It's a well known, but often overlooked, fact that scalp and hair health are intrinsically linked yet none of us treat the skin on our head as we do our face or body. If it itches or begins flaking we reluctantly listen up - but do we tackle the root of the problem? This is what I tried to set out to do.
Enter Aveda and its scalp diagnostic service, a free 15-minute consultation (available nationwide) utilising an advance camera that magnifies the scalp by a major 600%. What it captured of mine was kinda scary.
Measuring the overall condition of the scalp (any dryness, redness, irritation and stress) it also captured my hair density and thickness giving me a benchmark to refer back to should I take stylist's recommendations based on their expert analysis.
Comparing my scalp to the pre-loaded examples on the camera, mine came up as 'Dry 3'. As you'll see from the snap I took, this looks gross, although I was kindly reassured it's quite normal - though far from ideal.
Scalp dryness can (ironically) be caused by over-washing the hair which leaves shampoo residue on the scalp, using the wrong hair products, or a build-up of styling products - which as a self-confessed dry shampoo and salt spray addict - was my problem. My redness measurement wasn't cause for concern, but if it were high this would suggest an allergy when coupled with dryness, which is interesting.
Detecting hair loss and thinning
Next came the hair density measurement, which is good for assessing hair loss concerns. It turned out I have a lot of two and three-hair follicles, which means I had 132 hairs on my head in a test patch instead of the 120 average. Result.
I was also surprised by my hair thickness measurement, presuming it was 'fine but lots of it'. A 'normal' strand is 0.075mm whereas mine was 0.087, so comparing myself to shampoo adverts and celeb photo shoots where loads of hairpieces and products are called upon has clearly left me with unrealistic standards. Should I be concerned in future, this would be very useful for monitoring thinning hair.
Given that a dry scalp (my main concern) can create dry hair, to tackle this what followed in my appointment was a bit like a facial for the scalp.
First, a selected Botanical Therapy oil was massaged onto my scalp, followed by the Invati Detoxifying Scalp Treatment which is a thick liquid containing salicylic acid for exfoliation. If I had been concerned with thinning hair, treatments to stimulate blood flow would have been used, or if an allergy were detected then calming products would come into play.
Given that Aveda experts treat the scalp and hair totally differently, they also assessed whether my hair was damaged (this is when it lacks protein) or dry (when it lacks moisture). While these conditions feel the same to my touch, they require different treatments. Mine is damaged so the Damage Remedy (instead of Dry Remedy) spray was then used to penetrate my hair with tiny molecules of quinoa protein.
Afterwards my hair felt soft, light and bouncy - and deeply clean, making me aware of the build-up I'm keen to keep to a minimum going forward. I'd definitely recommend the Healthy Hair Service for all hair types; it does a great job of translating exactly what your scalp is trying to tell you - good, bad or ugly.
By Bridget March
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