Let’s get real, the pandemic has been hard on us all. Whether it’s having your milestones delayed, being retrenched or having worries about the presence of the virus, we have all felt some level of stress these few years. An unexpected consequence of all that: hair loss.
Yes, those hair clumps in the shower might be piling up more than usual due to these sneaky habits you’re picking up during these ever-changing times. Let’s uncover these hair loss causes – and figure out how to deal.
Remember the days when we couldn’t dine in? All we saw then on our collective IG stories were boxes upon boxes of dabao plastic containers, carried painstakingly home.
However, whether you now belong in the dine-out or takeaway camp, outside food from hawkers or even restaurants might be the sneaky culprit wreaking havoc on your hair. Unlike home-cooked food, these are likely to have higher levels of salt, sugar and oil – sometimes due to the need of ensuring stronger tastes when food is cooked in bulk.
The science goes that the body has to work harder to break down food with more of such preservatives – which means less energy channelled towards the growth of healthy hair. The lack of vitamins like iron and Vitamin C in such food could result in serious hair thinning if you don’t supplement your diet otherwise.
Pro tip: If you need to eat out, avoid oily dishes like char kway teow, satay or laksa. These are laden with grease, leading to an oily scalp and clogging up of your hair follicle pores.
With many of us have already gotten comfortable with Zoom/Google Hangouts/Skype calls for work and leisure, dressing up seems overrated. Why bother when everyone is appearing with untamed hair and bed clothes for that morning meeting? After all, there is the “switch off video” button.
Image credit: The Smart Local
But, if you decide to lessen the frequency of brushing your hair “since you won’t be meeting anyone”, you might notice more kinks, tangles and knots in your locks. This could cause hair breakage and loss when you finally comb your hair for rare occasions.
Another con of not brushing enough would be oil build-up. When you brush, it distributes oil from your roots to your ends – the latter might be in dire need of nourishment. With irregular brushing, scalp follicles get clogged up while ends remain parched, a sure recipe for hair loss.
Pro tip: Don’t brush too much, either as excessive friction could cause hair to break off. The magic number is around twice a day – to keep locks smooth without stimulating excess oil.
Though some of us are heading back into the office, others still adopt some form of WFH. And with that, hands up if your sleep habits have deteriorated steadily throughout this time. Ahem, a.k.a sleeping sometime between 1AM-3AM – or later. Yes, with binge-worthy Netflix or Disney+ shows, it’s hard to get enough shut-eye. Plus, nagging work worries make it even harder to get the seven to nine hours of sleep that adults need.
But, such sleep deprivation is tough on your hair. Protein synthesis and the release of growth hormones for hair often happen during a night’s sleep, and one key hormone you’ll be skipping out on is melatonin – which helps to regulate sleep cycles and boost hair growth. Over a period of time, your hair becomes more prone to shedding and thinning.
Pro tip: Stop checking your social media feeds or emails on your phone at least an hour before bedtime. The blue light it emits limits melatonin, making it harder for you to doze off.
With Whatsapp chat groups having regular updates of new variants (*cough* Omicron) and news about Covid-19 measures still popping up every other day, pandemic news can get overwhelming.
Image credit: Jessica Lai
Some of us might feel more anxious than others, and feel like the world is gonna end due to the influx of bad news in the media or through word of mouth. Over the long haul, this anxiety takes a toll on hair, as continued stress can cause temporary hair loss: telogen effluvium.
This is as stress releases a hormone called cortisol, and when it’s present in high amounts it signals to the body a state of emergency, disrupting the hair growth process.
Fact: Hair loss can appear a few months later from the trigger. So if you’re suffering shower clumps now, it could be ‘cus you were stressed out over finding a job or Covid-19 scares in your neighbourhood a few months ago.
Knowing all these reasons are well and good, but what if you’re already suffering from hair fall that causes your home to look like a grassland?
If you’re looking to get back the luscious locks of the pre-pandemic period, or if you’ve been struggling with thinning hair all along, consider a customised Hair & Scalp Revival Treatment with Beijing 101.
