How to get stronger hair, from DIY bond repair to snap-proof oils

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Your hair might be long, short, curly or straight but there’s one thing that’s on every type’s wishlist – and that’s strength. If your locks are snapping off at the mid-lengths, frayed on the ends, frizzed from over-processing and dull from the roots down, read our expert guide on how to get stronger hair.

Find your happy length

Is it time to literally cut your losses? Celebrity hairstylist Syd Hayes, ambassador for BaByliss, recommends assessing your hair health and whether your current length and style is actually doing much for you. “If your hair is damaged and you struggle to shape it, it could be time for a cut, whether that’s a dramatic chop or adding layers that work better with heat styling tools,” he says.

A common mistake is to cling to length for the sake of it, particularly if your hair is fine and you feel you need those extra inches in lieu of volume. “However by taking off the dead ends, fine hair tends to look thicker and healthier,” says trichologist Mark Blake.

Condition from the inside

Once you’ve ditched the dead wood, it’s time to feed healthy, strong new growth from within. ‘It takes a lot of energy to grow hair, and the quality all comes down to your diet,” says Blake.

“You need to eat protein to make protein. Also have plenty of green leafy veg, and get enough vitamin C for good iron absorption.”

Supplements can be helpful, he says, but ignore anything claiming quick ‘miraculous’ growth; any change from diet takes time. “It takes a month to make hair, a month for it to travel towards the surface, and then a month to actually begin poking out,” he notes.

Get a washday workout

Your scalp needs a firm hand to encourage stronger hair. “Lots of people wash their hair too gently, and when I look under a microscope, the follicles are crusted over with dead skin,” says Blake. “If the ‘soil’ is clogged up like this, you can’t expect hair to grow well. Don’t be afraid to really get in there with your fingertips to help invigorate growth.”

There’s no need to fork out for pricey sulphate-free shampoos either. “Sulphates have a bad reputation, but good high street shampoos don’t have them at a level where they are going to impact on hair health,” says Blake. “Also look out for shampoos with humectants, as these pull moisture from the air into your hair, so it’s less likely to break.”

Rub before you mask up

Hair might be dead but that doesn’t mean you can’t make a physical difference to it. “Think of it as fabric; how you wash and condition it is key,” says Blake. “The inner structure of hair has lots of gaps, like a sponge, which conditioners can fill to leave hair stronger and more nourished.”

“However it’s vital to towel dry your hair first so those gaps get filled with product, rather than water. Lots of people think they need a ‘better’ conditioner because they don’t see results, but what they actually need is a different application technique.”

Mark also recommends applying oil to freshly-washed hair to add a snap-resistant suppleness.

Build your bonds

One of the most exciting innovations is technology which physically repairs or replaces the cross-linked bonds within hair. This network – crucial for strength – gets worn away by all the usual suspects, from colouring to heat damage.

“We all want to build up inner strength in our hair,” explains celebrity hair stylist Mark Hill, whose brand has just launched a bonding range. “What I love about this technology is the way it penetrates deeply and repairs bonds like reforming a broken ladder. The effect on how hair feels afterwards is extraordinary.”

While bond repair treatments have been a popular salon service for a while, the 2021 updates promise to combine internal bolstering with effects you can see on the outside.

Sebastian Professional has just launched a backwash treatment which combines its new No.Breaker bond repair spray with a mask to leave hair more manageable for up to a month. “It means you can get your hair looking in great condition with much less heat,” says Sebastian’s creative director Angelo Vallillo.


OK beauty director Lynne shares her pick of the latest hair bolstering tech

The Hair Lab by Mark Hill Bond Repair Bond Building Treatment, buy it here for £19.99

My hair looked really glossy and felt stronger after this protein-packed strengthener, which I used after the matching shampoo and conditioner.

Sebastian No.Breaker Bond Repair, buy it here for £32.60

This leave-in spray generates new bonds within hair fibres to reduce breakage by up to 99 per cent. My hair definitely played nice after using it, looking both healthier and fuller.

It’s A Ten Plus Keratin Miracle Leave In, buy it here for £12.50

Already a best-seller in the US, this hero from the just-launched Plus Keratin range left my hair shiny with an impressively thicker, weightier swish.

John Frieda Frizz Ease Miraculous Recovery Tropical Oil, buy it here for £8.99

I like to apply this damage-defying oil from mid-lengths down before blow-drying to leave my hair shinier and smoother.

Percy & Reed Give Me Strength Scalp Concentrate, buy it here for £25

I pair this healthy growth stimulator with its matching moisture-trapping shampoo and conditioner which reduce snapping.

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