Hair loss is a struggle for a lot of folks. Both men and women experience the emotional side effects that come with this seemingly irreversible trauma.  It affects 50% of Black women and 80% of Black men.

Alopecia is a form of hair loss that occurs when the hair follicles are attacked by the autoimmune system. Factors such as genetics, stress, age or an allergy to an ingredient in a product are among the culprits.

Bridgette Hill, a certified trichologist and founder of Root Cause Scalp Analysis, specializes in problems related to the hair and scalp. As a trichologist and an inventive hair colorist, she studies each individual, from inside and out, zoning in on their specific situation creating a regimen to promote a scalp primed for hair growth.

Below, EBONY talks with the in-demand scalp specialist about her journey to trichology, her own experience with hair loss, how she overcame it and how she successfully treats her own clients who suffer from the condition.

EBONY: What attracted you to trichology? Also, before you became a trichologist, you were a hair colorist, why the pivot from being an editorial hair stylist?

Bridgette Hill: I went to Clarke-Atlanta University. I was the go-to beauty and hair girl for the pageants and fashion shows. I always had an attraction for hair, beauty and magazines. There was a side to me that was very hippie—you know, that mind, body and spirit thing, so I went to beauty school at Aveda, where they have a wholistic approach to cosmetology. I wanted to understand beauty from a very internal place. I didn’t know then that it would lead here. As you get older you get wiser and you start seeing your journey.

Editorially, I loved magazines like Bazaar, images by Richard Avedon—I’m so into that visual. It was the late 90s. I had a family, so I had to learn to navigate the world a little differently. Someone pulled me aside and said you should become a hair colorist because you don’t have to be on set. I hated hair color in beauty school, I wanted to do updos and braids, but I fell in love with coloring hair. That’s when I realized I have a science brain for beauty. I love the chemistry of hair color. That took me through an editorial career in hair color. Then it got me into hair healthcare because I noticed how color impacted the hair texture.

You can make somebody’s hair color beautiful or you can destroy someones’s hair. I started figuring out how I can manipulate texture, conditioner and peroxide. I learned all types of ways to open the cuticle and close the cuticle.

How did hair loss affect you personally?

When I moved to New York, I started suffering from alopecia. I was 25 (knowing one's age which is important information when determining reasons for hair loss). Talking to my mother, I realized that my grandmother who had worn wigs for years, had no hair. We don’t know if she had alopecia because her hair or lack of was her business—but that started my investigation.  I researched active oils to help me rejuvenate my scalp. That introduced me to a company called René Furterer, that specializes in plant-based solutions for thinning hair.

Most people go to a dermatologist to treat scalp conditions, is that not the path to take for sudden hair loss?

Research and science on the scalp is in its genesis. The first article on the scalp was in the New England Journal of Medicine in 2013. It’s new. It’s a paramedical science going through this metamorphosis. There are people, like myself, who are taking this so passionately; it's about making connections to improve the scalp and hair. Sometimes it’s shifting habits. Sometimes it’s medicinal things. If you go to a dermatologist, they don’t always have the time to put those things together, but if we work together we can allow our clients and patients to get right answers, which is the goal.

It’s important not to speak in generalities when it comes to the scalp. It’s so individual. There are many variables. First, are you having an allergic reaction to a product you’re using?  I don’t think people realize that sometimes you’re having a reaction to the product and it’s not even anything that serious. Or, it could be something extreme like psoriasis or dermatitis or some type of inflammatory issue. There are some great stylists and colorists out there who may not have the science or the language but they have the wherewithal to direct a client when something’s wrong. We look down on ourselves as stylists when we’re standing behind the chair and we see something we’re unsure of. You have to be able to empower your clients with honest solutions.

Since we can’t generalize, what did you do in your case with alopecia?

Knowing the age of when the hair loss starts helps to identify what the condition may be. Before I’m even looking at the scalp, I’m asking questions because a great trichologist is really a great researcher.  There are so many questions I ask before I even look at the scalp. I have to have my mind locked in certain silos, so the information is essential. For instance, age is a factor. In my case, I was age 25. I did supplements and I also started reading and doing the research. I began to manage my scalp with oils as well as pay attention to my diet.

Do supplements and vitamins actually stimulate hair growth?

Yes, they assist in getting the inflammation out of the body. Inflammation is the root cause of disease. When you have a scalp issue it’s always internal first and people need to make that connection. Even with chemotherapy, the body goes through something internally first. 

What if the hair loss is hereditary?

No hair loss can be cured; it can only be managed. As long as the hair follicle is still alive you can rejuvenate it. 

Root Cause Hair Analysis is a brilliant way to gather research on the hair and scalp. Do you gather the research to treat clients through your website?

Yes, I start with those questions before I even see the scalp to get to the crux of what is triggering the hair loss. It could be a mineral deficiency, a life experience could trigger it. Once we find out what those triggers are, we put you on a regimen to mitigate it. I believe in giving yourself a ritual--something you do consistently, to honor your crown making sure you are managing your hair and scalp with what it likes.

As a certified trichologist, Hill stands behind Vitamin D3 along with the following supplements to support hair growth:

Nourkrin Woman

Image: courtesy of Nourkrin


Image: courtesy of Groh

Collective Laboratories

Image: courtesy of Collective Laboratories