The definitive way to fight hair loss


The definitive way to fight hair loss

Devastating at worst, embarrassing at best – losing your hair feels like you're losing yourself

By Aishwarya Subramanyam  March 3rd, 2016

Over a year ago, a serious illness led to my hair falling out, steadily and devastatingly. Every morning, I would wake to wretched strings of curls strewn all over my bed, and I would cry. I was inconsolable, and felt like I would never be myself again because who was I, really, without my hair? I knew it was vanity, but I couldn’t help it. Finally, unable to take the daily heartbreak, I blew my nose, shaved it all off and discovered the delightful weirdness of feeling air on my actual head.

No matter how much you try to talk yourself out of it, losing your hair can be a deeply painful and lonely experience. And it can be very difficult to talk about. Eva Graham knows this. The founder of international hair care brand Nioxin, now taken over by Wella, she is soft-spoken and gracious, and tells her story: “It really began with my father. I was an only child, and like a lot of little girls I thought my father was invincible, and the most amazing man in the world. But he was losing his hair. He would brush his hair every day and say, ‘Oh how I wish someone would find a way to keep a man from losing his hair.’” It made him sad, and it left an impression on Graham.

But it was much later, when she had her first child, that she experienced it herself. “Like so many first-time mothers, half my hair fell out. It happens quite often, more so with your first pregnancy,” she says. And when she lost her hair, Graham pretty much decided it was the end of the world. “The doctor told me it would grow back, but I didn’t believe him. It’s the typical female response. With time it did come back, of course, but it really made me so aware of what men and women go through when they’re losing hair. It affects your self-esteem, it affects not just how you see yourself but how you think other people see you.” It was then that the idea for Nioxin was born.

Established in 1987, the brand was only launched in India last year, and is still to roll out its full range of services here. Graham emphasises that the ethnicity of your hair doesn’t matter for the efficacy of the product. “Whether you have very thick hair or extremely fragile hair, if you use it correctly, it will work,” she says. The big launch for this year, available now, is Diaboost, a daily leave-in treatment for those with very thin hair, which claims to increase the diameter of each fibre to give the appearance of up to 11,000 extra strands of hair (assuming you have about 100,000 to start with). Sounds impressive. Maria Castan, the brand’s scientific communications manager, explains, “A combination of niacinamide (to lock in moisture and improve texture), panthenol (to strengthen) and caffeine (for better hydration) creates a sort of matrix that coats the hair and creates  fullness.” It may be an illusion, but it’s an effective one.

 

While explaining the fundamentals of the science behind Nioxin, Castan highlights one thing constantly: your scalp is an extension of your face. “Everything begins with the follicle. If you want a lush forest, the earth needs to be in great condition, right? Your scalp is skin, and while it is protected by hair, it has dead cells.” And if you would exfoliate your face, why wouldn’t you do the same for your scalp? The idea is the same: to remove dead cells so that the products you apply are more effective. Castan is particularly proud of the Derma Renew Therapy in-salon treatment, which does just that.

She applauds Indian women’s use of oils, which are great for the hair itself and will tame frizz, but can weigh down the scalp. Cleansing is crucial. All Nioxin products are, in fact, to be applied on your scalp, and there are six “systems” to choose from, depending on your hair type and level of thinning. “You wouldn’t normally apply conditioner at the roots, but ours are very light, and thinning hair needs body and lift, which comes from the root,” she clarifies. Another myth Castan is keen to bust is one a lot of us buy into — don’t wash your hair often if you’re dealing with hair fall, because you will lose even more hair. “This is completely untrue! It’s really a question of how dirty your scalp is. It is this simple: if you have sebum, if your hair feels heavy, wash it.”

Here’s the thing. Hair loss can be the result of many things — pregnancy, illness, diet, certain medications, age, and another big one: stress. And the more you stress about losing your hair, the more hair you lose. “Why do we feel ashamed about it?” asks Castan, exasperated. “We need to stop seeing hair thinning as a taboo, and accept that just the way our skin changes, our hair will change, too.”

This could be said about most things that life throws at us. And you always learn something along the way. My hair grew back eventually, and in the months in between, I realised what enormous fun was to be had with all those silk scarves I had lying around.  

