In this podcast episode, Dr. Teo Wan Lin, board-certified dermatologist, shares about the science of hair fall and targeting the root cause of the condition.
Hair fall is a condition that can affect both men and women. While it most commonly begins in mid-life, there are steps we can take to prevent and treat it. Hair loss is a condition which can be under the influence of hormonal factors, genetics and especially scalp health. In this episode, I’m going to be sharing my top tips on building an ideal hair and scalp care routine that focuses on strengthening and anchoring your roots—for healthy hair inside out.
This masterclass is sponsored by CLEAR Haircare, a leader in hair and scalp cosmeceuticals. CLEAR Scalpceuticals Hair Fall Resist for women and the CLEAR Men Scalp Pro Anti-Hairfall Fortifying ranges are ideally formulated for specific hair and scalp concerns pertaining to men and women. Backed by robust research and scientific evidence, the CLEAR Catalyst range features key actives such as Dynoxidil and Follilock. These are clinically proven to improve scalp health and reduce hair fall.
Basics of hair science
We must clearly distinguish the scalp and hair shaft. Where your roots reside within the scalp itself, is a complex interconnected ecosystem comprising the scalp microbiome, sebaceous glands which regulate oil production, hormonal receptors, sweat glands and also the precious hair follicle. Cells regenerate from within the hair follicle, giving rise to new hair growth—in a state of balance we call the hair cycle.
The hair cycle
While we may take it for granted that we have hair on our heads—it helps to understand the physiological processes involved. We can think of the two main phases of hair as the following. The growth phase we know as anagen, and the falling out phase we call telogen. You may even have heard of telogen effluvium. It is a fairly common type of hair loss which we may attribute to stress states, post-pregnancy or viral illnesses. Luckily, this type of hair fall is self-resolving—-the scalp is able to reset itself after we remove the stressor.
Male and female pattern hair loss / hair fall
However, what we are more concerned with in this masterclass is a type of hair fall we call pattern hair loss. Specifically, male and female pattern hair loss which is the commonest cause of hair loss worldwide. There are some similarities between the two. They belong to an umbrella term dermatologists name androgenetic alopecia, one which is under the influence of hormones. Known as AGA for short, it is distinct from other types of hair fall in that hair follicles undergo what we call miniaturisation. This is a phenomenon which causes hair follicles to shrink, i.e. become miniature in appearance, over time. Both relate to the hormone testosterone’s effect on scalp receptors—a type of behaviour that depends on one’s genetics. This means that if you have a family member with AGA, there is a higher chance that you will also develop it.
We will now focus on the distinct characteristics of each.
Male pattern hair loss / hair fall
We characterise male pattern hair loss by vertex thinning and fronto-temporal recession. This refers to the reduced density of hair on the top of one’s scalp, together with a receding hairline. You might have wondered before, for instance, why some individuals have rather shiny scalps. The reason is that hair miniaturisation actually causes hair follicles to shrink. As a result, instead of the rough, bumpy surface scalp hair typically posseses, it becomes smooth and shiny. We grade hair fall in men according to the Hamilton-Norwood scale, one which also measures the extent of hairline recession, reflecting severity.
Female pattern hair loss / hair fall
Female pattern hair loss on the other hand, most commonly starts at the top of the head, as opposed to right at the hairline. The underlying physiological processes are the same in both genders.
Now that we’ve established the science of why AGA occurs, we will move on to how best we can utilise this knowledge to prevent and treat hair fall in both men and women.
The ideal scalp care and hair care routine to prevent hair fall
The purpose of a scalp care routine is to cleanse off excess sebum, nourish the barrier and stimulate hair growth. We often regard haircare as a separate routine, especially for women who keep long hair. As we should design hair care regimens to treat the hair shaft, rather than the scalp alone. Soft, shiny and smooth hair is a reflection of hair health. This is achievable with the use of correct products in an ideal haircare regimen. I’ll be teaching you how exactly you can achieve this with a minimalist routine.
A dermatologist recommended hair and scalp care routine
In this practical how-to guide, we will go through what a 3-step dermatologist-recommended hair and scalp care routine looks like. I’ll also elaborate on the function of each step. I’ll be sharing important tips on application, frequency and also tying it all to the hair science you have just learnt.
