I turned to long time master Paul Yacomine to demystify the need to use a hair oil and regularly so. He’s a celebrity stylist whose impact on hair oils is going to be unmistakable. Paul’s head count includes working on supermodels like Elle Macpherson, Naomi Campbell, and Kate Moss & Hollywood elite like Uma Thurman and Minnie Driver, all of whom have entrusted their lust-worthy locks to a man who understands more than hair & how it behaves. Paul also gets the science behind the products and how they work synergistically when creating his ultra-glam aesthetic whether it was for the runway or for a Vogue cover spread. There are some rather exciting whispers are abuzz over Paul’s recently launched eponymous line of irrepressibly chic hair care at Sephora. Here he speaks on what makes for a great hair oil and what mistakes we all make (and should avoid):
What’s the most important thing to look for when considering a hair oil?
Paul: To see the importance of oil to hair, consider the evolutionary biology. The body produces oil to protect, clean and condition our hair. Nothing has this affinity to the hairs porous structure than oil. However, with chemical processing and heat styling pure essential oils by themselves are not enough.
By combing oils and using modern emulsifying techniques I’ve enhanced the protective and conditioning properties of natural oils. The emulsion process enables a micro layer of essential oils to spread further and more evenly. This process does not prevent but reduces the speed at which these oils are absorbed allowing an even encapsulation of the hair shaft. Regular fine oils are absorbed too quickly leaving unevenly distributed patches around the hair shaft. This can leave the hair looking oily and often puts people off.
Oils have varying degrees of viscosity and weight. The best quality oils have a higher absorption rate with a molecular weight of less than 1000m. I like to test an oil on the back of my hand. This almost always gives me an indication as to performance on the hair. An oil should spread evenly and the bulk being absorbed without feeling too oily or tacky. Ultimately, you are looking for an oil that will lightly flatten the cuticle, add texture and shine without weighing down the hair. To test on the hair use your finger tips and palms apply a little oil to the mid lengths and ends. Let the oil be absorbed before continuing. Chemically processed hair tends to be more porous and will need something with a little more weight. The best treatments for colour processed hair are my serum/essential oil combinations.
Do you recommend any specific tips on using your hair oil?
Paul: By combing and emulsifying oils, I’ve reduced the potential for overloading the hair which is the most common issue for people using oils (see first paragraph). Micro offers the prospect of constantly having a light layer of oil on your hair that maintains and protects until you’re ready to wash. This light layer of oil all will help remove ingrained debris (build-up) during the washing process. Your hair will be cleaner, shinier and your colour more vibrant.
I know some recommend heating up a hair oil; others argue this breaks down the integrity of the essences. Your final word on this?
Paul: Heat can be catalyst for deeper penetration of the hair mass. However, applying a little oil to your hair and then blow drying achieves the same result. It’s always a good idea to use a little oil on your hair before any heat processing, straightening in particular.
What’s the one thing women do wrong when it comes to using hair serums?
Paul: It’s no exaggeration to say that each head of hair is different. I’ve used the same product on two identical heads of hair and been amazed at two totally different results. Even though they look and feel the same there are very subtle differences in porosity than cannot be seen. So there is an element of trial and error. People lose patience and overdo it. With oils, less is more. Oils aren’t always instant condition and shine. Some oils on certain hair types will take time to work. If there is a lot of build-up on the hair shaft the oil will simply sit on top. For some it will be a learning process but the benefits of doing it properly will more than compensate for the effort.
You’ve coiffed the tresses of A-list celebs, styled the cover shoots from Vogue to Grazia, and serviced the famous & notorious in between. What is one hair secret they have that we mortals can steal?
Paul: Keep it simple!
If you’re anything like me, you’ve probably been swooning over those tantalizing glossy tresses in print. It turns out Paul has been experimenting with essential oils for over 25 years, styling & smoothing every pretty little model’s frizzes and flyaways from damaging style sessions. Borne from his business of treating frayed & fried hair is Paul’s Micro Colour Collection Intensive Leave-In Conditioning and Finishing Treatment Set ($38), a trio of intensely nourishing serums that use essential oils to maintain colour. The kit replenishes dehydrated hair with concentrated proteins & silk amino acids that rebuild score strength, structure, and vitality while essential oils protect against breakage. The drier and more porous the hair, the better the results.
There simply isn’t anything comparable to the protective conditioning efficiency of natural oils - Paul
Start off with the Microcolourcare, a semi-opaque serum that delivers keratin proteins into the hair shaft while organic Grapeseed prevents the cuticle from clogging. Organic Almond oil smoothes out the cuticle helping reduce unwanted frizz. When you first open the kit, this is the serum that steals the senses with a distinctive blend of a dusty Rose alongside an earthy Patchouli. Orange and Geranium add a voluptuous character to the scent that does indeed persist a bit. Microcolourcare is a leave-in serum meant to protect any highlights or colouring you may have with its built-in sunscreen. It feels so airy and disappears within seconds of applying to strands.
Microfinish is feathery light, leave-in, clear serum that is easily absorbed by your hair’s natural porosity without build-up or any sticky residue. Nestled to the same composition of oils as above is organic Rosemary, which helps protect the scalp and improve hair’s luster. Here, the essences tend to segue into each other harmoniously, though the effervescence of Orange cuts through the rustic Patchouli, giving more of a citrus slant to the serum.
Microtreatment Oils is what Paul considers his true serum in the traditional sense, but one that truly does deliver on its promise not to weigh down fine, wispy hair. The serum is emulsified with the organic Rose, Patchouli, Orange and Geranium essentials, which help prevent the serum’s film forming properties from becoming continuous. This means that you are only getting serum on parts of the cuticle that need it. Emulsifying the essences helps the treatment also wash out with your regular shampoo, so you don’t need a colour-stripping clarifying one. With added sunscreen, this is the hero serum designed to protect against the environmental aggressors like sun, chlorine and even heat styling. Sniff deep in this one to whet out the Clove, which lends a spicy facet to the scent. Interesting, this oil does seem to have a nice slip to its texture, which improves manageability when combing.
With just 3 days of use, discreet silences and stares on the street proved just how well my locks shined freely helping disguise the offhanded care I usually give it. And, the oils are a speedy, softening solution - never greasy - to the tedium ravages of washing, drying, & styling. Quite simply, they give your hair just the right amount of gloss.
The short on gimmick starter kit is a fantastic way to try sample Paul’s serums to see which one works brings out optimal health and shine in your hair. Though considering your varied needs between salon hopping, it’s likely your hair will benefit from all 3 with their long-term moisturization that works with just about any touchable texture you're born with. It's thanks to Paul’s contemporary curation of essences that hair oils will now warrant some fashion cred with his hip clout & quotient. Here's to hoping Sephora's shelves will soon enough stock his unified range of products (which also includes shampoos & conditioners yet to hit stateside) that lack any overhyped pretense. The sleek, radically futuristic packaging itself is the epitome of cool & grace.
Much like the ever so dashing Paul, himself.
Scent Classification: Floral, Woody
Viscosity: Ultra-light viscosity (1/10)