How to get beautiful hair

Leah Hardy / 26 September 2019

Concerned about thinning, dry and fragile hair? Leah Hardy reveals how you can get thicker, fuller, healthier-looking hair right now.



Good hair matters. More than 80% of us say we feel the most confident when our hair looks great; 72% say that feeling good about our hair is empowering.

As we get older, we still want full, smooth, glossy, hair with movement but challenges include loss of volume – up to 70% of us have noticeably thinner hair by the age of 70 - and the appearance of ever more flyaways and frizz.

So, what causes these changes and how can we prevent, fix and disguise them?

Trichologist Anabel Kingsley says, “Thinning hair is largely down to genetics – you can inherit a tendency to hair loss from your mother, father or both - but is also reliant on hormones, diet and general health.”

Menopause speeds up changes to the hair. Says Kingsley, “As your body produces less oestrogen, the proportion of androgens (male hormones) increases. Testosterone is converted to a dihydrotestosterone (DHT), a steroid hormone that binds to receptors in your scalp, where, in genetically vulnerable men and women, it attacks the hair root. Strands gradually get finer in diameter and are unable to grow as long as they once could. Some of those shrinking strands may even disappear entirely over time.”

The first visible signs of hair loss may appear at the parting, which looks wider. Hair at the temples recedes. Eventually you might see widespread thinning.

Treatment includes the use of minoxidil – a topical treatment that stimulates hair follicles to prevent further loss and regrow hair. Find minoxidil in Regaine for Women foam (£25.95 for a month’s supply, Boots.com). It is best used to treat early signs of thinning and can be used by women up to the age of 65. Other treatments work by blocking the effects of DHT. Try Philip Kingsley Tricho 7 Daily Scalp Drops (£50 100mls philipkingsley.co.uk) or The Ordinary Multi-Peptide Serum for Hair Density (£15.80 60mls theordinary.com).

Our sebaceous glands produce less oil as we age. The result? Drier, less supple hair. Hair also becomes wavier and less glossy, for reasons scientists don’t fully understand. To restore strength, gloss and manageability, Anabel Kingsley recommends a weekly pre-shampoo conditioning treatment with Philip Kingsley Elasticizer (From £21.50 philipkingsley.co.uk) or try Olaplex No 3 Hair Perfector, the first at-home version of the salon treatment which helps rebuild bonds in the hair (£24 cultbeauty.com)

Pick a volumising shampoo and conditioner. L’Oreal’s Fibrology range, which includes shampoos, sprays and leave-in serums, is inexpensive but effective. I also like Philip Kingsley Body Building Shampoo (£19.50 250mls) and Body Building Conditioner (£22.50 philipkingsley.co.uk) which are good for fine, flyaway hair that gets flat and oily at the roots.  

Styling can make a huge difference to even the limpest locks. First brush with a detangling brush that’s gentle on vulnerable wet hair. Spritz with a heat protection spray all over, then rough dry using your dryer without a nozzle until your hair is about 80% dry – this helps swell the hair. Next, apply a golf ball-sized blob of volumising mousse.  Try Fudge Xpander Foam (£13.75 200ml lookfantastic.com) or L'Oreal Elnett Crème de Mousse Volume Strong Hold (£5.99 200ml boots.com).

Now put the nozzle back on your dryer.  Stylist and ghd ambassador Zoe Irwin says, “Working with small to medium sections, place a round brush into the root area. Keep the tension as you move the brush through your hair, lifting the hair and directing heat at the barrel as you go.”

Simply switching up your parting can help if you have thinning at the crown. A low side parting or a zig-zag parting can both create an illusion of fullness. A Helen Mirren-style short bob, without layers and with blunt ends and a side-swept fringe, is versatile, modern and makes the most of fine hair.

Don’t despair if your hair still doesn’t look as va-va-voluminious as that of stars such as Mary Berry or Andrea McLean. They, like many celebrities, have a secret – hair-plumping extensions. For Mary’s look, try Hershesons’ Hair Fillers, tiny, super-subtle human hair extensions that take an hour to fit, last up to four months and don’t pull fine, fragile hair. From around £300 (Hershesons.com).

 Andrea favours clip-in temporary extensions which your hairdresser can cut and colour to suit your style (from £35 Hershesons.com). For serious hair loss, consider a system such as Great Lengths’ GL Volume, which uses a ‘cap’ of ethically-derived human hair, woven into your natural hair so you can sleep, exercise and swim in it. At around £1000 for the initial treatment (find a salon at greatlengthshair.co.uk), plus maintenance appointments every six to eight weeks, it’s not cheap, but can revolutionise your confidence.

Leah's favourite hair products

Rich conditioners are essential for dry, fragile hair, but can weigh hair down, making it look limp. The solution? A pre-shampoo conditioner. Philip Kingsley’s Elasticizer was developed especially for Audrey Hepburn. This new version is deliciously scented with pomegranate, cassis and spice. Wear overnight and wash out in the morning for maximum effect. From £21.50 philipkingsley.co.uk

There are plenty of hair supplements out there. The best-tested is probably Viviscal, which contains marine proteins and vitamins and has been shown to help increase fullness in a number of clinical trials. From £38.99 for a month’s supply (viviscal.co.uk).

L'Oreal Elvive Fibrology Thickening Shampoo and (£2.99 250ml Boots.com) and L'Oreal Elvive Fibrology Fine Hair Conditioner (£2.99 250ml Boots.com) contain a patented ingredient, Filloxane, which swells hair fibres from within, offering noticeably thicker hair at a price that won’t slim your purse.

When blow-drying, pick a round brush with a ceramic barrel to retain heat and smooth the cuticle, and which is vented to allow air to flow through, speeding up drying time. The ghd Ceramic Vented Radial Brush, Size 2 is perfect for short to medium hair. To create body in the crown, you can even use it as a roller, wrapping the whole section around the brush, blasting with hot air, then allowing the hair to cool before removing the brush.  (£12 johnlewis.com)

A heat protector spray is essential for fine, fragile hair. L'Oreal Elnett Heat Protect Hairspray Volume offers heat protection, tames flyaways and frizz, adds shine and locks in volume for up to three days. Spritz all over hair before blow-drying or heat styling (£5.99 superdrug.com)

Philip Kingsley Tricho 7 Daily Scalp Drops contain natural anti-androgenic ingredients to protect the hair root from DHT. It also improves scalp health over time while instantly giving the look of more volume. (£50 100ml philipkingsley.co.uk)

Wet hair is particularly vulnerable to breakage. Regular brush which can snap and pull out your precious locks. Even combs can damage fragile wet hair. Tangle Teezer's newest addition to their detangling family is The Wet Detangler. The 325 unique teeth detangle every strand of hair quickly and gently by flexing through hair. (£10 johnlewis.com)


The opinions expressed are those of the author and are not held by Saga unless specifically stated.

The material is for general information only and does not constitute investment, tax, legal, medical or other form of advice. You should not rely on this information to make (or refrain from making) any decisions. Always obtain independent, professional advice for your own particular situation.