A simple three-step scalp and hair care routine looks something like this:
STEP 1: SHAMPOO
Shampoos are in my opinion the number one important step in any haircare routine. The reason is because hair roots are, first of all anchored to the scalp—and a healthy scalp is one that is cleansed and nourished. As we consider the scalp as a hair-bearing area of skin, it is not suitable for leave-on products which can cause a sticky residue. A cleansed scalp is also one that absorbs actives well. So before we consider hair and scalp serums, it’s imperative to choose a shampoo that fulfils these functions.
Medicated shampoos that contain piroctone olamine for instance, an effective anti-dandruff ingredient, can be particularly beneficial for those with hair loss. As excess oil on the scalp can lead to another type of scalp condition known as seborrheic dermatitis, or “oily dandruff”. Actives can also help stimulate hair follicle activity and regrowth, promoting thicker, fuller hair. For instance, Dynoxidil, a root strengthening zinc salt combined with antioxidant yeast peptide, has been proven to reduce hair fall by over 2,800 strands in a single month in studies performed in women. In men, results indicate a reduction of over 6,000 strands in a single month.
There is a right way to apply medicated shampoos in order for you to experience the maximum benefits:
- Double cleanse if you have oily scalp—this means a first wash, followed by a second which involves leaving on the lather for about 2-3 minutes, depending on the manufacturer’s instructions, if any. The latter is especially important when it comes to medicated shampoos. Actives can penetrate better when left on scalp for a longer period of time.
Follilock is a proprietary mixture with piroctonepirotone olamine which synergises to regulate the hair cycle. This reduces hair shedding and effectively anchors hair roots.
The CLEAR Scalpceuticals Hair Fall Resist & Pro Anti-Hairfall Fortifying ranges incorporate evidence-backed actives such as Dynoxidil and Follilock. These are clinically proven to synergise to effectively anchor hair roots and strengthen the hair shaft from the inside out. Consumers report fuller and thicker hair in just 30 days of use.
STEP 2: CONDITIONER
For those with long hair, hair conditioner is an essential step for detangling and improving hair manageability. On this note, there is a correct way to use conditioner—-which you might be surprised many don’t know. First of all, the right conditioner would mean you wouldn’t need to use very much of it at all. The most effectively formulated hair conditioners can detangle hair in as little as a dollop for shoulder length hair. The key here is to use a wide-toothed detangling comb in the shower to distribute the conditioner evenly. Wet hair is more fragile, but also easier to detangle. I would recommend avoiding close-toothed combs or brushes on wet hair, go for wide toothed detangling combs instead.
The CLEAR Scalpceuticals Hair Fall Resist & CLEAR Men Scalp Pro Anti-Hairfall Fortifying is a complete 3-step regimen with shampoo, conditioner and a scalp serum which helps boost hair and scalp resilience, for healthy beautiful hair inside out. The two distinct ranges are specifically designed by Unilever’s scientists to address important physiological differences and preferences in both genders. This results in an effective minimalist routine suited for universal hair types.
STEP 3: SERUM
We can categorise serums into those for application to scalp for root strengthening and stimulating hair regrowth, as well as leave-on serums that are usually oils, for application on the hair shaft.
In the case of the former, scalp serums are ideally designed to synergise with the shampoo used. As in the case of the complete range by CLEAR Scalpceuticals. The gentle yet effective cleansing action, synergising with potent actives that rebalances scalp sebum production, and anchoring hair roots in the process. This is an ideal dermatologist recommended regimen for healthy and beautiful hair.
Addressing scalp and haircare needs for hair fall in men and women
CLEAR’s Scalpceuticals haircare and scalp care range is a meticulously formulated regimen backed by the latest in scientific research. Lifestyles may differ between individuals, rendering the choice of a cleansing shampoo critical in one’s scalp care routine. Those with long hair may have concerns such as tangles, brittle and damaged hair. This is especially in the instance of chemical or heat related damage. The Hair Fall Resist range for women is ideally designed to tackle these concerns from the root—with shampoo and serum actives anchoring the roots and restoring a state of scalp health. In addition, there is a nourishing hair conditioner that builds hair shaft resilience.
The Men Scalp Pro Anti-Hairfall Fortifying range is an efficient and targeted, fuss-free approach to men’s hair and scalp care. It is dermatologist-recommended for holistic scalp and hair health, beginning from the inside out.
This podcast episode is sponsored by CLEAR as a joint collaboration to create scientific educational content relevant to haircare and dermatology. Images produced as part of editorial collaboration consistent with site policy.