Healthy Scalp Tips from Mark Birch Trichologist (And My Shocking Diagnosis)

This week I had the pleasure to attend an event about medical haircare and scalp health. It changed completely how I view my haircare routine and to be honest I was quite shocked. Today I want to share with you what I learned from my quick interview with trichologist Mark Birch and his presentation about scalp health. This post is more about general tips on scalp health, reviews of the products will come later!

 Mark Birch Trichologist Haircare | Laura Loukola Beauty Blog Laurantaina

About Mark Birch Trichologist

Mark Birch, Trichologist (hair and scalp specialist), is internationally recognized as one of the world’s experts in scalp and haircare. He is based in London, but has worked in the Dubai region over many years. In Dubai, he met his business partner, Tuija Lindstrom, and together they are launching own line of cruelty free, vegan haircare for treating multiple scalp and hair (loss) problems. Soon available in hair and beauty salons (December 2018 in Finland, for more information please contact Rebel Helsinki).

Some Key Points On Healthy Haircare

It’s all about the scalp. While our hair is dead material, our scalp has living pores like our face and skin does. The main hair concern for people is obviously hair loss and basically anything can disturb our scalp internally and externally: antibiotics, medications, stress, product buildup, diet, sleep, menopause, pregnancy, genetics. There’s also several types of hair loss, such as scaring and non-scaring and one fix doesn’t work for all: not only hair types vary, but so does the pH of local water.

People tend seek help when they have hair concerns but the key is to looking after your scalp. According to Mark Birch, preventive care is the best: general health, high emphasis on nutrition, lifestyle and hygiene. You should wash your scalp every day. Every. Day. Blogs and Youtube are full of tips how to extend time between washes when we should be washing our scalp daily: just like we wash our face and body. Our scalp produces new skin cells (just like our skin) and the top layer is dead, there’s sweat, oil, product buildup, etc. that should be washed off.

We should also pay attention to styling products and make sure they don’t touch the scalp: common hairspray is basically glue and alcohol, meant for our hair (dead) and not scalp (living). Obviously you don’t want to touch your scalp with heat styling tools.

Mark recommends using a mild, natural shampoo. “If you can’t wash your face and eyes with it, why should you use it for your scalp?” Massage 1€ coin size of shampoo to your scalp and let it be for 3-4 minutes, meanwhile wash your body/face and then rinse off the shampoo carefully. Conditioner should only be applied to the hair and ends of our hair, let be for a moment and then rinse.

 Mark Birch Trichologist Haircare | Laura Loukola Beauty Blog Laurantaina

Above: Mark Birch Trichologist showing patient before-and-after photos.

 Mark Birch Trichologist Haircare | Laura Loukola Beauty Blog Laurantaina
 Mark Birch Trichologist Haircare | Laura Loukola Beauty Blog Laurantaina

My Hair Background and SUrprising Diagnosis

Before this I hadn’t paid any attention to my scalp. Yes it itches sometimes, but that’s just the weather right? I don’t suffer from any product sensitivities, dandruff, hair loss, oily scalp, problems with hair growth or so forth. Actually my hair is pretty easy to manage: it’s thick and coarse, so only thing I’m lusting after is shine and moisture. My parents’ hair types are completely opposite: fine, thin Finnish hair or baldness. While I’ve been focusing on my hair itself, I’ve completely neglected my scalp. I had no idea about preventative care, I thought you use scalp tonics only when you’re loosing hair?

After my interview and Mark’s presentation, I had a chance for a quick diagnosis. Normally the Trichologist does a complete interview (background on lifestyle, diet, health problems, medications etc) and blood work, but now he just asked some key questions while examining my scalp.

While my hair growth was okay, it didn’t take him even a minute to observe that I have eczema. Eczema?!! When I went home I rushed to the mirror and took a look at my scalp: I could see dryness and tiny flakes. While I’ve suffered from itchiness I would’ve never guessed… nor paid attention. I don’t suffer from eczema anywhere else on my body so I didn’t even consider it’d be possible on my scalp.

