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Home Hair Care, tips and techniques

By Kara Kilshaw

In this guide Kala Kilshaw, Creative Director of ego PROFESSIONAL, will be addressing the truth behind home hair care and offering tips and techniques to ensure that your hair stays healthy and happy between salon appointments.

Kala Kilshaw is a serial entrepreneur with a pioneering and deeply personal approach to the ego PROFESSIONAL brand.

Before the launch of ego PROFESSIONAL in 2009, Kala was instrumental in the development of the very first electrical styling tool line which featured multiple temperature settings combined with Tourmaline infusion. This set the trend for future brands to follow suit, proving that hotter is not always better.

Kala is evangelical about the benefits of her unique ‘Tourmaline Technology’ which harnesses the properties of semi-precious stones to literally build condition and shine into every hair as it styles. The success of “Tourmaline Technology” combined with Kala’s ethos of “technology before technique” lead to the addition of Hwangto - A complex honeycomb structure of ceramic minerals which in addition to emitting negative ions and far-infrared, has antibacterial properties and can create resistance to humidity.

The distinct branding, premium packaging and accessible brand personality coupled with Kala’s passion and innovative technologies have meant she has been at the frontline of leading technologies such as Smart Touch and Ultrasonic Technology, all with the aim of improving condition and care for hair. These exciting technologies are a direct result of Kala constantly keeping up to date with the latest skin care technologies for inspiration.
Kala says "I am obsessed with molecular structure and sizes, as a colour technician for years it was obvious to me that the sizes of molecule ingredient were essential for great hair and longer lasting style. I use this as a basis for all innovation, get the good stuff in, do less of the bad stuff and protect from the elements"

Warm, approachable and real…Kala doesn’t just understand her target market, she’s part of it!

Your hair type – how to define?

The hair cuticle is the outermost part of the hair shaft. It is formed from dead cells, overlapping in cylindrical layers, which form scales that give the hair shaft strength and provides protection of the internal hair structure, known as the cortex. • Fine hair has approximately 2-4 layers of cuticle
• Medium hair has approximately 4–6 layers of cuticle
• Coarse hair has approximately 6–10 layers of cuticle
This variants in the cuticle layers explain why the hair types feel so different. This is also why they behave so differently during and after chemical services and during and after styling.

It is essential to tailor your haircare regime according to your hair type, so having this knowledge is critical if you want to really get the best from your hair.

As an example, permanent colour molecules are very small and so able to penetrate easier through the cuticles into the cortex. Semi-permanent and temporary colour molecules are much larger in size so deposit in between the cylindrical cuticle layers.

One of the easiest ways to explain this is that when permanently colouring the hair, the formula has to penetrate the cuticle layers in order to deposit into the cortex. This is generally a simple and fast process on fine hair but coarse hair often requires longer development times and formula variation in order to help it get through the cuticle on coarse hair.

Finer hair is easier to damage and loses semi-permanent and temporary colour more quickly due to the fewer layers of cuticle. Remember, the cuticle is the protector of the internal structure so having only 2–4 layers means heat styling (mechanical), environmental and chemical damages occurs far more quickly if care isn’t taken.

Shampoo and Conditioner – how to choose the right one for you

Shampoo – cleanses the hair and scalp – removing the daily effects of pollution, sweat and product build up. Some shampoos have the ability to deposit relevant ingredients to temporarily support the structure of the hair, making it feel fuller and more volumous.

Conditioner – helps close the cuticle down making the hair easier to detangle, helping it have a smooth surface in order to reflect light better so will look shineier. Some conditioners have ingredients that temporarily make the hair softer and more manageable and protect from environmental damage.

Hair TypeShampoo
Shampoo ConsistencyConditioner
FineClearLow ViscosityClearLow ViscosityProtein Leav-in spray
MediumTranslucentMedium ViscosityTranslucentMedium ViscosityProtein Leav-in spray alternated with Hair Masque
CoarseOpalescentHigh ViscosityOpalescentHigh ViscosityHair Masque

Clear, translucent shampoos add no weight to the hair so are perfect for fine limp hair as they have none of the more moisturising ingredients that weigh hair down. They are generally a lower viscosity so as not to add weight.

If you have fine coloured hair or fine hair that feels dry don’t get tempted to use a heavy, creamy conditioner, try a protein spray or leave in (still comb through from the ends of your hair) this way you are conditioning and repairing but without adding weight.

Medium hair – the perfect head of hair requires and equal balance of both protein and moisture.

