How to Have Beautiful Hair
Considering that it’s actually dead protein which we love on our heads and hate on our chins, hair creates all sorts of challenges, not least as it becomes finer and thinner with age. And, as with clothes and makeup, age brings some ‘shoulds’ and ‘shouldn’ts’ so that we can be shamed if we make the wrong choices. ‘Older women shouldn’t have long hair’; ‘Grey hair is ageing’; ‘Her hair makes her look like a witch’. I’m not immune to such comments myself. Whenever we show old photographs of me with a different hairstyle, someone will unhelpfully say ‘I think your hair suited you better like that’.
That may be true, but I have evolved this style over the past ten years or so to suit my hair, my style, my lifestyle, my haircare routine and the amount of time (and money) I am prepared to spend at the hairdressers.
Hair tends to be either straight, curly, smooth or frizzy. It can be ‘big’ and bushy or flat and wispy. It can look shiny or dull and can be affected by moisture (rain) in different ways - for me catastrophically, so I take an umbrella on even the sunniest days. It is a barometer of health, nutrition and sleep and often undergoes significant change during the menopause as the body loses oestrogen. As hair greys, it may become more wiry or the hair shaft may become finer and softer and the actual number of hairs on your head may decline. Obviously some of this you can control and some you can’t. My hair is going grey at the crown but is stubbornly mouse brown at my temples, so I have it dyed grey so that the front matches the back. If I grow my hair past chin length now it lacks volume, so quickly becomes flat on top which I hate - hence the shorter style which helps to make my hair look much thicker and more voluminous, especially if I use the right styling products.
Top Tip: You know your own hair by now! The answer is to enhance the good and disguise the bad. My hair is dead straight, so I have stopped trying to curl it. It also lacks ‘body’ and can look flat on the top - which I feel is really unflattering. So I keep it short and go for body rather than for movement.
My hair is part of my ‘look’. I would characterise my style in a good way as classic and maybe sophisticated, and in a bad way as boring and safe. I can admire the chutzpah of an older style icon like Iris Apfel with her bold choices of colour and the way that she adds layers of texture and accessories, but I also know that I don’t have the extrovert personality required to look like that. Iris keeps her grey hair cropped very short and then goes to town with her signature glasses, great makeup and whatever colour she has chosen that day. That’s the process that I emulate rather than the actual style. I style my hair first thing, spray on some Kerastase Lacque Couture, then do my makeup and choose something colourful and bright to wear. I can then forget all about my hair unless it rains, when I reach for my trusty umbrella.
Top Tip: Think of two or three words that sum up your style (classic, boho, rock-chick, fun, countrywoman, cool/French, anti-fashion, high fashion) and find a hairstyle that compliments your overall look and then stick with it - for years if that works for you! Anna Wintour (High Fashion), Zandra Rhodes (Boho) and Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall (Countrywoman/Classic) have all had the same hairstyle for donkey’s years. Their hairstyle suits their hair, their style and their lifestyle.
Hair can be a terrible faff. Long hair takes a lot longer to dry than short hair, but short hair may need much more styling than longer hair. When I was on my recent painting holiday, one of the other women (my age) came down to breakfast with newly washed wet hair and by the time we started painting an hour later her white hair had dried into perfect soft waves and curls around her head. Oh, how envious I was of her low key approach! My hairstyle is not quite that easy to manage, but it has evolved over the past ten years to allow me to get on with my busy life. I sometimes toy with the idea of a radical change, and then it suddenly needs cutting and I find myself saying to my hairdresser ‘it’s been great - just trim it as usual please.’
Top Tip: If you rarely have bad hair days then you have cracked it! But if you quietly despair that your hair often lets you down, then ask yourself if it’s the cut, the colour or the condition that needs to be improved.
Hair Care Routine
My hair is dead straight and takes a minimum of 30-40 minutes to wash and then blow dry using round styling brushes. So I do this routine just on Sundays and Thursdays so that the rest of the time I can fix my hair in five minutes max and then do my makeup routine. I have found that great products make a huge difference to how my hair performs every day which is why I am so excited to have developed a new haircare range for Look Fabulous Forever. About a year ago I started trialling a volumising shampoo, conditioner and root boost spray. I was delighted with the difference they made to how my hair looked (shine and manageability), so I couldn’t wait for us to be able to offer them to you. We sent out 50 sets to volunteers and the plaudits have rolled in - and, very happily the products themselves are now flying off the shelves!
Top Tip: Good products designed specifically to work with your hair can make all the difference. LFF shampoo, conditioner and root boost spray contain specific ingredients such as Biotin, Caffeine, and Provitamin B5 to help older hair to look thicker, more lustrous and be more manageable. As one of our testers said “Look Fabulous Forever has done it for makeup, skincare and hand care and now you are doing it for our hair!”
How we all missed and appreciated our hairdressers when we went into lockdown! Never before have we had such incontrovertible proof of how essential the person who wields scissors over our heads is to our sanity! There is nothing like a great haircut to lift our mood and put a spring in our step. I resorted to trimming my own hair in early 2020 (and made a video of it to boot!) but that was only ever a very short term stop gap. I will admit to always paying for the best hairdressing I can afford, which has mostly been in a top London hair salon. However (and this is my excuse if one were needed) I probably only visit him about 4 times a year. If you get a really top-notch haircut, your hair will still stay beautifully shaped no matter how long it grows. I also have my silver highlights done at the same time by a colourist which also saves time.
Top Tip: Apparently a brilliant tailor knows exactly how to make a man look taller, slimmer and a better shape thanks to their skill at cutting and draping fabric. A really skilled hairdresser performs the same magic on hair. My current hairdresser is a young and extremely good looking Italian called Marco and fortunately he’s also a whizz with the scissors - so it’s win-win for both me and my hair whenever I visit him!
Considering that it’s dead protein, hair wields an incredible power over our lives. How it looks affects our mood, morale and confidence and losing it is one of the things that most of us find deeply alarming. After a lifetime of trying to follow the latest trend regardless of whether my hair would cooperate or not, I have finally found a style that works for the kind of hair that I have, my style, lifestyle and the time and money I am prepared to spend on it. It’s such a relief to have finally found my personal version of beautiful hair - although some of you may disagree!
PS: If you'd like to know more about my new haircare range, watch my short 'everything you need to know' video below...
Upcoming Event Information:
Upcoming Event Information:
Friday 24th June
Film Club - On Chesil Beach
Available on Youtube
Watch the film before and join us for a discussion!
NB: This will be our last Film Club of the summer & we will restart in September
Day: Friday 24th June
Password (if needed): LOOKFAB