Facial for the hair. Image Credit: Shutterstock

Talk about true romance. We ladies have a long-lived love affair with our locks. On good days it can help us get a promotion, put a bit of bounce in our step and generally make us feel pretty good about ourselves. However, when a bad day rocks around – be it a frizzy, flat or downright drab do – it can knock our confidence, make us grumpy and generally ruin our whole look. Yet we put our hair under so much stress in the form of pollution, styling, heat damage, sun exposure, colouring and harsh brushing it’s no wonder it sometimes looks less than its best. 
But while you lavish attention on your face – exfoliating, cleansing and moisturising twice a day and going for facials – you can’t expect your hair to suddenly become super-shiny or smooth with a simple shampoo and few dollops of conditioner.

Fortunately, this is all about to change, thanks to a big beauty trend doing the rounds: hacials – aka hair facials. Whether it’s going into salons or spas to have the scalp cleansed, locks treated and shine added, or nabbing the best home products to do it yourself, hacials need to be on your beauty radar. And the professionals are pleased we have finally cottoned on.

“One of the most noticeable features a woman has is her hair and in (most) cultures it is synonymous with beauty,” says Amin Sheybani, CEO of Vivandi Hair Spa in Dubai (www.hairspa.ae). “It’s unsurprising that women are looking for ways to enhance their hair and make it as fabulous and attention-grabbing as possible.”

The tress factor

Celebrities have been having hacials for years. From Jennifer Aniston to Julia Roberts and Gwyneth Paltrow, the Hollywood A-list are smoothing, cleansing and exfoliating their hair pre-red carpet. And we suspect the likes of Deepika Padukone and Lara Dutta are big fans too, judging by their gorgeously glossy locks.

The statistics say it all. “The haircare industry is worth billions of dollars annually,” Amin says. “In fact, it is estimated that the US haircare market alone will be worth a staggering $10.5 billion (about Dh38.5 billion) by 2016, which shows how committed consumers are to ensuring their hair looks its absolute best. And yet although there is a huge array of products and treatments available at salons from well-known haircare brands, the more discerning consumer has turned to dedicated hair spas where they will receive treatments that have been specifically prescribed to their needs by a trichologist, which will ensure optimum results.”

And according to trichologists our UAE locks are likely to be in need of specialist hair help because living in the heat and desert puts our tresses under a lot of stress. “Research shows that two-thirds of women encounter some form of hair loss in their lifetime,” Amin says. “However, given the harsher, drier environment and desalinated water we have in the UAE, these figures are likely to be much higher. Genetic factors, stress and health conditions can also trigger this kind of thinning.”

Amin believes the sun is a common culprit when it comes to problems such as dryness and splitends. “These are very common in this region and can be helped with the inclusion of deep-conditioning treatments. Women can also suffer from overprocessed hair due to regular salon visits for excessive colouring, perming and semi-permanent straightening treatments.”

Add a few dips in the sea or chlorinated swimming pools and we have a whole lot of hair troubles. “Chlorine can affect hair by dissolving the oil that keeps the cuticle layers together, so it is important to minimise the contact hair has with pools,” he advises. “Also, installing a dechlorinating shower filter will help turn chlorine into harmless soluble chloride.”

If any of these hair ailments sound familiar, it’s time to book your hacial. Sharpish. In fact, Amin has one he says is a must-try at the Vivandi Hair Spa in Oud Metha. “Hair B.toxx moisturises, nourishes, repairs and rejuvenates damaged and stressed hair, adding shine and softness while eliminating frizz and split ends,” he explains. “This treatment is suitable for all hair types, and is especially 
good for those with dry, brittle and chemically treated hair.”

He likens it to Botox for the hair, saying, “The secret is the organic microspheres that are designed to determine the degree of absorption, allowing the vitamins, antioxidants and proteins to penetrate into the hair.” Impressive. This costs from Dh300 per session, which can last around an hour depending on hair type and length. The number of sessions required will 
depend on how your hair responds to treatment. And as well as this hero treatment, there are scalp exfoliating, colour care and hair loss solutions available. But that’s not all.

In the UK and US lots of salons are offering top-up hacial-style treatments as part of a standard cut and colour. During a hair wash or rinse pre-blow-dry, scalp-stimulating products are used to ensure your hair doesn’t just look great but is nourished from deep within. Salons in the UAE offer deep-conditioning treatments, too – just ask the next time you go for a trim.

