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Lost Cause

When women are experiencing thinning issues, you can be their saving grace.
Jeryl E. Spear, Editor-in-Chief

January/February 2014 Find in
January/February 2014

While I’m the editor-in-chief of HOT beauty magazine, I’ve also been a stylist for many years. My time behind the chair and all of the subsequent research and expert interviews that I’ve done on hair loss, have given me a rich body of information about this unfortunate and often emotionally devastating condition— especially for women.

I want to skip all of the usual sterile information that’s been covered ad nauseam in trade articles and really get to the heart of hair thinning from a salon perspective.

We all know what hair thinning does to women’s self-esteem, but do we really have profound empathy for those who are losing their hair?

Short of taking a 30-tooth thinner to your hair in order to even have an inkling of what they’re feeling, there’s only one thing you can do to truly understand and help women with thinning issues: Get involved with your heart, mind and skills.

Perfect Recall

As a stylist, you may forget a client’s name, but you never forget her hair. When you run your fingers through her mane, your touch immediately tells you if it’s thinner than it was on her previous visit; you know if there are more strands left in the brush; and when you shampoo her hair, you know if there’s more hair left in the sink trap.

These innate abilities are unerring, even if it has been months or even years since you last touched her hair. My advice: Trust your observations and then do whatever you can to help stop and camouflage her hair loss.

Diffuse Hair Loss

Women’s hair loss is most often expressed by diffuse thinning, which means that rather than developing pronounced pattern baldness, hair is lost throughout the top, sides and back of the hair (usually down to the crest of the occipital bone).

Medical wisdom dictates that women can lose up to 50% of their hair before other people notice that it’s thinning, with “other” being the operative word. From the onset of hair loss, women know if their hair doesn’t have the bulk it once had, isn’t growing as rapidly or has a much less desirable texture—three symptoms that clearly spell out hair loss.

The problem: Because many women still think of hair loss as a male issue, they’re more likely to blame their thinning hair on chemical or thermal damage, or even restless sleeping habits, before they finally face the real culprit.

This means that the first time you notice hair loss, you need gather up your courage and tell her what’s happening to her hair. If you catch it early, you can also offer hope. Why? The earlier you address this issue, the better chance she has of not only stopping the excessive loss, but also re-growing some of her missing hair.

Thin and Beautiful

When clients have early-onset thinning issues, using your creativity and pro-beauty skills can restore her appearance and her confidence. Here are some tips for maximum coverage and fullness.

● Cut minimal layers. No matter what the texture might be, stick to minimal layers, rather than heavy ones that tend to lay flat.
● Suggest deep bangs. Cut bangs an inch deeper than you normally would to help mask thinning hair on top of the head.
● Muss it up a bit. Teach her how to create a zigzag part and a beautiful, messy style. Zigzag parts also help to disguise thinning.
● Give her haircolor a lift. Lighter shades that are closer to her skin tone can actually help camouflage thinning hair.
(Source: Stylist Thom Priano)

Practice Kind Words

You never know when you’re going to discover a client with thinning hair, but considering there are at least 30 million women in the United States who have some degree of noticeable hair loss, you’re bound to encounter this condition on a fairly frequent basis.

Have you thought about what you’re going to say to a woman who’s losing too much hair? It goes without saying that you want to be tactful and kind, but when talking off the cuff, quite often what you say and what others hear are two different things.

Taking “you” out of the equation for a moment, think about the times when you’ve heard a fellow stylist blurt out something like, “Wow! Look how much hair is in the brush!”

Not only is this sort of reaction hurtful to the client, but also she might never return for another visit.

My suggestion is to think about what you should say when encountering different hair loss scenarios before you’re actually faced with them. No matter how you decide to approach the matter, always be gentle. It’s also essential to have an in-depth, private talk with her to try to ascertain the source of the problem. Did her mother experience thinning?

Is she taking any medications that are known to cause hair loss? Has she been under extreme stress during the past few months? Has she been seriously ill in the past year?

While suggesting courses of action, make sure that seeking a medical evaluation is at the top of your list. Until you get a firm diagnosis for what’s causing her hair loss, you can’t effectively do your part to help her situation.

Take Action

On the surface, stopping hair loss dead in its tracks seems like it should be a no-brainer.

After all, we’ve cracked the human genome, right? In reality, it’s a complicated matter with multiple causes and possible solutions.

For years, scientists all over the world have been trying to solve the mysteries of hair loss and create effective ingredients and products to combat this condition. They’ve certainly made tremendous strides, but we still haven’t discovered a simple switch that you can turn on for hair growth and off for hair loss.

The most common cause of hair loss for women is “diffuse androgenetic alopecia.” At present, the only ingredient recognized by the FDA to treat this condition is 2% minoxidil.

Bosley Professional Strength has such a topical treatment for women, as well as a host of other beneficial scalp, hair and styling products that work synergistically to help improve results. Because treatment outcomes can vary greatly from person to person, the primary objective of any program should be to stop the loss and improve the quality of the existing hair. Re-growth is always possible, but not predictable.

There are many other approaches to treating hair loss that aren’t recognized by the FDA. Some appear to be getting respectable results, while others are only showing improvement on alopecia areata, a condition with a high rate of recovery, with or without treatment. If you’re set on finding an alternative to 2% minoxidil, never take anyone’s word—no matter how persuasive—that his or her company has discovered a revolutionary way to give a bald woman a full head of hair, or even grow back a small percentage of lost strands. Instead, do a sixmonth salon test on a few clients or staff members with thinning issues. It’s the only way that you’ll know for sure that the product you’re recommending behind the chair delivers the efficacy promised by the company.

Great Cover Up

Are you applying hair thickening fibers to all clients in need of an instant, cosmetic hair thinning fix? If you aren’t, have a heart and start using and retailing this type of product to all clients with thinning issues.

The best fiber brands are visually undetectable, stay intact until brushed or shampooed out, are easy to apply, and camouflage up to moderately severe hair loss. They can also be used to disguise (color) regrowth.

The fibers are made of keratin and charged with static electricity to make them cling to each strand right down to the surface of the scalp. The size of the particles, hold factor, color range, and application method are what make one brand more desirable than another.

New! Bosley Professional Strength, a brand dedicated to treating hair thinning issues in salons, has just released Hair Thickening Fibers, which possesses the latest and most effective technology in this essential product category. (

Filling in the Gaps

When clients have reached the point that a strategic haircut and color are no longer effective when done alone, it’s time to consider hair additions to bolster the thickness of their hair. For women who are experiencing mild to slightly moderate diffuse thinning, special hair extensions can be applied to invisibly fill out lost volume, density and even texture.

Strand-by-Strand Solution

While there are legitimate concerns about attaching extensions to thinning hair—adding additional stress to already delicate strands, using glues or heat methods for the same reason and creating tension on fragile hair follicles— solutions to these problems are simple:

● Only use specialty extensions that are super-lightweight and designed for clients with thinning issues.

● Even if you’re trained on traditional hair extensions, take one or more hands-on classes that exclusively focus on thinning hair.

● Before offering this service on paying clients, test the claims of the hair company, your choice of systems and your skills by inviting test models with thinning issues to wear your specialty extensions for two service cycles.

I’ve actually worked with several brands that offer extensions for thin or thinning hair issues. I like a few of them, including Micro Point Solutions by Cyberhair ( Cyberhair is an extremely lightweight fiber that’s several times stronger than natural hair and has moisture content and style memory.

I swear on my scissors that Cyberhair looks and behaves like real hair and has no lifestyle limitations, even frequent swimming.

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