There are millions of people who are experiencing some type of hair loss in the United States. There are a number of reasons for hair loss and no one treatment can treat all forms of hair loss. In each of these categories hair loss can result from changes to our diets, disease, medications or in some cases self-inflicted. All of these areas must be examined and treatment administered according to the problem or condition.
As a licensed hairstylist, I’ve seen firsthand accounts of hair loss in children, young and older women. Therefore, I’ve felt it was necessary to address the common causes of hair loss. No one anticipates losing their hair, but more and more people are doing just that. Once thought to be a man’s problem is no longer true. This interview will focus on some of the common causes of hair loss. However, a series of interviews with additional subjects will address underlying health conditions, our diets and medications that contribute to the loss of one’s hair.
In my search for answers, I had an opportunity to speak directly to Dawn Frazier a certified Trichologist. Ms. Frazier’s knowledge in the field of hair loss and scalp disorders proved to be informative.
SFE: Ms. Frazier can you please explain to me, “What is a Trichologist?”
Ms. Frazier: A Trichologist is someone who advises and treats clients with hair and scalp disorders.
SFE: How long have you been a Trichologist?
Ms. Frazier: I started back in 1995, while I was working in a salon and then in 2006 I met and attended Rodney Barnett’s certification course in Trichology. Currently I’m enrolled in an international course to be certified by the International Association of Trichology. I started in a salon setting then I realized I need to work in a setting where the client was open to hair replacement, because those are the clients that have hair loss and scalp disorders. I love what I do and I love working with people.
SFE: Ms. Frazier, I can tell you love what you do. You truly have a passion for helping others. When that client comes to you, they are seeking help and they truly need someone who understands what they are going through. They have tried this and that…nothing has worked and they have spent a lot of money with little results.
SFE: Can you tell me, “What are a few common stages of hair loss?”
Ms. Frazier: A common stage of hair loss would be alopecia areata. This is where someone loses their hair in spots and not all over. I’ve also seen hair breakage in which it was caused by chemical services where the hair was over-processed or by improper hair care maintenance. Other forms of hair loss would be traction alopecia and female pattern baldness.
SFE: What are a few ways you can treat some of these stages of hair loss?
Ms. Frazier: Clients with alopecia areata I’ve seen some grow back, but it’s based upon how severe and the underlying cause of this form of alopecia. In regards to alopecia areata; right now, we really don’t know the exact cause. I was told it could be an immune deficiency, but we’re not sure. However, we treat the existing hair with protein and moisture and we cover up those areas of hair loss. Either we change the person’s hair style until the area grows back or we cover it as a whole. In reference to traction alopecia, traction alopecia comes from wearing ponytails that are tight or pulling the hair back too tight. If you look at a person’s hairline, you should never pull the hair straight back. The hair grows somewhat in a “C” shape, so the hair in the front should contour around your head and then go back. You can wear a ponytail close to your head, but it shouldn’t be straight back because your hair doesn’t grow in that direction.
Corn-rowing is another issue. Breakage has occurred because the hair was pulled too tight. Everyone, in my opinion, has a weak area in their head. As your hair is being braided, the braids that are being placed on the head, especially with extensions, if there’s too much hair being placed in that section and that section is a weak area – you’re pulling the hair and that’s contributing to traction alopecia. Let’s say their hairline is the weakest area of their hair and that client would like to have their hair braided. Since you know this involves pulling of the hair, then you would have to inform the client that they cannot have this particular style. Due to the fact, that their weak area is their hairline. When you apply braids to a weakened area, gradually it will start pulling the hair out. Traction alopecia; the treatment would be informing the client what they can and cannot have. If they are currently wearing braids, the hair still needs to be shampooed and deep conditioned; the hair and scalp. The other thing is you need to know the type of hairs you’re placing on the head. A lot of people are purchasing hair and they are not aware of the type of hair they are using. When you’re dealing with hair that is curly, it’s gone through a chemical process. If you have a chemical relaxer on your hair and you sweat or if you wet your hair, you could be reactivating that chemical in your hair. This too can cause breakage along with the traction alopecia.
Now the last one I spoke about was the female pattern baldness. I’ve seen this in women after menopause, however; it can happen in women who are younger…women in their twenties. How you would notice it, you’ll see thinning hair in the top of the head, sometimes on the side, and right in the front. This is usually caused by the estrogen levels in the body, the levels have decreased. I’ve never seen total baldness, unless you braid on top of the traction alopecia through that area. With this form of alopecia, that person would have to wear some type of integration piece. Let’s say that person has 20 percent of their hair left, then you would give them an integration piece made possibly with 40 to 50 percent of hair and that will make it appear that they have approximately 60, 70 or 80 percent of their own hair left. You still need to moisturize and treat the area. The treatment isn’t a quick fix we want to build the client’s confidence. You just don’t slap a hair piece on their head and cover up the area. In Trichology, pertaining to hair replacement, I’ve learned that you utilize their infrastructure and you build upon it and not just cover it up. So if someone has a thinning area, you just add more hair to that area and combined with their own hair, it now looks like there are no problem areas. If I need to remove the hair piece to treat that area, I can.
