Best-Tressed Help for Hair: Local Experts Offer Solutions for Thinning and Loss
Apr 27, 2012 01:08PM
● By Linda Sechrist
Melanie Nickels, owner of Raw Hair Organic Salon, working on a client.
For centuries, women have referred to their hair as crowns of glory and frames for their faces. Both metaphors focus on exterior appearances and overlook one of the most significant aspects about a woman’s hair: its inner origins. Metaphorically more like a garden than a crown or frame, beautiful hair is largely dependent upon the interior dynamics of a healthy body, just as plants are reliant upon good soil.
However, for myriad reasons, many of them beyond a woman’s control, hair can thin or even fall out—a devastating blow to her sense of femininity. A number of area health professionals and hair care experts knowledgeable about the problem offer natural solutions that nurture hair and bolster self-esteem.
What Causes Hair Loss
Hair, like any plant, has a normal cycle that includes phases of growth, rest and loss. According to the American Academy of Dermatology, 50 to 100 strands of hair per day are normally lost to combing, brushing or showers, and up to 250 hairs may go down the drain when hair is washed. Generally, each time a hair is shed, it is replaced by hair that is equal in size. However, in women with female-pattern hair loss, the new hair emerging from the hair follicle beneath the scalp is a more miniaturized, finer and thinner version. When hair follicles continue to shrink, they eventually quit growing new hairs altogether.
While most women report hair loss in their 50s or 60s, local physicians that practice functional medicine, such as Dr. Carol Roberts, a medical doctor at the Perlmutter Health Center, in Naples, and Dr. Robert Gilliland, a chiropractic doctor and founder of Southwest Florida Natural Health Center, in Bonita Springs, advise that it can happen at any age. They cite a variety of reasons, including hormone imbalances; stress; a low-functioning thyroid; malnutrition; autoimmune disease; hereditary factors; and adrogenetic alopecia, a hereditary condition that affects approximately 30 million American women.
Hair loss can also be triggered by anti-inflammatory drugs and prescription medications including cortisone; glucose regulators, such as insulin; thyroid regulators; antibiotics; and blood pressure medicines. “All medications create nutritional deficiencies, which, along with toxins, allergies, diet, stress/aging and infections, are major factors in hair loss,” says Deborah Post, a board-certified advanced nurse practitioner and owner of Wellbridges, Inc., in Fort Myers. Post directs her patients to websites such as EveryDayExposures.com and EnvironmentalWorkingGroup.com, so they can educate themselves and get tips on how to reduce their exposure to heavy metals, chlorine, pesticides and the parabens found in many personal care products.
Natural Care and Solutions
Hairstylists that specialize in organic hair treatments and hair care products can play an important role in helping women with hair loss. Knowledgeable about the ingredients in the best organic hair care and color products, as well as the reasons for unhealthy hair and loss, they are skilled at evaluating the health of the hair and scalp. Stylists such as Julie Chandler, owner of Salon Shangri-la, in Bonita Springs, look for the root cause, starting with hair care products that women use. “The majority of commercial products contain synthetic silicones, which are inexpensive ingredients that coat the hair to give it a smooth, healthy feeling,” she explains. “Unfortunately, the synthetic silicone builds up on the scalp and clogs the hair follicle, causing it to die and the hair to fall out.”
Chandler encourages women to read the labels of their off-the-shelf brands and avoid any that contain a silicone such as dimethicone, propylene glycol or cyclomethicone, sodium polyacrylate or some type of synthetic polymer plastic coating. “None of these are good for the hair or scalp. Natural silicones derived from proteins, sand, cellulose and trees create smooth, shiny hair, but don’t accumulate on the scalp,” she advises.
At Alex Day Spa & Salon, in Naples, stylists such as Joanna Pizzo evaluate the health of a woman’s hair and ask questions to determine if the reason for hair loss is related to stress, diet or medications. “We offer a 30-minute hot oil massage and an infrared light treatment, which stimulates hair growth,” says Pizzo, who advises that hair should be trimmed every four to six weeks to keep damaged endsfrom catching in the brush and pulling out of the scalp.
“When a client’s hair begins to show signs of thinning, I suggest that they massage their scalp often to increase blood circulation” says Betty Ann Mighell, the owner of Studio 37 Xtreme Lashes & Hair, in Naples. She also recommends washing hair several times a week to keep bacteria from getting into the hair follicles, and says that longer hair is not a solution for thin hair. “Women with thin or fine hair should wear layered styles, because thin, long hair flattens and more scalp shows,” advises Mighell.
Melanie Nickels, owner of Raw Hair Organic Salon, in Naples, notes that chlorine can dry and damage hair. As a preventive measure, she suggests that clients purchase a water filter for their shower and consider an alternative to chlorine for their swimming pool. “If they can’t convert to saltwater or another method of keeping their pool water clean, then I recommend that before swimming, they wet their hair and apply a leave-in conditioner, so that the hair doesn’t absorb the chemicals in the pool,” remarks Nickels.
