It's at this time of year we're all encouraged to be jolly. And jolly I am, when I’m on my second Christmas-themed cocktail of the evening, feeling festive, fabulous and completely infallible. Fast forward to the following morning, however, and I’m waking up in a blind panic, head throbbing and hair drooping. Yes, my hair seems to suffer more from a hangover than I do, by which I mean it’s flat, limp and looks inexplicably greasy, even when I’ve washed it.
As everyone keeps telling us, it’s party season, which means we’re all expected to go out on Wednesday nights willingly, wear sparkly eyeshadow and do things to our hair we wouldn’t normally dream of doing, especially not in the office (if you’re me, that means using entire cans of hairspray to achieve some sort of party bouffant. Don’t worry, it drops in 10 seconds). The pressure of being so social is already quite intense, so I really don’t need the added worry that my hair looks crap. We’re well aware of how our skin reacts to excess alcohol, but nobody really expects hair to suffer in a similar way when, of course, it does.
As founding partner and director of Percy & Reed, Paul Percival says, “The main issue here is dehydration, same as your skin. Staying up late and drinking alcohol can cause your hair to become dehydrated. What you will need the most are good moisturising products." He also recommends drinking plenty of water and eating Omega oils, too, so that's a salmon sandwich and a bottle of water for lunch, then.
The pressure of being so social is already quite intense, so I really don’t need the added worry that my hair looks crap
Of course, it’s not just being overindulgent that causes hair to feel less than its best. If you tend to exercise more self-control than I do, or if you don’t drink at all, you can still feel like this time of year takes its toll. As well as lack of sleep, the weather doesn’t make your hair feel any better, either, as trichologist Sally-Ann Tarver explains, “Cold, dry air can cause the hair cuticle layer to lift, then going into a warm centrally heated environment takes all the moisture out of the hair, leaving it dry, often frizzy and tricky to manage.”
So, what can you do to cure your hair hangover? Well, naturally there are myriad expensive treatments and in-salon remedies that you could try but, as we’ve established, it’s party season and nobody’s got the time (or money) for that sort of faff. I have, therefore, found some of the speediest, most affordable solutions to help give your hair back the zhuszh it deserves. They are to your hair what Alka-Seltzer and fry-ups are to your actual hangover...
for when your hair smells like that last sambuca shot
This handy pouch contains travel-sized versions of some of Ouai’s best-selling products including the Rose Hair & Body Oil, which feels brilliantly luxurious thanks to the rose scent and the Dry Shampoo Foam, which feels refreshing and cooling – it’s not about volume as such, but rather about making your hair feel as clean as it can without you needing to actually wash it. Which gives you an extra 10 mins in bed. And everyone knows that, in hangover years, 10 minutes is actually a year.
For when your hair is more lacklustre than last night's kebab
If you’re a fan of Percy & Reed’s Wonder Balm, you’ll love this. Designed to tackle lacklustre, tired hair, this is excellent if your hair feels a bit brittle and dry. With conditioning agents that work to resist humidity and boost shine, you just apply it to dry hair before you go to bed, let it dry (which takes just a few seconds) wash out the next morning and you’re left with glossy hair. I tried it on returning from a night out with colleagues, applied it as evenly as I could from root to tip and then just washed my hair with shampoo the next morning. You don’t even need to use conditioner on top, again saving those few precious minutes.
for when your hair needed a wash but the shower was giving you the spins
The first time I ever used dry shampoo, I was hungover and desperately trying to make my hair do… something. Naturally, I marvelled at the results and it’s been my immediate go-to on mornings-after ever since. While most dry shampoos would do the trick, this one is my absolute favourite, given that it doesn’t smell as chemically as some others on the market and also just feels sublime. It absorbs excess oil, doesn’t dry out hair and also doesn’t leave any unsightly flaking that you can get with other dry shampoos. It genuinely works miracles.
FOR when your hair is dryer than the inside of your mouth
If you do have a bit of time, this little kit is a speedy, intensive treatment for all hair types. With shampoo and conditioner which both make hair feel lovely and soft, and a moisturising masque to hydrate, hair is left feeling nothing short of silky. And it’s only a tenner.
for when your hair needs the equivalent of a diet coke
If something promises to improve my hair without asking that I put in any effort, I’m sold. With this over-night masque, that’s exactly the case – just whack it on, leave it on while you sleep and then wash it off in the morning. It contains Evening Primrose, which is wonderfully soothing when you wake up with a headache, and feels lovely and nourishing.
for When all else has failed...
If you wake up late with no time or inclination to even consider what state your hair’s in, put on a wonderfully distracting headband. This has been my fail-safe trick (and that of many people I know) to conceal greasy hair for a long time – you just need to make sure you get a headband thick enough to cover the crown of your head. Use it to hold back fringes or any flyaways, too, because nobody wants annoying bits of hair in their face when they’re just trying to get through the day without thinking about how many Mojitos they consumed a mere 12 hours earlier. Anthropologie has some of the prettiest (and thickest) around.