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Making it up with Karen Krizanovich: Shiny happy people

People with naturally beautiful hair can use any old shampoo. The rest of us only get glossy, healthy hair from top product systems such as Aveda and Lazartigue. Now Phytologie, a 25-year-old French company, is gaining ground with a prescriptive, hands-on approach to hair care that's flexible, specific and effective.

Gwyneth Paltrow, Elizabeth Hurley, Uma Thurman and Harrison Ford swear by Phytologie products. But how do they work in the real world? For this column, I've done my homework and roadtested three Phytologie products for twelve weeks. The outcome? My lank, thin, sticky mop is now good hair.

So what's so different about Phytologie? Paul Windle of Windle's, a salon in London's Covent Garden (0171-497-2393) specializing in Phytologie, says: "Phytologie is prescriptive medicine for hair. The idea is not to sell products but to solve problems." With 60 different natural products for hair and scalp, the essential - but free - consultation offers superb guidance and practical solutions for specific "bad hair" problems. If a product doesn't fit your schedule, budget or expectations, alternatives are suggested. Be forewarned, however. Phytologie products are designed to fix problems, not to hide them. Used properly and diligently, they will pay you back beautifully.

From pounds l5 to pounds 70 for severe hair loss treatment. (For Phytologie stockists and consultants: 01768 892022.)

Now's the time to try those wild and wacky hair mascaras. Why? Because the range is wider than ever - from Christian Dior's ten shades of Mascara Flash at pounds 13 to Rimmel's at pounds 2.99. The choice? Yours, unless your hair is over-processed or porous. If so, these wash-out colours will "grab". Also, any traces of hairspray could transform zingy colours into gooey streaks. Best bets are hair mascara from Lancome (pounds l2 and currently sold out at Harvey Nichols - a good sign), Aveda (pounds l0 and very natural) and Trevor Sorbie (pounds 7.95, one of the few from a hair specialist).