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Would YOU have Botox for your hair?

Daily Mail logo Daily Mail 17/10/2021 Linda Kelsey for the Daily Mail
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Why, after years — nay decades — of being a Botox refusenik do I find myself sitting in a salon on the receiving end of great dollops of the stuff?

Well, it’s not because I’ve undergone a Damascene conversion and need to catch up fast after all these years of failing to freeze my face, but rather because anything that offers to rescue my wrinkly old hair has to be worth a try.

And while I’m still wary of injecting toxins into my brow, the new Botox For Hair treatment, which has recently launched in Nicky Clarke’s Mayfair salon — and is being liberally applied to my frazzled locks — is actually a complete misnomer.

It does promise to have a smoothing effect and youthify your hair in the process, just like Botox does for the wrinkles in our skin, but there isn’t a smidgen of botulinum toxin A in sight. Nor are there any needles involved.

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If a genie granted me a wish, enabling me to change just one thing about my appearance, I wouldn’t hesitate to nominate my hair. It’s thinning, wavy and frizzy. To look halfway decent it needs washing every two days, but if any semblance of damp enters the equation I’m beat. I only have to open the oven to turn the roast potatoes and the heat that comes out will trigger a frizz.

In the last decade or two, the treatment of choice for miracle sleekness has been the Brazilian blowout or other semi-permanent keratin treatments. These break the hair’s bonds and re-seals them in a straighter position when heat is applied. Favoured by the likes of Meghan Markle, they do what it says on the box.

But there has long been controversy over the inclusion of formaldehyde in some of the solutions. The colourless and nasty-smelling gas is used as a preservative in mortuaries and as an industrial fungicide, as well as to make household products such as glue.

Other products may not officially contain formaldehyde (which is a carcinogen), but do contain other chemicals which, when mixed with water during the treatment, create formaldehyde when heated. The minute the hair irons come out you will definitely smell it.

Even if you’re not bothered about the potential risks, one downside is that, while the results may look great on big hair, it’s a different story for damaged or superfine hair like mine, which may ultimately end up in a worse state.

the trichologist Philip Kingsley says that this is because ‘delicate strands may not be able to withstand the treatment without breaking’. That’s not a risk I was prepared to take.

So hurrah for the latest alternative: Botox For Hair, introduced to Nicky Clarke salons by their senior stylist, Ondine Cowley.

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She says she always used to try out smoothing treatments, none of which she was completely happy with. It was while in Barcelona that she finally hit gold, discovering a game-changing new formula being used in a salon over there. It was by far the best she’d tried, so she brought it over to the UK.

How does it work? Ondine explains that it doesn’t use keratin, and neither does it contain or create formaldehyde.


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Instead, the main ingredients are hyaluronic acid, which is increasingly used in anti-ageing products to help hydrate skin; shea butter, seed oil, pracaxi oil and tannin — all products that can smooth and strengthen hair. What sets it apart from similar treatments, she says, is that it can be tailored according to just how straight you want your hair to be (by adjusting how long you leave the treatment on before washing it out).

‘The main idea is to make life easier on a daily basis. It adds smoothness without leaving your hair flat and lifeless like some keratin treatments,’ she says.

In a nutshell, Botox For Hair is a deep conditioning treatment which makes hair look sleek and shiny, while the traditional keratin treatments are intended primarily as a hair-straightening method and are not recommended for very damaged hair.

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I’m sold on the theory, but how will it work on my sad tresses? I’m not convinced.

When I ask stylist Charlie Williams, who is overseeing my treatment, whether I can get more volume, too, she quickly disavows me: ‘It can’t do that while smoothing and shining at the same time.

‘But people find they don’t have to blow dry their hair after treatment. Less blow-drying and straightening will get your hair back into condition, so overall it will look much healthier.’ The process is painless enough and similar to a keratin treatment.

After washing, the solution is massaged into the hair, section by section. After 30 or 40 minutes the hair is rinsed and roughly blow-dried. Hair irons are then run through each section to lock the product in. There’s no nasty whiff in the room.

To be frank, when I first see my hair hanging in poker-straight strands, I want to cry. ‘I can’t leave the salon like this,’ I say, ‘I’m going out for dinner!’

Ideally you’d wait until the next day to wash and style the hair, so that the product can continue working its way into the hair shaft. Nevertheless, I’m given the go-ahead for an instant re-wash and blow dry to put a bit of shape back into it.

The result, at this stage, is not so different from my usual professional blow dry, though my hair is certainly a lot shinier than usual. The real test will be when I wash it myself.

The following morning, when I wake up, I notice that the bedroom windows are wet with condensation. I check my weather app. Humidity is at 91 per cent.

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Normally this would prompt a groan. But, rather than lie there, I jump out of bed and get ready for Test No. 1 — a walk in the damp air.

An hour later I’m back home. I check in the mirror and my hair looks exactly as it did when I left the house.

The next day, when I would normally wash my hair according to the two-day rule, I decide it’s still looking OK and will last another day. Another win.

And finally comes the biggest test of all. As instructed, I wash with a sulphate-free shampoo (which will make the treatment last longer), condition and roughly blow dry.

Rather than having to wind every section of hair around my brush to style it, I barely need to do anything other than tease it with my fingers while drying. This usual element of my routine takes five minutes instead of 25.

I will definitely go back for another session when the treatment grows out in about three months. And I will highly recommend it to my frizz-prone pals, especially those who have had close encounters with keratin in the past.

Low-maintenance, no-fuss hair for months to come, after just two hours in the salon? I can hardly believe it.

The Botox For Hair treatment is available at the Nicky Clarke salon in Mayfair, London (£380, nickyclarke.com).

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