SFE: Ms. Frazier since we know that not all hair loss problems are health-related, but rather self-inflicted, why do you think that’s the case?
Ms. Frazier: I believe the client, as well as the stylist, may lack the knowledge of properly taking care of the hair and not just covering up the problem area. For example, it’s important to know why someone would want to have their hair bonded. What I mean, if someone comes to me and they want their hair bonded, usually it’s to attend a wedding or a special event. They are required to sign a release with me stating, “That this bonding service is truly temporary, no longer than a month.” Maintaining the care of their hair during this bonding service is crucial, because I’m liable. If you want me to do it and I say, that it’s healthy for you to do it, I’m going to educate you. You’re not going to use any oil or any type of moisturizing conditioner to release the bond on your hair. There are bonding release agents that you spray on the hair and it releases the bond from your hair. There is no ripping that takes place. If they tell me, they need this service for 3 months. I would say to them, “You’re not a candidate for this service.” I would have to place them in another category, so that their weave will last them for 3 months. For a weave, I would say 10 weeks; 12 weeks tops, because after that your hair will start to lock. For the duration of that weave, they still have to come in to have their hair shampooed and deep conditioned. In some cases the client may say, “I can’t afford that.” Then I would tell them, “This is the shampoo I use, these are the other products I use, and you need to apply the shampoo on your hair as well as your scalp.” I will sit down with them and explain the regimen on how to take care of their hair in between visits with me. However, they do need to see me at least once a month because there is a product that I use that is not retailed oriented, so I cannot sell this product to them. Therefore, they have to see me for that main treatment. If that client is unable to come to me once or twice a month, they too can maintain their hair. I have no problem with writing a regimen for them to follow. In order for me to provide a weave service to the client, I’m not just weaving the hair for it to look good, I want to maintain the beauty of their natural hair as well. The only way for this weave service to be successful is we must establish a partnership. Without that partnership in place between the client and hairstylist, I believe that type of hair loss would be self-inflicted.
SFE: This information you’re supplying is informative and helpful to those who are battling hair loss. It’s important that this information reach those who are battling hair loss - they need to know.
SFE: What message would you like to convey to the person who is affected emotionally by hair loss? This has been a traumatic experience for them. I mean hair loss. They’re spending a lot of money on products and services that are not working for them. They need to come to someone like yourself who has the experience and know-how and is taking each individual and placing emphasis on their situation. You’re providing a service to them; you’re advising them on what they can and cannot do in their particular circumstances. What type of encouragement would you like to say to these individuals?
Ms. Frazier: I would like to say, “That I do understand, I know how difficult it is and how it effects their self-esteem, but there are so many choices and options out there.” That is one of the wonderful things I’ve learned about dealing with clients with hair loss. This was something you mentioned earlier; there are stages of hair loss and by working with clients to change their habits when it comes to their hair is vital. What I mean, a lot of people believe they’re experiencing hair loss, but in reality they have unhealthy habits that may be contributing to the loss of their hair. For example, using bond throughout their hair and in order to release their hair from the bond they are ripping their hair out, so they are creating the problem. In some cases the individual doesn’t have a hair growth problem, but a hair loss problem due to the techniques they use in managing their hair. When I say there are stages, you may come to me with hair loss due to bonding, but you will not remain in that state. We need to find out, where you are (the stage?) What is happening with your hair? Then provide a regimen to help you go to the next level, then to the next level and then to the next level. It may be difficult for one to understand why they are unable to have a chemical process applied to their hair, but I do have to reiterate to them that their hair cannot withstand the process. However, I can make their hair appear like they have a chemical process. I like to see past pictures of their natural hair and how it looked in its healthiest stage. If we’re going to do some type of hair replacement or weave I need to match the replacement hairs with the type of hair they have in order to achieve a natural appearance. I know this can be a traumatic experience for the person who is experiencing hair loss. My suggestion is for them to contact a Trichologist or hair replacement technician, someone who is really, really, really into hair care. They need someone who will show them how to take care of their hair.
SFE: This information is incredible and I feel a lot people can benefit from these services. Do you have any upcoming events you want to share with our viewers?
Ms. Frazier: Yes I do. I’ll be partnering with an apprenticeship and advanced learning program in Vallejo, CA. We will be doing a series of classes educating the client as well as the hairstylist on general hair loss. Also I’ll be partnering with Mr. Rodney Barnett to conduct a Trichology certification program around February or March of 2013. I’ll have more information regarding the class schedule sometime around the second week of January.
SFE: For more information you can contact Ms. Frazier at Victoria’s Hair Restoration Center located at 1416 Tennessee St, Suite 4 in Vallejo, CA 94590, telephone 707-980-7519.