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When was the last time you really thought about washing your hair? Have you ever? Other than pondering if you can get away with skipping it for another day (TG for dry shampoo), it’s a routine we perform with next to no thought. So, when I picked up the Aquis Primer and read the little line on the box “Truth: Wet hair is weak hair”, I was sceptical. Yes, a summer in the ocean or serious laps in a chlorinated pool can impact your locks, but all water? Surely if that were true, we’d all be aware, right?
A few days later, Aquis co-founder and COO Suveen Sahib explained it to me. “Keratin, the protein hair is made of, swells when it’s wet,” he said, in a visit to MECCA HQ. “The hair shaft stretches, and that makes it weaker and more likely to break. Healthy hair can stretch up to 30 percent, but for hair that’s been coloured or suffered heat damage, it will only stretch 15 percent before it breaks.” Ouch. While washing and conditioning our hair is one of our no-brainer beauty routines, much like brushing your teeth or cleansing our bodies, our habitual routine actually disrupts the hair’s natural protective barrier.
Aquis launched with a hair turban intended to halve your dry time. Motivated by her waist-long hair and inspired by moisture-wicking fabrics from the sportswear industry, founder Britta Cox (Suveen’s wife) designed the first turban. It lessened the need for damaging blow-drying and the couple sold two million of the chic accessories in two years. When the company started hearing from customers that the towel was also improving the quality of their hair, they looked into it. “That’s how we discovered what water does to the hair, and how the towel protects the hair at this most critical stage, compressing and flattening the follicle and reducing swelling,” says Sahib.
This discovery was the catalyst for a four-step washing regime that promotes healthier, stronger hair. First, the Water Defense Pre-Wash. Applied to dry hair before the shower, the primer “balances the pH of the hair and fortifies hair from the inside out. Washing your hair is to cleanse away the oil and dirt between your strands and on your scalp, not your hair.” Sahib is quick to explain that this hair primer isn’t just for the shower. Spritzing your locks before swimming in the pool or sea will protect them from excess water damage. Step two is a gentle cleanser, Aquis’ answer to shampoo. “Most hair swelling happens in the first 15 minutes of it being wet, so avoid getting your hair wet until you're ready to wash, rather than when you first jump in the shower."
The rest of the steps are water-free. Step three is the hair turban, in a new rapid drying fabric, but it’s best to choose one that works for your hair. For thicker, curly or frizz-prone hair, the turban in super absorbent waffled aquitex works wonders. After wearing the turban for 10 minutes, it’s time for the optional step four, the Restorative Leave-In Conditioner. It’s designed to deliver nourishment and create smooth, shiny locks. Sahib says between 15 to 20 percent of their customers no longer need the conditioner. Following the other steps leaves hair cuticle flattened enough to not require any extra detangling or mane management.
As someone who has juggled various treatments to make knots and tangles more manageable, I found the idea of no conditioner terrifying. But by the time my step two cleanser was three-quarters empty, I found I needed less of the leave-in conditioner. I’m not ready to part with it completely, but if my hair continues to improve and strengthen, it could be a permanent separation.
Words by Alexandra WhitingFebruary 2019
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