Volumizing and Restoring
To add welcome thickness to thin hair, local organic hair salons offer natural hair color products and nearly weightless amplifying and styling aids. They also carry a line of Nioxin products, a salon professional hair care brand that specializes in thinning hair. Intended for particular needs such as hair texture, normal- to thin-looking hair or noticeably thinning hair and color treated hair, the line includes a cleanser, lightweight conditioner and treatments that stimulate and protect the scalp.
The Amici 0.3 Hair Growth System is the answer to hair restoration at La Belle Chique European Medical Spa, in Naples. Amici’s all-natural products increase blood circulation in the scalp and stimulate hair follicles. “We treat the scalp twice a week for nine months. In three months, clients see results,” says Greet Baestaens, a doctor of physical therapy. After nine months, the client continues an at-home regimen. Results are generally thicker hair.
Aesthetically Artful Aids
LaDonna Roye, a hairstylist specializing in hair color and owner of LaDonna Roye Hairstylist, in Naples, began carrying wigs, clip-in hairpieces and extensions when she noticed that many of her clients were losing their hair. “Reasons varied, ranging from hormonal changes to medications for blood pressure, depression and high cholesterol, as well as chemotherapy treatments,” says Roye, who is a trainer for the American Cancer Society’s Look Good…Feel Better (LGFB) program (see accompanying sidebar).
Paula Johnson, a master stylist trained in the Vidal Sassoon techniques and the owner of Epiphany Salon & Spa, in Naples, is a Raquel Welch wig consultant who specializes in thinning hair and medical hair loss. Her extensive training in natural-looking wigs, toppers, toupees and hair extensions also benefits her work as an LGFB facilitator. In fact, Johnson chose her current location because the salon includes a private room large enough to accommodate her extensive selection of wigs and hairpieces.
“I offer a free consultation for women and men that are often self-conscious about their hair loss,” advises Johnson, who is also certified in hair bonding, a non-surgical process in which a hairpiece is partially or wholly attached directly to the scalp. Individuals visit the salon monthly to have it removed, washed and rebonded. She notes that purchasing a wig or hairpiece depends upon an individual’s dexterity. “If someone has severe arthritis or has had a stroke, a partial piece is not an option.”
Both Roye and Johnson delight in hearing their clients happily exclaim, “Oh my, I never realized there were so many options available,” and they agree that nine out of 10 women are unaware of the numerous solutions for hair loss. “It’s heartwarming to put the light back in a woman’s eyes again,” they remark.
“Today, those of us in the business realize that there is no need for a woman’s self-esteem to suffer due to thin hair or hair loss,” advises Mighell, whose early career in Las Vegas gave her the opportunity to see celebrities in a backstage environment. “In the 1950s, I was a nail technician and was called to Caesar’s Palace to do Dianna Ross’ nails. When I went backstage, I was surprised to see eight wigs. The legendary singer had thin hair, which was pulled back in the tiniest ponytail I had ever seen,” Mighell recalls.
For women challenged by thin hair or hair loss, seeking expert advice is the first step to renewed self-confidence, and today’s wigs, hairpieces and extensions are fashion staples that offer the freedom to choose any number of looks. Hadiiya Barbel, a stylist and wigmaker to the stars, understands how intimately a woman’s self-esteem is connected to her hair. She prefers to call her creations crowns. “A crown is couture,” says Barbel, “and the head is a sacred space.”
For more information, visit the American Hair Loss Association, a nonprofit organization dedicated to education and research, at AmericanHairLoss.org.
Local Resources for Hair Loss and Thinning Hair
Alex Day Spa & Salon, 855 Vanderbilt Beach Road, Naples. 239-597-2141 or 239-591-4880. AlexDaySpaAndSalon.com.
Epiphany Salon & Spa, 14700 Tamiami Trail North, Suite 13, Naples. 239-594-1800. EpiphanySalon-Spa.com.
La Belle Chique European Medical Spa, 619 Eighth Street South, Naples; 239-213-9186. LaBelleChique.com.
LaDonna Roye Hairstylist, 12980 Tamiami Trail North, Suite 18, Naples; 239-254-9100. LaDonnaRoye.com.
Perlmutter Health Center, 800 Goodlette Road North, Suite 270, Naples; 239-649-7400. PerlHealth.com.
Raw Hair Organic Salon, 4156 Tamiami Trail, Naples; 239-206-0939. RawHairOrganics.com.
Salon Shangri-la, 3440 Renaissance Boulevard, Suite 6, Bonita Springs. 239-949-9030. SalonShangri-La.com.
Southwest Florida Natural Health Center, 27499 Riverview Center Boulevard, Suite 255, Bonita Springs; 239-444-3106. SWFThyroid.com.
Studio 37 Xtreme Lashes & Hair, 501 Goodlette Road, Suite B-104, Naples; 239-263-5434. Studio37XtremeLashesAndHair.com.
Wellbridges, Inc., 17595 Tamiami Trail South, Suite 108-14, Fort Myers; 239-481-5600. DebPost.com.