Thicker coarse hair, coloured or not requires much more moisturising formulas for both shampoo and conditioning, these formulas and a thicker, heavier, creamery consistency and are generally opalescent. This is because they contain oils and creams that help moisturise and weigh the hair down. Always comb the rich heavy conditioner though on this hair type to smooth the unruly cuticles down as they help the hair reflect light making it look super healthy.

Hair masque

Our hair and nails are the last place to receive the benefits of vitamins and we rarely eat as much of the good stuff as we need. As hair is 91% protein, in order to repair it from the inside out, a regular hair masque is the solution. Many masques available are moisture based so make the hair feel soft and smooth but don’t actually do any internal good. A simple homemade protein based masque is all you need.

These 2 examples are perfect for all hair types, they are a great blend of proteins and fatty acids exactly what we need for Happy Healthy Hair.

Ingredients for Banana Hair Masque
1 banana
¼ cup of almond milk
2 tbsp coconut oil
2 tbsp honey

Cut banana into small pieces and place in a bowl
Add ¼ cup of almond milk
Add 2 tbsp coconut oil
Add 2 tbsp honey
Blend or mash until smooth

Ingredients for Avocado Hair Masque
1 pitted avocado
1 egg yolk
2 tbsp of either coconut, olive or almond oil

Place the avocado and egg yolk in a bowl
Add 2 tbsp of either coconut, olive or almond oil
Blend or mash until smooth

Directions of use: • Apply to freshly shampooed, towel dried hair (squeeze water from the hair don’t rub, this prevent roughing the cuticle and causing damage)
• Cover with a plastic shower cap or bag and a warm towel if possible
• Leave for 20 mins
• Comb through gently with a wide tooth comb from end to roots so as not to stress and damage the hair
• Give your scalp a lovely massage – see details of the benefits above
• Rinse thoroughly
• 20 mins is perfect timing for treatments and don’t sleep with them in as there are no extra benefits.
• You can add a couple of drops of your favourite essential oil if you want a more fragrant indulgence.
• Drying your hair thoroughly instead of leaving it damp and tying it up will prevent, fungus, scalp problems and breakage.

Sulphate free shampoos have less salts than regular ones so in theory less detergent (less bubbles) they are a more creamy texture than frothy, so less harsh and chemical. If you have a very sensitive scalp, your colour fades too quickly, a chemical smoothing system or hair extensions, then use sulphate free at least as your second shampoo.

The difference between professional and high street haircare products is the price, quality and quantity of the effective ingredients and the benefits and results will be evident more quickly.

As an example, parfum (highest price) has the highest concentration of ingredients with the longest lasting fragrance when worn, whereas eau de toilette is cheaper due to a more diluted formula.

Know your stuff

Chlorine affects the cuticle layers of the hair in the same way as throwing large stones at roof tiles! It’s all because the High PH level swells the cuticle the outside layer of the hair making the hair look damaged, makes it feel brittle and encourages colour fade.

As a general rule the effects of any chemical process stay in the hair and make it very porous, so I may take longer to dry as well as lose colour in the more porous areas more quickly.

Silicone is a mineral - they are good and bad for the hair. Amazing for creating shine and temporarily smoothing down the cuticle, hiding split ends and making the hair reflect light. But they build up on the hair as they form a plastic coating a fake shine which in most cases is not water soluble, so the hair ends up looking dull and limp.

Never ever double process your hair with artificial colour, this means if you colour your hair at home don’t use the same formula for the ends as the roots. The reason for this is the developer is designed to lift and cover grey/white that is not required for the mid lengths (unless of course it’s a first time application)

Water down the formula with warm water to reduce its strength and use a protein leave in conditioning spray before applying as this will even out the porosity and give a more uniform result with less damage.

Low PH conditioners 2.5-3.5, often called anti-oxi restore your hair to its natural balance. They de swell, remove chemical residue and help close the cuticle. Always comb through very gently from the tips working your way up to the scalp and leave for a few minutes before rinsing.

Caffeine has been used in lots of studies to prove its benefits but if you really have fine, lifeless hair and are desperate for volume and of course are doing all of the above, invest in a shampoo containing caffeine. Really massage into the hair and scalp and leave for 2 mins before rinsing.

Use a clarifying shampoo if you are experiencing product build up from overuse of styling products, very porous hair due to the number of chemical services, if you are taking medication or if you are a regular swimmer. Leave the shampoo for a couple of minutes before rinsing off as this helps remove the effects and residues of metals, medication and silicones and prepares the hair for further conditioning.

