Protect Your Strands With Trichologist Shabnam Reslan

Protect Your Strands With Trichologist Shabnam Reslan

When it comes to the health of our hair, there are so many factors that come into play, including hormone imbalances, stress, fungal conditions, autoimmune disease, and the biggest culprit of them all—nutrient deficiencies. The health of our hair has a lot to do with how we care for our locks. With an overabundance of information out there, it's hard to determine if what we are doing is helping or hindering our efforts.

We spoke about this topic with one of the most recognized trichologists in New York City, Shab Caspara. Shabnam is an award-winning hairstylist and an expert on healthy hair growth and scalp wellness. After seeing countless women struggle with a variety of issues, she has dedicated her career to the study of hair loss, providing her clients with guidance and access to effective solutions for maintaining a beautiful, healthy head of hair.

What is a trichologist?

Trichology is a non-aesthetic focus on hair that specializes in hair growth, hair loss, and scalp issues. A trichologist will use a 200-500x microscope on your scalp to assess the current condition of your hair’s breeding ground and recommend an appropriate regimen of products, treatments, and devices to get you to your hair goals. 

What are the top 10 things you would never do to your own hair?

  1. Never use a skinny hair tie as it causes breakage of the fragile hair located around our hairline. It can be the reason we have short hair around our faces and even at the back of our necks.
  2. I will never adopt an irregular shampoo schedule. Every other day or sometimes every third day is as far as I will take it. Chronic inflammation from build-up around the follicle opening of the hair causes serious damage to the quality of hair we grow over time.
  3. Never leave a hair mask on overnight without nderstanding the ingredients and formulations of products.This can cause dull and damaged hair and become difficult to shampoo out. Never brush your hair or put it in a tight ponytail when wet. Hair is in its most fragile state when damp and requires extra precaution when handling/brushing.
  4. I never neglect my diet by limiting animal protein. A vegan or vegetarian diet alone makes it difficult to ingest complete amino acids for protein development which makes up the building blocks for healthy and strong hair.
  5. Never skip out on a scalp topical. Everyone, no matter their current hair situation, can take preventative measures and proactively protect or regrow their hair. I use a topical on my scalp every shampoo day.
  6. Avoid unhealthy fats and high glycemic or starchy foods, which are the leading causes of hyperactive sebum production on the scalp.
  7. Never use harsh shampoos that can irritate and dry out the scalp. I only test out and stick to shampoos that are free of harsh cleansing agents like sodium lauryl sulfate, laureth sulfate, and sodium chloride as predominant ingredients further up on the list located on the back of a bottle.
  8. Never use a hot tool without a thermal protectant. All it takes is one shot, and your hair is compromised after using a thermal tool directly onto your hair.
  9. I will never sleep with my hair down as that causes excessive friction on the hair’s cuticles and damage over time. I always say we should treat our hair as delicately as silk fibers.
  10. I never brush my hair in the shower. Some feel the need to use a brush or a comb in the shower to help distribute their conditioner or treatment on their hair. We shouldn’t be creating tangling in the hair in the first place when washing hair, so I recommend shampooing very gently since hair is so fragile when wet. 

What role does genetics play in the quality and health of our hair?

There is no guarantee that genetic factors will get passed down from parents. The most important fact to keep in mind is the power of epigenetics, which proves how proper preventative measures can alter gene expression.

How important is our scalp health to the health of our hair and what are your top tips for a healthy scalp?

Unhealthy fats in your diet can affect your scalp and result in excessive sebum production and possible flaking. It’s important to take note of changes in your scalp and diet and be aware of what may be triggering an unwanted result. A prolonged state of an unhealthy and clogged scalp leads to thinning over time and should be taken very seriously.

What is the biggest myth about hair growth and hair loss?

That supplements can instantly make your hair strands healthier and thicker. The nutritional benefits of supplements take a few months for the body to actually process and convert into healthier hair. They don’t affect the existing hair because it is no longer connected to the new hair growth. Supplements only affect the new hair growing in, and it can take around 3 to 6 months for those results to become noticeable.

What advice would you give to those wanting to prevent split ends?

The number one reason we get split ends is from relying too heavily on thermal tools. Thermal-protecting sprays are your best friend. They provide a protective barrier between your hair and a thermal tool and can prolong your style.

What are the top reasons for dry hair?

The most common reasons our hair becomes dry is product build-up from excessive use of styling products, including bond-building hair treatments mixed with infrequent or insufficient shampooing, as well as a heavy reliance on chemical services or hot tools. In most cases, people are aware of exactly why their hair is chronically dry but have a hard time cutting out the culprit.

How often should we wash our hair?

I recommend shampooing every other day. However, it’s not easy to change someone’s hair-washing behavior, so instead of recommending a shampoo frequency, I recommend a clarifying shampoo to help balance out the scalp and provide a deeper clean that daily shampoo is not formulated to do. Ideally, every other day is best to keep your scalp clear of build-up, which is the number one cause affecting the quality of your hair growth as it clogs the follicle.

Should we filter our shower water? How does unfiltered shower water affect our hair quality?

In most cities in the US, we are faced with extremely hard water, which contains high levels of contaminants and minerals like calcium and magnesium that can leave a film on your hair. Calcium binds to ingredients in shampoo and it’s extremely difficult to rinse out soap scum. It renders conditioners and treatments ineffective. Build-up from unfiltered water hinders the penetration of scalp topicals and hair treatments. 

What are your top 5 tips for hair growth?

  1. Take supplements every day because they nourish the cells in the scalp and maintain the healthiest scalp environment for healthier hair growth throughout life.
  2. Use a scalp exfoliant every other week to clear hard-to-wash build-up and prevent hindering the growth of delicate new hairs coming in.
  3. Use a scalp topical every day or at least on shampoo days to nourish the hair follicle and aid in the growth of stronger hair.
  4. Adopt consistent exercise and a healthy diet and decrease stress and internal inflammation, which causes the body to neglect the hair system—the least important system within our bodies.
  5. Use a low-level laser therapy device 2 to 3 times a week to enhance and stimulate the hair growth process through photobiomodulation. This is the same process by which plants convert sun rays into energy to grow and prosper.

What supplements would you recommend to those wanting to improve the health of their hair?

One of the highest quality supplements packed with essential nutrients and vitamins for healthy hair growth and decreased inflammation from the inside is Deeply Rooted by Hush and Hush. No other supplement is backed by such successful clinical trials and research and barely comes close to containing the same combination of high-quality ingredients.

What are your favorite hair appliances that have changed the health of your hair?

My favorite tools and devices include:

  1. State of the Art EXT Spa Scalp Massager. It uses rotating heads for stimulation and an effective cleanse.
  2. Laserband by Hairmax, which encourages healthier hair growth by dilating the capillaries supplying blood to the hair follicle and encouraging cellular stimulation for enhanced hair growth.
  3. My travel-size scalp exfoliator and massager by Tangle Teezer that allows me to maintain a cleansed scalp for prolonged hairstyles when away from home.
  4. Microfiber towel used to dry my hair or to keep it up when trying to dry hair slowly for natural texture days.
  5. Silk pillowcase for a plethora of reasons, including maintaining moisture and preventing frizz and damage in hair.