Hair loss can occur for a number of reasons, and while it should be diagnosed and treated as a medical condition by a GP or trichologist, hairdressers are often the first port of call when clients notice changes. “It’s key that hairdressers take into consideration the concerns of their client, but that they know their limitations,” says Glenn Lyons, senior trichologist and clinical director at Philip Kingsley. Although hair loss is a medical condition, there are some holistic ways that hairdressers can offer support from how often to brush, to what styles will help disguise thinning.
When it comes to broaching the subject with clients, sensitivity is key, says Amber Letham, a Crazy Color ambassador. “I try to be as sensitive as possible and let clients know that what they are experiencing is completely normal. Hair loss can happen to anyone and for a multitude of reasons,” she adds. “I will always recommend they see a trichologist, as they have a lifetime of knowledge about the hair and scalp and can effectively determine the problem,” she says.
The topic can be easier to raise with regular clients, however, for new clients it’s important to ask the right questions, says Matrix ambassador, Carol Ritchie. “That is why a consultation is key. Why not ask: ‘Is there anything you would like to change about your hair – if there is, what would it be?’, ‘Have you noticed any changes in your hair?’ and ‘Have you changed anything about your diet and lifestyle?’.” This will provide an overall picture of how they feel about their hair.
FIND THE RIGHT CUT AND COLOUR
Suggest a haircut which would help hide the thinning areas, advises Carol. “A shorter haircut will put less stress on the hair or suggest something to make their hair appear thicker like a classic square blunt bob or soft layers with wispy bangs,” she says.
As long as the hair is not compromised, colour placement can create the illusion of fullness.
“Balayage, babylights and face-framing techniques are options, as is all over block colour to help give the hair depth and shine,”says Carol.
Lastly, don’t be scared to brush. “Any hair that comes out whilst brushing would have come out over the next 10 days anyway,” says Mark Blake, trichologist for Nioxin. “Normal hair in its growing phase cannot be pulled out even if you try to do it. But be careful of brushing hair aggressively even when in good health, as it is easily damaged by harsh brushing.”
CONNECT WITH GPS AND TRICHOLOGISTS
Hairdressers can work effectively alongside medical professionals with wig services.
“We offer services within our salon for hair loss that’s due to illness such as cancer or alopecia,” says Schwarzkopf ambassador, Tim Scott-Wright. “One of our senior stylists went on a training course to learn about wig cutting for hair loss and conducting sensitive consultations,” he says. “When we have a hair loss consultation, it’s a private service held in a separate room to the rest of the salon and will be just between the specialised stylist and client,” he adds. While it’s not openly advertised, it’s proving popular. “Our local GP practice and nurses at the nearby hospital know what we offer and will refer patients to us when they are at that stage. It’s done very subtly, but is successful for us,” says Tim.
ASK THE RIGHT QUESTIONS
While hair loss needs to be examined medically, what about clients who are desperately seeking advice during their appointment? “Establishing a timeline is very important; when did they start to notice the hair loss?, how much hair do they feel they are losing? Talk in percentages to make this easy,” advises Skyler McDonald at Skyler London for L’Oréal Professionnel Paris. “Ask if anything has dramatically changed in their life, such as stress and diet,” she adds. Andy Smith, founder of Hairslydz, also recommends swapping hair elastics for silk schrunchies.
HOW TO ASSESS HAIR LOSS IN THE SALON
If a client comes in who is concerned, Glenn recommends shampooing the hair. “Ask the junior if they can check the hair when they are washing it,” he says, to observe the shedding. “On someone with long hair, 50 hairs will look more than 50 hairs from shorter hair,” Glenn adds, so take this into consideration. You should also ask the client how often they wash their hair. “The longer that it is left between washes, the more the hair will shed,” he adds. “It doesn’t shed more, but it accumulates. So the longer they leave between washes the more it becomes a noticeable problem.” He recommends waiting four to five weeks to see if the issue selfcorrects, and then referring to a trichologist.
IN-SALON SCALP SERVICES
The Nioxin Dermabrasion treatment is an in-salon service that is essentially an exfoliating facial for the scalp, helping to maintain good scalp and hair health. “Hair health is directly linked to scalp health,” explains Mark. “We treat our faces but stop at our hairline and totally ignore the delicate skin on our scalp,” he says. “But dermabrasion will help create the best possible environment for your hair to grow,” he adds.
THE ROLE OF DIET
Encourage your client to eat regularly, says Glenn. “After the gut, hair cells have the highest proliferation, but they are not essential,” he says.
So if you’re not eating enough, energy will be prioritised to major organs over the hair. This makes breakfast particularly important. “If someone is not eating lunch until 1pm, that’s a lot of hours without food,” says Glenn. “It’s fine overnight, but in the morning you are expending energy.” While protein is important, Glenn recommends eating complex carbohydrates (including potatoes, cereals, rice and bread) at least once per day, as they are essential to give the hair energy.
Vitamins B12 and vitamin D are important for healthy hair. “Around 50% of people in the UK are vitamin D deficient,” explains Glenn. “If we find inflammation on the scalp and below the surface, we do a vitamin D test,” he says. Minerals, iron and zinc are also crucial. Pheratin – which is the amount of iron stored in the body – is often low in menstruating women. “We often get women coming in with temporary hair loss, but their hair loss is purely due to low levels of pheratin,” adds Glenn.