Fulham Scalp and Hair Clinic

The Itch Scratch Cycle

Itch, scratch, rub, massage, pinch, poke, scrape.  They have all offered relief to an itch, but what damage could these actions be causing behind the scenes?

When we scratch our scalps we’re not thinking about the state of our fingernails, the sensitivity or our scalp or the breakage we may be causing to our hair. All we care about is instantly satisfying that itchy, irritating sensation, and therein lies the problem. With such a short term goal of relief in mind it’s hard to weigh up the long term effects of constantly itching one’s scalp. 

Dirty fingernails are the worst offenders, but they don’t deserve all the blame. Over the years I have seen combs, keys, pens and pencils, clips, pins, chop sticks, credit cards and even scissors being used to scratch an itch. None of these objects are known to be thoroughly cleaned all the time (although one would hope that the chopsticks are on the top of the list), so the likelihood that they are harbouring harmful bacteria to be transferred to the scalp is also high. Severe scratching can break the skin and transfer harmful bacteria, resulting in a messy, smelly and uncomfortable bacterial infection of the scalp.

My top tips for an itchy scalp

1. Don’t let it fester
Just because your friend says their scalp itches all the time and it’s no big deal doesn’t mean it’s normal. If your scalp is itchy, there will be a reason for it. Get it treated and the itch will go away and you will have reduced you chances of getting a bacterial infection to zero.

2. Get it diagnosed
Itching may feel all the same, but the causes can vary greatly, from sensitivity of the scalp to an oil to head lice infestations. Knowing what is causing your itch means you know the best way to treat it in the fastest time. There are specific products to be used on fungal infections such as ring worm and dandruff, bacterial infections such as folliculitis and infestations such as head lice and mites. Using the right product and treatment plan is paramount to treating the itch fast and preventing any further effects.

3. Know your scalp
If you have suffered from an itchy scalp in the past and have figured out the cause, it’s simple logic to avoid that in the future. If you are prone to a sensitive scalp there are a few things that you should consider avoiding as it can lead it irritation, such as oils or heavy hair dressings and perfumed shampoos and conditioners. If a product doesn’t say hypoallergenic on it, even if it is organic and “natural” it can still cause irritation if you are prone to allergies.

The more your scratch an itch, the more inflamed and irritated the skin becomes and the itchier it remains. The “itch scratch cycle” can exaggerate a relatively simple and treatable condition into a serious infection that, if left untreated, can result in scarring and hair loss. Nobody should lose hair over an itch!

Thank you,

Teresa Angelina Richardson, MIT

Who Knows best?

I was taught trichology by a wonderful man called Mr Keith Hobbs, who has a fantastic knowledge of his discipline. In particular he has a specialist knowledge in afro hair through his extensive experience and work with patients at the previous Institute of Trichologists’ clinic in Brixton.

Mr Keith Hobbs is a white man, but he knows almost every afro hair condition going, and he knows how to treat it too. If as a professional you have worked with Afro-Caribbean patients and are comfortable with handling and treating afro hair then by experience you will have more knowledge and expertise on the matter of afro hair than someone who isn’t. Being Afro-Caribbean yourself isn’t a prerequisite.

I have heard it discussed that some Afro-Caribbean patients and customers would only trust fellow Afro-Caribbean hairdressers, or would only buy their products from Afro-Caribbean vendors.

I understand that  buying a product off someone  who looks like you, has hair like you and who says they have used the product themselves may put you more at ease than someone you cannot relate to. However, the important screening factor has been lost. If you want to make sure that you hair is in good hands, you need to be asking that hairdresser/ vendor/ trichologist,

“What is your experience is with my hair type? 
How many years have they been working with afro hair? 
Where did you study and what are your qualifications?”

It is at this point when you realise whether the person standing in front of you actually knows what they are talking about. Hair dressers and trichologists both require a deep technical knowledge, trichologists need a scientific understanding of hair and scalp physiology, microbiology, chemistry and nutrition to name but a few disciplines. If this cannot be demonstrated then knowledge, not race, is the factor that should make you question trusting the professional.

