It's an age-old marketing technique to devise an industry award to put a company on the map.
Viviscal hair supplements have gone one better by declaring May 'National Hair Loss Awareness Month' - ie a good excuse for lots of advertising promoting Viviscal hair supplements dressed up as news articles. Last week I counted two such pieces in one issue of the Daily Mail alone! They have also shelled out on celebrity endorsements from the likes of Cheryl Baker and Pearl Lowe
I admire the market chutzpah of Irish parent company Lifes2Good, but having tried their previous hair supplement Nourkrin - when shark cartilage extract was all the rage as the new miracle hair loss ingredient - I am afraid that eighteen months of their (extra strength) tablets made not one jot of difference to my own hair loss, hence my eventual trek to eMPower's door for a cosmetic cure.
Looking at the difference between Nourkrin and Viviscal ingredients, there appears to be very little, aside from no shark in the latter, so it seems curious they branded a second product line, especially if the first product worked so well.
Though Viviscal has survived a run-in with the Advertising Standards Authority following which it was forced to modify its formerly-extravagant claims about reversing hair loss and creating hair growth.
That said, their customer reviews seem to average around 50/50 in terms of customer satisfaction, so good luck to anyone who is sufficiently vitamin-deficient to reap genuine benefits to their hair.
Either way it is good for those of us who used to experience 'Hair Loss Awareness Month' every month to see the problem being highlighted at last.
Eyelash growth and enhancing mixtures have mushroomed in popularity in the last couple of years almost as much as hair restoration products did in the decades before (and continue to do so).
The invention of eyebrow transplantation in recent years has also raised a few eyebrows, mostly in delight.
But what do you do if you have no eyelashes left to enhance? Or perhaps as a trichotillomania sufferer you have pulled them out to the point of no return. Become a magician of the make-up box, I am guessing, spending long amounts of getting ready time in the morning on painstaking artistry.
Now a new procedure has crossed the pond from America to sweep Britain - eyelash transplantation, the replacement of those drapes for the windows of the soul, which aside from helping us express ourselves, also serve the useful function of being able to bat away most dust and insect threats before they reach the eye.
At an average of £4,000 a pop, this transplant is not for the light-walleted and the case highlighted on the link above actually spent twice that much for doubly luxuriant lashes. Like a folicular transplant the procedure involves transplanting hairs from the back of your own head, but this time into your eyelids (under local anaesthetic). Being hair, they will grow faster than normal eyebrows and require trimming and curling every few days, though the same risks are inherant as with a hair transplant - ie it might not take and all the hairs may fall out again.
The good news doesn't end here. Moustache, sideburn and beard transplants are also now available in the UK.
I posted some time ago on this blog about the irony of how anti-depressants (prescribed to a depressing number of hair loss sufferers when they visit the doctor to seek help for their hair loss), can cause hair loss in their own right as a side-effect.
Aside from the obvious culprits of those drugs used in chemotherapy and radiotherapy, it seems an alarming number of other drugs can also cause or trigger the onset of hair loss, sometimes temporarily, sometimes permenantly.
So the golden rule is always read the side-effects leaflet before taking a drug and if you believe your hair loss is being caused or exacerbated by your prescription treatment, ask your GP if there are any alternative drugs you can try which treat the same condition. If you are on a large number of medications, when were you last reviewed to ensure that you still need them all or that the drugs are not fighting each other with their side-effects? You may have no choice but to take certain drugs, but always ask and ensure your treatment is reviewed and updated on a regular basis.
Here is the rather alarming list of what to watch out for (though bear in mind that each person's constitution is different and not everyone will experience the same side effect/s). All the same, it's quite a daunting list. Thank goodness for the insurance of comprehensive hair cover at eMPower if all else fails!
