Jane Wolfe brushes up on (almost) all things hair – from the underdiscussed subject of hair loss to the latest sustainable innovations in hair and scalp care
When Will Smith slapped Chris Rock at the Oscars, the mainstream press gleefully focused on the gossipy ‘celebrity in shock assault’ angle, somewhat sidelining what purportedly prompted the incident, and thus missing an opportunity to highlight the subject of alopecia.
Shedding hair is a normal part of life and usually goes unnoticed – we lose between 50 and 100 hairs a day – but alopecia (the general medical term for more severe hair loss) can be painfully debilitating, and according to the NHS, eight million women in the UK are experiencing this. Hair loss has a wide variety of causes, including menopause, COVID and iron deficiency, and can vary in type from gradual thinning to total, sudden loss.
Simone Thomas founded her hair clinic and hair loss supplement brand, Simone Thomas Wellness, after a diagnosis of IBD triggered her experience with stress-related hair loss in her early twenties. She ‘tried everything from poorly designed wigs to ‘miracle’ products, but nothing worked’. “It soon became clear that there was no quick fix, and the only option was to treat my symptoms from the inside out,” she explains. “After working with a nutritionist, I started to follow an anti-inflammatory diet and improvements followed, with my hair becoming fuller and thicker, and I experienced less fatigue and skin complaints.”
Ascertaining whether stress is the cause of your hair loss is important to ensure you don’t need further medical advice
Thomas highlights that in addition to stress, hair loss can be a result of, among other things, changing hormones, ageing, pregnancy, medication and thyroid problems. “Ascertaining whether stress is the cause of your hair loss is important to ensure you don’t need further medical advice and to find the right treatment plan,” she advises, adding that for most people hair loss stops once the stress is managed, and regrowth is possible.
She espouses following a diet rich in vitamins and minerals, including B vitamins, omega-3, protein, zinc, iron and calcium, but says that supplements are also useful to fill any gaps or give an extra boost. Her brand’s Biotin Hair Care Plan is full of essential B vitamins, including biotin that ‘works wonders’ for healthy hair, dealing with damage repair and adding growth, while its Ginkgo Biloba B+ Hair Supplement plan is formulated with high doses of ginkgo to aid hair loss and other nutrients to encourage regrowth.
To uncover the extent to which hair loss affects the women who experience it, a study published in Social Science & Medicine focused on the quality of life related to female hair loss and found that in 88% of subjects hair loss had negative effects on their daily life. Around 75% said it affected their self-esteem, with feelings of lower self-confidence, uncertainty, shame and inferiority cited. About 50% experienced social problems and 57% felt less attractive.
Thomas has seen these detrimental side effects first hand. “From added stress and anxiety, to a deeper level of depression, hair loss can be devastating, and it certainly was for me. We want to look and feel good and our hair is a part of that, so when it starts to fall out we feel embarrassed and ashamed; we think everyone is looking at the fact we have less hair and we want to hide way. I speak to women and men who are coming to terms with this issue, and the loss of their identity, something our hair is so much a part of.” And as hair loss can increase stress, many sufferers end up in a vicious circle that seems hard to escape. “My advice to anyone who is finding more hair falling out than usual is not to panic but do seek help,” she says. “There is help and support out there, so don’t try and do this alone.”
Melissa Kimbell, director of Awake Organics, kicked off her brand’s hair care journey following a chance meeting with the CEO of ‘a very large hair care brand’. “He told me that most women take better care of their jumpers than they do of their hair. This was a huge light bulb moment and I looked up his shampoo formula. I saw it was made with detergents, some of which can cause scalp complaints and could be linked to hair fall. My hair at the time was thinning out and I thought, ‘wow, maybe my shampoo is full of crap!’”
The result of her mission to formulate a natural shampoo to stimulate and support the scalp for optimal hair growth was a water-activated Caffeine & Rosemary Shampoo powder. “The powder aspect was an accident,” she explains. “I was trying to formulate a waterless putty but it kept failing. I was limited by packaging because I wanted this to be completely plastic-free. Then I realized a powder would work, and it’s brilliant.
A healthy scalp is the terrain on which your hair will flourish, yet it is so often overlooked
“The powder meant we could use really fantastic extracts and no synthetic preservatives. We use organic guarana (which has four times more natural caffeine than coffee), stimulating rosemary oil and strengthening coconut milk. These are natural dihydrotestosterone (DHT) blockers. Your body converts testosterone to DHT with the help of enzymes held in the oil glands of your hair follicles. If you’re genetically prone to hair loss, DHT will bind to the receptors in your hair follicles, causing the follicles to shrink, eventually stopping new hair growth. If you are sensitive to DHT, blocking it won’t regrow hair that is already lost but it will help to slow down the process of hair thinning.”
