|Devlina Ganguly finds out whether the anti-hair fall products in the market are any good
Talk to any adult and chances are that he or she will admit to worrying about losing hair. The problem of falling hair can plague just about anyone at any point of time. And companies are aware of the huge market out there for products that help you keep your hair. Walk into any department store and every second hair product you pick up will claim its use will reduce hair loss and help grow a thick, healthy head of hair. But do all these products really work?
That depends on why you are losing hair. It is natural for a person to lose, on an average, 100 hairs every day. These hairs are replaced naturally, but if that many hairs show up on your comb it can be worrisome. That does not mean, however, that you are suffering from hair loss. Hair loss means losing so many hairs a day that they cannot be replaced. This is normally a genetic problem.
The hairs a person loses naturally are normally caused by breakage. If you dont take good care of your hair, you are liable to lose more. So will an anti-hair fall shampoo or a hair strengthening shampoo help you keep your hair? A shampoo, no matter what it claims, can only clean the hair and scalp, says Sachin Verma, consultant dermatologist and cosmetologist, Apollo Gleneagles Hospital, Calcutta. While doing so, it can strip away the natural oils (sebum) which lubricate the hair shaft, he says. This loss of oils (or moisture) makes hair brittle and prone to breakage. A good shampoo will ensure that there is less hair breakage by not stripping away essential moisture. It cannot, however, stop hair loss, Verma adds.
To ensure that hair does not turn brittle after shampooing, Verma advises the application of a conditioner to your hair. So a quality shampoo and conditioner can reduce hair fall through breakage.
Our consumer research revealed that though a consistent shampoo and conditioning regime keeps hair healthy, consumers require hair care solutions that address hair fall caused by hair breakage, says a spokesperson of Hindustan Unilever Limited, one of the leaders in skin and hair care products. The company launched a hair fall solution range in its most popular hair care product category last year as well as hair fall therapy in its premium range this year. Both anti-hair fall products address hair fall caused by hair breakage and not hair loss, he says. Just a more expensive shampoo and conditioning routine then.
But Jaya Banerjee, a working woman who loves experimenting with hair care products, seems happy with that. I now use a hair fall therapy range consisting of a shampoo and conditioner. My hair has become softer and the number of hairs on my comb after shampooing has reduced considerably. Using a wide-toothed comb on wet hair will also mean less breakage, and therefore fewer hairs on the comb.
Another international hair care brand that is known for the fruit concentrate in its products has also come up with a fight hair fall range that promises fewer hairs on your hair brush. Unfortunately, there is a catch here too. This shampoo and conditioner also addresses the issue of hair fall only because of breakage.
So are natural remedies then the answer? The brisk sale of Shahnaz Hussains equivalent hair product seems to prove that people believe this is the case. It contains trifala, the famed ayurvedic combination of amla, haritaki and vibhitika. It also contains extracts of brahmi and bael. These work as a powerful tonic for hair, stimulating the follicles and roots and thus promoting growth, says a spokesperson for Shahnaz Hussein, the queen of herbal cosmetics.
M. Ramam, additional professor at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), does not give this claim much credit. A shampoo or a conditioner, be it herbal or chemical, cannot stop hair loss. Many people believe that cosmetic hair products damage hair but this is not true. Quality shampoos and conditioners do not have an adverse effect on hair but they cannot solve the problem of hair fall.
But surely hair oils, unlike shampoos, can stop hair loss? A host of hair oils claim to do just that. In fact, a well-known brand of coconut oil has come up with a therapy series that claims to stop hair fall in 45 days. The product is safe and contains natural ingredients like coconut oil and a unique blend of proteins, minerals, herbs and vitamins to help control hair fall through regular usage, says a spokesperson for the company that produces the oil.
Hair oil is no more effective than shampoo in controlling hair fall, says Verma. Hair fall can occur owing to a host of reasons — stress, hormonal problems, genes, unhealthy food habits and iron or thyroid deficiency, to name a few. A particular product may address one issue but not the others.
An ayurvedic patented and proprietary medicated hair oil — that comes in two ranges, premium and normal — seems to have addressed the hair loss problem of Priyanka Baksi, a Calcutta-based content developer. I was losing a lot of hair. After experimenting with a whole range of anti-hair fall products, I picked up this particular oil. And its definitely given me results, says an ecstatic Baksi. But a 100-ml bottle of the premium range of the oil costs Rs 699, while a bottle of the same size of the normal range will set you back by Rs 421. It is expensive but I have finally overcome the nightmare named hair fall, says a satisfied Baksi.
Ramam, however, advises caution. One should not be influenced by the before and after pictures that hair product manufacturers publish in newspapers or magazines. Apart from genetic reasons, hair loss can also occur because of a deep-rooted internal ailment or as the result of over-medication. So it is best to consult your physician before you spend money on cosmetic products.
Hair loss is a health problem and needs proper medical attention. So the next time you are aghast at the amount of hair you are losing, seek an appointment with your doctor instead of heading to a department store.