Afro hair is ethnicity specific but learning about its anatomy and physiology isn’t. If they are willing to study hard and educate themselves through the certified channels, anyone can learn about and gain expertise in afro hair or any other ethnicity of hair for that matter.

So always choose your hair specialists wisely, but remember not to limit you circle of choice.

My best wishes until next time,

Teresa Richardson MIT

#BadHabits are Trending

Its been a while since my last post and the Clinic has been as busy as ever. But last week I was invited to attend the “Woman In The Jungle Hair and Beauty Show 2014” and had such a wonderful experience I wanted to share it with you all. 

The show had a welcoming audience and I got the chance to meet hundreds of fabulous women who wanted to know the truth about the health of their hair. After examining a number of scalps and analysing hair under my microscope, it was clear that there was a trending of bad habits that had been adopted purely out of a lack of information and education. That is no-one’s fault and it is difficult to get clear and truthful tips on how to look after one’s hair in such an advice saturated market, where everyone has a favourite brand they are willing to recommend.

The first bad habit I noticed was: Too Much Product!
Products are being used over excessively on the hair, with very little actually being absorbed into the hair shaft. Others are layered on so thickly that it rubs off on anything that touches the hair. You need to stop and think; 
“If a product is leaving residue in my hand every time I touch my hair, is it really managing to penetrate the hair?”
Body Moisturisers do not leave our body greasy and sticky, so why should our hair products?

The second bad habit I noticed was: A Clogged Up Scalp!
I noticed many visitors who came to see me were specifically asking me what products could they moisturise their scalp with?
I have two comments for this; Firstly, if your scalp is healthy your natural sebum production should be plentiful enough to moisturise your scalp. Not only is sebum perfectly pH balanced for our scalp, it is also anti-fungal and keeps the scalp hygienically and moisturised. 
Secondly, if your scalp is dry and flaky, how do you know you aren’t actually suffering from a scaling condition that needs medicated treatment and good management?
I meet many patients, who come to me thinking they are silly to ask about their dandruff when in actual fact, following a trichological examination, I can determine that they are actually presenting with seborrhoeic eczema or psoriasis or even contact dermatitis. You should not have to put up with a flaky/dry/itchy scalp and please do not think that applying product directly to the scalp is going to solve your problem. Always seek specialist advice if you notice your scalp is scaling and itchy as treatment can help to eliminate or manage the condition.

The third bad habit I noticed was: Massaging Your Hair Away!
Thinning hair and bald patches are common sight from the aftermath of weaves, extensions and tightly worn hairstyling. Thin hair density and balding can also be genetic , dietary or even autoimmune. But some visitors attempts to regrow this hair and encourage improved circulation through massage (rubbing at the hair and scalp) was actually doing more damage than good. Blissfully unaware and always with the hope to improve their hair growth rather than hinder it, these visitors have unknowingly been rubbing hair away in the exact places they were hoping it will grow back.
Just as the backs of our socks become threadbare after rubbing against our shoes day-in day-out, hair can become weaker and weaker when presented with direct mechanical trauma (scalp rubbing). A follicle can only put up with so much injury before it ceases to produce hair and becomes atrophied. When a follicle gets to this stage there is nothing one can do to regrow the hair apart from transplant surgery. Please, please don’t let it get that far. If you have a weak or receding hair line, a parting that has become exaggerated or bald patches that you hope to fill, seek specialist advice and DO NOT RUB!

Finally, I want to say thank you now to Wunmi Akinlagun for executing an exciting and professional event. I look forward to more.

Teresa Angelina Richardson MIT

3 Top Tips for this Winter

Having enjoyed a wonderful Black History Month this October I have now noticed the cold weather is rushing in faster than we can wrap up. Protecting our hair from wind, rain and central heating should be easy and can make a difference to your hair manageability during this cold season. 

