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I have ultra-fine, thin hair. My ponytail is less than an inch in diameter--that is, before the hair tie starts slowly sliding out of my slippery hair.
My hair is also fragile and prone to sun damage. A couple of weeks in the hot sun, and I have a lovely platinum mess of broken hair on my head.
Too much mistreatment and my hair just gives up on life and breaks off tragically at about chin level.
My hair and I thus have a somewhat contentious relationship. But after years of conflict, I am delighted to announce that we have finally come to a truce. So long as it agrees to meet my demands.
My requirements are:
- My hair must be shiny and healthy.
- My hair must have malleable volume.
- My hair must be opaque at the ends.
My solution is threefold. First of all, for my haircuts, I require laser-like precision in the cut combined with a silent, monkish salon atmosphere.
I get my hair done at L’humaine Comédie in the 2nd arrondissement of Paris. The salon is decorated with ironic framed frames and vintage barber chairs, and it serves the best Japanese green tea--the kind that gets oily on top and leaves sediment in the mug.
The hairdresser Yuji speaks only in whispers and spends hours on each head. He cuts, then his assistant does a shampoo, then he cuts, then he blow dries, then he cuts again. Then he styles. All with frequent tea breaks. It takes half a day, but the precision of the cut breathes movement into even the thinnest hair.
The second solution to my hair mission is not a popular one: I wash and blow-dry my hair daily. This gives me the shine and volume I desire, plus it erases the kinks and the flatness my hair has acquired from sleep.
Frequent washing and drying is supposed to be damaging for hair, but quite honestly, my hair is so delicate that I can wash all of it with a drop of shampoo and it dries so instantaneously that the heat from the blowdryer barely touches it.
My third solution has to do with using the right products on my hair. The hunt for these products has taken me years and at least a dozen brands.
I have finally found the right chemical magic to turn my cut, washed and dried hair into an accessory worth wearing every day: Parisian brand Leonor Greyl.
Leonor Greyl makes magical products with a lot of personality. They’ve been doing natural ingredients for 40 years, well before “natural” became a popular marketing strategy. I love the brand for the effect it has on my hair, but also for its use of noble ingredients: expensive, special components with high efficacy and a glamorous origin.
Leonor Greyl products have gorgeous ingredients lists. Check out all of the plant extracts and oils in their Mousse au Lotus Volumatrice:
Aqua/Water – Isobutane – Butane – Polyquaternium 4/Hydroxypropyl Starch Copolymer – PEG-40 Hydrogenated Caster Oil – Hydrogenated Polysobutene – Propane – Buxus Chinensis Seed Oil – Calodendrum Capense Oil – PEG-15 Cocopolyamine – Serica – Urea – Octyl Methoxycinnamate – Dicocolethyl Hydrosyethylmonium Methosulfate – Propylene Glycol – Hydroxyethylmonium Methosulfate – Propylene Glycol – VP/VA Copolymer - Decyl Glucoside – Panthenyl Ethyl Ether – Polysorbate 20 – Glyceryl Laurate – Tocopheryl Acetate – Phytantriol – Lactic Acid - Chitosan – Foeniculum Vulgare (Fennel) Fruit Extract – Humulus Lupulus (Hops) Extract – Melissa Officinalis Leaf Extract – Viscum Album (Mistletoe) Leaf Extract – Chamomilla Recutita (Matricaria) Flower Extract – Achillea Millefolium Extract – Aesculus Hippocastanum (Horse Chestnut) Seed Extract – Allium Sativum Extract – Fucus Vesiculosus Extract – Nelumbium Speciosum Extract – Retinyl Palmitate – PABA – Inositol – Calcium Pantothenate – Linoleic Acid – Biotin – Hydroxyethylcellulose – Cetrimonium Bromide – Chlorphenesin – Imidazolidinyl Urea – Parfum/Fragrance
The extracts have active ingredients in them, but they also add natural fragrances to the final product. Plus, it feels very glamorous to wash one’s hair in fennel fruit and horse chestnut seed extract.
My washing routine consists of a gentle shampoo followed by a hydrating mask once or twice a week. I style with a mousse on towel-dried hair and blow dry with a round brush.
Here are the Leonor Greyl products I use:
Bain Volumateur aux Algues is a volumizing shampoo for thin and limp hair. It has a detangling effect, so hair feels both clean and moisturized without the need for a conditioner. This is my main shampoo. I love the gentleness of the product. After a lifetime of using shampoo and conditioner, I appreciate the elegance of an all-in-one product and the simplicity only one bottle in the shower. The smell is delicate and vegetal and the texture is soft and delicious.
Shampooing au Miel is a gentle volumizing shampoo for all hair types. It comes in a stiff little bottle with a screw-on cap, sturdy enough for travel. The product looks and smells like the sort of clear bitter honey sold at farmer’s markets. It even has a honey-like texture, albeit without the stickiness. This shampoo is slightly more clarifying than the Bain Volumateur and adds lots of shine, though it is still perfectly gentle and hydrating.
Masque Fleurs de Jasmin is a nourishing treatment mask for thin, dry hair. It smells spicy and slightly floral and comes with a little spatula for hygienic application. I use this once or twice a week to soften my hair and make it more manageable. It adds sleekness to my hair, particularly when it feels rough after commuting in a polluted city or swimming all day at the beach. It does not deflate the volume created by the shampoo.
Mousse au Lotus Volumatrice is an alcohol-free styling mousse with UVA/UVB solar protection. It is very smooth and rich with no visible bubbles and applies evenly through damp or dry hair. It smells slightly floral. I like it because it never gets crunchy or oily-looking and it’s impossible to over apply; it absorbs beautifully into the hair. I can also layer it depending on how big I want my hair that day. Also, the sun protection seems to be working so far, although vacation in drizzly Bretagne is not exactly the harshest solar exposure.
For me, the first step to accepting a part of myself that I have trouble with--like acne-prone skin, or eczema on my hands--is to do something to indulge that part of myself.
I create associations between pleasant experiences and said troublesome attribute to help me look at it with warmth and a sense of humor. Even just developing a hair routine and having a row of little bottles in my shower helps me accept and enjoy my rather tricky hair texture.
But good products also make a big difference.
Anyone have fine/thin hair like mine? What do you do to make it work for you?