‘Amy’ was desperate. Her thin hair was so brittle that Trichologist, Sally-Ann Tarver, of The Cotswold Trichology Centre could see her scalp from every angle. The root of the problem was that ‘Amy’ had been a blood donor for 25 years and on an inadequate diet, was severely anaemic.
Sally-Ann said: “Within three months of supplements and top nutrition, she had started to grow three times the amount of hair.”
Women who constantly diet are at risk too, especially those who went on a calorie-starved, liquid-only regime, shedding hair as quickly as body weight, until just strands were left. Fortunately, a good diet and supplements sorted out the problem.
Once, specialist treatment centres like Sally-Ann’s were for men with horror comb-overs – desperate to hide bald patches, who wanted dire toupees but now women are horrified at finding their locks swirling down the plughole. Out of 1,000 women, 33 per cent suffer hair loss, and the cause for 90 per cent of these will be poor diet – in particular low iron levels – and with the others it’s mostly down to hormones.
Sally-Ann, aged 33, says, “I’ll be in the supermarket and notice someone’s hair, then check their trolley and can see why their hair condition looks great or not from what they eat.” Glossy, lustrous locks need quality protein, packed with iron, B-vitamins and good oils, along with fresh fruit and vegetables. Hair is actually protein, so vegetarians need to be careful, adding chickpeas, lentils, eggs, nuts and seeds to their diet. Meat eaters need to up their fish, chicken and lean meat.
Check iron levels with a blood test at your GP because ferritin, a protein that stores iron in the body, is essential for hair growth and guards against shedding. B-vitamins also protect against hair loss which is why Sally-Ann stocks quality supplements for hair. It was her own diet that led to hair problems coupled with a traumatic road accident at 16, which triggered her interest in Trichology. She recalls, “A car knocked me off my moped, leaving me with a broken femur and wrist that needed extensive surgery. The shock caused my hair to fall out and although it grew back, it was thinner and a blood test revealed I was anaemic, I was also a vegetarian. I began to eat fish and good quality protein as well as taking vitamin and mineral supplements. My hair grew back and I was so interested I started a three-year Trichology course at 19.”
Her clinic is now celebrating its 10 th year and most of her clients are female, from teenagers to women in their 80s with an average age of 30 to 50, who are stressed, in the grip of hormonal fluctuations, and may have yo-yo dieted for years. Children have attended too, including one three-year old who fell off a work surface which was thought to have caused hair loss. Other clients have undergone treatment for cancer and want specialist wigs or have suffered alopecia – complete or partial hair loss.
Sally-Ann says, “Women find losing hair very traumatic and a lot of my job is counselling whereas men’s hair loss tends to be genetic – 75 per cent lose some or most hair by the time they hit 60.” While drugs may slow male baldness, hair transplants, costing a hefty £4,000-a-session (a few may be needed), the future lies in stem cell transplants, to regenerate follicles for a natural, albeit costly, look. Sally-Ann takes a comprehensive case history of new patients and checks hair under powerful microscopes, before advice on tests and nutrition, along with product recommendations.
She says “I wash my hair every day and use a twice-weekly nourishing treatment. I have highlights – although not on the same section repeatedly and I’ll use an ionic hair dryer but don’t use straighteners.” If Sally-Ann had her way, they’d be banished. She sees far too many women with heat damaged hair caused by shafts frying under too-high heat. She says, “The easiest way to see if hair has been damaged like this is to brush it over a dark pair of trousers and if little pieces come off, straighteners are the cause and one of the worst things to use.”
So, for a crowning glory to be proud of, get a quality cut, go easy on the power tools and take a long, hard look at your diet.
For more information contact Sally-Ann at The Cotswold Trichology Centre, 4B Port Street, Evesham, Worcestershire, WR11 1AN, or phone 01386 421703 or go to www.scalpandhair.com
A one-hour initial consultation costs £60, wig consultations are free.