August is Hair Loss Awareness Month, and while hair loss remains a sensitive subject for many people, action can be taken to help – you’re not alone in this.
We’re shining a light on the signs to look out for, as well as the professional services and homecare products available to help
Covid-19 has resulted in a large increase in hair loss, as reported by both the general public and salons. Whether it’s from stress and anxiety, or a byproduct of the illness itself, the pandemic has had an undeniable effect. But what causes hair loss, and what are the key signs to look out for?
“There are so many reasons a client may be suffering from hair loss,” says salon owner Michael Convey. “It can be temporary from stress, or if they are going through chemo, or it could be alopecia or male pattern baldness. We always start with a consultation in our private suite and speak to the client about what it is that’s causing the loss of their hair; although we are not doctors and can’t diagnose we can offer advice and solutions to some of the causes.”
Maxine Sutcliffe is the salon director at KH Hair Newark, and also a trained trichologist. She knows exactly what to look out for when it comes to first spotting signs of hair loss. She says: “Telogen effluvium is the most common cause of hair loss and is triggered by many things, such as stress, illness, anaemia. Hair loss from telogen effluvium happens about 12 weeks after the incident, which is the key thing to remember.” This delay can be startling, but at this point there should already be new hairs growing, she adds. If this isn’t the case, it’s time to seek out some expert help.
“On average, we shed around 100 hairs every day,” Simone Thomas, trichologist and salon owner, explains. “Telogen effluvium sufferers will shed around 300 hairs a day due to an increased amount of hair going into the resting phase and then shedding. Your hair will feel thinner due the increased amount of shedding, and even though each hair is replaced with new hair, it can take months for it to grow significantly enough to contribute to the overall thickness of your hair.” With care and attention, there is a 95 per cent chance of complete recovery from telogen effluvium hair loss when the triggers are identified, and it rarely lasts longer than 6 months, she adds.
“During lockdown we set up a support group for hair loss clients,” says Janice Grieves, owner of Hairport in Carlisle. “There are more than 800 people on the group now, with trichologists there to answer questions. As hairdressers we have a responsibility to know the difference between hormonal, nutritional and inflammatory hair loss. There are several causes, but we must always refer to a doctor for blood tests before anything else.” She points to iron levels as being a key indicator – both too much and too little can affect growth – while many medications can lead to hair loss.
So once you’ve established that there is hair loss occurring, no matter the cause, how do you take steps to minimise the effects – or even reverse them?
“Poor diet and nutrition can dramatically affect the condition of your hair,” Simone adds. “Our hair is fed from the hair follicles, located under the skin of the scalp, where they derive nutrients from our blood. Optimal hair growth is reliant on hair follicles being satisfied by necessary vitamins and minerals which are present in healthy whole foods such as fruits, vegetables, and whole grains.” If thinning hair is a concern, the first place to start is your diet and enquiring about blood tests at the GP’s, to discover if there’s an internal imbalance going on.
Enquire if your salon offers any hair loss expertise or services. For example, the KH Hair Group is training its stylists in the Careologist No.1 Expert Programme by Wella Professionals. The salons offer a completely free, no obligation consultation to anyone concerned with hair loss, thinning hair or any other hair or scalp-related concern.
“Over the past 12 months there has been a significant rise in patients visiting my clinic with COVID related hair loss,” says Iain Sallis, M.I.T., Triciologist and Racoon Trichology Consultant. “As long as there are no underlying issues that can affect the hair, and the hair is recovering, there is no reason why a person shouldn’t seek advice about using extensions to help.” The Racoon Hair in Recovery system is a type of extensions work offered by Racoon as an ideal shield for hair loss while recovery and regrowth is occurring. Lots of extensions and hair cover options are available, so if you’re looking to either cover specific sections or boost the appearance of limp locks then it’s certainly an option to enquire about.
Laura Bull and her team at Code Hair offer microscopic analysis and targeted scalp facials, followed up by personalised Nioxin haircare prescriptions, to identify problems before they take root. “We also find this is a great way to get clients thinking about the health and thickness of their hair by starting at the scalp,” she adds.
Robert Eaton, creative director of Russell Eaton salons and Wella Professionals creative technical director UK&I, decided to try and make his clients feel as comfortable as possible by putting clear signs out. “We feel it is important that hair loss services are part of our everyday services, as opposed to offering a dedicated ‘hair loss’ menu, to ensure clients feel really comfortable coming into the salon,” he explains.
A salon can be an intimidating environment if you are suffering from hair loss, so Rob is keen to break the ice before clients even arrive. “I always have a one-to-one call with clients to make them feel really comfortable ahead of coming into the salon – I find interacting over the phone with the client immediately puts them at ease and therefore they don’t feel as anxious when they come into the salon for their appointment.” Lots of salons have private rooms or areas which can be taken advantage of if you’re anxious of having an appointment out in the open. You can call ahead to ask about availability before your appointment, so that you can feel free to openly discuss your options with your hairdresser.