Look around you at Europe’s most arid summer for decades, with conditions predicted to wither on in some areas until October. Many of us are experiencing our longest parched period since the 1970s. Rivers have run dry; soil is too scorched to farm.
‘We could be in Tuscany,’ I muttered to the dog on this morning’s walk/stagger, meaning not cathedrals and gelati, but grass shrivelled to straw, leaves withered at our feet.
Now look at your hair. Sorry, I know I’m supposed to be a friend, but you take my point. Forest fires are not merely threatened in our wilds, many of us are setting up danger zones on our heads.
Apart from insisting on SPF 50 at all times, I’m not too much of a killjoy. Normally, I’d say crack on with summer, then offer up some hair recovery tips come autumn.
However, I wouldn’t be looking after your best interests if I didn’t stage an intervention now. After all, it’s what I’ve had to do with my own fine-yet-frizzy, constantly thirsty locks.
Hannah Betts says now is the time to deal with dried out, frizzy heatwave hair and recommends a haircut and a glossy coat of colour
First off, I had my preparatory back-to-school cut done in sweltering summer with the brilliant Michael Van Clarke (from £75 for a stylist, vanclarke.com).
Michael’s dry-cutting technique allows him to assess your face, hair texture and the way it grows to give you the ideal cut — no hiding behind a glossy blow-dry. This means that even if you do no styling yourself (guilty as charged), your hair will fall effortlessly back into place, day in, day out, still looking glorious months later.
Once experienced, you won’t want to go back to a bog-standard wet chop.
Next, colour. When Magda, my beloved blow-dry queen, saw how pinky-orange much of my natural shade was becoming, she painted irregular chunks of glossy, dark brown L’Oreal Inoa ammonia-free colour over it to take out some of the sun bleaching; a sort of low-key, reverse balayage, if you will (from £45, cilahairdressing.com).
Meanwhile, I am raising my maintenance game. You may want to throw a little money at this. Names to conjure with shampoo and conditioner-wise include Moroccan Oil, Philip Kingsley, Michael Van Clarke’s 3 More Inches range and Living Proof.
Grey-haired pals rave about Living Proof’s No-frizz Intense Moisture Mask (£33, livingproof.co.uk). Or there’s its Restore range (from £22), which draws a line under damage and brings back shine, especially with hair that has lost pigmentation and gone brittle. Me, I’m limp and lacklustre so I love Living Proof’s volumising Full line (from £12).
If you’re budgeting, continue with what you normally use, but leave your conditioner on for longer as a mask. Then add L’Oreal’s aptly-named Elvive Dream Lengths Wonder Water into the mix, currently down to a fiver at Sainsbury’s (sainsburys.co.uk).
Suitable for all hair types, in eight seconds of gently squeezing it into lengths, it just sorts matters, washing out without any lingering heaviness.
I’ve also been experimenting with John Frieda’s recently reformulated Frizz-Ease during the great swelter, and have only good things to say about this 1990s classic.
Try a little of its All-In-1 Lightweight Serum (£7.99, boots.com) on the lengths and ends of your tresses if you used to find the original weighed hair down.
With sunburn searches up 3,200 per cent on Google, I’m deploying Charles Worthington Sunshine UV Protection Leave-in Spray Takeaway (£2.99, boots.com) as a slap-it-all-over hair shield that will protect it from sun, sea, sand and chlorine.
There’s a salty, scrunch-in version for those who want beachy waves: Sunshine Salt Spray Takeaway (£2.99). However, if you’re over 40, I’d save this for the actual beach and go for protective conditioning instead.
As final proof that recovery measures need not be expensive, L’Oreal Elvive’s new Hydra Hyaluronic Moisture Plump Serum (half price at £6.49, boots.com) is basically spray-on face moisturiser for your hair.
It doesn’t flatten and is terrific first thing for refreshing your pillow-ravaged locks without changing anything up other than to make you look human; a small, but extremely welcome triumph.
RACE YOU TO IT!
Hourglass’s new base, Ambient Soft Glow Foundation (£46, hourglasscosmetics.co.uk), is selling up a storm.
Fans rave about its lightness and the beautiful, soft, candlelit from within glow that it imparts.
It stays put for 16 hours and comes in 32 shades. Warm-toned wearers will particularly love it.
MY ICON OF THE WEEK
The 53-year-old star of Cabaret and Bridget Jones has used QMS Medicosmetics Hydro Foam Hydrating Recovery Mask (£58)
Despite raging against midlifers being sold ‘creams and fixes’ in a recent interview, the 53-year-old star of Cabaret and Bridget Jones has used QMS Medicosmetics Hydro Foam Hydrating Recovery Mask (£58), its Active Refining Exfoliant Body Scrub (£78), and Day Collagen Serum (£78, all uk.qmsmedicosmetics.com) as red-carpet prep.
The classic 4711 Eau De Cologne (£6.10 for 25ml, victoriahealth.com), with citrus in its top, lavender, rosemary and rose at its heart and a hint of musk in the base, is bracingly refreshing yet coolly calming.
An 18th-century wonder, it was adored by Napoleon, who doused himself in a flacon a day and sucked sugar cubes dipped in it to sharpen his wits. Rumours abound as to its origins — all of them romantic — including that it was created by the monks of Florence’s Santa Maria Novella.
Impeccably elegant, glorious in the heat, the citronella in its recipe even deters mosquitoes. This 25ml ‘watch’ bottle (pictured) slips into a pocket or bag and is a glorious summer bargain.
FIVE BEST BEAUTY BARS
Launching today from the budget cleansing hero, this is rich in ceramides and hyaluronic acid.
Light, fragrance-free and eco, my boyfriend has ditched his beloved Nivea for this.
As seen on Dragons’ Den, the 100 per cent natural, sustainable deodorant in its new cotton, sandalwood and vetiver scent.
Recommended for oily and for damaged hair, its citrus and cedar formula also works on bleached locks.
Divinely-scented with micro-fine bamboo powder to buff away dead skin. Fans rave about this body scrub.