The brand’s capsule hair care line also includes a waterless Hibiscus-Mint Scalp Scrub, designed to improve scalp health and promote conditions for growth using hibiscus flowers, organic peppermint and coconut oil. “Your scalp is literally ground zero for the state of your hair,” says Kimbell. “A healthy scalp is the terrain on which your hair will flourish, yet it is so often overlooked. When your scalp is balanced, unclogged and stimulated, you are setting the stage for optimal hair growth and condition. Your scalp is just like the rest of your skin in the sense that it absorbs what you massage onto it and needs regular exfoliation to remove build-up.”
It’s not only head hair that can experience thinning due to stress, underlying health conditions or medications, eyelashes can suffer too, as can eyebrows, especially after years of continual plucking.
Natural brow boosters include B’KATE’s vegan, cruelty-free collection – its Brow Gel enriches and nourishes with vitamin B5, and holds brows in place all day; and New Flag’s NATUCAIN Brow Growth Serum x6 uses a natural formula with stem cell technology from bamboo, thyme and lentils, along with a patented active ingredient to extend the hair growth phase and reduce loss.
For healthy lashes, Watermans’ Lashology is a serum mascara infused with black castor oil, amino acids, biotin and peptide to give a false lash effect while at the same time making lashes thicker and stronger, preventing loss and stimulating new growth.
Alongside plastic-free options, waterless formulations are leading the way when it comes to hair care innovations – even Garnier has launched a No Rinse Conditioner collection which it says will save 100 litres of water per tube.
Of course the natural and organic sector has again led the pack when it comes to creative, sustainable solutions, and there is no shortage of natural, zero-waste shampoo, conditioner and multiuse bars on shop shelves, from the likes of Ethique, Weleda, AA Skincare, Beauty Kitchen, Naturtint and Faith in Nature – to name just a handful.
New ideas in this area include Earth Kind’s Elasticity Bar – a pre-wash treatment mask designed to restructure, restrengthen and recondition hair by employing elastin to give resilience and elasticity, a multifaceted wheat amino acid-based complex to moisturize and strengthen, and organic olive oil, organic coconut oil, castor oil and macadamia butter to condition.
Ethique’s shampoo line spans bars for all hair types, but also includes concentrates for those who don’t want plastic bottles but aren’t fans of bars. Available in Balancing or Gentle, one plastic-free box makes a 350g bottle of liquid shampoo suitable for either oily to normal hair or sensitive and touchy scalps. The bars are made with 100% naturally derived, ethically sourced, sustainable ingredients and packaged in certified compostable cardboard.
Scintilla’s Green Clean Shampoo Melts are positioned as a new way to wash hair. The natural, waterless formula uses plant extracts and essential oils to nourish, protect and promote growth. Gentle, biodegradable surfactants create a soft lather to leave hair feeling clean, soft and shiny. The melts contain baobab oil, hemp protein to protect against breakage and seaweed to give natural shine and strength. Perfect for travelling, each solid melt is just 3×1.5cm.
Following COVID, women are colouring their hair at home more – a trend which gives them more say in the ingredients and environmental impact of their colourants, especially when effective, natural, solutions are being created by brands such as Ayluna, BioKap, Herbatint and Naturtint. To ensure coloured hair stays fresh, Naturtint’s Colour Protecting Radiance Shampoo & Conditioner Bar helps prolong colour and prevent fading, based on coconut-derived cleansers along with cocoa butter and meadowfoam seed oil to hydrate the scalp, and Crambe abyssinica oil to promote shiny, strong locks.
Beyond cleaning and conditioning, consumers are also seeking efficacious natural serums, tonics, elixirs and masks to repair, hydrate and nutrify. Suitable for all hair types, Haoma’s Organic Hair Revitaliser is a certified organic blend of raw coconut oil and essential oils including palmarosa, thyme and cedarwood to condition, nourish and revitalize hair and scalp; and Nourishing Dry Hair Elixir from Evolve Organic Beauty is formulated with a natural replacement to silicon, organic Moroccan argan oil, organic baobab oil and Tahitian monoi to control frizz, tame fly-away hair, protect and moisturize.
With an aromatic herbal fragrance, Dr. Hauschka’s Hair Tonic is a strengthening, non-oily solution which activates and regulates the scalp while refreshing and invigorating fine, greasy, dandruff-prone hair and irritated scalps; while Inlight Hair Elixir is a nourishing blend to fortify and regenerate all hair types, delivering intense hydration, improving elasticity and eliminating frizz with organic argan, avocado, jojoba and Rosa rubiginosa oils.
Moo & You’s Miracle Mask is designed to leave hair feeling rehydrated, strong, silky and shiny. Marula oil and Icelandic moss lock in moisture, protecting from the effects of UV exposure and environmental toxins. Great for dry and colour treated hair, the formula repairs and strengthens, sealing the hair cuticle and banishing frizzy, dry ends.
