How To Keep Your Hair On With Expert Hair Care Tips

We put our pressing hair loss questions to trichologist Agnes Wadzie Claire, who specialises in afro hair from her Leeds-based clinic

Agnes Wadzie Claire is a trichologist with a clinic in Leeds

What are the most common hair problems you see?

There are quite a lot of common scalp issues that we see and treat in the clinic like, scalp psoriasis, dandruff, different types of alopecia, acne, eczema, seborrheic dermatitis and more.

Unfortunately, many women are experiencing traction alopecia. What advice can you give?

Traction alopecia (TA) is the most common type of hair loss experienced by black women. TA is a form of hair loss that is caused by hairstyles that inflame the scalp and literally pull hair strands from the follicles. This condition occurs gradually to the point of permanent hair loss, if the pulling and inflammation leads to damage (scarring) of the hair follicle. I am of course referring to styles such as braiding, canerows and ponytails.

My best advice to those who already suffer from this issue is to abstain from hairstyles that add mechanical tension to the hair follicle if you hope to see any recovery. People who suffer from traction alopecia may also want to cover their hair with wigs. However, lace fronts that require gluing the hairline can definitely exacerbate the problem, so bear this in mind.

If you want to encourage hair growth, exfoliate the scalp once or twice a month to gently buff away dead skin in order to encourage cell regeneration. Moisturising the scalp shouldn’t be done in excess because clogged pores can cause irritation to some. Finally, stay away from harsh products that make the hair dry and therefore brittle and more likely to snap.

Did you know? Vitamin B5 is also known as pantothenic acid and is put inside certain shampoos and conditioners because it is believed to make hair shiny, which is true, but this is still bad science for one reason. For pantothenic acid to really make a difference to the quality of your hair, it has to come from your bloodstream and be part of a metabolic process happening inside your cells, not outside. As soon as hair leaves the scalp, it’s dead. Therefore, pantothenic acid inside shampoo is good marketing but it isn’t really sound science

Many of us have experienced stress, shock, operations, pregnancy and childbirth, extreme weight loss and dieting, all of which have a delayed negative reaction on our hair. What do you recommend to combat the effects of these life events?

Life events can sometimes cause a temporary hair loss known as telogen effluvium. This is because acute stress to the body can disrupt the hair cycle. At any given time, the hair follicles will be in one of three stages being active growth (anagen), regression (catagen) and shedding (telogen).

Usually 80-90% of the hair will be in the growth phase while the rest is in the catagen/telogen phase, so shedding at about 100 strands a day is actually normal. However, it is possible that a large proportion of the anagen hair can be prematurely pushed into the catagen/telogen phase because of acute stress to the body leading to a brief period of abnormal hair loss.

The initial advice I would give is, ‘don’t panic, it’s temporary’. Avoid further stress and try to maintain a healthy lifestyle such as eating a balanced diet, drinking at least two pints of water, exercising and sleeping enough. This will help your body recover well in general and will give you a longer and happier life.

Hair & scalp treatment at the clinic

Do you think supplements make a difference to hair growth?

Whether or not vitamin supplements make a difference to hair growth is somewhat circumstantial. What I mean is that there are certainly vitamins and minerals that make a difference to the skin, hair and nails (all of which make up the integumentary system), and some people aren’t getting enough of them from their diet. This means the level of improvement one can expect depends on the person’s diet; some might find no difference at all while others find a transformation.

We know that severe deficiencies of certain vitamins like vitamin B12 can impact hair quality and even cause hair loss, but if this is really the problem then you have far more to worry about than your hair because this also causes anaemia. However, there’s also the issue of ‘bioavailability’ to consider, meaning for certain substances there’s, a limit to how much of these vitamins you will absorb when you consume them.

And for other vitamins it’s possible to poison the body through excess dosage. Therefore the best advice I can give is, ‘give it try’, but ‘don’t take more than what is recommended.’ If you are very concerned about vitamin deficiency then your GP can help you do the necessary tests.

Inside the West Yorkshire clinic

LEEDS PRIVATE TRICHOLOGY CLINIC 27.28 Grand Arcade, LS1 6PG. For an appointment call 0113 4931499 or visit www.theprivate

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