Acne All drugs derived from vitamin A as treatments for acne or other conditions, including: Accutane (isotretinoin)
Blood Anticoagulants (blood thinners), including: Panwarfin (warfarin sodium) Sofarin (warfarin sodium) Coumadin (warfarin sodium) Heparin injections
Cholesterol Cholesterol-lowering drugs, including: Atronid-S (clofibrate) Lopid (gemfibrozil)
Convulsions/Epilepsy Anticonvulsants, including: Tridone (trimethadione)
Depression Antidepression drugs, including: Prozac (fluoxetine hydrochloride) Zoloft (sertraline hydrochloride) Paxil (paroxetine) Anafranil (clomipramine) Janimine (imipramine) Tofranil (imipramine) Tofranil PM (imipramine) Adapin (doxepin) Sinequan (doxepin) Surmontil (trimipramine) Pamelor (nortriptyline) Ventyl (nortriptyline) Elavin (amitriptyline) Endep (amitriptyline) Norpramin (desipramine) Pertofrane (desipramine) Vivactil (protriptyline hydrochloride) Asendin (amoxapine) Haldol ( haloperidol)
Glaucoma The beta-blocker drugs, including: Timoptic Eye Drops (timolol) Timoptic Ocudose (timolol) Timoptic XC (timolol) Gout Lopurin (allopurinol) Zyloprim (allopurinol)
Heart Many drugs prescribed for the heart, including those known as the beta blockers, which are also used to treat high blood pressure, and include: Tenormin (atenolol) Lopressor (metoprolol) Corgard (nadolol) Inderal and Inderal LA (propanolol) Blocadren (timolol)
High Blood Pressure See Above list of beta blockers under "Heart" Hormonal Conditions All hormone-containing drugs and drugs prescribed for hormone-related, reproductive, male-specific, and female-specific conditions and situations have the potential to cause hair loss, including:
Birth Control Pills Hormone-replacement therapy (HRT) for women (estrogen or progesterone) Male androgenic hormones and all forms of testosterone
Anabolic steriods Prednisone and other steroids
Inflammation Many anti-inflammatory drugs, including those prescribed for localized pain, swelling and injury.Arthritis drugs Nonsteroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs including: Naprosyn (naproxen) Anaprox (naproxen) Anaprox DS (naproxen) Indocin (indomethacin) Indocin SR (indomethacin) Clinoril (sulindac) An anti-inflammatory that is also used as a chemotherapy drug: Methotrexate (MTX) Rheumatex (methotrexate) Folex (methotrexate)
Parkinson's Disease Levadopa / L-dopa (dopar, larodopa)
Thyroid Disorders Many of the drugs used to treat the thyroid
Ulcer Many of the drugs used to treat indigestion, stomach difficulties, and ulcers, including over-the-counter dosages and prescription dosages. Tagamet (cimetidine) Zantac (ranitidine) Pepcid (famotidine)
One of the biggest changes to the western diet since WWII (aside from the fact we are now consuming 40% less vitamins owing to intensive farming methods), is that our sugar and salt consumption have skyrocketed.
Both seasonings have been linked to hair loss, which has also increased exponentially in the last few decades, as both are known to cause inflammation which can lead to cell damage and excessive androgen production harmful to hair, among other functions of the body, of which hair is the least important and life-sustaining as far as the body is concerned, so it will often shut this down first if there is an illness which requires its resources to fight.
However despite the food industry's derisory efforts to reduce the levels of sugar and salt in its products, it is hard to avoid ingesting large quantities of salt and sugar daily (both hidden and otherwise) unless you cook everything from scratch. Aside from the obvious culprits such as cupcakes, alcohol too contains massive quantities of sugar used in the fermentation process - another substance which our society has drastically increased its consumption of.
While there is some way to go on the scientific evidence front, it is worth cultivating a savoury tooth over a sweet tooth for the simple reason that hair is made from protein (primarily keratin), not sugar. Which is not to advocate an unbalanced diet and overdoing the protein consumption as any dietry imbalance can cause problems elsewhere. Just more consciousness in dietry choices and awareness of factors which may not be helping address hair loss. Finding out the constituent parts of your hair and doing more to support them is just common sense. If you should find you have trouble eating fewer cakes and chocolate bars or doing without that sugar in your tea, just remember too much sugar also ages the skin as well as rotting the teeth and enhancing the chance of obesity and/or diabetes!
That said, a lot of hair loss continues to defy explanation and a lot of fellow sufferers reading this blog will like me, have already explored many a dietry road along their hair loss journey, only to need a box of chocolates to cheer them up!
Alternatively throw those chocolates away and come and see eMPower to replace the dread in your head with hair on your head.
When you read a customer testimonial saying ‘such-and-such company saved my life!', it’s natural to take it with a healthy pinch of salt. However there is something so sincere in Ann’s voice when she tells me ‘eMPower saved my life’, not just once, but a number of times during our conversation, the statement is evidently a matter of fact as far as she is concerned.
In fact my whole interview with this attractive and well-spoken fortysomething turns out to be more moving than I had anticipated. ‘It started in my late teens/early 20s' she began. 'Suddenly my hair which had been so thick I could hardly do anything with it and hairdressers hated me was better behaved and stayed in the right place when I styled it. At first I was delighted. Then it slowly dawned on me that the reason was because it was no longer as thick as it used to be. This was mildly concerning but it only became alarming when it carried on getting thinner. And thinner until light shone through.