Ingredients to look for in your haircare products:

Protein: • Jojoba Oil
• Wheat
• Caffeine
Moisture: • Aloe Vera
• Shea Butter
• Coco

Difference between organic and natural products

Natural – Ingredients meaning naturally derived ingredients from plant and mineral extracts which will be stabilized with chemicals.

Organic – natural ingredients that have not been subject to chemicals, herbicides and pesticides - I believe these products if they claim to been 100% organic need to be kept in the fridge in between use as they won’t have a chemical preservative to maintain the longevity of the formula. They may have a few organic ingredients but often will be stabilized with chemical ones and non-organic ones.

I think the key to the correct products is to invest in the best quality products you can afford for your hair type. Think about what you want to achieve with styling and feel or look at the fluidity of the product and that will indicate the result.Heavy in texture and dense in colour adds weight. Whereas very clear liquid will tend to be weightless.

Heat Styling – What’s right for your hair?

The temperature you style your hair with, will ultimately be one of the largest contributing factors to hair damage. Each hair type needs an adjustment in temperature, from drying your hair, to using your straighteners and curling wands. You don’t iron a silk blouse on the same temperature as cotton shirt and we must treat our hair with the same caution as overtime, excessive heat styling will result in dry, brittle hair which is accentuated with colour treated hair.

When the hair is left to dry naturally it becomes more vulnerable to the elements of friction, environment and chemical damage as it is in its most fragile state over a longer period of time rather than drying hair with sophisticated heat technologies, which allows moisture to be retained and the external structure of the hair to harden and form its protective layer.

For the most effective blow dry without compromise to the hairs condition start by squeezing the water from your hair with a towel. Do not rub as this damages the fragile cuticles. Comb through your chosen styling and protection product in order to evenly distribute and protect.
Create three sections, the first being the nape from ear to ear, second – halo from temple to temple and the third with the remaining hair.

Blow-dry tips and techniques

When your hair is wet the hydrogen bonds are broken down temporarily. They are then reformed into the shape you create during the drying process and will stay that way until the hair is wet again. Hair has memory so remembers what happens between being wet and dry.

The hairdryer itself is one of the most important parts of achieving the perfect blow-dry. It’s worth investing a little money in your hairdryer at home to ensure you are using a high quality tool that not only gives you an easier blow dry with fantastic results but also protects the hair from excessive heat damage. Look for at least 1,800 watts with multiple heat and air settings as well as the essential cool shot.

Allow plenty of time to blow-dry your hair, remembering that the result will last longer if you do it well. For the most effective blow dry without compromise to the hairs condition start by squeezing the water from your hair with a towel. Do not rub as this damages the fragile cuticles. Comb through your chosen styling and protection product in order to evenly distribute and protect. Pre- wrap or rough drying the hair is extremely important so ensure to get the hair about 70 per cent dry before you try and style it otherwise it will just take too long.

Next, divide the hair into manageable sections; there’s no right or wrong way to do this, but a suggestion is they shouldn’t be wider than the width of the brush or taller than the depth of the brush. Working with small manageable sections means that you will have a more effective blow-dry. Twist long hair up into mini buns to keep it out of the way.

Hold the dryer about 6 inches away from your scalp on a medium heat and medium speed, this way you have complete control. Keep the dryer moving to control the airflow and avoid applying too much heat in a single spot at any time.

For a blow-dry with lots of volume, give a lot of attention to your roots and blow-dry upwards underneath the section, this will create the volume and avoid hair being slick to the head. Work with the ends first, as these tend to dry the quickest.

For a super smooth blow-dry it is all about the control. You need to control the movement of your hairdryers air direction. Grip and pull the brush through your hair with full control, point the nozzle downwards and dry from root to tip ensure all the cuticles are blown in the same direction.
If your hair starts to dry out during drying spritz it with water as this ensures that a true shape can be created in the hair.*

Always finish each section with cold air shot once the hair section is dry, heat creates shape and cool fixes it so this ensures a longer lasting, healthy looking smoother finish. For a bit of a curl and to add extra bounce, twist your hair in the brush very gently without pulling too much, get it hot then use the cool shot for a few seconds before removing the brush.

Always give the hair a cool shot of air all over to add additional shine.

As I said before use the right tools. The right hair brush is essential to achieve the perfect blow-dry. The type of brush will determine what result you will achieve, remember a paddle brush is for blow drying straight styles while a round brush is for encouraging volume and texture. Choose boar and bristle brush for smoothness whereas acrylic is best for volume. Remember to choose the best hairbrush for your hair type; pure bristles stimulate the scalp and its natural oils so this is perfect for those wanting smoother hair. However, acrylic bristles don’t stimulate the scalp so this choice is ideal for finer thinner hair or for hair that gets oily quickly. You can vary the size of the brush head according to how much hair you are working and how loose or tight you want the bouncy blow-dry curls.

