IN THE THICK OF IT

Pro­tect­ing, pre­serv­ing and mak­ing the most of your crown­ing glory is the name of the game

ZOOMER Magazine - - ZOOM IN HAIR SPECIAL - By Vi­vian Vas­sos

“I’M NOT JUST the pres­i­dent but I’m also a client.” Many of us will re­call those words spo­ken by Sy Sperling, the owner-mem­ber of Hair Club for Men, in one of his TV ad­ver­tise­ments while hold­ing up a photo of his pre­vi­ously bald pate. Sperling, who passed away ear­lier this year, was key in bring­ing the con­ver­sa­tion of hair loss to the fore.

For women, the con­ver­sa­tion has been around since birth – giv­ing birth, that is. Many ex­pe­ri­ence a sig­nif­i­cant amount of hair loss dur­ing preg­nancy, with the psy­cho­log­i­cal side ef­fect of a lower self-es­teem and the phys­i­cal of it some­times never grow­ing back. But with the tricks of the trade – think ex­ten­sions, falls, wigs, bi­otin pills and a bath­room cup­board stocked with thick­en­ing creams, vo­lu­miz­ing mousses and other tools – some of it can be dis­guised.

Men, how­ever, have worn their “male pat­tern bald­ness” since the begin­ning of time. Sci­en­tif­i­cally, it’s re­ferred to as an­dro­ge­netic alope­cia, a.k.a. hered­i­tary hair loss. And con­trary to pop­u­lar be­lief, it’s not just your mother’s fault – it can run in ei­ther side of the

fam­ily. By age 50, say the ex­perts at Ro­gaine, half of all men ex­pe­ri­ence hered­i­tary hair loss – with many al­ready notic­ing a thin­ning in their 30s and 40s. Add in hor­mone shifts, and it equals a short­en­ing of the hair growth cy­cle and a grad­ual shrink­ing of the hair fol­li­cles – cre­at­ing shorter, finer hairs. Once the fol­li­cles dis­ap­pear, the hair stops grow­ing. Ro­gaine is rec­om­mended for men aged 18 to 65; they be­lieve that the ear­lier thin­ning hair is ad­dressed, the bet­ter.

There’s also a re­la­tion­ship be­tween male pat­tern bald­ness and di­hy­drotestos­terone (DHT). When pro­duced in the body, DHT can in­hibit hair growth by hin­der­ing the de­liv­ery of nu­tri­ents to the hair fol­li­cle, say the sci­en­tists at Vivis­cal Hair Nour­ish­ment Sys­tem. Their sup­ple­ment for men con­tains in­gre­di­ents that feed the fol­li­cle to help com­bat the loss of those nu­tri­ents. This com­plex, called Ami­noMar C, con­tains ma­rine in­gre­di­ents along with vi­ta­min C and sil­ica. Why ma­rine in­gre­di­ents? It was in­spired by a 1980s study of the Inuit diet – heavy in fish and pro­tein. The Vivis­cal sup­ple­ments for men and women are said to help strengthen and speed up ex­ist­ing hair growth as well.

The qual­ity of our hair, not just the quan­tity, can change over time as well. “Many women and men have the im­pres­sion that they have less hair,” says Liam Whe­lan, prod­uct man­ager at L’Oréal Pro­fes­sion­nel.

“An im­pres­sion that is less the re­sult of true hair loss rather than a di­min­ished den­sity of the hair.” So what’s ex­actly at fault here? “It’s the stem cells and hair fol­li­cles – as L’Oréal dis­cov­ered in 2001 – that no longer com­pletely ful­fill their nat­u­ral role of re­gen­er­a­tion,” Whe­lan says.

Fay Links­man, the ex­pert at Nioxin, notes that hair has its own bi­ol­ogy. The com­pany, too, has its own ori­gin story. Nioxin was cre­ated by Eva Graham, an only child grow­ing up in North Carolina, where she spent most of her time in na­ture. Her mother had in­stilled a love of and re­spect for the heal­ing power of plants, while her fa­ther was a dreamer, who also in­spired his daugh­ter to do the same, all while lament­ing the loss of his hair. Years later, Graham her­self lost half her hair to preg­nancy, and her fa­ther’s words came back to her. She cre­ated the line to help com­bat the signs of thin­ning hair, us­ing a com­bi­na­tion of sun­screens to pro­tect the scalp from UVB rays that can dam­age the scalp and main­tain a healthy en­vi­ron­ment for hair growth, and B vi­ta­mins, such as folic acid, bi­otin, pan­tothenic acid and niacin – as some stud­ies have shown vi­ta­min B-de­fi­ciency can also con­trib­ute to hair loss.

Links­man breaks down how hair changes through our lives: First, there’s a change in the hair fi­bres’ di­am­e­ter, mean­ing each hair ac­tu­ally grows out thin­ner from the scalp. Then, a de­crease in melanin,

which ef­fects the lus­tre and the colour; a de­crease in den­sity, in which fewer hairs emerge from the scalp; and when it does, it in­creases in cur­va­ture, re­sult­ing in bendy, less man­age­able hair (think those courser greys); and fi­nally, de­creased lipid pro­duc­tion, mean­ing hair is drier, duller and more prone to dam­age.

Speak­ing of dam­age, “Our hair is not as strong and flex­i­ble as it once was, which can cre­ate break­age from even the sim­plest thing such as brush­ing our hair,” says Alanna Wid­giz of Kéras­tase Paris. “On av­er­age, we lose ap­prox­i­mately 100 hairs a day,” she adds. She’s cur­rently talk­ing up the new Kéras­tase Ge­n­e­sis line, for­mu­lated to ad­dress break­age, lack of den­sity and hair fall. She also advises to be gen­tle and to be care­ful to de­tan­gle (another trick to avoid break­age).

Toss in a hand­ful of stress, “and this will slow down our hair growth cy­cle,” re­sult­ing in sparser hair,” Wid­giz adds.

And then there are the added stresses that some of us put on our hair via chem­i­cals such as colour­ing, bleach­ing and straight­en­ing treat­ments. “It is ideal to limit the bleach you are us­ing – or even dis­con­tinue with any light­en­ing of the hair, as this weak­ens the hair fi­bre caus­ing break­age,” advises Wid­giz. And about those roots: sil­ver-grey is one thing, but for some of us late bloomers who like that blond look, go­ing over to the dark side is not such a bad thing, as Wid­giz also be­lieves that when your hair is darker, it will ap­pear to be thicker.

An­gela Ys­seldyk, the leader of ed­u­ca­tion for Smart So­lu­tions, the sup­ple­ment com­pany cre­ated by Lorna Van­der­haeghe, the Cana­dian women’s nat­u­ral health ex­pert and nu­tri­tional medicine ad­vo­cate, says, “Low iron is a fac­tor in hair loss, and low thy­roid is a fac­tor in thin­ning hair and loss. And your pro­tein in­take needs to be ad­e­quate. We need pro­tein to make our hair and it is also a com­po­nent of skin like col­la­gen.” Vivis­cal also ad­dresses this, as the com­pany has for­ti­fied its Vivis­cal

Wo­man sup­ple­ments with iron to help com­bat ane­mia and bi­otin, a B-com­plex vi­ta­min, along with niacin and zinc. Ask your doc­tor to help es­tab­lish whether you’re at any of these lows.

“And have some fun with styling tech­niques – your hair will also look thicker if it has some nat­u­ral curl or tex­ture in it rather than straight­en­ing it,” Wid­giz says. “In­vest in your hair,” she adds. “It is the crown you never take off.”

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