Philip Kingsley: Hair Raising Solutions

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Trichologist Anabel Kingsley explaining the increased prevalence of hair loss among women: “Hair loss in women is usually associated with menopause, but we’ve seen a huge number of women from their mid 20s to their mid 30s with abnormal hair shedding. You have to consider that crash dieting, veganism and vegetarianism — they often affect hair because you’re not getting enough protein or iron. Iron is quite difficult to get through vegetables alone. It comes mainly from red meat. Also Vitamin B12 can only be obtained through animal products. So, we’re seeing more hair loss as a result of people’s diets. Stress levels have also increased, especially with work. We can’t really switch off with our mobiles and emails. You’re always accessible. That can be incredibly stressful and can lead to hair loss. And also, women are expected to juggle work and family. They feel pressured to do both and that can be very difficult and psychologically distressing. Twenty years ago, that wasn’t the case. The dual pressure of being the perfect mother and being a successful businesswoman can be a little too much.”

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.

Trichologist Elizabeth Cunnane-Phillips has worked at Philip Kingsley’s New York clinic since 1989: “We look at all different components of hair thinning and hair loss – energy, stress, nutrients and obviously the endocrine system. We don’t just look at the follicle producing hair, but take into account the quality and viability of the hair that’s being produced. Our aim is to take a holistic approach with our treatments, accounting for all the variables that influence hair loss or sub-optimal hair growth.”

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.

The three-step trichotherapy regime is a volumizing hair and scalp treatment created to target fine, thinning hair and reduced hair volume.

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.

Audrey Hepburn and Sean Connery in Robin and Marian, 1976. The star consulted Philip Kingsley after over-styling caused her hair to become brittle and break during the making of this film.
Audrey Hepburn getting her hair washed and styled. Upon seeing that everyone working at Philip Kingsley spent all day on their feet, the film star obtained all the employees’ shoe sizes and bought them “really pretty” comfortable shoes, recounts Anabel. (Photo: Mark Shaw/mptvimages).

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.

The Elasticizer, Philip Kingsley’s most iconic product — a pre-shampoo, intensive moisturizing treatment — was originally created for Audrey Hepburn in the 1970s. Kingsley would personally make batches, sending them to the actress wherever she was working in the world.

The original Elasticizer was a thick paste that customers had to dilute at home with water. Upon being given the cream and the instructions, Ivana Trump said “What? You mean I have to cook?”

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.

Sir Laurence Olivier, a devotee of Philip Kingsley.
Originally formulated for Sir Laurence Olivier, who, Anabel divulges, “had quite a bad scalp,” the Flaky Scalp Shampoo is the company’s best-selling product for men. That’s because, as the trichologist explains, men have a tendency to get dandruff on account of higher levels of male hormones called androgens which influence scalp secretions. Clinical trials conducted last year reveal that the shampoo was 99% effective in clearing itchy scalps and in consumer trials, 98% of the people who used it said it was better than any dandruff shampoo they had used, according to Anabel.

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.

Anabel with her father, Philip Kingsley who passed away last year at the age of 86. Unless one suffered from male- or female-pattern baldness, the founder of his eponymous trichological centers insisted that all hair could be significantly improved through diet and gentle care. “My father became the first person to connect scalp health with hair health, says Anabel.

“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.

Trichologist Stephen D. Pullan has been with Philip Kingsley for 37 years. On his first day of work at the salon, he treated Candice Bergen. Stephen is the consultant who gave me the salon’s signature scalp treatment, aka “facial for the scalp.” After applying a cleansing and wonderfully tingling menthol and peppermint mask, he put on the conditioning Elasticizer and had me sit under a heat lamp. He then rubbed in a few of the hair growth stimulating Tricho 7 Daily Scalp Drops. The best part was saved for last – a stress busting scalp, neck and shoulder massage. Pure bliss!

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.

For more beauty tips and information, follow Delia on Instagram: @chasingbeautywithdvn

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