This month, we’re taking an in-depth look at how to better care for your hair from the roots up. This means a good hard look at caring for the scalp.
Trichology may be the next big thing to hit the cosmetology world. Although some have been skeptical in the past, trichology has started to receive significant interest in the US and abroad.
What is Trichology?
Trichology is a set of cosmetology services, which promotes healthier hair growth. It is not a medical service, nor a newly developed study. In fact, it is a 110-year-old practice that was first introduced by The Institute of Trichologists in London. The Institute defines trichology as “the science of the structure, function, and diseases of the human hair.” It goes on to say, “Clinical trichology is the diagnosis and treatment of diseases and disorders of the human hair and scalp.”
If you read just this definition, you may mistake it for a medical service which only licensed doctors can perform. In reality, it is an unregulated wellness service that can be performed by almost anyone, provided they have some level of training. Ideally, the treatment would be provided as a part of a cosmetology service.
When trichology was first introduced, a group of doctors, scientists, and cosmetologists foresaw it as a separate medical specialty. Since the study of the hair and scalp overlaps with the study of dermatology, it failed to get recognized as such. In 1972, with the help of Dr. David Salinger, the University of Southern California reviewed studies of trichology, but came to a similar conclusion.
Despite this disappointing outcome, The Institute of Trichologists continues to train trichologists, and many well-trained trichologists are providing professional services throughout the world. Some work side-by-side with dermatologists and others are operating their own non-medical clinics. Trichology rests in a liminal space, not classified as medical nor purely cosmetic. It is partially due to this lack of classification that trichology has not attained popularity.
Birth of Herbal Trichology
The lack of interest changed about 10 years ago. Trichology was introduced in Asia, specifically Korea and Japan, countries well known for their herbal medicines and treatments. Their traditional medicine, which combines herbal extracts, acupuncture and therapeutic massages (Jihop), has been proven over several thousand years of practice. In fact, large numbers of modern drugs have been developed based on their traditional medicine.
Asian scholars and cosmetologists saw the potential of trichology and began incorporating the conventionally developed trichology of the UK with Asian traditional therapy. The result was explosive. Within the first three years, more than 25,000 trichology centers opened in Korea alone, and the numbers are still growing rapidly. Service fees range from $50-$150 for a 1-hour session with millions of consumers visiting trichology centers regularly.
As the demand for trichology services grows, medical clinics have been pressured into providing trichology service. It has become a popular treatment at most dermatologists’ offices, but with much larger price tags.
What Triggered Its Success?
“I think it is mostly because academia and the beauty industry working hand in hand from the beginning. These sound infrastructures helped generate a large number of well-trained trichologists in a relatively short period of time and developing scientific theories and reliable products at the university level, in cooperation with corporate,” said Professor Noh Young-hee at Konyang University, the school that pioneered Medical-beauty, incorporating medical aspects into beauty culture.
During the past decade, Noh and a number of scholars have published more than 70 books on trichology. The study of trichology is now included as a part of cosmetology studies in more than 140 colleges and Universities in Korea alone, including the private institutions. There are thousands of new trichologists entering the market each year.
In addition to the strong support of academia, the scientists who studied traditional medicine made a huge impact when they merged the modern science of trichology with the benefits of the herbal science from Asia. Fueled by the enthusiastic consumers, and with a proven track record, the herbal trichology service is likely to spread like wildfire into North America and Europe.
Opportunities and Challenges
When considering the potential to generate tens of thousands of new jobs and bringing more clients to salons, the herbal trichology industry clearly offers many opportunities for many. At the same time, it poses challenges to the quality of its services. Since it is not regulated by government agencies, anyone can claim to be a trichologist and offer services. Untrained trichologists with poor skills can easily discredit the benefit of herbal trichology.
Renowned trichologist and educator, Dr. David Kingsley, at the World Trichology Society, welcomes this new movement while emphasizing the importance of the proper training to maintain the positive reputation of the trichology service itself. In anticipation of this potential boom, he has recently written a comprehensive textbook on trichology and formed an organization to provide continuing education for trichologists.