I remember there was a family celebration when I was about 24 and taking hours and hours to get ready in the bathroom feverishly trying to make my hair look alright. This was the start of years of doctor’s visits, consultant’s visits, you name it. I was tested for everything under the sun. I even went private. Nothing. None of them had a clue what was wrong with my hair or if it would ever grow back. I even tried hormone treatment for a while, although no hormone imbalance had been found. Still nothing.
I tried all the off-the-shelf remedies as well including Regaine. If anything my hair got even worse and a few bald patches appeared. My mother and sisters still had lovely thick dark hair, so it seemed it wasn’t a genetic problem. I felt like a freak and kept wondering what I had done to deserve this. Luckily I had worked at the same job since leaving college so there were no job interviews to get through and work wasn’t too bad as I’d known my colleagues for years and I was just ‘Ann’ as far as they were concerned, but my social life was pretty limited as I just didn’t feel like going out. And though I lived with my mother, I found it as difficult to talk to her and my sisters about my problems as any other hair loss sufferer and they to me, as they finally admitted years later.
You ask if I considered wigs, but I just regarded them as artificial and dishonest. I wanted the real thing back. It seemed that there had to be some medical reason that my mother and sisters had their hair and I didn’t. I did get to the point where I used a hair loss camouflage product though. Awful stuff it was. Like black boot polish. It didn’t really help my confidence as I then got so scared to go away and stay in anyone’s house or a hotel, because I knew the pillowcases would be black in the morning. In my heart I knew it didn’t look good, and my family later admitted it, but desperation can do funny things to people and I think most hair loss sufferers live in a state of denial for a long time because the truth is too unbearable. Not that I realised there were other female hair loss sufferers at the time. It seemed like it was only me and all other females I looked at had lovely thick hair.
Things came to a head when I was in a London department store in about 2004 going down the escalator. Some teenage boys were whispering and giggling behind me and then one blew on my head. He could see my bald patches. I was mortified. I literally spent hours each morning trying to get my hair right in the bathroom angling the mirror this way and that (with my mother helping by this point). Life just seemed to be getting harder. I often felt suicidal and I think I might have at least have become a recluse except that my sister had been checking out wigs and salons and finally persuaded me to consider better cosmetic solutions, particularly since I was leaving my job and hoping to start a new phase in my life. She then found eMPower online and booked a consultation. I met Andy Pollard who showed me a human-hair ‘system’ and explained how they worked. I felt very traumatised when I arrived back at the salon a few weeks later to have one fitted as, after twenty years of suffering, part of me didn’t believe I could ever look normal. But once the system was fitted I couldn’t believe the transformation. Ten years immediately dropped off and I realised I was prettier than I had ever given myself credit for.
I booked some extra salon sessions in order to learn how to undertake the re-grooms myself and with my new-found confidence emigrated to a new country, where I am now very happy and live my life to the full, looking people in the eye instead of staring at the ground and trying to blend in. No more worrying about staying in hotels or at people’s houses and I wash and treat my new hair almost exactly as I once treated my own. Sometimes I even leave it messy and enjoy how natural that looks too. The other day I flew back to England to see my mother and said ‘Twenty years suffering Mum’ and she replied ‘I know.’ It’s so hard to talk about hair loss when you’re going through it, but if my story can help another woman to pluck up the courage to do something about their hair loss, then I will be very glad to have been of help. eMPower saved my life. Then it gave me a new one’
In this post I thought it would be useful to focus on hair loss caused by cancer treatment. As most of us are aware, some cancer treatments will cause people to lose some or all of their hair, usually in clumps during shampooing or brushing. Clumps of hair are often found on the pillow in the morning.
This hair loss is caused when chemotherapy drugs travel around the body to kill cancer cells and damage hair follicles in the process causing the hair to fall out. However this hair loss can be unpredictable. Some patients experience it, others don't, even when taking identical drugs. Some drugs cause hair loss on the scalp alone or full body hair loss including pubic hair, limb hair, eyebrows, and eyelashes. Radiation therapy to the head often causes scalp hair loss, and sadly this does not always grow back fully if treatment is prolonged or intensive, for example to shrink a brain tumour prior to surgery. Head caps full of ice can help prevent hair loss in some cancer cases, but again results are mixed.
If hair loss does occur, expect to see it within 2 weeks of the start of treatment. You may then find that your scalp becomes quite sensitive to washing, combing or brushing during the short time when your hair is falling out. The good news is that hair often starts to grow back even before treatment is completed and will often be much softer than before. Kylie Minogue famously said that she preferred her hair much better after it grew back following her bout of breast cancer.
