by Jeffrey Paul, Guest Contributor

Let’s face it. Hair thinning and loss can be a private panic for most women and men. It’s a subject few are comfortable addressing…buy why?

Imagine if you will, the first time your client looked in the mirror or caught their reflection in a store window and truly realized their hair loss was serious. They couldn’t dismiss it any longer. The panic sets in. Where do they turn?

As a trusted resource and ‘beauty’ outlet in our client’s lives, it’s important that we as stylists have the tools to address this important topic. After all, that panic moment for your clients isn’t just about vanity; as professionals we want to help, but perhaps aren’t sure where to start.

That’s where my passion for this subject comes in to play.

Being able to identify the many factors attributed to hair thinning and loss is an important first step. The person sitting in your chair has probably already noticed it and is unsure where to go for help.

Hair thinning and loss evokes a physiological reaction, one that can result in a loss of self-esteem, perhaps cause depression, anxiety and can lead to other emotional issues. For many, our hair is what makes us feel beautiful, youthful and healthy.

As a national educator on the topic, I’ve come across countless stylists and salon owners that ask me how they can help their clients navigate the sometimes-complicated waters of “why” this is happening to what solutions they can offer.

To begin, we must understand that hair thinning and loss can be attributed to many factors and, often, a combination of factors. Generally speaking, they may include:

• Genetic predisposition (family history of hair loss)
• Stress and trauma (constriction of blood supply; poor vitamin assimilation)
• Nutrition and diet (high consumption of animal fats)
• Health issues (thyroid imbalance)
• Medication (side effect caused by chemotherapy or other medications)
• Environment (pseudo-estrogens and pseudo-androgens)
• Chemical damage (incorrect chemical processes applied to hair)

Most of these initial factors lead to a “miniaturization” of the hair, when hair follicle deterioration caused by pollutants or toxins caused individual hairs to become smaller and finer, until the follicle remaining in the “resting” phase and is totally dormant.

Sound confusing? It’s OK. It’s a complicated matter, with many moving parts. Together, we can help our clients who are in a “private panic” about their hair thinning and loss issues regain their self-esteem and chart a course to restore beauty inside and out.

A starting point

It is important to review the basics. After all, our industry is all about fundamentals, right? And to that point – when is the last time you thought about the hair life cycle?

There are many different factors that contribute to your client’s hair thinning and loss. However, to really understand the triggers for hair loss, let’s first take a look at how our hair grows normally so we can understand the non-growth more comprehensively.

A lot of your clients may think hair is dead. They wonder why we need to consume certain vitamins said to have profound effects on the health of our hair, or they come to terms with solutions that have an effect on the appearance of our dead hair, so that is looks alive and beautiful.

In fact, most of our hair IS dead, but regardless of that fact, it also has the personality of what I call a “ghost with feelings.” We have to treat it as though it is alive and take care of it; so later it doesn’t haunt us.

Here’s a quick refresher on the hair life cycle, so you can better explain the causes and effect of hair loss to your clients.

Just as a tree trunk has three main layers, so does your hair. There’s the medulla, which is the innermost lifeline that feeds the hair, the cortex, which gives the hair shaft its width and color, and the cuticle, which like bark, acts as the outer protective barrier. All of which grow out of a hair follicle that nourishes the hair shaft, but thrives beneath the scalp’s skin.

Trees also have hard-working roots that do two things. They anchor the tree into the earth and they reach out into the surrounding soil and absorb the water and nutrients the tree needs in order to grow. In place of roots, hair has hard-working papillae. They help anchor the hair shaft firmly into the head and provide nourishment to the hair shaft through the tiny blood vessels and capillaries that are loosely connected to it.

Finally, trees need to be pruned and trimmed to keep them looking their best. So does hair (as we all know – and love to do!).

I tell attendees of the conferences, workshops and symposiums where I teach, that hair, much like a tree, is not dead. It’s constantly growing, reacting to the environment and changing on us. Since we don’t know of anything dead that does all that, we should consider hair to be full of life.

With that in mind, remember hair is important to your clients. You are there to help them look their best so they can feel their best. So educate yourself on hair loss and thinning and remember… Beauty Begins Within.

About the Author

Jeffrey Paul is an author, nonprofit founder, international hair replacement and restoration expert and educator who brings an expansive vault of experience, compassion and inspiration to the hair thinning and loss industry.  His mission is to restore beauty inside and out, so that a person can live their life looking themselves with total confidence. Send your questions and check out his blog to learn more!

This article was written is by an industry contributor and does not necessarily reflect the position or opinions of the Professional Beauty Association (PBA). To submit a request to contribute an article, click here.