Interview With A Beauty Scientist Pt. II: Teca Gillespie

I’ve written enough about hair care to know what you’re supposed to do to keep your hair all hale and healthy. But what if you had a, um, friend who was going through some kind of tonsorial mid-life crisis? And what if this otherwise sensible and smart lady made some bad choices and needed to fix these mistakes? I asked chemist Teca Gillespie, P&G Beauty Scientist some of my “pal’s” more pressing concerns. Here’s what she emailed back.

Right now the dry indoor air/ cold windy outdoor air is making everybody’s hair crazy. We’ve talked about protecting hair against the elements before, but what can we do once our hair is already out of control?
Keep a small bottle of hair spray or a smoothing cream in your purse to do some quick bathroom touchups. You also might want to consider doing a weekly deep conditioning treatment like the Pantene Pro-V Beautiful Lengths 5-minute Strengthening Mask.

Hair is starting to get bigger again. Which means teasing and lots of product. What kind of damage can poufier styles cause?
Teasing, or back-combing, is the easiest way to cause excessive mechanical damage to the hair very quickly. What it does is pulls up the top layer, the cuticle layer. Eventually this cuticle layer will simply break off exposing the cortex of the hair. Once the cortex is exposed you are now at risk of the hair just breaking off.

If backcombing and braids (another big trend) cause breakage, what can we do to repair it?
Unfortunately, hair is dead and if it’s already to the point of breaking there’s nothing you can other than to stop wearing that style of hair. The best thing you can do is to use conditioner every time you wash your hair. The conditioning ingredients are designed put those uplifted cuticles down.

How can readers reset the drying effects of product overload?
Every time you wash your hair you need to use both a shampoo and conditioner. If the hair is really dry you might want to consider a deep conditioning treatment like a mask once a week. You can also try styling products that give both style and conditioning benefits like Pantene Pro-V Nature Fusion Smooth Vitality Smoothing Crème.

From Lady GaGa blonde to streaks of pink and purple, the ladies are having fun with obvious dye jobs. But all that bleaching can fry your hair. What’s your recommendation to make it better?
If you dye your hair you really need to use a specific shampoo and conditioner created for color treated hair like Pantene Pro-V Expressions.

Our “friend” is a “live for today” type who may continue to make foolish hair choices. Any favourite tips on protecting hair from the damage we do to it?
I can’t emphasize enough the importance of using a conditioner every time you wash your hair. Even if you have fine hair you can use conditioner just on the bottom half of your hair to help protect your ends.

Pictured above: My hair in happier times, magnified 52 times.