I’m a bit late this week – I’ll tell you the reason at the end of the post.
Hair! This is a tricky one as I am not an expert on hair, and furthermore have been blessed with my mother’s Scottish red hair gene, but someone asked me to do a post on hair so here goes! Yes, I had red hair once and here’s the photo to prove it.
That was a perm! Don’t you love the fire extinguisher with its blue pop of colour that matches my denim!
Yes, I do think I was lucky to have been born a red head as I loved my hair colour, which was at times strawberry blonde (in the summer) and a darker more auburn colour (as above, in the winter) but my poor son was a true ginger and while at the age of 40 his hair has darkened, when he was young he suffered a constant barrage of epithets like ‘ginge’ and ‘carrot tops’ from people including those who he considered his mates. This prejudice against redheads is very much an English thing as I can’t imagine the same attitude towards redheads in Ireland, which has the highest number of red-haired people at 10% of the population, or in Scotland with 5% of their population having red hair – actually you’d think that figure would be higher.
But I do feel lucky to have the red hair as the red hair shaft is thicker than other shades, which, I read, compensates for the fact that redheads have less hair. Apparently they have – on average – 90,000 strands while blondes have 110,000, and brunettes have 140,000. Well there you go, I hadn’t thought that through, that redheads have less hair than brunettes. But now that I have white/grey hair it feels as though I still have a lot of hair.
But what, as we age, do we dread the most with regard to our hair? I don’t think it’s going grey, it has to be hair loss. Of course, many different factors contribute to hair loss and, as you know, it is quite normal to lose anything from 50-100 strands a day, but over and above that can be worrying. A couple of months back I had a lot of hair in my brush, plus I kept finding hair on my shoulders and on the floor, but all of this was absolutely due to my illness in January and February. However, no matter that I’d read this up and reassured many women that it was completely normal to do this, because hair just shuts up shop during illness and 3-4 months later hair growth starts up again and you shed more than usual, even knowing all that I hated it when it happened – seems to have stopped now.
So why does hair loss occur? It could be a genetic reason or, on the other hand, it could be a reactive reason. Perhaps you are just genetically predisposed to thinning hair or maybe there is an internal imbalance due to a hormonal endocrine imbalance and/or thyroid problems. Stress can play its part, and that’s stress from an illness, or work or major life changes, and then there’s weight loss. Or it could be iron deficiency and/or a Vitamin B12 deficiency.
I go to a very good medically trained nutritionist who takes bloods to monitor my vitamin and mineral levels. If you don’t have access to a nutritionist who is medically trained like mine do consult your GP and get your bloods checked. As a result of my levels (that are checked every two years or so) I take a multi-vitamin but no iron as that’s fine. I also take a zinc supplement. But never overdo vitamins and minerals – make sure you are not taking too much. Indeed a good, well balanced diet with sufficient protein is really important for the quality of your hair.
If you do have serious problems with thinning hair there is a lot of good advice and help out there. In the first instance go to your GP, because you may be put on medication. But because there is no treatment for thinning hair that will completely resolve the loss of hair, there are other methods and help out there, including adding a mesh that will give you a complete head of lovely hair. I can’t say much about this as I haven’t any experience of this, but I do know a blogger who will give you such a boost if you’ve been thinking of getting a wig and can’t face it. This is Catherine of Atypical60. I love her as she’s nuts and very funny. She blogs about her clothes and her makeup, and life generally (and currently there’s a lot about the importance of voting) but for years she talked about her seriously thinning hair. She finally decided to wear a wig and as a result, she has a simply enormous collection of wigs. In fact she is so open about it every day she wears a different wig, with a different colour and different length – and they are stunning. Do have a look at her blog and/or her Instagram account (@atypical60) and you’ll see that those wigs are so good, really, if I needed it, I’d get one in a flash without a moment’s hesitation. And if you haven’t encountered her vibrant spirit and genuine love for her wigs it will change your outlook on wigs forever.
There is a lot of advice out there that I am sure you are all well aware of. Like, for instance, take care with those hair straighteners and/or curlers – using these too often could lead to brittle and breaking hair. And dandruff. Do you think there’s a bit less of dandruff around? I’m sure some of the dandruff that a lot of my friends, and me, used to suffer from came from the very harsh shampoos that were used in the 50s and 60s. Thankfully there are far milder shampoos available that are really effective that can sort any tendency to dandruff, and I believe that apple-cider vinegar is also a good remedy as it contains anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial properties.
Dandruff can also occur simply because the scalp is dry. I have a confession to make I don’t wash my hair all that often. Sometimes I go 7 days or more without washing it, and it’s OK and it doesn’t go greasy or limp. MrF who washes his hair very frequently cannot believe that I wash it so little, and says he washes his more often because his hair is greasy. Interestingly one can get greasy hair from too frequent washing. It is a conundrum, are you washing your hair a lot because of an oily scalp or is your scalp oily because you wash your hair too often?
And now the question of going grey. I was such a militant, ‘you can’t tell me to go au naturel’. I would comment on other blogs saying, in effect, don’t you tell me to stop the dye! I loathed the beauty journos who promoted white hair over dyeing and tinting. But there comes a time when you know it’s right to let the dye go. That happened to me when I had a slight reaction to my eyebrow tint and I thought hmm, maybe, let’s try, so I haven’t put any dye on my hair since October 2016. Here I am 18 months later – I hadn’t realised how very half and half it was!
But here’s the thing for a long time I used the shampoos especially for white hair because, you know, apparently one shouldn’t look too ‘brassy’. Consequently my hair was very white with it. One time I used quite a strong version of these shampoos and my hair went a dull grey, wasn’t happy with that at all.
But during the strict lockdown we had, I ran out of that type of shampoo, and went back to the shampoo I previously used and what do you know, my hair is actually multi-coloured with a ‘brassy’ streak that is actually the same colour as I always had, as in, it’s a reddish colour. Gosh to think I was covering that colour up with the blonde dye for like years! You can see a bit of the mix of colours here.
The hair products I use are good quality and can only be bought online or at a hairdresser. I wash my hair with Paul Mitchell’s Shampoo No 1, followed by Paul Mitchell’s Detangler, although as my hair has got longer I have started using Paul Mitchell’s Hair Repair every other week. After I’ve rinsed out either the conditioner or ‘hair repair’ I towel the hair dry and put on another Paul Mitchell product, Flexible Style Super Sculpt. If I forget to put that on, my hair will be quite soft and flyaway – I don’t forget it all that often! Btw, apologies for giving you an Amazon link to the shampoo but the Paul Mitchell website wasn’t loading either yesterday or today. There are many other outlets for Paul Mitchell products and you can always look for them in any hairdresser in the High Street. Finally when my hair is completely dry I always put on a few drops of serum (my hairdresser said you can use any serum it doesn’t matter which one) especially on the ends. That really helps the hair to shine.
Here’s another selfie taken shortly after my hair had been washed and dried, which shows the multi-colours that I am now going to encourage rather than hide. I’m happy to be a brassy woman! Incidentally I try to let my hair dry naturally and only use a hairdryer in the cold weather or if I really have to because I’m going out. My aim is to avoid the heat of the dryer.
That’s all for now, but do let me know about your hair and what you use on it. I do think it’s interesting to hear what people use and what problems (or not) people have with their hair – we all learn from each other.
With love, Penny, the Frugalfashionshopper
P.S This blog is a little late as I have written another piece for My Other Blog. To get to this, click on the icon at the side if reading on a PC or at the end if reading this on a phone, but only read if you are in the mood as it’s about Brexit – need I say more!