I’ve battled auto-immune issues for several years, and, alongside pain and exhaustion, flare-ups annoyingly affect the state of my hair. While daily medication stabilises the main symptoms of the inflammatory condition I have, my locks need extra TLC.
I first began noticing a change in my hair’s texture and condition quite gradually. Then, in 2019, during a particularly bad flare, strands started snapping away even with light brushing. I could feel how brittle it had become. Hoping to restore some of its former shine, my stylist chopped several inches off, but to no avail.
By the beginning of 2020, I’d tried a ton of hydrating products, and ditched both the straighteners and balayage. But nothing seemed to make much difference.
It was time to be pro-active, so I booked a consultation with Philip Kingsley brand president and consultant trichologist (aka, scalp and hair expert), Anabel Kingsley. Interestingly, Anabel told me that hair is a barometer for health issues, hormonal changes and vitamin deficiencies.
She explained that as a non-essential tissue, if your body’s struggling it will focus on sending nutrients to protect its vital organs instead. Which explains the link between brittle hair and my flare-ups, and why I needed to find some suitable products.
Being a beauty writer, I’ve sampled countless oils, serums and masks promising the world’s glossiest 'do, but they just don’t always deliver. Having fine hair, many oils and masks weigh it down, doing nothing for that sought-after volume either.
Armed with newfound hair knowledge and a piqued interest in the brand’s trichological insight, I began a year-long trial of using Philip Kingsley products – and one standout buy in particular.
Originally created in 1974 for one of the world's best-known actresses, would it would live up to its superstar hype? If your hair is dry or lacklustre, and you could do with an easy weekly fix, read on to check out the conditioning treatment that totally transformed my locks.
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The gamechanger: Philip Kingsley elasticizer deep-conditioning treatment, 150ml: £34, Philip Kingsley – buy now
The world’s first pre-shampoo conditioning treatment, elasticizer was originally formulated by Philip Kingsley for Audrey Hepburn. Working together, the duo wanted to improve Hepburn’s damaged hair, which she had as a direct result of relentless on-set styling. In fact, the core ingredient blend hasn’t changed for 45 years ago.
So named because the product contains hydrolyzed elastin to increase the hair shaft’s elasticity, this is what promotes strength, stretch, and ultimately, less breakage, bringing a lightweight bounce to hair. Additionally, the inclusion of castor oil, glycerin and olive oil nourish strands, enabling them to retain moisture.
The multi-award-winning treatment has amassed celebrity fans including Gwyneth Paltrow, Cate Blanchett and Rochelle Humes. Philip Kingsley is a well-known haircare brand, and I’d heard of elasticizer previously, but I had not properly looked into the range until my hair condition plummeted.
Being a pre-shampoo treatment, I find it much easier to use than conventional masks, because you don’t have to wash your hair or even get in the shower first. After dampening my locks I apply the thick, creamy, lotion-like product in sections, running from the middle of my hair to the ends. Next, I wrap it in a turban towel (a shower cap also works). This enclosed heat opens up the hair’s cuticles for the nutrients to sink into. The minimum time for it to work is between 10 and 20 minutes, but leaving the elasticizer on overnight is even more effective. The longer the mask has to absorb, the better.
I rinse out thoroughly, shampooing twice as I’d rather my hair didn’t hold any excess treatment that could flatten strands. Finally, I use conditioner and style as usual. This has been my routine for a year, applying the treatment once per week, and the results have been noticeably impressive. Previously difficult to detangle before a blow dry, I can now easily comb through my hair after every wash.
Breakage is also a rare occurrence, with strands proving sleek and soft rather than brittle. Don’t get me wrong, I still have bad hair days (coincidentally, a term coined by the late Philip Kingsley himself) and struggle with dryness occasionally, but the overall look is far smoother. Plus, that promised stretchiness from the elasticizer can be seen in its newfound bouncy movement, giving the appearance of gentle volume. If I tong my hair, waves hold for longer, where previously strands were a lot less flexible.
Packaged in a small tub or a larger pot with a pump applicator depending on the size you order, both are reliable for accessing every last bit of product. The original treatment is fragrance-free, and a new limited-edition scented version, called elasticizer therapies, launches annually. This year’s uplifting Egyptian jasmine and mandarin option is out on 1 February.
Reliably rehydrating and relaxing to apply, with weekly use the 150ml tub lasts four to six weeks. Which, for a high-quality treatment at home that produces consistent and tangible results, is a worthy investment. After 12 months of regular use, elasticizer has become the foundation of my haircare routine, and a product I continue to swear by.
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