For Michal Harewood, co-founder of Inhairitance Academy in Montreal, understanding the science behind our hair type is crucial when it comes to dealing with hair loss. She is also very familiar with alopecia since she has the condition herself. After studying at Concordia University , she used her academic knowledge to help clients cope with and treat their alopecia. “I see myself as a solution to the problem,” says Harewood, who’s also known as “the natural-hair whisperer,” a nickname given to her by one of her clients due to her extensive knowledge. “I work hard and do research to find solutions to this problem,” she says. The Inhairitance Academy is affiliated with the Inhairitance Hair Salon in Montreal’s St. Henri neighbourhood, which offers services for all hair types—including kinky, curly and frizzy—and a wide variety of resources for treating conditions like alopecia. “There are different types of alopecia, and they require a keen eye, natural herbs and psychological facilitati on with a therapist,” she adds.
Harewood’s personal journey with alopecia began when her mom died of cancer, 17 years ago. “I started losing my hair anytime I was stressed,” she says. “That was really traumatizing, but it got worse when the pandemic started.” She isn’t ‘t one to hide the fact that she had to go to great lengths to treat the disease. Like Blenman, Harewood found that therapy helped her rebuild her confidence and self-esteem, which in turn allowed her to help other women in the same situation . “Alopecia is a journey, and sometimes it’s rocky,” she adds, pointing out that she first chemically straightened her hair at age 10 and later experimented with hairstyles before allowing it to grow naturally. “I’m not attached to my hair the same way I was. I am now a baddie and a baldie!”
Long-term solutions for hair loss do exist, though. Experts like Harewood are helping bring this knowledge to the masses, whether through the Inhairitance Academy’s curriculum or by sharing tips about techniques like needling, scalp exfoliation and the use of alkaline shampoo with their clients . According to Dr. Amy McMichael, professor and chair of the department of dermatology at Wake Forest University School of Medicine in North Carolina, anti-inflammatory and stimulating oils can also be used to reduce scalp inflammation and stimulate regrowth. “We’re trying to reduce inflammation because we know that white blood cells attack hair follicles,” she explains. “So the goal is to treat the inflammation at the root, which can be done with antibiotics or steroid injections.” The key is to detect and treat the condition as early as possible. “Alopecia significantly affects quality of life,” she adds. “It can sometimes be permanent, which is very depressing. Don’t wait until you have a big chunk of hair loss. If you start to notice symptoms, like pain or a burning feeling on your scalp, seek help immediately.”