The Things I Do For Beauty: I Got My Hair Diagnosed By A Trichologist (Which Sounds VERY Serious)

My dry hair needed major help. Also, it would seem I have scalp debris.

Oct 31, 2013 at 9:00am | Leave a comment

You've probably noticed that I have a wee (JK, HUGE) obsession with my hair. I enter into evidence Exhibit A and Exhibit B. (Also, I enjoyed typing "enter into evidence" way too much, further proof that my crime procedural obsession has seeped into the very core of my being.)

But back to the saga that is my hair. As I've mentioned, it has changed over the years from very curly since puberty to currently unevenly wavy and definitely a bit thinner than it once was.

What goes on, I ask myself regularly? It's also really, really dry even though I don't heat style it very often. 

Enter Philip Kingsley's famed hair clinic.

I made an appointment for a consultation and initial treatment. My job does not suck.

I arrive and meet my trichologist, Liz. (Trichology is a subset of dermatology that deals with the study of the hair and scalp.) We sit down in her office and I describe my hair and what issues I'm having with it.

She then asks me LOADS of questions about my daily hair habits: what I eat, how regular my periods are and what kind of flow I have (regular and light, yay me!), whether I have any dandruff (I do, especially in the winter like lots of people), have I ever been iron-deficient (I have but haven't been tested lately), how is my mom's hair, my dad's, my grandma's...all the while copiously taking notes. 

Next was the physical examination that looked something like this:

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Liz examines my hair up close and personal. 

Liz combed through every section of my hair to examine my scalp which apparently is covered in a light "debris" as the trichs call it. This is not an ideal situation for growing healthy hair. It's like a hostile work environment for your follicles.

A scalp that is out of balance means that I might be shedding hair more rapidly than normal. I do NOT like the sounds of this debris situation. 

Obviously I knew before that the scalp needs attention but I don't think I realized how much it could affect my hair. How dare I risk the integrity of my scalp?

Liz tells me that I need to approach the skin on my head the same way I do my face. The cleaner the scalp, the better -- but sometimes its needs may be different from my hair. It's not a one size fits all situation so what's good for my dry hair may be the opposite of what my scalp needs. 

Along with diagnosing the skin atop my head, Liz also goes over every square inch of my hair checking its density and regrowth patterns. I don't have any areas with no hair, but she can tell that my hairs are skinnier than they once were and there is a general thinning. SAD FACE.

As the diameter of the hair gets skinnier it affects the actual movement and curl pattern. WHO KNEW???

This may be part of the reason my wave has changed over time. The more frequently I shed can also affect the remaining hairs' behavior and quality, because that is dependent on the hair next to it. I've been working in beauty for almost 15 years and this is not something I've ever considered. 

She also looks to see if there is regrowth happening and there is. Hooray! You can tell that it's regrowth and not breakage by looking at the ends of the hairs and seeing if they are tipped and pointed.

She also does a tug test and finds that more hair than normal releases from my head. This does not please me. At this point, I would do anything for Liz to hand me a magic potion that will turn back time on my hair. 

No dice. But she does recommend a pretty amazing treatment for me and some longer term treatments options to do at home.

A lot of what happens to our hair can be attributed to genetics but we can have a positive cummulative effect on the hair by treating it externally and eating better (lots more protein at breakfast and lunch!) Liz thinks iron may be an issue for me too -- but I need a blood test before we can properly assess that situation. 

Now it's off to the treatment room where I meet the lovely Stephen who has worked at Philip Kingsley for 33 years and has magic hands. He applies a cream to every inch of my scalp and then a separate super moisturizing cream to my hair.

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Mid-treatment selfie

Seriously, if I could have someone rub things into my head all day long I would be the happiest person EVER. 

Next it was all about 10-15 minutes under the steamer while really bad Daft Punk jokes ran through my head. This helps the product work its way into my follicles and skin -- basically it's a head facial.

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Just another day at work...

After the steam comes the heat, which gave me a cool red glow and made me look all serious like I'm about to shoot rays out of my eyes or something.

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Heat lamp chic

And then there's the 15 minute head massage where I died, was reborn, and died again. IT WAS BLISS. But it also stimulates the scalp which is a good thing all around. 

After washing and shampooing my hair throughly (and combing through it with a wide tooth comb), Stephen proclaimed me super clean and treated. He put some (astringent) tonic on my scalp with a giant cotton ball in one inch part sections -- which is going to help with the dead skin and debris. 

As I toweled off my hair a bit more, I could already tell how much healthier it looked. And my curls were actual curls, not the limp waves to which I've become accustomed. I usually air dry but it was chilly outside so I used the diffuser just to get the super wet out and then let it go on its own the rest of the way.

I can't even talk about how awesome I felt about it. 

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It's a miracle.

Seriously healthier hair is already starting to happen which just makes me want to take even better care of it.

The kind people at Philip Kingsley sent me on my way with a new shampoo (and I'm supposed to wash MORE often, especially if there's any perspiration involved because...DEBRIS), conditioner, and scalp tonic (the same one Stephen used) to use daily. Plus there's an intensive treatment to use weekly which sort of replicates in the in-clinic one I just got. (Somebody's got a new Sunday afternoon ritual while watching football, y'all. I just wish I had Stephen available to come give me that massage every week.) 

They make styling products, too, and Liz recommended the Daily Damage Defense which adds elasticity to help combat breakage and the Smooth Cream for, you know, smoothing. 

Let's just say this girl is taking her scalp A LOT more seriously from now on. I mean, if one treatment can do this, I'm all in on giving the daily products a go though it can take a couple months to see long-lasting results. Plus I'm holding myself to getting my ends trimmed even though I just want to grow my hair a million miles long. (I can hear the DUHs ringing out in the comments section and obviously I know this but I have a mental block against hair trimming but I shall overcome.)

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These are the curls I've been looking for. 

I hope Liz will be proud of me when I go back for another visit in four-five months.

So tell me, what do you do to keep your hair super healthy? Am I the only person obsessed with trichologists?