Gillean McLeod on Having Heroic Hair

Model and stylist Gillean McLeod talks to AGEIST about her haircare routine, from products to diet to being "who you want to be."

Photo by Mark Hanauer. Hair and Makeup by Issac Prado. 

Have you always had hair this long?

As a child I had shoulder length hair, never long. Looking back at some photos, I had a short haircut at 40 and by the time I was 43, it was long. In my early fifties, I cut it short again and had a series of cute short haircuts for a few years. In 2014, I started growing it out and it has been long ever since. 

Embracing Natural Hair

How do people react to seeing your hair?

My hair is definitely a topic of conversation. People react to the color and condition. Most people assume it is colored.

It is remarkably radiant. So that’s your natural color?

This is my natural color. There are no highlights or lowlights. I have not put any color in my hair since my early 30s. 

How often do you get your hair cut?

Jill at Taboo trims my hair every four months or so. However, if I have something important come up, I’ll stop by for a quick tidy. 

Daily Haircare Routine

What is your day-to-day maintenance routine for your hair?

I use a Mason Pearson hairbrush — same brand since childhood. I brush my hair several times a day and definitely before bed. I do not wash my hair every day, unless I have been on set. If it has been styled, the products need to be washed out. Afterwards I take a dime-size scoop of coconut oil and run that through the ends, then the residual at the crown. Once a month I soak my hair in oil and wrap it up in a towel for a day.  

I’ve been using Oi shampoo and conditioner for a while (Davines International). I love these products. I also use Jason’s clarifying shampoo once in a while.  Last week, a stylist used a conditioner from Verb which I loved!

Changing Habits Over Time

Has your haircare regime changed with your age?  

Now that my hair is long it requires less fussing. Shampooing is not an everyday routine like it used to be with short hair. My hair has always been very low maintenance, and leaving it simple frees up so much time. Haircare products have come a long way. The more gentle products are appealing to me. If I use oil, not coconut, there must be no argan oil or coloring. Oi makes a fabulous oil. 

How do you dry your hair?

I wrap my hair up in an Aquis towel and do my best not to use any heat, irons, blow dryers, etc. 

Do you have any dietary suggestions for having hair like yours?

I eat pretty well, lots of vegetables, not very much meat. Avocados are a daily habit. I don’t drink alcohol or sodas.

Color vs Natural

How do you feel about the color-the-gray vs natural debate?

Hair color is up to the wearer. Some people are not comfortable with going natural. I didn’t think twice about it. I’m very fortunate my hair is the color it is.

“There are no rules for the way women should look”

What would you say to women who think they should, at a certain age, cut their hair short?

It seems funny that there should be any debate. There are no rules for the way women should look. I remember hearing a famous older model remark that long hair on older women looks silly. I disagree; there are a lot of older women with very long, natural hair, and I think it looks wonderful. 

Be who you want to be!

Gillean can be found on Instagram @gilleanmcleod 


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David Stewart
David is the founder and face of AGEIST. He is an expert on, and a passionate champion of the emerging global over-50 lifestyle. A dynamic speaker, he is available for panels, keynotes and informational talks at david@agei.st.


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