Certain physical attributes can significantly elevate a person’s appearance. Say you were not blessed with modelesque bone structure. There are several other features (skin, brows, teeth…) the optimization of which (clear & glowing skin, well-shaped brows, straight, white teeth…) can still land you firmly in “10″ territory. Probably the most notable of these features is hair. Shiny, bouncy, Breck-girl hair makes a world of difference on anyone. As a low-maintenance gal, I relied on my high-quality (read: expensive) hair cut and color to compensate for the makeup I didn’t bother applying, the accessories I didn’t bother wearing, etc. Imagine my despair, then, when I realized my hair was falling out at an alarming rate. It was devastating and stressful…not to mention embarrassing.
Hair Loss & Thinning
Why? Why, oh, why was this happening to me? Well, the body considers hair a “non-essential” tissue, so the brain will not send nourishment to it if requirements elsewhere in the body are not being met. This can result in hair loss and/or thinning, as well as dry, brittle and lifeless hair. Additionally, (unfortunately) hair loss in women is a more complex problem than it is in men because of all the different factors at work:
- Stress level
- Genetic predisposition
Poor Diet & High Stress Levels
I was struggling on all these fronts. Simultaneously completing my MBA, working part time and caring for my two young children had led to me often neglecting the most basic self-care. My diet was awful: I grabbed food on the go, never paying attention to eating a well-balanced diet. My stress levels were sky high and sleep was but a stranger. Although I felt run down and depleted, I also felt too busy to do much about it.
The Last Straw
My attitude quickly changed once my hair started to fill my shower drain…every day. Is that my scalp I see in the mirror?!?! My body was alerting me that the status-quo was not working, and I could no longer not deal with it. On top of my hair shedding, my scalp suddenly became extremely dry and flaky for the first time in my life. So now my suddenly visible scalp had become quite unsightly. It was clearly time to take action. I proceeded to purchase every scalp and hair loss product under the sun, from Apple Cider Vinegar to Zinc supplements. Still, I was not seeing any real results. Time for another tactic.
I Took The First Step
I made an appointment at The Philip Kingsley Trichological Institute in New York City, knowing that they specialize in hair and scalp health. The Institute is a hidden gem of hair health, tucked away in midtown Manhattan. It is not a spa or a flashy full-service salon; it is a no-frills hair and scalp treatment center. I was comforted by the straightforward professionalism and “clinical” setting; I knew they were going to go beyond scalp deep to deal with my issues. My visit was two-part. First, I met with trichologist Elizabeth Cunnane-Philips. This was an in-depth interview, just shy of a therapy session. Liz conducted a thorough investigation into my life, asking about:
- Overall health
- Family history
Her expertise and depth of knowledge were immediately apparent. Though she was a consummate professional and listened matter-of-factly to all I said, there was an air of compassion to our meeting which I really appreciated. When she asked me (rhetorically) where the protein was in my diet (surprise…there wasn’t any), it wasn’t a judgment, but a dose of tough love. Philip Kingsley takes a holistic approach to hair and scalp issues, treating the underlying causes as well as the appearance your hair/scalp. My diet was my biggest issue – woefully deficient in protein. And iron. And breakfast. To discover what else may be amiss (thyroid problems, deficiencies, etc.), Liz recommended a comprehensive series of blood tests, the results of which I would report back to her.
She then examined my hair and scalp under a large magnifying glass. My scalp was inflamed, flaky and altogether unhappy. An inflamed scalp can often go hand-in-hand with hair loss, and can lead to even more hair loss if left untreated. Based on what she observed, Liz wrote up a personalized product list to be used during my treatment – the second part of my visit.
For my treatment, I met with another trichologist, Stephen Pullan. Where Liz was tough love, Stephen was kid gloves. His healing hands put the “treat” in treatment. After expertly applying an exfoliating scalp mask (to remove “debris” from my scalp), Stephen started squeezing a bottle of white goop onto my hair. He said it was Elasticizer diluted with water to make it easier to apply. Brilliant- I learned a new trick! My hour-long treatment included a divine 10 minute head and neck massage from Stephen, as well as time under a scalp steamer: Just like the helmet dryers used in salons, but with STEAM! I can’t begin to describe how soothing and restorative it felt. After steaming, I was put under infrared lamps, then shampooed and rinsed.
TO BE CONTINUED….