MEET ANDREA CLARK, TRICHOLOGISTWith over 30 years of experience in the hair industry and 11 years at The Mandarin Salon as the artistic director, Ms. Andrea Clark received her qualification as a trichologist by The International Association of Trichologists. Her mission is to restore wellbeing from the inside out by bringing to light the connection between hair and health and provide support to women experiencing hair loss. She addresses the concerns of clients with hair thinning, post-pregnancy hair loss, psoriasis and dermatitis.
"I am Andrea Clark originally from Melbourne Australia, living and working in Hong Kong since 2007. With over 30 years’ experience as a hairstylist, I had been shedding hair excessively, or as I now know it to be, Telogen Effluvium. This had been happening most of my adult life and I thought it was normal. My mother had Alopecia Areata at one point (an auto immune type of hair loss) and I assisted her and many ladies struggling with hair loss due to chemotherapy. Stylists often shave the head and post treatment help them shape their hair as it grows back. All too well I understand how hair loss affects one's confidence.
I wanted to understand why, delve deeper into the underlying reasons for hair and scalp issues, but I knew nothing of trichology-the science of hair and scalp at that stage.
I moved to Hong Kong when the opportunity came to work at an iconic 5-star hotel in their salon. We introduced a trichologically backed range of hair and scalp products, over 10 years ago, created by the well-known Trichologist, the late Philip Kingsley, from the UK. Having met him, I was inspired to study to be a trichologist. But how? I was so far away from the Institute of Trichologists in London. Then I learnt of the International Association of Trichologists in Australia and the course they provided created in conjunction with the University of Southern California. I could study from a distance I discovered and sit for my exam in Sydney. After immersing myself in their comprehensive 2 year part-time course I sat for the exam, passed and became a certified consultant trichologist and a member of the International association of Trichologists - IAT in 2017.
I am still at the Mandarin Salon at The Mandarin Oriental Hotel, Hong Kong today where I offer one hour consultations in a private room on the 24th floor overlooking Victoria Harbour. A place where I can offer a safe and welcoming environment for clients. A professional, sympathetic and holistic approach to hair loss. If it is outside the realms of my expertise, I can collaborate with other health professionals and together we work to finding an underlying reason and a possible treatment plan.
WHAT IS TRICHOLOGY?
Trichology is the scientific study of the hair and scalp. It's a specialised Dermatalogical discipline that embraces both naturopathic & western medicine, endocrinology and dermatology in order to treat all forms of hair loss, hair shaft breakage, scalp disorders, and the scalp environment. Trichologists operate on the understanding that hair is one of the body’s most metabolically-active tissues and therefore often reflect the first signals of internal bodily disturbance.
ANDREA ANSWERS OUR QUESTIONS:
In your experience, what is the biggest cause of hair loss in women?
There is not just one thing I am afraid. But if I was to put it in order, (particularly here in Hong Kong), I would say Iron deficiency and stress followed by absorption of nutrients (gut health). Hormonal issues are up there too. Like with post-pregnancy hair loss.
What are some of the things you can do for healthy hair (internally and externally)?
Internally: Look at the health of the gut, check levels of iron, ferritin (the storage of iron), zinc, B12 and vitamin D. Ask yourself, where am I getting my Protein from? Hair is made of Protein.
Externally: Check out things like toxicity and heavy metals through a hair mineral analysis. Maintain a healthy scalp and don't be afraid to shampoo every day if your scalp is affected in some way. A clean scalp is a healthy scalp and a good environment then for hair growth, whilst you look into the internal issues. Regular trims and hair treatments. Scalp masks and scalp toners. Try ammonia free colours. Colouring is not bad if done correctly.
What is the biggest misconception about hair loss?
A lot of people will tell me they used a certain product yesterday and their hair is falling out today. Always look back 3 months at life, then you may find the indicator of why your hair is shedding faster than it should right now.
The other is: my hair is bad because of my genes. It is not just that. Today there is a lot of talk about epigenetics. How we change or have changed the genetic expression by what is happening in our environment, our food or stress levels.
Why do you think female hair loss has been a taboo topic for so long?
Good question. Embarrassment perhaps which can have people hide away. We need to understand that hair thinning is not a disease and at some point most women (like men) will have some kind of hair issue.
How does our environment effect our hair health?
The water can affect the behaviour, the humidity can cause major frizz, and the pollution (particularly here in Hong Kong), can cause a build-up of dirt on the hair an reduce shine. Situations that our world is facing can increase stress increasing cortisol levels, so we sleep less therefore making us too tired to exercise and eat properly. We have evolved not to need our hair so all the nutrients and energy are used to look after the more vital parts of our body.
How do you help women at your clinic in Hong Kong?
A big part of what I do is reassure and assist with actioning something, even if it is baby steps while we delve deeper. I educate, as a lot of people want an immediate result and don't understand even if we change something it can be at least 3 months and more before we notice any improvement. There is always some improvement with patience. We are also not a clinic as such so my clients don't feel the environment is clinical and that they have an illness. I am also able to do scalp treatments in the salon and we can do other things like style cut the hair to improve the appearance or camouflage, repair, and hopefully grow the hair to its full potential. We are within the spa too, so a perfect environment for relaxation also.
What is your one piece of advice when women start losing their hair?
It is rare that women will lose all of their hair but my advice is don't self-diagnose, nor give up hope or decide on supplements without knowing if you actually are deficient. What works for one person does not work for another. See a dermatologist or trichologist as soon as you notice a change in yourself which ultimately ends up affecting your hair. It is telling you something.
Boost N Blend would like to thank Andrea for sharing her time and expertise with us. We really appreciate her input and hope you have too! If you'd like to contribute to our blog or feel you have expertise or an experience that's relevant to our community, please don't hesitate to contact us.
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