Dull, damaged, frizzy or fine—everyone’s got a hair issue. Fortunately there are new, innovative ingredients, treatments and products to help whatever ails your locks.
FRIZZ Fighting frizzy hair and fighting cancer shouldn’t even be in the same sentence, but one scientist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology actually has a hand in both. Engineering professor Robert Langer created a polymer-based cancer treatment—it helped earn him the esteemed Millennium Technology Prize in 2008—and somewhere along the way he found that a molecule he was working with, PolyfluoroEster, could tame frizz. “Preventing frizz is about resisting water vapor, i.e., humidity,” explains Langer, who’s a founding partner of Living Proof, the company that created No Frizz, a new line of PolyfluoroEster-infused creams and sprays (debuting in February). In spite of No Frizz’s unorthodox instructions to saturate hair with the product, the results are remarkably smooth tresses with a surprisingly light feel. In other news, salon owner John Masters decided to tackle frizz the organic way by using sea kelp and marine phytoplankton in his new John Masters Organics Shine On leave-in treatment, which launches in January at Whole Foods. Meanwhile, Rene Furterer Myrrhea Anti-Frizz Silkening Conditioner relies on myrrh extract and avocado oil to control frizz and moisturize the hair shaft.
SKINNY STRANDS Hair is classified as fine when there’s not enough of its inner foundation, the cortex, below its outer layer, the cuticle. “The less cortex hair has, the more inflexible it is,” says Thia Spearing, director of technical development at hair-care brands Matrix and Logics. “The more rigid it is, the more vulnerable it is to damage from actions like brushing.” It’s impossible to alter a hair’s cortex-to-cuticle ratio—to turn fine hair into thicker hair—but keeping the cuticle in top form while creating volume is essential. Logics Volume Wrap, an in-salon treatment, infuses the cuticle with ceramides to strengthen and repair its frayed edges, while starch in the formula makes hair feel more dense, which doesn’t sound far-fetched considering what cornstarch does to gravy. Kim Vo uses peptides—the same weapon in most lash-thickening conditioners—in his Volumizing Masque to strengthen hair and give it more fullness. Other new fine hair–targeted products are employing minerals: Calcium and silica in L’Oréal Professional Volume Expand Masque, an at-home product, separate hair fibers to create an overall fullness; magnesium pairs with seawater to tone and amplify hair in Shu Uemura’s new Art of Hair Muroto Volume line.
BREAKAGE When hair breaks easily or lacks luster, the fault often lies below the surface. “People don’t really think about their scalps,” says Carla Gentile, owner of Steam Salon in Los Angeles. “But if you look at your hair as a root, it grows out of your scalp, so that needs to be healthy.” Gentile has been focusing on scalps for nine years since opening Steam, where clients select essential oils for a 45-minute therapeutic scalp massage. A year ago she enlisted a chemist to reformulate the oils she’d been whipping up herself; he added antioxidants (like moringa, pomegranate and acai) aimed at healing hair follicles and preventing the scalp from becoming too oily or too dry. Each Steam Scalp Oil can be purchased for home use. Once your scalp is healthy, Fekkai Ageless Crème Luxe Hair Treatment will target hair’s inner cortex by penetrating it with orchid root extract, known for its long-lasting ability to retain moisture.