Here are my 3 top tips;

1. Condition, Condition, Condition.

Hair may have been roughed up by hats, blown silly by the wind or dried out by all the central heating resulting in dull, dry, frizzy hair that is unmanageable. The more unmanageable hair becomes, the more likely you may be to reach for your straighteners, blow dryers and brushes, which can start off the vicious cycle of heat induced hair damage (see our first blog post).

The easiest way to infuse moisture into the hair shaft and keep hair feeling smooth and healthy is to make a real effort when conditioning your hair. Smoothing it over your hair whilst you’re in the shower and then rinsing off is not going to make an impact. 

Take the time whilst you’re in a steamed up bathroom to make sure the conditioner has covered the hair from root to tip. Gently comb the hair, using a smooth, wide toothed comb, to tease out tangles and ensure an even distribution of conditioner….then rinse out.

Once a week I would suggest a steam treatment. At our clinic we use our rich conditioning masks and professional hair steamers to nourish and help repair damaged hair, making a difference to the softness and manageability.

3. Stay moisturised!

I cannot emphasise the need to moisturise enough! 

Hair, particularly chemically processed hair (dyed, permed, straightened) will have a degree of porosity, meaning water can move into the hair but also out of the hair. If our environment becomes more weathering (strong winds, rain, and high central heating), then our hair will lose more moisture and it is up to us to replace it.

Dry hair means, less elasticity which means easy breakage and split ends, leaving hair looking unhealthy. 
Moisturised hair will have a more balanced water content and improved elasticity, giving it strength to put up with the weather no matter how much it tests us. 

Our favourite moisturiser is our best-selling  Leave- in Hair Protector. It has a high protein content which nourishes the hair and is hypo-allergenic so wont irritate the skin, keeping it moisturised and strong. For drier European hair, only a little bit is needed after washing to seal the ends of the hair which can become more weathered. For Afro hair, which is more porous and can easily become dry, you can apply it as and when you feel it’s necessary, to soften and moisturise the hair, this could be daily. 

Good luck with the weather.

Teresa Angelina Richardson MIT

2. Protective styles.

It is common sense that we wrap up our hands in the cold and we must do the same to the vulnerable extremities of our hair too. 

For longer hair, I am a big fan of French plaits when tied loosely. It protects the hair by keeping the majority of it covered under the plait, and when loose, doesn’t pull at the hair line or small sections of the hair causing traction. The trick is to keep the plait large so that surface area of exposed hair is kept to a minimum.

If hair is shorter, a silk scarf can be a blessing to protect hair from the elements whilst limiting the amount of rubbing the scarf does on the hair itself. 

For afro hair, try to avoid wool hats as these rub on drier, brittle hair causing friction and breakage. If you can, try to find a silk or satin lined hat to reduce rubbing on the hair.

trichologist in London

Trichology Vs Hairdressing


As a professional Trichologist who trained as a hairdresser in my younger years, I can truly say I know the ins and outs of both professions, however they are far from the same and I want to use this post to discuss how.

Hair dressing is a challenging trained skill, with a level of artistry and creativity involved. There will always be the immediate finished product in mind; the cut, the colour, the volume. When a client leaves the hairdressers, it’s with a new level of self pride and confidence at the result they take away with them. The focus is always on the outward appearance and not on the unnoticed sometimes forgotten health of the hair.

Trichology is a completely different profession that just happens to work on the same area of the body. As a trichologist I have studied hard for over 4 years to thoroughly understand the physiology of the hair and scalp and the biochemistry involved with the products we use as treatments. As a profession we are going beyond the appearance of the hair and looking intently at the health of the hair and scalp. You could say that trichology is to hairdressing, what podiatry is to pedicures. Both professions are skilled and are involved in the same body area, but the definition of each job is incredibly different.

When I opened the Fulham Scalp and Hair Clinic three years ago, I made a conscious decision to combine my two strengths, my passion for trichology with my extensive experience I acquired as a hairdresser. This meant I could offer treatments of the highest standard for my patients, whilst offering gentle maintenance after-care so that patients left my clinic with more confidence and pride about their hair than when they arrived.

