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

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