The Nioxin Diaboost daily leave-in treatment is available now at select salons nationwide. Price: Rs 4,125 (100 ml)

Photograph: Richard Bernardin 

 

Over a year ago, a serious illness led to my hair falling out, steadily and devastatingly. Every morning, I would wake to wretched strings of curls strewn all over my bed, and I would cry. I was inconsolable, and felt like I would never be myself again because who was I, really, without my hair? I knew it was vanity, but I couldn’t help it. Finally, unable to take the daily heartbreak, I blew my nose, shaved it all off and discovered the delightful weirdness of feeling air on my actual head.

No matter how much you try to talk yourself out of it, losing your hair can be a deeply painful and lonely experience. And it can be very difficult to talk about. Eva Graham knows this. The founder of international hair care brand Nioxin, now taken over by Wella, she is soft-spoken and gracious, and tells her story: “It really began with my father. I was an only child, and like a lot of little girls I thought my father was invincible, and the most amazing man in the world. But he was losing his hair. He would brush his hair every day and say, ‘Oh how I wish someone would find a way to keep a man from losing his hair.’” It made him sad, and it left an impression on Graham.

But it was much later, when she had her first child, that she experienced it herself. “Like so many first-time mothers, half my hair fell out. It happens quite often, more so with your first pregnancy,” she says. And when she lost her hair, Graham pretty much decided it was the end of the world. “The doctor told me it would grow back, but I didn’t believe him. It’s the typical female response. With time it did come back, of course, but it really made me so aware of what men and women go through when they’re losing hair. It affects your self-esteem, it affects not just how you see yourself but how you think other people see you.” It was then that the idea for Nioxin was born.

Established in 1987, the brand was only launched in India last year, and is still to roll out its full range of services here. Graham emphasises that the ethnicity of your hair doesn’t matter for the efficacy of the product. “Whether you have very thick hair or extremely fragile hair, if you use it correctly, it will work,” she says. The big launch for this year, available now, is Diaboost, a daily leave-in treatment for those with very thin hair, which claims to increase the diameter of each fibre to give the appearance of up to 11,000 extra strands of hair (assuming you have about 100,000 to start with). Sounds impressive. Maria Castan, the brand’s scientific communications manager, explains, “A combination of niacinamide (to lock in moisture and improve texture), panthenol (to strengthen) and caffeine (for better hydration) creates a sort of matrix that coats the hair and creates  fullness.” It may be an illusion, but it’s an effective one.

 

While explaining the fundamentals of the science behind Nioxin, Castan highlights one thing constantly: your scalp is an extension of your face. “Everything begins with the follicle. If you want a lush forest, the earth needs to be in great condition, right? Your scalp is skin, and while it is protected by hair, it has dead cells.” And if you would exfoliate your face, why wouldn’t you do the same for your scalp? The idea is the same: to remove dead cells so that the products you apply are more effective. Castan is particularly proud of the Derma Renew Therapy in-salon treatment, which does just that.

She applauds Indian women’s use of oils, which are great for the hair itself and will tame frizz, but can weigh down the scalp. Cleansing is crucial. All Nioxin products are, in fact, to be applied on your scalp, and there are six “systems” to choose from, depending on your hair type and level of thinning. “You wouldn’t normally apply conditioner at the roots, but ours are very light, and thinning hair needs body and lift, which comes from the root,” she clarifies. Another myth Castan is keen to bust is one a lot of us buy into — don’t wash your hair often if you’re dealing with hair fall, because you will lose even more hair. “This is completely untrue! It’s really a question of how dirty your scalp is. It is this simple: if you have sebum, if your hair feels heavy, wash it.”

Here’s the thing. Hair loss can be the result of many things — pregnancy, illness, diet, certain medications, age, and another big one: stress. And the more you stress about losing your hair, the more hair you lose. “Why do we feel ashamed about it?” asks Castan, exasperated. “We need to stop seeing hair thinning as a taboo, and accept that just the way our skin changes, our hair will change, too.”

This could be said about most things that life throws at us. And you always learn something along the way. My hair grew back eventually, and in the months in between, I realised what enormous fun was to be had with all those silk scarves I had lying around.  

The Nioxin Diaboost daily leave-in treatment is available now at select salons nationwide. Price: Rs 4,125 (100 ml)

Photograph: Richard Bernardin