As a busy trichologist, my most important moment with a new patient is their first consultation. This one-on-one meeting allows me to understand what the patient’s needs are, examine the hair and scalp myself and also go through dietary and medical history. I have the chance to address any bad habits or hair myths and actually explain why a condition is present. No “quick-fix remedies” are offered but realistic advice and a treatment plan are discussed. As a result consultations can take up to an hour and are instructive as well as emotional. 

Until next time,

Teresa Angelina Richardson MIT

The Consultant has spoken…!


Welcome to our first blog post.

This and subsequent blog posts aim to highlight common hair problems that I see on a daily basis with patients who come to my clinic. I will offer possible solutions, explain what is the truth and what is myth and also hopefully initiate discussion on the topics. Importantly I want our audience to be able to contact us with comments and questions as receiving feedback ensures that the Fulham Scalp and Hair Clinic can continue to offer tailored and relevant advice.

As a Clinic that specialises in afro hair, many topics may revolve around the damage, treatment and maintenance of afro hair, but if your have a question about a different hair type we are still more than able to help so don’t feel discouraged to contact us.

Blow-dryers and straighteners

Today I want to start discussing some common bad habits that leave hair with much to be desired. Blow drying and straightening are techniques that many people over indulge in when changing the look of their hair, but the subsequent damage can build up and cause hair breakage as well as reducing hair length.

Blow drying and straightening have the obvious weapon in common of direct and intense heat. Their use requires the application of a high temperature on a small amount of hair. However, this is essentially desiccating the hair, stripping all moisture from it and in some instances burning it completely. 

There is also the effect of the round bristle brush which is often forgotten. Bristle brushes, by the nature of their uneven but natural texture, can scratch and shred the hair shaft making it easier for the hair to dry out and break, forming split ends. When that is followed by high levels of heat from hair-dryers or straighteners then you can be sure that you have dragged out every last drop of moisture from the hair shaft. 

If this treatment is infrequent the hair might be able to withstand the damage, but when a habit is made of it, the effects are clear and noticeable.
What is left of the hair is similar to straw; dry, inflexible and easily breakable and this effect of heat on the hair is really enhanced in Afro hair as it is more porous than European and Asian hair types and so more easily dries out.

It’s a vicious cycle!
I understand that, particularly with very curly or Afro hair, one can end up relying on their straighteners and dryer to style their hair. Yet the more you use these pieces of equipment, the drier the hair gets and the more difficult it becomes to style it without them. It’s a vicious cycle, one which can leave men and women’s hair addicted to their heat stylers.

As prolonged use sets in, many start to notice sever hair breakage, loss of sheen and vitality and a real difficulty to achieve and maintain length with their hair. The hair’s growth is battling against the breakage at the ends, giving the impression that the hair has stopped growing. It hasn’t stopped growing of course, but when the ends are constantly fraying and breaking, it’s like taking one step forward with growth but one step back with damage, giving the impression that length is remaining the same.

It’s at this point that we get many patients coming to my clinic, upset that their hair has changed from what they remembered it to be and depressed that it won’t grow. 
Those that haven’t sought out my help either have sense enough to cut off the damaged hair and start again without or with less heat, whilst others may go in the opposite direction and apply extensions or weaves to hide the lack of growth and provide versatility for styles. The use of extensions and weaves are a contentious subject for me, but I’ll leave that for another post in the future.

When I see this type of damage in the hair of my patients and have explained to them how and why it’s occurring, the recovery process begins. Damaged hair should be regularly trimmed and then the hair should be thoroughly steam treated with a rich and nourishing mask to rehydrate the hair. I would introduce more gentle approaches to drying hair after washing if naturally drying your hair isn’t feasible. My personal preference is the use of rollers and a hood dryer.

Until the next post, all the best

Teresa Angelina Richardson MIT


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