If your specialist has warned you that you are at risk of hair loss, you might want to think ahead and visit us at eMPower so we can make sure that you have retained your hair as far as the outside world is concerned. Then you can commence treatment with confidence knowing that you won't have to worry about your hair as well as your cancer treatment. We can even help with eyebrows and eyelashes and permanent make-up.
When a certain British MP of lustrous locks was found dead some years ago in somewhat scandalous and apparently self-inflicted circumstances, a young bald comedian at the comedy club I attended that night rather insensitively joked that his first thought on hearing the news was; 'What a waste of a great head of hair!'
Which begs the question can hair be transplanted from donors (either dead or alive?)
The simple answer is no. It would be rejected as a 'foreign body' by the scalp without a complex regime of anti-rejection drugs, which carry their own health risks and can also cause the side-effect of hair loss, which would rather defeat the purpose! In short, the medical risks would not be justified for a non-lifesaving procedure.
That said, a few inter-transplantation experiments have been conducted between volunteers over the years but without success.
Autotransplantation therefore remains the only transplantation option, but even here, results acceptable to the client, or which last, cannot be guaranteed.
While eMPower and cosmetic hair replacement as an option didn't get a mention in this week's Daily Mail article The anguish of the women who lose their hair: SIX MILLION women suffer and it can be a warning of health problems, it is noticeable that articles about hair loss are on the increase, in particular those featuring hair loss in women.
Ten or fifteen years ago articles about hair loss (even in men) would have been almost unheard of except for the odd inch in a health magazine or an article speculating on which male Hollywood star might be thinning on top or which might be wearing a clandestine hair piece (see previous posting).
Hair loss is well and truly coming out of the closet it seems. We at eMPower however still prefer to focus on hair gain. And while we can't offer you a solution which is genetically yours, we can guarantee our products are 100% natural human hair (bar for any colour matching we may have done to seamlessly integrate it with a client's remaining hair), and will be yours. We also can and do help those with no hair at all to get their life and confidence back with a renewed head of great hair.
One thing which doesn't change in the media though is that these articles seldom have any medical answers. All the more reason to visit a salon which has the cosmetic answers, not least as 70% of hair loss has no known medical reason other than theory of genetic bad luck, which again has hitherto proved stubborn in responding to treatment. As for hair transplants they can be a lottery as we've previously discussed on this blog, even if you can afford them, and are often unsuitable for women with diffuse hair loss as there are no abundant areas to harvest from. Plus the area to be treated is often much larger too in these cases. Finally most women demand a higher strand count than most men, yet what they get from a hair transplant will always be a limited density to what they previously had, sometimes under 50% of their former thickness. A man may be delighted by this result if baldness was the alternative, but seldom a woman whose hair has traditionally been feted as her 'crowning glory' and who probably already retained a modest covering.
Not to be outdone by Wayne Rooney's Hair Transplant's blog, William Shatner's Toupee charts its adventures at Shatner's Toupee blog where Shatner fans can exchange learned treatise about the extraordinary career of the hair which refuses to baldly go where many men have gone before and did in fact spend twenty years apparently advancing rather than receding after a wobbly moment in a Star Trek fight scene (top left). He even gets his own version of the Norwood hair loss chart (top right) and is the object of fantasies about what he might have looked like had nature taken its course (bottom right). Mr Shatner has finally settled on a 'silver fox' look for his advancing years (see photo) which isn't at all bad, except that the temple line is not wholly realistic and perhaps the cut/texture could do with softening so as not to have a doll-like quality. The common consensus among fans is that he has now settled on a lace-front bonded system, albeit not as good as we could have provided at eMPower, naturally!
However looking over the career of his hair, Mr Shatner has actually made better hair choices than stars such as Charlton Heston who seem to have bought one hair piece and stuck to it for the last 40 years. It is odd that Mr Shatner therefore attracts such enormous internet attention when he works in a business where stars wear hairpieces all the time depending on their roles, and having evidently followed the hair fashions over the decades to the best of the hair technology available at the time.
Hats off to him we say!
There is great excitement in the media at the moment with the launch of a new product which claims to make hair grow 100% faster than normal (normal being about half an inch per month).
The bad news is that even if it works, Nisim Fast (which stands for Fortified Amino Scalp Therapy) shampooconditioner does not actually restore hair which has been permenantly lost. It can just help with those who've had a bad hair cut or are anxious to re-grow hair as soon as possible following chemotherapy. The 'Wash and Grow' shampoo as the Daily Mail terms it should be available in Boots stores nationwide from 23rd January.