At some point in their lives, most clients have dealt with or will deal with thinning hair. The problem is so expansive in its causes—genetics being a common cause, but stress, thyroid disease, diet and aging all contributing as well—that it is close to a universal experience.
As a stylist, you might lose clients and miss out on retail opportunities if you aren’t educated on the kinds of tools and products needed to treat thinning hair, and the options range from pills to daily treatments.
“Hair loss is an ongoing issue for many people, with 80 to 100 million people in the U.S. alone seeking help,” says Michelle Blaisure, Bosley Professional Strength director of education and trichologist. “If the salon doesn’t have a line that targets fine and thinning hair, they are missing an opportunity to help their clients who are actively looking for solutions. They are also missing the opportunity to increase the salon’s bottom line.”
To best serve your clientele who face this often-emotional topic, make sure you can diagnose a reason or two thinning might be occurring and then recommend various solutions.
“Stylists are essential in educating their clients on the best ways to treat thinning hair,” says Jared Reynolds, Zenagen founder. “The most beneficial thing a stylist can do for a client is to teach them about how each product could affect their hair and skin on a scientific level and help them choose the best option for them.”
You first need to discern why thinning and/or excessive shedding might be happening and then how you can help fix it.
Genetics are the primary cause for most men and about 20-30 percent of women, according to Blaisure. For the other 70-80 percent of women with thinning hair, childbirth, stress, diet, health and hormonal changes, and aging play a part, Blaisure says. Medication, environment, excessive use of hot tools and chemical damage are all possibilities as well, according to Diane Stevens, Nioxin top stylist.
Frequently, the scalp can be the source of the problem and where treatment begins. Strengthening the hair along with encouraging new growth are both important goals to address. Most products comprise a multi-step system of cleansing the scalp/removing buildup, promoting growth of hair that is slow or has stopped growing altogether, and nourishing hair follicles.
“As to what a client needs to do to support the products, I recommend eating a diet rich in essential fatty acids and advise them to take a good supplement with biotin,” Blaisure says. “Also, I always advise women to get their hormone levels checked along with thyroid and iron levels.”
Of course, most products only work as well as the frequency with which they’re used. Although an immediate reversal of results isn’t necessarily in the future if a client discontinues prescribed products, it’s important to note that many products need about a month to start showing noticeable results. Growing new hair takes time.
“If the issue is ongoing, like genetically prone hair loss or thyroid problems, the client should plan to use on a more regular basis to help maintain the hair density,” Reynolds says. “It’s like going on a diet and then thinking that once you have lost the weight, you can just stop. The body does not work like that, and neither does the hair follicle.”
It’s possible that reducing the frequency of use is an option your client would like to discuss; for some clients, that’s appropriate (especially if the cause seems to be temporary, not chronic). That’s a conversation you’ll want to be well-equipped for.
“We do recommend users take two tablets of Viviscal Professional per day consistently for six months,” says Zijada Beganovic, Viviscal Professional marketing manager. “After six months, many users who are happy with their results choose to stay on Viviscal Professional to maintain their healthy-looking hair. Or some might choose to reduce to one tablet a day as a maintenance dose.”
There are also solutions in the form of hair extensions and pieces, designed to help camouflage thinning hair—and fibers that can be applied to the head that create the illusion of fullness. Don’t forget about styling, cutting and color principles to make hair appear thicker, Stevens says. The worst thing you can do is ignore the issue.
“The key for stylists is to become educated on hair and scalp biology so that they can provide information to the client on what they are recommending and how it will meet the client’s specific needs,” Blaisure says. “Remember—thinning hair and loss can be a deeply emotional issue for many. Be compassionate and remind the client to breathe.”
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