Wahanda guide: Lee Garrett talks treating hair loss
Shaving, waxing, lasers – the lot. We ladies spend years trying to rid our bodies of hair, but when we notice it disappearing from our heads, alarm bells start ringing. According to the NHS, over 8 million women in the UK have experienced excessive hair loss, but there is very little information out there about what to do if you suspect your locks are thinning.
We spoke to hair and skincare expert Lee Garrett about the science behind one of the latest treatments being used to tackle both male and female hair loss, how to minimise trauma to your tresses and just what could be causing follicle fall out…
“The first thing to understand about hair loss is that to an extent, it’s normal,” explained Lee, who has over 25 years combined experience in the hair, beauty and cosmetic treatment industries.
“On average, we lose 50 to 100 hairs every day. I think a lot of women worry when they see lots of hair coming out, but the main factor you need to consider is ‘Is there something going on inside?’”
To determine what could be causing increased hair shedding, it’s important to understand that both male and female hair loss is related to a disruption in hair growth ‘phases’. Each individual hair on your head grows out from the root at different stages, which can be broken down into three distinct time periods. Pay attention, here comes the science bit…
“Hair growth begins with the anagen – or ‘active hair growth’ – phase,” said Lee, “and this lasts between two to six years, so you’ve actually got hairs that are lasting that long. Hairs then go through what is known as the catagen phase, which is a transitional period. This is when the hair breaks away from the bulb (the very end of the root) and it starts to travel upwards. This lasts for 2 to 3 weeks, before it drops into the telogen or ‘resting’ phase. The telogen phase is the most important phase, as this is where you get forms of alopecia and male pattern baldness happening.”
In both female and male hair loss, follicles get stuck in the telogen phase and renewal slows down. According to Lee, for men this is largely to do with hormonal disruption.
“Men suffer from male pattern baldness because testosterone that’s normally free-flowing in their bloodstream gets converted to dihydrogen testosterone (DHT),” he explained.“What happens is the hairs on top of the head are sensitive to this DHT, and their follicles shrink. Hair begins to grow for a shorter period of time, and instead we see an increase in its ‘resting’ phase. The main things to flag up for women are thyroid problems (which often alter hormone levels) and periods of shock or stress that can cause the body to switch over to or extend the telogen phase in an effort to rest and recover,” Lee added.
“These events could have taken place up to six months ago if the hair continued through its growth cycle prior to shutting down.”
In his work with people who have experienced hair thinning, Lee has begun using a new type of treatment that is designed to shake hair out of its ‘resting’ state and encourage it to start renewing itself. Having used mesotherapy and dermaroller treatments to rejuvenate areas of skin, he is now utilising the same methods on hair loss patients by introducing a series of specific amino acids to the scalp.
“We aim to kick hair back into the anagen phase from the telogen phase before the follicle shuts down,” said Lee. “The treatment – known as Dermaheal – uses a combination of nanopeptides designed to strengthen, regenerate and stimulate follicles while encouraging blood circulation in the scalp. It also blocks the conversion of testosterone into DHT in male patients.
“You can use it alongside the typical big brand tablets and lotions, but what makes it unique is that during treatment, blood visibly comes flushing to the surface of the skin,” he continued. “Also because this treatment utilises nanopeptides rather than regular peptides, you can both inject and apply the solution to the surface of the skin and then use a dermaroller to help it penetrate the scalp and help get to target areas very quickly.”
Intrigued, we hit Lee with some quick-fire questions:
How long does a typical procedure last?
“It’s ongoing. The first course starts with an initial month, and patients have to attend the clinic every week. Each session lasts around about 10 minutes – it’s very quick. During the second month of treatment, patients have to come to the clinic twice – every two weeks – and in the third month they only need to visit once. We then follow treatment up again in six months’ time.”
When do people typically start seeing results?
“The patients that I’ve been treating have said they started to notice that their hair and scalp felt healthier within a few sessions. However, people are not likely to see results until about three months into the treatment as that’s when your hair starts regenerating through the anagen (growth) and then catagen (transitional) phases.”
Does it hurt?
“They are very, very tiny needles, which means patients usually feel a minor pinching sensation at most. If a patient has a real phobia of needles and they’ve got no hair on the area, then we can apply some topical anaesthetic and then inject through that, insuring the process is completely painless, but I’ve performed the treatment on people who are needle-phobic and they’ve been absolutely fine.”
Is there any potential for side effects or a need for particular aftercare?
“I think with everything in the cosmetic industry, there’s always the potential for side effects, but by taking a full and in depth history from the patient we can make sure that they don’t have any allergies related to the product itself. If they did have a tendency to be allergic or sensitive to many things, we would carry out a skin test, but if a reaction were still to occur, anti-histamines would stop it so they’d be fine. There haven’t been any reactions reported to date.
“As for aftercare, keeping a good blood flow to the scalp can be helpful. We suggest using a hot water bottle – patients just pop it on their head for 15 minutes after treatments – or something like a back warmer that you can just strap around your chin and sit for a short while. This is obviously less vital during warmer months, but things like practising headstands at the gym or during yoga can get the circulation going there, as well as gently massing the head. Using stimulating shampoos is also good and nice and easy – you can get peppermint or menthol shampoos, which encourage blood-flow to the scalp and follicles.”
Above all, Lee agreed with us that prevention is better than cure. Other than reducing stress levels (and we’re not ones to turn down a soothing massage), what can be done to prevent excessive hair loss?
“Always consult a doctor before rushing to treat hair loss,” Lee explained. “I always ask people to look into the medical side of things before we begin treatment and I am very careful to get a good history of what’s happened and why it’s happening from the patient.
“It’s not about just treating the patient though, you’ve got to have a holistic approach to it as well. If you’re someone who ties your hair back really tightly, you’re putting yourself at risk of something called traction alopecia and you have to be very careful about that. In my hairdressing days I always used to tell people if you’re going to tie your hair back, don’t use elastic bands and put conditioner in your hair before you tie it back. This enables the hair to stretch a little more under tension.”
If after taking Lee’s advice, you find you’re still struggling with thinning hair, you can search for a variety of non-surgical hair loss treatments here on Wahanda, with both dermaroller and preventative deep conditioning offers available to book online.