It was an unforgettable fifteen minutes. One magazine editor had described the experience as the best sex she ever had with her clothes on and all the lights on. I am referring to the scalp massage at the Philip Kingsley salon in midtown, part of a multi-step invigorating scalp treatment.
The Philip Kingsley Trichological Centre, with two locations — one in New York and one in London’s tony Mayfair — offers a comprehensive approach to hair care, specializing in the treatment of hair loss. “It’s not just about what you are putting on your hair. It’s also about what you are putting into your body and your general health as well,” says Anabel Kingsley, the eponymous founder’s daughter, Director of Communications and Consultant Trichologist.
“Things like thyroid conditions, diabetes and polycystic ovarian syndrome can really affect women’s hair.” To that end, a consultation with one of the clinic’s trichologists will delve into your diet, medical history, stress levels and lifestyle. (Trichologists are specialists who diagnose the causes of hair and scalp disorders.) Indeed, when I met with Liz Cunnane, a 28-year veteran of the clinic, I came armed with blood test results. They revealed that my stores of iron, Vitamin B12 and Vitamin D were all low. A conversation about proper diet and supplements ensued. I am now following Kingsley’s three-step trichotherapy regime consisting of dietary supplements, a scalp tonic and a protein plumping spray.
A bit of patience is required though, because results take time. As Liz pointed out, the message to the hair follicle that the growth cycle has ended was received three months prior to the hair actually falling. So, there’s a turnaround window. The internal mechanics of growth is a six- to nine-month process, so changes due to improved diet or reduced stress will take at least that long to become evident.
Even if results fall into normal ranges, that does not necessarily mean that they are optimal for hair health, reveals Liz. That’s because hair is a completely non-essential tissue. “It’s the first tissue that the body withholds nutrients from and it’s the last tissue that receives them,” she explains. “The body’s goal is cardio function, lung function, everything else before hair function and while we will always have hair protein cells, is the hair growing to the quality and viability that it can?” If it’s not, vitamin and nutrient levels need to be closely examined.
The clinic doesn’t just treat hair loss. Therapies are also available for cosmetic damage such as dandruff, very dry, damaged and overly-processed hair. It was brittle hair that brought Audrey Hepburn into the London clinic in the 1970s while she was filming Robin and Marian with Sean Connery. Over-coloring and teasing was causing her fine hair to break and so, she asked Philip if he had something that could help her. Enter the clinic’s best known product, the Elasticizer, a pre-shampoo conditioner which the trichologist originally cooked up on a stove in the clinic’s basement. A tube now sells every two minutes somewhere in the world according to the company.
Celebrities began streaming in. Jean Shrimpton, Jane Fonda, Cate Blanchett, Gwyneth Paltrow, Victoria Beckham, Georgia May Jagger, Natalia Vodianova, Kate Winslet, Jerry Hall, Sienna Miller and British royals among many others, have availed themselves of the clinic’s restorative services. Sir Laurence Olivier was such a fan he once summoned Philip at short notice to his bedside when he was gravely ill.
Philip Kingsely opened a clinic in London in 1957. The one in New York followed 20 years later. The renowned trichologist wanted to become a doctor, but unable to afford the years of education, he saved the money he made sweeping up hair in his uncle’s hair salon for a correspondence course with the Institute of Trichologists, studying scalp dermatology and hair cycles. Working in his uncles’ shop, he had become fascinated by what women were doing to their hair — the weekly washing and setting and then sitting under huge, heat-spewing contraptions. He saw that people were willing to inflict a considerable amount of damage to their hair in order to look good. That’s where he learned the psychological significance of hair, particularly for women, says Anabel. And after studying trichology, “He became the first person to connect scalp health with hair health,” she states.
“Philip is the name in the trichology industry that is the most known, has done the most work, the most research. He was the first one to always talk about scalp health and has talked about it for 50 years,” concurs Liz Cunnane. “If the scalp is not happy, how can you be growing your best head of hair? Today you look at the marketplace and you’ll see products for the scalp. But that’s new. Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.”
Speaking of marketplace, what’s on the horizon for this industry veteran? US expansion, according to Anabel. The products are currently sold at the two clinics, online and in a few salons. The United States is a tough nut to crack concedes the Communications Director, especially for a small brand and particularly because advertising is done only by word-of-mouth.
I for one have been doing my bit, singing the praises of the heavenly scalp massage administered by the very personable Stephen Pullan to anyone who’ll listen. Jenny Dye in the London salon is also a pleasure and very experienced having been with Philip Kingsley for decades. Given the half century of expertise, the extremely knowledgeable staff and the quality of the products, no doubt Philip Kingsley creations will land on store shelves near you in the not-too-distant future. In the meantime, I have already booked my next “scalp facial” … and one for my husband, too.
Expert tip: Bucking the current “no poo trend,” Anabel advises frequent hair washing. “We recommend daily shampooing as it helps to keep the scalp environment healthy, clean and flake free. This is important as hair growth is highly reliant on the condition of the scalp. Also, a flaky scalp can cause hair loss. If you think about it, shampooing daily is logical as you take your hair and scalp to the same places you take your face and they get just as dirty. The scalp, after all, is simply an extension of the skin on your forehead and should be given similar care and attention.
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