops focusing on the key ayurvedic marma, or energy points to get the blood flowing to your hair follicles. Tejal filmed some amazing videos recently on how to apply our oil take a look here 

 What should I do post washing? Brushing is just for styling, right? Hair is most vulnerable when it is wet, swelling up to +30% and stretching 1.5x its length. It is so much stronger when dry, so don’t brush too vigorously until it is. It goes without saying that avoiding hair dryers and heated styling tools helps. To keep a healthy scalp in between washes, a good brush of the scalp stimulates and boosts circulation and distributes the sebum oil throughout the hair. Choose a brush that has boar bristles and make sure the “teeth” have been lasered so it doesn’t snag your hair as it is pulled through. 

 I live in a hard water area – can this affect my hair? Absolutely. The calcium in hard water can build up on the cuticles over time, so best to periodically use a decongesting cleansing shampoo and consider shampooing twice (conditioning in between) in that session.

 Platinum Blonde to Brunette? This is can be a mission, as you will need to re-pigment the hair first before any radical change and it can take MONTHS. Going from platinum blonde to brunette is phenomenally harsh on the hair and is best to do in stages, returning to natural hair colour in between, which is tough to do if you need to turn up to work each day looking normal. 

What we often don’t realise is just how much effort goes into celebrity hair, especially those with finer strands. Extensions, hair pieces and wigs are used prolifically by celebs- Angelina Jolie, J-Lo and even Robert Pattinson have been known to use, and did you know that Kylie Jenner has a massive wig section in her Glam Room?

 Will I ever have Big Hair naturally? Sadly no, not without help and effort (wigs, anyone?). There are some many different factors affecting your hair (we haven’t even discussed genes and diet) that you need to find someone skilled who understands your hair and what you are looking for. In the meantime, keep it as healthy as you can by using specialised treatments and regular cuts, try our amazing hair oil and follow Tejal's advice.

Malavara Ultra Luxuriant Hair Elixir



Alexandra Turner, better known as Alix, is the co-founder of Malavara. Having spent 15 years working with European Luxury Goods brands, Alix's passion for wellness, aromatherapy and travel led her to India and Ayurveda. Alix lives in London and keeps busy with a day job, a toddler and our exciting Malavara journey.

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