A household name, Beijing 101 is synonymous with helping with hair loss, and they will tailor treatments to get to the root (geddit?) of your hair problems. With the brand having over 45 years of experience in the market, and the bold claim that 90% of customers reported visible results*, we were excited to pop by one of their many branches.
*Based on research conducted by Nielsen in 2016.
Got an in-depth look at my hair health with this computerised scalp analysis.
First, I had an in-depth consultation to find out the cause of my hair woes. After scanning my scalp with a device, I got answers as to why my hair was thinning. Namely, I had a dehydrated, dry scalp with some signs of ageing (*gasp*, I’m not even 40).
My hair consultant used a lens that magnifies the scalp up to 200 times, allowing me to clearly see the before-and-after improvements.
The culprits? Bathing in hot showers, not using the right shampoos, and sun exposure on my scalp – not a fan of bucket hats. Not to mention sleeping at late hours in this pandemic. Guilty as charged.
Thankfully, I was in for some TLC. First, my hair consultant applied a wonderful smelling herbal mask to my scalp to give it a generous shot of hydration. This was then massaged into my head for a good 20 minutes to ensure all the goodness would seep into my hair follicles.
The herbal mask treatment applied directly to my scalp!
Confession: I wished the next step could last forever. I was brought to a hair wash area where my consultant shampooed my hair, and she did a rinse till every inch of my scalp and locks felt squeaky clean. It was like they were removing all the gunk that had been accumulating!
Getting the full “salon” treatment with a herbal hair wash
In line with Beijing 101’s natural approach, a herbal soak packed with premium Chinese herbs like long dan cao was then applied to my scalp alongside soothing warm water.
According to my hair consultant, the herbs are customised based on the customer’s exact scalp conditions – others can expect herbs such as dang gui and he shou wu. Long dan was chosen for mine due to its anti-oxidant and nourishing properties, something my sensitive nutrient-deprived scalp sorely needed.
Using a warm teabag for the herbal soak.
After my hair was blow-dried, a minty-smelling ampoule was applied to help my baby hair in the growing stage stabilise. Turns out hair grows in three stages, and just like how hair loss could result due to triggers a few months ago, hair loss prevention for the long-run starts from the root when your new hairs are still in the baby stage.
To cap it all off, an extremely therapeutic acupressure massage was applied on my temples, followed by shoulder and neck for 10-15 minutes. This was a boon for my severely tense upper body – no thanks to the stress I mentioned earlier due to pandemic worries.
I was just about to fall into slumber during the soothing scalp treatment and massage – that was how relaxing it was. Not to mention, having freshly blow dried locks that looked as if I had just stepped out of a salon.
But what perked me up was the ‘After’ consultation. Would there be a change in just one sesh? The suspense was thrilling. To assess this, my hair was placed under the microscope again, and this time, the results were visible.
Before (top) and after (bottom): Significantly less dead skin and redness
The red spots which screamed sensitivity in the top ‘Before’ pictures were now gone, along with dry flakes near the hair follicles that I had mistaken previously as dandruff.
My hair consultant also explained that over time, with enough hydration and nutrition supplied to the scalp, I could look forward to healthier, better-rooted hair. That meant hair follicles would grow deeper within the scalp, and not be as susceptible to hair fall. Her advice to customers would be to opt for weekly cleansing treatments, around 12 sessions for a clear difference.
If you’re like me, and are experiencing hair loss problems in this pandemic or even prior, consider giving this Hair & Scalp Revival Treatment at Beijing 101 a shot. They currently offer one-time trials at just $40 nett (worth $502), with freebies such as a $5 Shopee voucher thrown in, too.
With its natural, TCM-based approach, Beijing 101 will make you feel at ease that you can boost your hair and scalp health holistically without resorting to medication. Besides, it’s just as soothing as a hair blow-out or massage session, just the thing for bringing down stress levels and pampering yourselves in these trying times!
This post was brought to you by Beijing 101.
Photography by Pichan Cruz. Originally published on 7th July 2021, last updated on 5th Jan 2022.
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