Hair helpers Aveda have just launched the Healthy Hair Service as a knock-on effect of the hacials trend. It launches this month on UK counters, and luckily Aveda products are widely available across the UAE too, so hopefully this kind of service will quickly follow. The procedure entails examining various scalp conditions by zooming into your follicles 600 per cent with a special camera. A complimentary 15-minute consultation then determines what area of repair needs attention. Every customer will get a different recommendation on treatments or products. And the experts know this is much needed.

“People often forget to treat the scalp like the skin; it is bespoke to the individual and everyone’s needs and regime will therefore differ, but essentially it will always need to be cleansed, exfoliated and nourished with the right product care – the scalp truly is the foundation of healthy hair,” says Paul Goodier, creative director at the Aveda Lifestyle Salon and Spa in London’s Covent Garden.

“Healthy hair begins with a healthy scalp so it is important that we take care of it and ensure that its pH doesn’t become imbalanced during stressful periods and changes in hormones, which can cause flaking, sensitivity and dryness amongst other conditions,” says Paul. “Using a detoxifying shampoo like Invati Exfoliating (Dh123) once a week to thoroughly cleanse and remove excess sebum from follicles will help to maintain a healthy scalp and promote hair growth. It is a good idea to ask your stylist for a scalp consultation.”

In addition, the Aveda Invati Scalp Detox Treatment (about Dh180) works to thoroughly cleanse and refresh the scalp using bespoke massage techniques, combined with wintergreen-derived salicylic acid to gently exfoliate. This particular treatment is yet to reach the UAE, but we’ll be the first to let you know when it arrives.

However, it’s not just about the hacial factor – your hair reflects your lifestyle so changes in that can give you healthier locks. “Stress affects your hair as much as it affects your body and mind so get plenty of sleep and exercise,” says celebrity hairdresser Jamie Stevens (www.jamiestevens.com). “Similarly good balanced nutrition is just as important for your hair and scalp as for your body. Ensure your diet incorporates iron, protein, vitamin C, Omega-3 fatty acids and zinc.”

Salon hacials or otherwise, Amin recommends we all rethink our regime when it comes to our hair. “Before establishing your hair regime and choosing the best haircare products, you must first determine your hair type and texture, which can be achieved by a consultation with a trichologist,” he says. Board-certified trichologist Dr Mike Ryan, aka the Dubai Hair Doctor (www.dubaihairdoctor.com), is the man to approach with your hair issues.

Other experts in hair can be found all over the UAE and your doctor will be able to recommend one too – depending on what hair ailment you are suffering from. “That said, the Revivogen Pro Thickening Conditioner (Dh90, available to buy at Vivandi Hair Spa and www.basharacare.com) is a great all-round homecare product,” he adds. “Formulated specifically for limp and thinning hair, it replenishes moisture, strengthens the hair shaft and adds volume, shine and thicker, fuller hair.”

As well as a top conditioner there is one product UAE hair should never live without.

“SPF is vital,” says Amin. “Sunflower, a natural UV protectant, also makes your hair soft. And the oil acts as an emollient, providing much-needed moisture, and is also able to lock this hydration in. I suggest changing to a shampoo with added sunflower UV protection.”

We’re so busy applying SPF30 to our limbs we often forget UV rays can age, fade and damage hair strands and the scalp in the same way they do with our skin. Luckily we can clear those hurdles on the path of healthy, glossy hair with some TLC, a visit to the salon and our top three products (below) to give yourself a hair treat at home. We defy you not to let the hacial take hold.

Give yourself a hacial at home

1 Davines Detoxifying Scrub Shampoo, Dh115, Nyla House

Twice a week swap your usual shampoo for this beauty bad boy. It combines delicate surfactants with scrub particles to deeply, but gently, cleanse the scalp. Containing jojoba oil to regenerate the scalp, and polyphenol rich artichoke phytocueticals to give your shampoo some strong antioxidant action, it also helps to protect your locks from free radicals, making for one very healthy head.

2 Phyto Revitalise Phytopolleine, Dh100, BinSina Pharmacies

OK, so now you’re certain your scalp is clean, use this 100 per cent natural scalp oil. Using the powers of lemon, rosemary and sage it stimulates microcirculation to revitalise the hair follicles. Use it twice a week, pre-shower, running a pea-sized amount over the scalp and massaging it in with your fingertips. Leave it to do its thing for about 20 minutes, then shampoo and rinse as normal.

3 Phyto Phytokeratine Mask, Dh145, BinSina Pharmacies

Ensure you use a hair mask twice a week to add moisture and make it softer. This one is packed with an exclusive kind of keratin, the protein that hair is made of. Smooth it on to towel-dried hair and leave it in for five minutes. Alternatively leave it on all night long, wrapping your hair in cling film to keep it sealed in for an extra intense effect.