Of course, this was a time before constant colouring, blowdrying, styling and sun exposure took its torturous toll on my tresses. Being a curly girlie, my hair is particularly prone to serious dryness - I don't think I've ever suffered a greasy root - so after a long, freakishly hot British summer, bad hair days are a'plenty. I'm in serious need of a hair pick-me-up to banish the brittleness, fight those frizzies and make it shine with health right through to the new season and beyond. Sun, chlorine-ridden pools and too much sea and sand might be great for my state of mind, but it's left my hair in a bit of a state, and I'm sure I'm not alone.
Lo, there is hope on the hair horizon, 'cause I've recently been informed of a new treatment - the treatment - that will leave my lacklustre locks reformed to their former crowning glory. Scientists over in Brazil have been busy developing a hair repair system that can 'turn back the clock' on locks permanently, leaving them soft, shiny and healthy - just as nature intended.
90% of human hair is made up of keratin, a complex natural protein that's responsible for the hair's strength, resistance to wear and tear, elasticity, flexibility and shine. Of course, all this lovely keratin is killed off by straighteners, colouring, blow-drying, the sun, pollution, even everyday brushing! Well, going by that I'm guessing I've got, ooh, 5% of keratin left. 2% of which I murdered which that frenzied brush and blow-dry this morn. So if anyone's in need of some serious keratin replacement treatment - it's me.
The science bit
The state-of-the-art Tanagra treatment uses biochemically engineered nanomolecular keratin, or 'liquid hair'. The particles of keratin are so teeny-tiny, you could fit millions onto a pinhead! Using a special machine, these teeny particles of liquid hair are inserted into the hair shaft by a very fine but powerful penetrating mist, filling in all the gaps thus repairing any damaged areas. These nanomolecules are then locked into the hair with another mist and straightening irons, leaving tresses with complete keratin proteins. It's all very technical, and to be honest I'm not sure I understand a word but it's forcing me to believe it!
Intrigued, I set off to find a salon near me that provides this ultimate treatment.
Ahead of Time is one of the first salons in the South to offer the much-awaited Tanagra treatment. It's a slick, stylish but welcoming space in the heart of Bitterne - not far from Southampton city centre - with a relaxed but fun atmosphere and a friendly yet professional staff of experts. They've been doing Tanagra for almost 10 months now, and tell me it's really starting to take off through word-of-mouth. It seems everyone in the UK - and in the A-list community - is busy whispering about this 'South American ultimate hair repair system...'
So who can have it done?
Tanagra is suitable for all hair types, especially effective on tresses that are severely damaged or particularly porous, such as bleached hair. The system is perfectly safe, but pregnant woman and those who are irritated by pollen by have heightened sensitivity to the mist, so a surgical mask is recommended throughout the treatment.
What if you have colour/perm in your locks?
You can still enjoy all the benefits of a Tanagra treatment, but wait at least three days after your colour or perm. More good news - colours are more vibrant and long-lasting in Tanagra treated tresses.
How long does a Tanagra treatment take?
Each treatment takes around 40 minutes on shot hair, and about an hour on longer locks. A course of three treatments is recommended, around a week apart. Repair is approximately 80% effective on the first treatment, 90% on the second, and a whopping 100% on the third.
How much does it cost?
Prices vary with salons, but the lovely Ahead of Time charge £50 per treatment, or £130 for an initial course of three.
But does it work?
After my first treatment with Tanagra, my hair already looks and feels better. Whereas in the past, a straightening sesh would leave my locks looking severely frazzled, the ends actually look half-decent! It feels softer, but still manageable, and...is that even a hint of shine I spy?!
Admittedly, this feeling doesn't last, but no matter, because in a few days time I'm back for my second treatment. It doesn't take as long this time, but the results are even better. My hair feels better than it has since...well, I can't actually remember, and, more importantly for me, it looks great! The straightened style actually holds in my hair for a couple of days, whereas before, I would have suffered a frizz attack within hours in such heat! I'm impressed...
My third and final treatment comes within days, I'm told that after this I'll see some serious results - and they're not kidding. The difference is pretty impressive, within a week of my last treatment my tresses are in better condition than they have been since I starting mucking about with dye at age fourteen. My curls are more defined, smoother and even, dare I say it, a bit Sarah Jessica Parker-esque! It's so much softer, it's almost alien to me, and although it still feels a bit dry between washes, nowhere near the dryness I suffered before.
One month later
The ultimate test is approaching; my summer holiday. How will my mane cope with a week of sun, sand, sea - and the rest - in sunnier climes this summer? Will it be a case of goodbye Nicole Kidman, hello Linda of Gimme, Gimme, Gimme?
Surprisingly, no. I religiously slaver my locks in a sun protector throughout my hols, and even do a conditioning treatment twice in one week. When I return to England, my hair is no dryer or more damaged than before I left - even the colour still looks pretty good.
But even more shocking to me, and anyone who knows me, is that MY HAIR IS GROWING! I'm forever moaning about the fact that my hair grows...ooh - around a centimetre each year. I've been trying to grow it for the last four years and it barely skimmed my shoulders before Tanagra, but now, it seems to be experiencing some sort of growth spurt, much to my delight, and is actually reaching south of my shoulders and slightly spilling down my back - hurrah!
It's been over two months now since my last touch of Tanagra, and I'm still impressed. It's fair to say that my hair hasn't returned to the condition it was in before I began torturing it with heat and chemicals, but it is in better condition than it has been for a long, long time. It's softer, more manageable, glossier and longer! It doesn't seem to snap as much as before, and the ends look in much better shape. Providing I continue to give my tresses a little TLC, Tanagra's legacy should stay in my locks for a long time to come.
Where can you get it?
Ahead of Time - 182-184, Bitterne Rd West, Bitterne, Southampton (023 8022 1324) Tanagra is now available at over X salons nationwide. If you fancy joining the Tanagra revolution, visit www.tanagra4hair.com or call 0871 520 4444 for more information and details of your nearest participating salon.