The scholars who developed herbal trichology share the same concerns and are preparing to launch their own nationwide training program. Their program will incorporate hands-on training and online classes. Unlike the conventional trichology training program that takes years to complete, this new training program is simplified and shortened. An average student can complete the entire course in less than three months, and licensed cosmetologists can complete the course in a matter of days or weeks since their cosmetology courses include anatomy and biology.
Regardless of the many challenges, Tressential, a Maryland company that is leading the way in Herbal trichology in the US, Simon trichology, based in Spain, and the Alès Group USA, the manufacturer of Phyto brand all expect that the trichology industry will experience dynamic growth.
Where To Access Trichology
While Trichology is a quickly growing field, it may not be available everywhere nearby. However, most salons and beauty supply stores have the capabilities to offer the services given a bit of training. Courses in trichology and materials are provided by a variety of sources, such as Kingsley’s World Trichology Society. The BBIM Research Institute offers its own courses and materials as well. If you don’t have a service provider in your area, suggest the course to your local beauty supply shop or salon. You can also learn first hand by taking the courses yourself!
Bring The Service Home
With service providers limited, you may be interested to know how to get the benefits of trichology at home. Luckily for you, there are a few steps you can take! The steps you’ll want to take start far outside the shower, as for a healthy scalp it’s important to think about the overall health and how it affects the body. Being properly hydrated and eating nutritious food are important steps to overall as well as scalp health—the scalp is simply an extension of the skin and it reacts to food and hydration just like any other part of the body. Second, make sure to take time to de-stress. There are plenty of studies that show a correlation between stress and hair loss, while we may not be able to remove all stress from our lives (what a dream) we can take steps to distance ourselves from our problems before bed. Setting ourselves up for a restful nights sleep can go a long way with helping our bodies and minds perform better.
The goal of trichology is to thoroughly cleanse and treat the scalp, on a day where you plan to do a DIY treatment you should expect to walk away with drier hair than usual—we’re not saying ditch the conditioner, but the goal isn’t to immediately clog the pores back up with product. While we all have to make do with our dry shampoos and heavy conditioners, it’s important to note that these buildup in pores, clogging them and preventing healthy hair growth. The goal is to get the scalp back to square one, where it’s clean and able to produce its natural oils without being blocked up.
The two main things you’ll want for home are a deep cleansing natural shampoo (to be applied to the scalp only) and a scalp treatment tonic (such as this one by Tressentials). You’ll want a natural shampoo for a few reasons like it’s less likely to have ingredients that cause unintentional extra buildup, and as we deep clean the scalp we want to add as few extra synthetic chemicals as possible. For the tonic, you’ll want to look for something with plenty of active ingredients such as ginkgo, ginseng, rosemary, and tea tree as all of these have cleansing and hair growing properties. We recommend Tressentials as it was developed with trichology in mind!
Before you start your shampoo, you’ll want to rinse any residue from the hair. If you have a hand-held shower head, use a setting with higher pressure than normal (but, make sure it remains comfortable) press the head directly to the scalp. This essentially power cleans the scalp before you even add shampoo and functions as a hydro-massage to get blood flowing to the scalp.
With both hands, begin to massage shampoo into the scalp. Make sure to be very thorough, using only the pads of the fingers to prevent any micro-abrasions or scratches from your nails. As you shampoo, take a moment to give your scalp a good acupressure massage, squeezing tightly with fingers fanned out starting from the front hairline to the back. Encouraging blood flow to the scalp is an important step when repairing hair loss!
Once you’ve finished your massage, use your shower hose once again to completely remove any residue from your shampoo. Carefully and evenly distribute your tonic along the scalp. Once it is applied, we recommend covering the head with a shower cap to let the tonic sink in with the heat and steam from your shower. Let it sit for at least five minutes, longer if possible, before completely rinsing out. At this point, you can add a light, preferably organic or natural conditioner.
The final step is to make sure the hair and scalp are completely dry before you go about your day. Preferably this would be done using low-to-no heat or finished with plenty of cold air. This ensures that the pores are fully closed again so that no extra pollution or styling product gets absorbed.
We recommend doing this at-home system every other week. It may be a lot to add to your routine, but it can do wonders for making sure your hair and scalp stay healthy! It’s especially important for those who work out frequently, as sweat and oils mixed with dry shampoo and product can quickly add up.