Published in MirrorWorks – Daily Mirror Thursday 15th January 2009
Written by Laurette Ziemer, Photo’s by Ian Vogler
Sally-Ann Tarver is well qualified to help people with hair loss – hers fell out when she was a teenager. It was caused by shock
when she was hit by a car. Now she is one of the country’s leading Trichologists, diagnosing and treating diseases and disorders of the human hair and scalp.
“Unless you have had it happen to you, particularly as a woman, it is hard to understand how awful it feels emotionally to see your hair coming out by the handful,” says Sally-Ann.
Now people with hair problems from all over the world seek out The Cotswold Trichology Centre in Evesham, Worcestershire. “When people hear ‘hair loss’, they think ‘alopecia’ but dozens of conditions can lead to partial of full permanent or temporary hair loss,” adds Sally-Ann.
“There are numerous causes ranging from nutrition deficiencies to shock or stress. Like the shock that affected Sally-Ann after the car accident, in which she broke an arm and a leg. “It took me months to recover from the crash. I started off bed-ridden then to a wheelchair, crutches and finally a walking stick. I also suffered anaemia and drastic weight loss – then to top it all my hair started to come out. Even when I started to get better my hair loss kept recurring – but no one knew why. I lost all confidence in my appearance.Then months after the accident Sally-Ann returned to her job as a hairdresser. It was when she was on a training course that she met a Trichologist – and her life changed. “I was fascinated by the subject and realised, almost instantly that this was what I wanted to do.”
Using some of the money she received in compensation from her accident Sally-Ann enrolled on a distance-learning course at the Institute of Trichologists. It took three years– work at the salon all day, study all night. When clients found out what it was studying, they asked for advice on everything from eczema to thinning hair.”
The more she studied, the more she realise there was (and still is) a massive shortage of practising trichologists – and few clinics outside of London. So once she graduated with her diploma in October 1997 Sally-Ann decided to set up her own business in Evesham, using more of her compensation cash.
She took courses in skills such as accounting and marketing with BusinessLink, found a shop with a flat above it and set about re-fitting it – doing a lot of the painting and decorating herself. The Cotswold Trichology Centre (www.scalpandhair.com) opened July 1998 – and she’s never looked back. Now Sally-Ann even has clients who come from America for treatment there.
It was very scary as I was only 23 at the time – but just got stuck in and learned as I went along. ”She soon found a large part of her work was about listening and guiding clients through the distressing time of loosing their hair. “Hair loss is extremely distressing, particularly for women whose hair is often a large part of their identity. Treatments can take weeks or months depending on the condition. ”But sadly sometimes Sally-Ann has patients she can’t do anything for. “I find that one of the hardest parts of doing the job. It is difficult telling someone who thinks there may be hope of hair growing back unfortunately there is nothing we can do”
Over the years she’s noticed that many clients who bought wigs online to help them in difficult times were upset that what arrived in the post never looked like the images on the website. The companies often shaped them badly, so I started to adjust and trim them myself. I then went on a Trevor Sorbie wig training course to further my skills.”
And last year, following a shop refit when she was completely flooded, Sally-Ann saw the opportunity to expand to include a new personalised wig service. Cutting wigs, she says is a very different process to hairdressing. It’s a lot more like modelling – you thin and sculpt the wig until it looks right. Too much hair in a wig looks wrong.”
Sally-Ann, who is the current president of The Trichological Society, is still in love with her job. I know I’ve worked hard to achieve this,”she says. “But I’m constantly amazed at how pleasurable my working day is – I spend time with people helping them and making a difference.”
Making people feel good about themselves again is wonderful.”