A recent campaign by natural hair care brand MONPURE London sees five women share their hair loss stories for a feature film #itsnotjusthair which explores the impact of female hair loss and encourages others to talk about it more openly and destigmatize the issue. The women speak about their individual hair loss journeys and highlight the lack of visibility and support available, how they’ve adapted and how they’ve embraced their ‘new hair identity’.
To ensure it’s at the forefront of innovations when it comes to understanding the impact of hormones and metabolism on scalp and hair, MONPURE is also funding research into hair loss at the University of Manchester.
WetBrush aims to offer pain-free brushing for every occasion and hair type with IntelliFlex bristles which allow for 45% less breakage and 55% less effort. Made from plant starch, its sustainable Go Green Biodegradeable Detangler comes in Green or Pink and has heat-resistant bristles which are safe to use with a blow dryer.
Tweezerman offers a free sharpening service for its tweezer range which includes Slant Tweezer Leopard Print, designed for comfort, control and true precision, and claiming to ‘grab every hair, every time’. Tweezerman tweezers have won Allure’s ‘Best of Beauty’ every year since 2001.
Bambaw’s unisex Double Edge Razor With Stand can be used for shaving beards, legs, underarms and bikini lines. Available in Rose Gold, Black, Sea Green, Silver and Red – the plastic-free product is made from corrosion-resistant brass which gives the razor its weight, helping users achieve a close, smooth shave.
JASON Anti-Dandruff Scalp Care Shampoo
Same great best-selling product, new product name and new packaging look! JASON Anti-Dandruff Scalp Care Shampoo features sulphur and salicylic acid to treat scalp dermatitis and mild psoriasis to eliminate dandruff, flakes and itchiness. Infused with olive, jojoba and rosemary oils to soften hair and leave it clean and fresh. Also available is the Anti-Dandruff Scalp Care 2-in-1 Shampoo & Conditioner, with active ingredient zinc pyrithione to control dandruff, scalp flakiness and itchiness. 100% recycled bottle, biodegradable formula, no animal testing, parabens, petrolatum, phthalates, or sulphates. Vegan and cruelty-free formula.
Visit www.kinetic4health.co.uk or email [email protected]
Hair Elixir (150ml)
After the co-founder’s personal journey with hair loss (Alopecia) there was a desire to produce an organic, nutritional yet stimulating and hair oil. Born out of passion for haircare, this hair elixir was the crafted for the purpose to reviving, restore and encourage regrowth. This scalp and hair oil contains nourishing blend of Rosemary, Lavender, Geranium and Bergamot makes this an ideal for all hair types. This intense treatment can be used to massage and loosen the scalp before shampooing, as a pre-wash conditioner or as a deep leave-in overnight treatment.
NeoCell Super Collagen
NeoCell Super Collagen offers 6600mg of BioActive NeoCell Collagen Type 1 & 3. Using NeoCell’s technologically advanced hydrolyzation process, large collagen molecules are enzymatically hydrolyzed into small peptides that are both bioavailable and bioactive in the body. The product is both non-GMO and gluten-free, and does not contain soy, wheat, lactose, starch, yeast or artificial flavourings. NeoCell is the world’s leading collagen brand and also a pioneer in the field of nutritional science. They are committed to finding the most innovative and effective nutraceutical supplements and offer the most bioavailable and bio-active collagen peptides on the market. NeoCell’s cGMP facility in Southern California houses state of the art manufacturing equipment.
Visit www.kinetic4health.co.uk or email [email protected]
BioKap 10 minute hair dyes
BioKap hair dyes offer a fast and gentle option to cover grey hair perfectly. The high percentage natural and vegan formulas work in just 10 minutes, and are a first in the natural home hair dye category! Carefully developed with Organic Argan Oil and Tricorepair complex to protect hair and scalp , the range of 12 shades is free from PPD, Ammonia, Resorcin and Fragrance to ensure suitability for even the most sensitive scalps. Also available from BioKap are Root Touch-Up sprays in 6 shades for covering re-growth, and shampoo and conditioner for coloured hair. Extensive POS available for stores to create a beautiful display.
Ayluna Plant-Based Hair Dyes
Ayluna’s Plant-Based Hair Dyes are enriched with moisturising plant extracts, you can achieve your dream hair colour without the need for harsh chemicals. Ayluna avoids using synthetic ingredients commonly found in traditional hair dyes, like parabens, ammonia, peroxides, PEGS and resorcinol, that can damage the natural structure of the hair.
Packed full of 100% natural and organic plant extracts, the vegan and cruelty-free formula works with your hair’s natural structure to provide lively shades, shine and volume. Available in 14 dazzling colours that gently surround each strand with a shining glaze for easy application and stunning results for a love story of natural hair colour!