Kate Thornton shares her experiences of motherhood and menopause and how they affected her hair | Fitness tips of the day

As the first female and youngest ever editor of Smash Hits aged 21, Kate Thornton has long been a pioneer in the worlds of journalism and TV, later becoming Contributing Editor at The Sunday Times and Marie-Claire. 

She hosted the first three series of X Factor and anchored Loose Women, and now appears on Greatest Hits Radio as well as helming her hugely successful White Wine Question Time podcast. 

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Now aged 50, Kate has shared her experience of menopause and navigating the often tricky transition into midlife. She tells HELLO! how it affected her appearance and confidence, and reveals the products and wellness tips she has come to rely on, plus some behind the scenes stories of the Strictly tour…

Kate with King Charles and Cat Deeley (L) and Kylie Minogue (R)© Instagram
Kate with King Charles and Cat Deeley (L) and Kylie Minogue (R)

Tell us about your hair journey, from childhood to presenting on prime time and becoming a mother…

“My hair is blonde and poker straight naturally so I wave it with tongs. Growing up my mum used to cut my fringe and whenever we decided to deviate, it was a disaster! 

“I’ve always thought people with a natural wave and sun-kissed ombre tones look amazing, so when home perms became a thing I couldn’t wait to try one. But I could never hold a perm so I just looked like I had a unintentional crimp then tried to overcompensate by using coloured mousses! 

“The hair crushes I had would often lead to the hair crimes I’d commit… I wanted to look like a younger actress from Eastenders but I ended up looking like Pat Butcher!

“I was pregnant when I first hosted the Strictly Come Dancing live tour (in 2008), and I felt great. The next year I came back with a baby (son Ben, now 15) in tow and a car full of sterilisers and travel cots. I look back and think ‘how did I do it?’ So I have to thank all the crew and the Strictly pros such as Ola Jordan for being so accommodating. I’d be sat in makeup breastfeeding with a rhinestone outfit and fake tan on. Sometimes my baby would have a tanned cheek from being breastfed with the fake tan. Sorry Ben!

Kate rose to fame hosting The X Factor (L, with judges Sharon Osbourne, Louis Walsh and Simon Cowell) and helmed the Strictly Come Dancing Tour (R, with Len Goodman) © Instagram
Kate rose to fame hosting The X Factor (L, with judges Sharon Osbourne, Louis Walsh and Simon Cowell) and helmed the Strictly Come Dancing Tour (R, with Len Goodman)

“The big surprise for me about motherhood was just how much I’ve loved every single day. There’s no love like it. The whole experience of becoming a mum is just a rainbow of love and surprises.”

Kate with son Ben, 15© Instagram
Kate with son Ben

 How did peri menopause and menopause affect your hair and when did you first notice any changes?  

“The texture of my hair, the frequency of how often it needs washing and the sudden kinks in it when it has been poker straight all my life came as a shock! When I got into perimenopause and menopause I’d wake up in the morning looking like something from a 70s rock band. Huge hair, hot and sweaty in the night – Van Halen hair! 

“The disruption of our hormones shows itself in so many ways, and as your body goes through those huge hormonal shifts it tells you what’s happening through your hair, skin and nails. You have to start paying attention to things that previously you took for granted.”

How do you look after your hair nowadays?

“At work my hair can go through it with lots of backcombing, products and spray, so I try to reduce heat styling on it at home and do some deep conditioning. I use products that thicken and boost, and they have fed my hair to the state that it is now. 

“I’ve used John Frieda products for the best part of a decade, relying on the Volume Lift and Go Blonder shampoos but the PROfiller+ range has been great – it’s taken things up a level. Each product has got hyaluronic acid in for that moisture boost. I use it in my skincare so it makes sense that I use it on my hair too!”

Kate boasts thick and full, healthy-looking hair© Instagram
Kate boasts thick and full, healthy-looking hair

A new innovation from the number one premium haircare brand*, John Frieda’s PROfiller+ range comprises of three products to bolster fine and fragile strands against breakage and help them appear stronger. 

PROfiller+ is suitable whether you’ve noticed thinning or breakage caused by stress, having a child or the menopause, or are just looking for a way to instantly plump and volumize naturally fine hair.

Delivering results after one use, the thickening shampoo, conditioner and spray are infused with biotin, known to provide hair with strength, and hyaluronic acid to thoroughly hydrate and nourish.  

Kate shares: “I gave the PROfiller+ range a go for a week, and my hair now looks so much thicker. Previously I would dry shampoo my way through the week but now I just add the PROfiller+ Thickening Spray which gives a thickening boost and gets it back to where it was just after a wash. If you can bear it, a cold rinse after conditioning will help hair look more healthy too.”

  1. John Frieda PROfiller+ Thickening Shampoo

  2. John Frieda PROfiller+ Thickening Conditioner

  3. John Frieda PROfiller+ Thickening Spray

Are there any nutrition or wellness tips you’d recommend for women approaching this stage of life?  

“Every menopause experience is unique so the frustration when it comes to treating it is never one size fits all. But for me I’ve switched the way I exercise from HIIT and cardio to Pilates and weights, which my body responds to better – as does my cortisol – and I have massively cut back on alcohol. 

“I try to stay away from any ultra-processed food and I follow the Zoe programme which has been a real game changer in terms of managing inflammation and bloating.”

Kate with friends Tamzin Outhwaite, Holly Willoughby, Nicole and Natalie Appleton and Myleene Klass© Instagram
Kate with friends Tamzin Outhwaite, Holly Willoughby, Nicole and Natalie Appleton and Myleene Klass

Did you feel a pressure to conform to beauty standards within the TV industry or would you say there is more scrutiny now with social media and live podcasting? 

 “I think it’s been ever present and the introduction of new platforms just means it lives in different places now sadly and is even harder to avoid unfortunately.”

 How have you embraced midlife, and has it made you feel more daring, confident or carefree?

“I don’t think you have any choice but to embrace it – there isn’t really an alternative option! I think that the menopause can be a real thief when it comes to confidence – but I’m working on it!”

Find the John Frieda PROfiller+ Thickening collection of Shampoo, Conditioner and Spray at Amazon

*Number one professional haircare brand IRI HBA/OTC, Premium Haircare Category, Value Sales, 52 w/e 22nd Jan 2022, source: 

WATCH: Strictly’s Shirley Ballas and Ola Jordan share their hair stories with Kate Thornton

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