On Tuesday I learned that world famous Trichologist, Philip Kingsley, had passed away. I met Mr. Kingsley over three years ago in East Hampton. I was 6 months away from launching Travel Beauty and was not only keen on carrying his iconic hair care line (at the time you would have been hard pressed to find his line in The US) but have him sit on Travel Beauty’s panel of experts.
My First Encounter With Philip Kingsley
I still remember vividly picking up the phone to cold call Mr. Kingsley to ask him for a meeting. I was so nervous, heart pounding and hands clammy, the phone virtually slipping out of my hands. As the phone rang – my heart was in my throat. By some miracle I was invited to meet him at his home in East Hampton. I couldn’t believe that I was actually going to meet Philip Kingsley. Growing up in New York City in a building where many famous celebrities were my neighbors, I have never been one to be star struck, but I was in Mr. Kingsley’s case. I also had the pleasure of meeting his lovely wife Joan and daughter Anabel. Philip Kingsley was such an inspiring man. There are times when we cross paths with people that make an impression and Philip Kingsley did.
We sat down in the living room and he recounted stories about how Laurence Olivier had come to see him. Apparently a lesser known player in The Royal Shakespeare Company had visited Mr. Kingsley who was able to help him with his hair and scalp issues. Laurence heard about Philip and went to see him as well. The rest of The Royal Shakespeare Company followed soon after. “I remember one chap” he said, “he had no hair left, so there was nothing I could do for him, you see.” He joked “I don’t like to waste anyone’s time, if I can’t help someone I tell them straight away and if there is no hair left, there is nothing I can do to help, I’m afraid”
A Tale of Ducks
Philip Kingsley was a great storyteller. Every product in his line had a magical story behind it. He told me about Audrey Hepburn, The US Olympic Synchronized Swimming Team and ducks – yes ducks! Let’s start with the ducks. Kingsley painted a picture: “Fall was turning into winter and I was in the country and noticed a number of ducks at the foot of a pond…” Their feathers were healthy and glistening and I thought, let me find out what gives their feathers such sheen – their feathers were always so healthy looking despite the bitter cold and constant immersion in water. Kingsley was onto something. He conducted some research and discovered that there was an element in duck feathers that promoted shine and luster. Using this knowledge he formulated Preen Cream for the purpose of infusing life back into dry, dull hair. This was my favorite story.
A Bespoke Formulation For Audrey Hepburn
Then there was Audrey – Elasticizer had been devised expressly for Audrey Hepburn. Her hair had been so over processed from coiffing on film sets that it had become exceedingly brittle and dry to the point of breakage. Audrey went to visit Philip and he created Elasticizer for her to address her severe brand of hair fry. Today Elasticizer is an iconic hair hero and one of the most important fixtures in my shower.
Kingsley’s Passion For His Work
Kingsley truly cared for his patients and wanted to communicate just how important his work was to him. It was as if he was trying to impart upon me the feeling of joy and passion that he felt for the people he cared for, his field of Trichology and product development. After 50 years of practicing, he still loved what he did and was in a constant state of wonder and fascination. This is a common trait that I have observed in so many successful individuals over the years. It does not matter how hard one works, if he or she does not love the work, it is difficult to become successful, however one defines success.
Here is a round-up of some of the wonderful editorial pieces that Mr. Kingsley kindly authored for Travel Beauty over the years. I am grateful that I had the opportunity to know and collaborate with him.
Vacation Hair Care: Sand and Slopes
There is very little difference between caring for your hair at the beach and while skiing. In each instance your hair is subjected to similar environmental hazards. For example, windy conditions, the sun, sweat, salt or chlorinated pool/sauna water, even hats—be they large rimmed sun hats or snug & wooly ski attire. The primary consideration is protection from all of these elements, of which I will describe below: Read more.
Summer Hair Myths Debunked
Having practiced trichology for over 50 years, I have heard a fair few misconceptions about hair in my consultation rooms, ranging from the misguided to the downright absurd. I thought I would share the more common ones, and, as we are in the height of summer, they shall be summer themed, too! Read more.
Minimizing Static Hair and Hat Hair
Three amazing phenomena of hair (and I could name many!) are its electrical properties, insulation potential and ability to change shape with the addition of heat and/or water. Sadly, however, these also mean the occurrence of static flyaways and horrendously frustrating hat hair. No one is immune, but from my many years of experience, both personally and from helping my clients, I have accumulated useful methods of minimizing their occurrence. Read more.
By: Alyssa Barrie Weiss, Twitter: @AlyssaBarrie