You probably think of your hair salon as the place you go when your color needs refreshing or your split ends need chopping. But one treatment on the menu that often gets overlooked is a scalp facial, and although it’s not “new” per se, it’s now being offered in more doctors’ offices because the scientific benefits are robust and women, even men, are taking notice.
“Scalp facials were originally developed in Japan and influenced by Indian Ayurveda practices,” says hairstylist Yoshie Sakuma of New York’s Pierre Michel Salon, who performs them regularly. The concept behind scalp facials is that treating the “root” cause of your hair woes will lead to faster and more permanent improvements in your overall hair health.
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Doctors who specialise in hair and scalp treatments such as Dr Chua Han Boon of SW1 Clinic have taken this one step further. “In reality, there are debris and residue that accumulate each day on the scalp,” he says. “If a person is prone to dandruff (seborrheic dermatitis) or has a skin condition (eczema, psoriasis, etc.), the scalp may be improved via a scalp facial. Additionally, there are patients who experience hair thinning for a variety of reasons— from hormonal changes to overuse of chemicals at the root of their hair. Infusing active ingredients to target hair thinning and strengthen scalp health at the scalp level can help halt the process and potentially reverse your hair woes.”
Thinning hair doesn’t happen just because. There are a whole host of factors that can cause your hair to look sparse. However, many men and women focus their efforts on their hair. Hair is made up of dead cells called keratin, so no matter what you do to it, apart from temporary cosmetic improvements, you cannot alter the destiny of your hair health.
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Why does hair thin? Anything that alters your hormone levels—think birth control, menopause or pregnancy—can be responsible for hair that’s thinner than normal. Dr Kenneth Lee, medical director of SW1 Clinic says thinning hair is especially common in menopausal women because estrogen levels diminish. “The hormone estrogen is essential for protecting the hair.” Hormone-related disorders like polycystic ovary syndrome can impact the thickness of hair, too.
A rather new discovery in the world of thinning, the more damage (predominantly caused by aging) that occurs to the stem cells that live in the hair follicles, the more likely it is for those stem cells to turn into skin. Years of this transfer causes the follicles to shrink in size to the point that there is more skin than hair in the area, leading to patches of thinning hair or even bald spots.
“The scalp acts as the soil, the hair is the plant and the follicle is the seed. If there is a problem with the soil that prevents the plant from growing, this can be very significant” Dr Kenneth Lee, SW1 Clinic
Another reason for hair thinning could also be your diet. Going vegetarian or vegan may do wonders for your body, but chances are it won’t do much for your hair. While not everyone who forgoes animal-based sources of protein experiences thinning hair, it’s not uncommon to see signs of thinning and hair loss because protein is often limited. To reverse the effects, take a protein and iron supplement or start to add reliable protein sources, like beans, quinoa and tempeh, into your diet. Dr Chua Han Boon often supplements his patients at SW1 Clinic with Viviscal hair vitamins. Together with the in-clinic scalp facials known as Keramax Scalp Program, they deliver phenomenal scalp rejuvenation and tress- restoration results.
Dr Kenneth Lee who is a firm advocate of treating the root cause of hair issues — the scalp says he likes to view hair like a garden. “The scalp acts as the soil, the hair is the plant and the follicle is the seed. If there is a problem with the soil that prevents the plant from growing, this can be very significant. A scalp facial can ‘rake the leaves’ and make way for a healthy garden.”
Keramax Scalp program uses a two prong therapy steeped in science. Patients who have undergone this procedure say that the first step known as Revitascalp penetrates active medication into the scalp area to treat particular concerns from hair loss to hair weakening. This is accompanied by lymphatic massage and stimulation of overall scalp circulation, vital for the optimal scalp health. This takes about 20-30 minutes. The second step uses FDA approved Revage670 laser which the patient sits under. This laser is a painless light shown to reinvigorate and restore frail scalps with weakened and lacklustre-looking hair.