A health check for your head can put your mind at rest
It turns out my recent itchy scalp issues were all in, rather than on, my head. Or at least that’s how it appeared when I sat down in the lovely leather chair in Philip Kingsley’s office in the Mayfair townhouse his salon has occupied since 1968. Ah, the hair follicles this pre-eminent trichologist must have seen; if only the walls could tell the celebrity stories they have heard.
After patiently running a comb through my entire head of hair, Kingsley pronounced that there was no sign of any problem whatsoever. But thankfully, before I started wondering whether I was going bonkers, there was a caveat: I could be suffering from a condition called neurodermatitis, a chronic itchy skin disease. While Kingsley could find no sign of it, it does tend to affect the area where I think I have a problem — just above the nape of the neck. It occurs mostly in women (unfair) and can fluctuate with nerves, so it may be triggered by stress, tiredness and suchlike. It’s tricky to treat, because nobody is entirely sure exactly what sets it off — everyone has different triggers, though be warned, some champagnes and white wines can irritate it (again, unfair) — and even if you do manage to clear it up, you have no idea if or when it might return again. Equally, it can go away by itself just as easily as it arrived.
He also told me I had a great head of hair. Why, thank you, I said. A pause, then he continued: “But it could look better.” He talked me through some hair basics: it should be washed every day, even — especially — if you have neurodermatitis. “You know how dirty your face gets at the end of the day, well, your hair goes to the same places, so at the end of 24 hours, it’s pretty dirty.”
Then he passed me on to Jenny, who has worked with him since 1968. She gave me a treatment and some more tips: it’s best to comb your hair when the conditioner is in, using a fine-tooth comb (handily, Kingsley makes the perfect one); and you should blow-dry while brushing it all through with a paddle brush and with the hot air blowing downwards. Two hours later, my mane was supershiny — a hard thing to achieve with blonde locks. And I’m pretty sure it isn’t just in my head that, several weeks later, it still looks in incredibly good nick.
Over the moon
Sunday Riley Blue Moon Tranquility Cleansing Balm, £46; spacenk.com
Prepare yourself for the new cult cleanser, because whatever Sunday Riley does next seems to sell out in a flash. Blue Moon, her latest launch, is a really gentle cleansing balm with blue tansy, German chamomile and beeswax to soothe, hydrate and calm irritated skin, plus it doubles up as a hydrating mask. It has helped me greatly, as I seem to be going through a rather rocky patch with my skin.