Hydration is fundamental
Just like your skin, keeping things hydrated should be a top hair priority. “This is the first thing you need to know and remember about hair: healthy hair is 97% protein and 3% water,” explains Michael. “Avoid anything that dries the hair out or makes the protein structure less flexible and stable.” Dehydration breaks down these vital protein structures, which invariably leads to dry, brittle and frizzy hair that’s prone to breakage.
Steer clear of any hair harmers
If you’re in pursuit of longer, more luscious locks, Michael suggests you reconsider some potentially harmful elements of your lifestyle. He cites the following as particularly damaging to strands, and so you should either protect your hair from them or avoid them completely: “UV light, excessive colouring, seawater, pool water, hot styling tools, poor quality products, silicone and dehydrating heavy oils.”
This is particularly important if you have longer hair already. “Most of these won’t matter if you wear your hair short (just a few inches long) because it’s replaced every four months,” he shares. “But if you wear your hair longer, it can take three to four years to replace hair that takes abuse daily.”
Make sure you're actually helping your hair from the inside out
Just because your hair feels softer post-wash doesn’t necessarily mean it’s not simply a temporary effect. “Most of the products out there fake their way into your shopping basket with claims of being moisturising and hydrating, when in fact the silicones they use to make the hair feel nice are actually dehydrating the hair,” explains Michael.
Michael instead recommends his “original hero product”, the LifeSaver Prewash Treatment, which he’s used for 25 years to resuscitate damaged hair in his salon. “You soak dry hair with it and leave on, ideally overnight, two to three times a week. It’s a complete hair game changer and we’ve seen incredible results with it. Nothing else comes close,” he says.
For healthier strands, he also suggests slotting in regular five minute scalp massages. “This will relax the scalp and encourage more blood supply, bringing nutrients and removing toxins,” he explains. “Aim to move the scalp with the finger tips – don’t rub hair around over itself.”
Skip the silicone
In Michael’s opinion, silicones provide little more than a bandaid solution to damaged hair. “Over 95% of hair products use silicone additives to smooth the surface and varnish over the cracks in hair. Despite the manufacturers’ claims, this isn’t haircare – it’s a cosmetic illusion,” he suggests. “Most silicones are hydrophobic so whilst they make hair appear pretty today, they dry it out further tomorrow, so you reach for more silicone-laden product. Kerching!”
Quitting silicones and saying goodbye to the temporary softness they provide can be difficult, but Michael strongly advises pushing through: “Persistence pays off as genuine health returns,” he reassures.
Michael explains that ingredients lists won’t necessarily say ‘silicone’, so recommends keeping an eye out for the scientific names instead: cyclopentasiloxane, dimethicone, trimethicone, or any ingredients ending in -conol or -cone.
Dial back the heat styling
We already know that regular heat styling does not healthy hair make, but here’s a little reminder to maybe space out your hot tool use a little more. “If your hair is six inches long, the ends have been around for 365 days; twelve inches long and that’s 730 days,” says Michael. “How you habitually treat your hair in those days all adds up.”
Don’t worry, though, you don’t have to swear off your straighteners for life: just reducing the frequency of your hot tool use will greatly improve your hair health. “People ask if shampooing every day is bad for the hair. The answer is no if you are using quality products and air-drying, but over blow-drying or ironing hair with poor technique seven times a week is much worse than twice a week,” he explains. “The difference is burning the same piece of hair an extra 261 times a year. Over a thousand extra times on the ends of long hair! Using small improvements in different habits will completely transform the condition of your hair over time.”