Ask Anabel

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Bob Schulenberg

Today we are launching a new regular monthly column called “Ask Anabel”about hair care and treatment. Anabel is the daughter of the late Philip Kingsley, the leading trichologist (or hair doctor) and authority in hair care and scalp health.

Philip was also the man who coined the phrase “bad hair day.”  I’ve known about the clinics for years because several friends have been visiting it regularly here in New York. Many famous movie and television stars as well as public figures and models use the service and PK products. Because it works, and instructs an individual how to take care of one’s hair and keep it healthy.

Many of us have issues with our hair the preoccupy countless hours even thinking about it. Aside from hair loss, the state of health of one’s hair even reflects a person’s feelings about him or herself. I’ve never experienced the Philip Kingsley hair treatment, but for many I know, it is comparable to an excellent massage in terms of the results both mentally and physically.

In this inaugural column, Anabel Kingsley, a professional trichologist herself, answers certain questions about the matter that concerns everyone privately as well as personally.

To prevent any colour change you must completely block UV rays from entering your hair shaft. There are two simple ways to do this. One is to wear a wide-brimmed hat. You can also cover your hair with a chic scarf a la Elizabeth Taylor. This is what I told a London client to do whom I saw last week. Post consultation, she went to Selfridges, which is a two-minute walk from our Mayfair Clinic, to browse through Hermes scarfs. In New York the best selection can be found in their flagship store on Madison Avenue between 62nd and 63rd.

If you like to go swimming, I suggest you try our Swimcap Cream. My father originally formulated this at the request of the U.S. Olympic Synchronized Swim Team. It is water-resistant and guards hair from UV rays, as well as salt and chlorinated water. Chlorinated water, like the sun, is an oxidizing agent and plays havoc with hair color. Salt water is osmotic, meaning that it sucks water molecules out of the hair shaft and leaves it dry and brittle. You can wear ‘Swimcap’ alone, or under a latex swim cap. No matter how tight the cap, a certain amount of water always seeps underneath, so you should apply a protective cream regardless.

While Swimcap Cream is not an ‘invisible’ or lightweight cream, if you comb it through damp hair it gives you a lovely ‘slicked back’ look.

However, if you don’t like to wear a hat, or swim, you may simply like to go about your day in the sun with your hair flowing-free and looking salon-fresh. In this case, I recommend using a light-weight UV protective spray. We make one called ‘Sun Shield’. It is invisible and contains free-radical scavengers to neutralise UV ray damage. A spray is never as effective as a thick cream or a hat, but none-the-less it offers enough protection to slow-down color change.

Help! I’ve tried every dandruff shampoo and remedy out there and nothing works. I have a thick build-up of flakes which can be sticky and makes it impossible to cover up. It is very embarrassing.
Miss K, 42

I am sorry to hear about your scalp. It must be incredibly uncomfortable and distressing. Don’t worry though; we will get to the root of it!

Thick, sticky, built-up flakes are usually not dandruff, and this is probably why over-the-counter products are not working. It sounds like you may have quite a bad case of seborrhoeic dermatitis, or a condition called Pityriasis Amiantacea, which is an adult form of cradle cap.

I can’t say for certain what condition you have without seeing you in person. Scalp conditions can look quite similar to the untrained eye. There can even be more than one, overlapping with one another.

I suggest you come to our Clinic on 52nd Street between Fifth and Madison for a consultation, so that we can find out exactly what is going on. This is very important in terms of getting you on the correct treatment plan. You will most likely need prescription products to clear your scalp, as well as weekly treatments at our Clinic (at least to begin with), and perhaps make changes to your diet and lifestyle. We have a range of bespoke scalp creams and scalp tonics which will benefit either condition.

I have sunburn on my scalp! Help! Is all my hair going to fall out!?
Ms. M, 44

Scalp burn is so common. Two weeks ago, I was in Portofino and I spied a lady by the pool who had a slight reduction in hair volume on her crown, her parting was slightly wide, and her scalp was turning pink. I had a strong urge to walk over to her and let her know her scalp can burn just like your skin!

While it is exceedingly uncomfortable when you burn your scalp, don’t worry too much as your hair won’t fall out. However, be warned that your scalp will start to flake in a week or so. Like any skin, after it is burnt the scalp peels and sloughs-off. It’s really quite disgusting when this happens. The flakes are large and have hair sized holes throughout, bearing the appearance of woodworm. The flakes will be very tempting to pick off. Don’t: it can slow the healing process.

First, get an after-sun product that contains Aloe Vera. This will help to sooth irritation. I personally use our ‘After Sun Scalp Mask’ when my scalp becomes a bit pink after a day on the beach.

While your scalp is repairing itself, avoid any sun-exposure on the burnt area, just like you would wear a long shirt if you burnt your arms or shoulders and cover your scalp completely, i.e.: wear a hat. But not one that is too tight. This can cause further irritation.

Also, take care not to scratch your scalp when you brush, or place undue traction on your hair. It will make your roots even more tingly. Also important: do not apply heat anywhere near your root area when you style, and don’t use perfumed sprays close-to your scalp. Once the dreaded flakes strike, swap out your regular shampoo for a soothing, anti-microbial one. I recommend our Flaky/Itchy Scalp Shampoo.

In the future, I would like you to take steps to protect your scalp. This is very important. Repeated UV damage to your scalp can eventually have serious consequences, such as skin cancer. Apply your regular sunblock to your parting or to any exposed areas of scalp. Personally, I use Clinique SPF 40 Face Cream. Re-apply every few hours, and after you go into the pool or the sea.

Do you have a hair or scalp issue you’d like addressed? Ask Anabel.

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