Every once in awhile there’s one little comment made that just won’t get out of your head. This summer, it was “Your hair seems to be thinning a little bit…” Well, I had noticed that there was a little more hair around the shower drain, and that my hair was increasingly dry and flat. But thinning? I needed to get to the bottom of this.
I started talking to friends of mine – lo and behold, many had similar hair issues. One said her hair was coming out in chunks. Another said that her hair was so dry, no amount of conditioner would help. And a third said she’s just had bad hair since moving here, and she wants to cut it all off.
What is causing this?! Is it weather? Water? Diet? Could it be the shampoos we use or treatments we are having done, since we often cannot read the product labels? Is it stress or hormones?
I decided to go to the professionals and ask them what they are seeing in their clients. What better place to go than Eric Paris Salon – to Eric himself, no less – for help in understanding our China hair issues.
Eric Constantino comes from three generations of hair stylists in France. He owns several salons, and he serves celebrity clients as well as everyday people like you and me. He’s been in the business for more than 25 years and he knows what he’s talking about. When he and his wife, Katy Sinnott (CEO of the salons), sat down to talk with me, I listened with eager ears to what they had to say.
You know all those factors listed above as possible reasons for hair issues? Yes, all of them can play a role. Other things contribute – pregnancy and post-pregnancy changes, medications, age, and even basic genes. Each person is different, of course, and treating the problem is individual. However, Eric said that there are three main reasons for hair thinning or brittleness.
First, we are way over-washing our hair. I knew that, and I sheepishly admitted it to him. I’m a creature of habit and I wash my hair every day. Which means I dry it every day. And curl or straighten it every day. I’m continually damaging damaged hair, and it’s creating a cumulative effect on not only my hair, but my scalp. When you wash your hair, you’re massaging your scalp. That activates the sebaceous glands which create protective oils for your hair. Unfortunately, you’re also washing those protective oils away and aren’t giving them the chance to work with your hair. Allowing your hair to be shampoo-free for a few days lets those natural oils keep your hair moisturized, shiny and healthy.
Second, the environment plays a part. This includes weather (ok, pollution…) as well as water. Is our water clean, we often wonder? We don’t drink it unless it’s filtered, and we often complain about how our clothes don’t last as long here after several rough washings. Why would we not assume our hair is exposed to the same harsh water? It’s the metals in the water that are the problem, and if they mix with any treatments in your hair such as coloring, then the result is often less than ideal.
Third, we cannot overlook stress. We all admit to being stressed occasionally, but it’s usually during times that are obvious – looming deadlines, travel situations, the holidays, etc. However, ANY stressors – jet lag, school starting, re-transitioning back after summer holiday – are all anxieties that tend to show on our outside – skin, hair and nails. Staying healthy on the inside (diet, exercise, stress-free) will always result in looking better on the outside. Eric says, “The better you are, the better you look.”
Eric had many other tips to offer outside of these three destroyers of good hair. If you are a swimmer – and we’re already unsure about the safety of pool water (read that blog here) – you should wear a swim cap. Better yet, dab a small amount of conditioner on your hair before putting the cap on. When you shower after the swim, the conditioner will simply be rinsed out and add a layer of protection to your hair. And any time you can add vitamins that are specific to healthy hair growth, be it in your diet or with supplements, by all means do so. Primarily, that means Vitamin C and Vitamin E with the natural protein Keratin.
When I questioned him about the products we are using, I got an honest answer that I didn’t initially want to hear – using good quality product (i.e., expensive) is best. Some suggested shampoos and conditioners were priced at RMB 135 each; deeper treatments were RMB 350. While these may be pricier than what the average woman typically buys, if you are washing your hair less often and using less product (drastically less, actually, as Eric indicated you only need a jiao-size dollop of quality shampoo, rather than the handful of cheaper product we probably otherwise use), it really comes out the same. And knowing that how we treat our hair is cumulative, doesn’t it make sense to just buy and use the more expensive product since you know it’s better for your hair?
It’s amazing to me that as much time as I spend on my hair, I knew relatively little about it. My own personal consultation with Eric resulted in a better understanding and a vow to make changes in how I care for both my hair and scalp.
To book a free consultation regarding your own hair issues, call Eric Paris Salon at the Sanlitun location (135 0137 2971) or the Kerry Center salon (139 1179 8376). And here’s to better hair days!