The time has come for us to address another elephant in the room - hair loss, breakage and scalp conditions. Many of us struggle with it - whether it's a scalp that doesn't seem to settle no matter what you do, shedding and breakage that we're scared will get worse, or a more serious condition that's been ongoing and you still haven't found the answers to.
This is why, on the back of National Hair Loss Awareness Month, we've collaborated with Senior Consultant Trichologist Shirley McDonald to offer Big Hair + Beauty customers the opportunity to book a hair + scalp consultation and receive a £40 gift card towards your favourite products to get you back on track.
With almost 30 years experience and a specialist in afro and curly hair, Shirley is an expert in her field. So we spoke with her about what she does, when you should see her and what to expect!
Who do Trichologists see?
Trichologists see a range disorders including hair loss and scalp disorders that cause scaling and inflammation. They see men and women, and some see children too.
What kind of conditions do you work with?
We're very familiar with male pattern baldness (MPB), women also experience genetic hair loss like men called female pattern hair loss (FPHL).
Women can also suffer hair loss from many possible causes, including an underactive thyroid, cancer treatments, or medications for other health conditions.
Other types of hair loss are scarring conditions and in black women, the condition central centrifugal cicatricial alopecia (CCCA) is extremely common. This distressing condition affects mainly women and often appears in the central area of the crown and around the hairline (often referred to as traction alopecia). It's triggered in predisposed women by hair practices such as mechanical and chemical trauma i.e tight braids and/or relaxers.
What causes hair loss?
There are many things that can cause hair loss and scalp disorders. Quite often they're reflective of what's going on in the body including digestive and autoimmune problems - stress is also a major factor!
Other conditions, such as genetic thinning in both sexes, is determined by 3 factors: age, hormones and it's also hereditary.
In women, a decrease in estrogen can also influence these changes.
What to expect at your appointment?
A trichologist will spend up to an hour taking a full case history and examining your hair and scalp in order to diagnose the problem, advise on diet* and prescribe a treatment to control the condition.
They'll use the information to determine the cause of the hair loss and then offer an unbiased and comprehensive overview on the types of hair loss treatment available.
*Shirley also studied Advanced Nutrition and has a diploma in Natural Nutrition so is well placed to provide advice on diet.
Why should I see a Trichologist instead of my doctor?
GPs have a general approach and often don't specialise in different hair types, such as afro and curly hair.
However, Trichologists do work collaboratively and will also write to your GP for specific blood tests to confirm a potential diagnosis if necessary.
How does Trichology help?
Not getting the right treatment as early as possible can lead to longer term issues. For example, scarring alopecias that cause permanent destruction of the hair follicle need to be treated quickly to prevent the condition extending and trichologists are often able to diagnose quickly.
Trichologists will also work with your GP and/or a dermatologist to support any treatment or a therapy plan that may be needed alongside your diagnosis.
Hair loss can also have a psychological effect as hair is related to our well-being, as it often impacts how we see ourselves. For many people, hair loss (alopecia) or thinning hair can result in a loss of self-esteem and cause depression, anxiety, and other emotional issues. Most of which is cultural as around the world hair is a signifier for who we are.
If you'd like to get to the bottom of any scalp disorders hair loss click here to book an appointment with Shirley and receive a £40 gift card towards your Big Hair + Beauty products.
Shirley McDonald is a consultant trichologist with almost 30 years experience. Her aim is to adopt a holistic approach with attention given to lifestyle, diet, hair care and other factors which may contribute to the patient’s condition. Shirley deals in all hair types including those with Afro hair at her London and Birmingham practice. She is a clinical tutor and a Board Director with responsibility for professional practice and ethics (Chair of Ethics) for The Insitute of Trichologists (IoT). Alongside this she has been featured in a number of journals including the Metro, Black Hair magazine, Business Insider and appeared on different television and radio news items for both BBC and ITV.