Trichologist Interview Part 1 – The science behind Curly Hair

Trichologist Interview Part 1 – The science behind Curly Hair


Hi guys, it’s Annaliese here. Now as we all know we are totally obsessed with curly hair, how to maintain it, how to grow it but with our channel what we like to do is try and back that up with science and factual information as well as experience. So we’re actually going to be speaking to a trichologist and for those who don’t know what a trichologist is – that’s a hair and scalp expert. Shirley McDonald is based in London and she’s got over 20 years of experience. She’s gonna be talking us through what trichology actually is, telling us about all the experience that she’s got. We’re also going to find out about the structure of curly hair versus straight hair and why it needs different care. So basically we’re going in for scientific approach. This is going to be a very knowledgeable video that’s going to give you loads of tips and tricks on why you should be maintaining your hair. I’m really excited about this video, let’s see what she has to say. Trichology is the study of the hair and scalp. We’re looking at diseases disorders and things that occur with the hair. What you’re looking at is this three hair structure types. So when we look at it and we’re talking about taking a cross-section, so imagine a strand of hair and you take a cross-section and then you look at it under a microscope, what you see, with say Asian hair for example, you see a very round structure and I’m exaggerating but it is much rounder. When you look at somebody with curly hair, it’s a very different one. It’s more of what we call elliptical shape such as a kidney shape and caucasian hair is somewhere in between the two. That’s really important and I tell you why it’s important because when you have that shape you don’t hold the moisture as well in the hair and it’s for that reason it’s very hard to maintain and it can be very dry as people with curly hair will tell you, typically with humidity. People talking about 3b and 4a and so on. Most trichologists don’t really look at hair types. I certainly don’t work with it that way, hair for me is just hair and I look at hair for what it is so if somebody comes in and they’re having this particular problem then I’ll address it for whatever they have come into. So I would say in my opinion it’s important for hairdressers. I don’t see it as much for us, but in terms of making products and so on yes it’s absolutely useful because somebody can pick something up and say well I’m 3c and this would suit my hair type so it’s good in that way. Researchers have looked at the ratio of the amount of follicles on the scalp and many redheads have more follicles than anyone else and so on and blonde have less, but in terms of hair loss I wouldn’t say that there’s any one hair type that has more hair loss. Types of things that cause hair loss vary. It could be as said mechanical trauma, it could be chemical trauma from the things that hair practices. But those are the surface things. As a trichologist, one of my jobs is, when a patient comes into me and they talk about they are losing hair or they’ve got hair breakage, is also to look at what’s going on internally, what is the nutritional uptake you know what’s happening there, and sometimes, particularly if somebody has a low iron then you will see, it prevails in mainly women, then you can see the hair, the strength of the hair is not so strong and it can weaken hair. Thyroid problems also contribute to that. So there are many factors, it’s not just one thing but as I said one is external what you do, just everyday weathering, just being out even if you don’t blow dry or apply heat. Those things you know it’s still with us on the hair, but internally it’s most important to pay attention to what you eat if you want the hair to be strong. When you’re talking about taking care of your scalp that’s a huge one because there’s lots of myths surrounding scalp health – how often should I wash it? Am I washing it too much I wash out all the oils and so on. There is no hard-and-fast rule for washing hair but we would advise as trichologists, we would say wash hair regularly. If you’ve got very curly hair and it’s very dry you might say I’m only going to wash it once a week or twice a week. I know that some people will leave it longer, but this doesn’t really help their the scalp. You need to be washing it so that the scalp can breathe and you know for hygiene reasons. One of the myths with not washing hair regularly is that if you leave it, you’re going to strip away all the oils In fact if you wash your hair regularly what you do is you allow the cuticles to open, because you let the water in and then you have the cleaning agent that’s going in and doing the job and then any oils or moisturisers you use will then be absorbed into the hair and in fact it stops it getting drier. So, in our opinion and what we’ve seen, infrequent washing leads to dry hair, because the moisturisers just sit on the outside of the hair shaft, outside the cuticle. People come with all sorts of problems and people with curly hair come with the same scalp problems as everyone else, things such as simple dandruff, which we call pityriasis simplex, to more complicated harder things to get rid of, psoriasis, seborrheic eczema, these type of things. So, those are the scalp issues. In terms of hair, curly haired people often want you to help them manage the hair. What often helps is explaining to them what the difference there is with curly hair and why you need to treat it much more gently than other hair, so it’s very very curly and on each it depends as it grows out there can be very weak points for curly hair and because of that, any sort of manipulation – mechanical or chemical means that it will break. So it’s very important, it looks as if it’s stronger but it’s actually usually the weakest of the hair types, particularly Afro curly hair. So you want to treat it gently and make sure that technician who is doing any processes is fully trained and chooses the right chemical for you and does know how to process it. Hair health is definitely definitely, definitely linked to psychological well-being – how we feel about ourselves, there’s absolutely no doubt in my mind. And while some people might minimize it, we certainly don’t. A trichologist will listen carefully to the first thing you say, how you say it and if you don’t feel good about your hair, it does affect, you know your whole well-being. It’s more than that though. Healthy hair is also a sign, it’s the barometer of health. So when somebody comes in and said, oh I am having this or I’m losing hair, it’s also a sign that maybe something else is going on and not all you know GPs, not all practitioners will take it seriously when people go. This is a big thing for them but we are certainly doing and we often write in to GPs to say, can you do these particular blood tests, can you look at this because this is happening. We can pick up such a lot of things that is going on with the body. Hair does age and on average hair grows between and you read different reports they’ll tell you different things, but the average hair cycle is about three to seven years. Not all the hair on your head is growing at the same time, so again different studies different things but roughly about 90-95%, maybe a bit more, will be growing all at once and then the other 2-5% you’ll lose. It is resting in the hair follicle and then shedding and then right behind it should be another hair to come through. We lose hair everyday in what we call it mosaic pattern, so you don’t really notice it until the balance is interrupted in some way. When you after puberty the hair cycle starts to shorten. Again this depends on genetics, it depends on age and all the, you know all the other inheritary factors, so it really does depend. And some people have the potential to keep growing it way past their shoulders and for other people it will stay right here, won’t go anymore because the hair cycle is actually shortened. As you get older you do need to take more care of your hair, because you don’t have, you know, it’s the same with your whole body, the energy, everything that you’ve got, that same balance when you’re younger and stronger and more vibrant tends to diminish. And also the hair can change, you can have curly hair and it becomes straighter later on, but yes that strength elasticity in the hair can weaken as you get older. But again, it does really depend on you looking after yourself. Wow, what a wealth of information right there. It definitely was the scientific approach to why and how we should be looking after our hair and maintaining those luscious locks. We’re actually planning on doing more videos with her, so if you have any questions, please feel free to pop them down below and we’ll definitely get back to you really shortly. So, we’ll see you next time!

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