Tales from the Hair Chair
Hair loss.. What to do. When to give up.

Hair loss affects a large portion of the population. But Why is it happening? What can I do about it?

There are several factors that contribute to hair loss. Products, stress, styling, chemicals, medication and heredity are all contributing factors.

Product: If you are using heavy products, such as heavy waxes and pomades these can clog your follicles making then dormant and eventually kill them. You shed hair daily right from the follicle. It leaves that follicle open before the new hairs grow in. Heavy product will pack itself in there and stop new growth.

What to do: Try using a product that has less heavy or water soluble ingredients. If you like Murrays try Layrite. If you simply love your heavy product try using a more exfoliating shampoo like a clarifying shampoo. Also every week you can do a lemon treatment. After shampooing squeeze a lemon into you hair and “lather” the juice into your scalp. The citric acid will help disolve the product.

Stress: I’ve seen clients go through difficult personal situations and loose a LARGE portion of their hair. When you go through times of extreme stress your body can attack itself in interesting ways causing various problems to your health.

What to do: Patience. Your hair WILL grow back in these circumstances. Take vitamins. Eat healthy. Drink water. Meditate. Exercise. Your body will right itself when you are taking the proper steps.

Styling: If you wear your hair in a tight bun everyday you are going to get breakage and put tension on your scalp pulling your hair out. Every way you pull your hair back creates tension. Also, excessively wearing a hat can rub the hair right off of your head.

What to do: Change your habits. Letting your hair down is the best way to let it do it’s thing. If you pull your hair back more often than you wear it down consider a short haircut. It’ll be just as easy to style and you’ll probably look more polished anyway than straggly long hair. Also, limit wearing tight hats. 

Chemicals: If you are changing your color often or just have an extreme color from your natural then you are getting what hairstylists call a “chemical haircut”. Your hair will feel dry, frizzy and thinner that normal.

What to do: Make informed decisions about what color you choose. If you are going from one extreme to another do it gradually. Have some patience. Your hair can only handle so much. Don’t change your color too often. Consult a professional. Color can be very tricky and damaging. Fixing a mistake you did yourself could cost a lot of money and hair to fix.

Medication: Medication can mess with your body in crazy ways. I can’t even begin to go into the reasons since it really depends on your medication. 

What to do: Once again patience. If it’s a temporary medication then your hair will grow back. 

Heredity: It’s just in your genes. Male, Female pattern baldness can just be in your family. Thank your parents.

What to do: There are several solutions out there but they all seem to come with issues. If the follicles are dormant then I will address that in a moment. Follicles that are dead can sometimes be restored with products like Rogaine. The problem is that you have to continue to use them. Transplants can leave your hair looking very fake and leave a GIANT scar on the back of your head.

Treatment: If you have dormant hair you can stimulate it with certain hair treatments. Nioxin is one of my all time favorites. Although you have to continue to use it. There are fibrous powders that look pretty good but can run and bleed in heat.

Acceptance and how to deal: If you absolutely are loosing it cut it short. Nothing looks worse than long stringy hair. Cutting it short will actually make it look healthier.

Good Shampoo and Conditioner & The haunting of Pantene

I have a personal problem with Pantene. Pantene has been messing with me since my very first salon job as an assistant in a middle class suburb of Detroit. People there thought they were treating themselves by purchasing the most expensive drug store brand they could find. Client after client showed up with their fried out waxy pantene coated hair. I had to clarify every single one of them.

I’ve felt like a parrot with this speech in the salon. I HATE store bought products. Here’s my speech:

Store bought shampoos and conditioners are made by companies that make things such as floor wax and toilet bowl cleaner. Even the herbal, ‘healthy’, and organic ones are not made by people that study hair. Sure they may make your hair feel clean and not tangley. So why not just save your money and use them? Most of what I see in clients that aren’t using a professional salon brand is that they are dry dry dry! And just because your shampoo says professional on it doesn’t mean it is. Store bought shampoos are like detergents. They can be very abrasive and drying.

The major problem with being cheap about your products lays in conditioners. Aside from just plain not being moisturizing enough they use waxes and oils that just coat your hair. That may seem all fine and good when you rinse your hair and it feels slick and easy to comb through. But that doesn’t mean it’s conditioned. What’s happening is you are sealing your hair off from any nutrients and moisture. Over time using these products your hair becomes more dry and brittle. Ever notice when you get in the shower and it takes a few minutes of the water running on it before it really feels wet. Yeah, coated!

So what should you get that won’t break your budget?

Well first of all since you are used to using crappy product you’ve probably been using too much. Professional brands tend to have a thicker richer lather and go a bit further. Be smart about choosing your shampoo. Buy stuff that is for your hair type. (thick, coarse, dry, fine, colored ect) Most brands have something that will fit into any of those combinations. If you are someone that wants organic there are a ton of brands out there that are now that are fantastic. (Kevin Murphy and ABBA are my two favorites right now) If organic doesn’t matter but price does there are some brands that are on the more cost sensitive side. They are not as cheap as store bought but they also won’t leave your hair feeling like tinsel. (Try Redken, Bed Head, or MOP)
If money is no object and you want to be completely spoiled try Kerastase, l’oreal serie, Rene Furterer, or Phytologie.

Remember that advertisements are designed to get you to buy things. I’ve worked on photo shoots and lighting and photo retouching gives hair completely unrealistic expectations. Those people have fantastic advertising teams.

About a month after quiting the pantene infested salon I was at an outdoor festival. Some lovely people were handing out sample bags of Pantene shampoos and conditioner. I politely declined. Later in that day I had run into the best friend of an x-boyfriend. We were having a lovely conversation when just then some stranger thought it would be funny to throw one of those little satin pouched Pantene bombs into the crowd of people and directly into my face. I blinked for a second not knowing what had just happened and glanced at the ground to find…. clenching my fist and shaking them at the heavens I screamed “CURSE YOU PANTENE!” The old acquaintance stepped slowly away from me. I’m sure in fear about my mental stability. To this day every time a client says they “just use pantene” it feels like to me that they just hit me in the face.