Don’t ignore your dryers’ nozzle / concentrator as it is key to achieving a smooth blow dry and controlling the air flow to a concentrated hair area.

The truth about styling tools.

Most of us heat up our straighteners to the highest setting, this is the first mistake as hair is like fabric. You wouldn’t iron a silk blouse on the same setting as a cotton shirt, the result required is the same but due to the fragility of the silk a lower temperature is required. Hair is exactly the same. Never use heated styling tools on damp hair unless they specify its okay to do so, this is because there is nowhere for the water to escape to so it will boil and burn you and your hair.

Hotter isn’t better, it just causes more damage internally to the hairs structure as well as the visible breakage and split ends you see. The hairs structure has 2 types of bonds, the first is Hydrogen Bonds which are broken down and reformed when hair is wet and then dried and styled. The other is Disulphide or Salt Bonds.If these are damaged with chemicals or mechanically (heat) your hair will basically lose all memory of the shape it’s supposed to be break and internally, this damage is practically irreversible. Think of what happens to your favourite cashmere jumper on the hot wash, ruined.

Use the guide to know which temperate is right for you if you take the styling tool from root to tip in one single pass. For creating curls it’s okay to do one pass root to ends to heat the section then curl on the second pass, but you can turn the tool down. It’s a little known fact that heat creates the shape and cool fixes so for a longer lasting straight, curly or wavy result let the hair cool down before you touch it, that way the shape cools into position and will last longer.

I always recommend you section your hair clean dry hair before starting, this prevents extra tension, pulling, dragging or hair getting caught during styling.

Use a heat protection spray, brush through so it’s evenly distributed or spray each section but ensure it is not wet!!! Select the correct temperate for your hair. For straightening or curling take a 1 inch section and pull taut. Gently clamp the hair between the plates as close to the roots as possible and glide the iron slowly from root to tip for slick locks. For curls with the iron use the same technique you use to curl ribbon wrap the hair around the iron turn 360 degrees and then gently glide the iron through the hair. If using a wand, wrap the hair in a clockwise direction and hold for no longer than 5 seconds for curls and waves. Repeat throughout your whole head and then leave to cool before finishing with the product of your choice. For even longer lasting curls roll each individual curl around your fingers whilst warm and secure with a grip until your whole head is complete. Leave to cool before removing all the grips, you can then choose to shake out for a casual look, brush with a bristle brush for a smoother more vintage glamour lookor take a vent brush through for a more natural curly feel.

Good quality tools have fast recovery which means they have a consistent temperature so you get an even result all the way down the hair shaft. Lesser quality tools don’t have this which means they have be to taken through the hair a number of times which overheats sections of the hair quite dramatically and this will cause severe damage.

The styling products of choice here can make a real different to the finished look as well. Oil based or wax based styling products are better on thicker coarse and curly hair will make your hair look a little darker whilst clay or chalk based products ( dry shampoo root boost powder) will make the hair look lighter and are better on finer hair so select carefully.

Creamy blow-dry lotions are amazing at helping create a smooth finish as they add moisture during the blow-dry and help prevent the frizzy flyways from going wild whilst caffeine enriched and high sugar content blow-dry sprays are brilliant for fine hair blow-drying as they temporarily reduce the oil produced from the scalp whilst the sugar and starch thicken the hair strand.

The benefits of hair supplements?

It’s a fact that 1 in 3 women have hair loss and thinning hair concerns – Diffuse hair loss caused by severe stress, medication or poor diet being one of the most common.

Years ago we would have been advised to eat a cube of jelly to improve our hair and nails, not actually a myth as Jelly made with gelatin, a tasteless protein is capable of providing some of the essential amino acids that human hair is made up of, as well as the ability to renew cells.

As hair is 91% protein and constructed of 16 amino acids combined with the fact that hair and nails are the last body parts to receive vital nutrients most of us that want to improve the quality and health of our hair need additional support.

They work by being absorbed into your digestive system providing the essential amino acids the hair requires.

You would need to take a supplement for at least 3 months to really notice and feel a difference, generally 2 per day and they work directly during the ‘Anagen’(growing phase of the hairs natural cycle).

I strongly recommend Hair Jelly protein capsules with their Sulphur rich amino acids, they really do the job and are suitable for vegetarians.