Britta Cox, co-founder of AQUIS, chats with Anabel Kingsley, Brand President and Trichologist at Philip Kingsley, about hair care and the science behind healthy hair.
BRITTA: What are the most important things people should know about caring for their scalp?
ANABEL: The most important thing to remember is that your scalp is skin - a living tissue - and it should be given similar TLC to the skin on your face. Like the skin on your face, frequent cleansing and toning and weekly exfoliation can really benefit your scalp.
Very importantly, your scalp is where your hair grows from; it is the bedrock of your hair follicles. If your scalp is not clean and healthy, it simply will not produce strands of their best quality. If you think of each hair as a flower, and your scalp as the soil supporting it, it makes complete sense to nourish and care for your scalp.
ANABEL: What do you think is a key step most people miss out in their usual hair washing routine?
BRITTA: I think most people don’t realize how drying their hair can be so critical when it comes to healthy hair. I knew there had to be a more effective way of drying hair than laboriously patting it with a towel and then holding a hairdryer over it for what felt like hours. I used my background in sports garment technology to research how the moisture-wicking fabrics that are so often used in sportswear, can be applied to hair care. I boarded a plane to Japan and met with experts to develop AQUITEX, a unique fiber that wicks water away from hair. This fiber was then developed at a Korean lab as a woven AQUITEX fabric. By wrapping your hair in an AQUIS Hair Towel or Turban made of AQUITEX, water is wicked away, leading to a 50% faster drying time than standard bath towels. Traditional towels drag and stretch hair down, leading to breakage.
BRITTA: What are some misconceptions you believe people have about looking after their hair?
ANABEL: There are so many myths and misconceptions surrounding hair and scalp. One reason for this is that your scalp is not super visible, which means it isn’t always obvious exactly what is going on and when there is a problem. In terms of your hair, it doesn’t have nerve endings; your strands do not sense pain, so it is hard to know when you are doing harm. One of the most common myths is that dandruff is caused by dry skin. However, dandruff is an oily condition. Rubbing oils into a flaky scalp can therefore make the problem worse. Another is that brushing is good for your hair. Brushing can create tiny nicks and abrasions along your hair cuticle. Unlike your skin, your hair fiber doesn’t regenerate once it has grown past scalp level – so over time, vigorous brushing, or rough towel-drying, can cause a lot of accumulative damage. My advice is to treat your strands like your favorite cashmere sweater. Be gentle!
ANABEL: What causes wet hair to become at risk of damage and how do AQUIS towels help to minimize this risk?
BRITTA: Wet hair strands stretch and swell and hair becomes weak rapidly, even more so for hair that is colored or chemically treated. This is because hair is at its most vulnerable when wet, losing up to 56% of its strength, due to keratin proteins absorbing all the water. So the longer hair remains wet, the harder the delicate proteins in your hair have to work to stop it from swelling and stretching, which leads to breakages, snags and frizz. Put simply, AQUIS towels drink up the water before it drowns your hair.
BRITTA: What are the most effective ways you can improve the health of your hair externally?
ANABEL: As hair does not regenerate once it is past scalp level, once the cuticle is gone, it’s gone – which means it's important to minimize daily wear and tear. Firstly, assess the tools you use every day on your hair – like brushes and towels. Boar bristle and metal pronged brushes are very scratchy and can damage both your hair and scalp. Instead, opt for a brush with rounded, plastic prongs, and a vented, cushioned base. I love our Vented Paddle Brush. Harsh, heavy towels can also abrade the hair cuticle – and the weight of them can cause breakage to your front hairline when you wrap them around your head. The AQUIS towel is a great option as it is lightweight and very gentle on strands. You should also use a low to medium heat setting when you blow dry. High heat can literally scorch strands and make them very dry. Rule of thumb – if it’s too hot to hold to your hand, it's too hot for your hair.
It is also essential to actively nourish and hydrate your hair on a weekly basis. I recommend using an intensive pre-shampoo conditioning treatment once to twice a week, alongside an exfoliating scalp mask to benefit your scalp. Our Elasticizer plumps the hair shaft with moisture, and seals down the outer cuticle, locking in hydration and adding shine and softness.
ANABEL: I’ve mentioned using gentle tools on your hair – how does the AQUIS towel manage to be so gentle, while drying hair so quickly?
BRITTA: The woven structure in AQUIS Towels leads to a faster drying time, meaning hair reaches a damp level quicker, where it starts to regain its strength. Also because the hair cuticles are not being roughed up with a traditional towel, they remain smooth, so color and shine are retained. You wrap an AQUIS Towel or Turban around your hair (never rub) and you are now hands free, so you can get on with your morning routine.
I think the key thing to remember is that AQUIS is a tool that dries your hair and your hairdryer is actually a styling device. The best way to dry your locks gently is to towel dry your hair until its 70-80% dry and then finish off with a hairdryer on the cold setting, to seal in shine. Hairdryers are designed to be used on damp hair, so they should only be used once hair is almost dry. Most people don’t realize they are boiling their locks by using a hairdryer on hot heat with dripping hair.
BRITTA: How is the health of your hair related to your overall health?
ANABEL: Hair is a very sensitive barometer of your general health. As hair is not an essential tissue, at least physically speaking, it is the first part of you your body neglects to nurture and nourish when something is amiss internally. Everything from stress, not eating correctly, a high fever, surgery, nutritional deficiencies, and thyroid and hormonal imbalances can impact hair growth.
ANABEL: What is Hygral Fatigue and how do AQUIS Towels and Turbans prevent this from occurring?
BRITTA: Hygral Fatigue, or what we refer to as water damage is what happens when water absorbs into your hair for too long. Water damage to your hair is the similar process your nails go through when exposed to water for too long as they are both made of the same keratin protein. Waterlogged nails and waterlogged hair both equal bad news: stretching, swelling, damage and breakage. While many products treat the damage once it has already occurred, AQUIS prevents the damage from occurring in the first place. A key reason why you should be using AQUIS as part of your haircare routine.
BRITTA: You have mentioned a variety of products which aid scalp and hair health, are there any other ways that the condition of your hair can be improved?
ANABEL: Hair and scalp health are closely linked to nutrition, general health and overall wellness. As mentioned before, hair is a dispensable tissue, so its growth cycle is easily thrown off-kilter.
One of the most important things you can do to support hair growth is to eat a balanced and varied diet. Protein is perhaps the most note-worthy nutrient as your hair is made of protein. Try to add at least a palm-sized portion to your breakfast and lunch to help ensure your hair is getting the amino acids it requires. Ferritin (a stored iron) is also key as your body needs it to produce the protein your hair is made of. In fact, ferritin deficiency is one of the most common causes of hair loss we see in our Clinics in London and New York. Vitamin D, Vitamin B12 and Zinc are other hair essentials to be aware of.
Managing stress levels is another way to bolster scalp and hair health. Stress can contribute to dandruff and itching. It can also trigger excessive hair shedding as it may impact general health, hormone levels and nutrient absorption.