Future Scalp Goals

Obviously, I’m trying to get my scalp back to normal. It might not be easy this time of the year when it’s freezing outside and there’s central heating indoors, but I’ll try. I was kindly gifted some press samples of Mark Birch Trichologist products (their packaging will change slightly) and I will try them and perhaps some other very mild shampoos or soaps. I will also start washing my hair every day. There. Now when it’s said out loud, I must try my very best to do it. I’m so glad my hair is short and doesn’t take ages to dry.. Of course, I write a comprehensive review on the products once I’ve used them long enough and update you on my scalp health.

Have you ever suffered about hair or scalp issues? How did you treat them?

Atelier Cologne and Mimosa Indigo (Review)

It’s rare I encounter a fellow beauty enthusiast in person, so I tend to take IRL recommendations I hear very seriously. One time at my friend’s house party, I had a lovely conversation about perfume. It was the first time I heard about Atelier Cologne, and it was something I couldn’t get off my mind. What surprised me more was that there’s a counter at Stockmann Helsinki (our local equivalent to a high end dept store). Today I will be sharing how I came across the my scent of dreams.


Atelier Cologne Mimosa Indigo

Mimosa Indigo** is a Cologne Absolue (pure perfume) concentrated at 20%. Available in 30ml, 100ml and 200ml size retailing from $130/€95 to $325/€270. It’s described as velvety and addictive with leathery notes, highlighted by soft mimosa. Star Ingredients: Mimosa indigo accord, Mandarin from Italy and White leather accord. Made from highest of quality ingredients, 83% renewable natural origin*. Made in France with the highest percentage of fragrance oils. Available on and Stockmann (Finland).


About Atelier Cologne

There are six collections: Joie de Vivre, Chic Absolu, Avant Garde, Haute Couture, Carte Blanche and Bon Voyage. Each of these collections can be described with three key words, for example Joie de Vivre is fresh, lively, citrus while Haute Couture is powerful, rare and precious. You may initially be drawn to some of these categories, but what makes Atelier Cologne difference are the stories.

The Creators of Atelier Cologne are a couple of movie aficionados, Christophe and Sylvie, and their perfume house was born out of their love and passion. They want each Cologne Absolue tell a story - like a scene from a film with these powerful emotions and memories. When you pick up a sample of a perfume it’s wrapped with a beautiful post card describing not only the ingredients and scent profile, but the scene describing the scent.

All Atelier Cologne perfumes come beautifully, meticulously gift wrapped to celebrate the idea this is always a gift - even when you’re shopping for yourself. You also get an engraved leather case to go with your perfume, available in many colors at all counters. From what I understood there’s no need to layer or mix the scents, but they do not argue together.

Finding My Perfect Scent

Stockmann Helsinki has amped up their perfume game: this Fall they finally opened counters for Byredo and Jo Malone. Atelier Cologne’s counter is different: it’s not only elegant, but warm, inviting and somewhat Mediterranean. At the time I had no idea of the stories behind the perfumes and about two dozen bottles in front of me was both intriguing yet intimidating.

I first wandered around sniffing scent with catching names and scent profile descriptions (like Iris Rebelle, which wasn’t for me at all), but I do recommend a help form your Sales Associate as they can even do scent consulting. When I asked the lovely SA at Stockmann I was explained it can be the story behind the perfume that “clicks” with someone, then the scent. I described scents I usually like and she handed one I loved (Santal Carmin), but then “something completely different” which hit me even harder (Mimosa Indigo). Then I heard the story:

A lady in a taxi three in the morning, passing a jazz club and stopping when she hears the music playing inside, walking to the musician sitting in the dark.. (read full description here).

Yup. I was done with my search.


Wearing Mimosa Indigo

This perfume feels special to me, something I’ve never smelled before. It’s mature, but lively and vivid at the same time. When my nose first picks up the scent of mandarin, I feel like this is a perfume for someone who wants adventure and fun. The white leather and mimosa balances out the crispness of citrus, giving me a feel the wearer is still positively (self-)conscious, determined and carries themselves in an elegant way. There’s something smooth and very balanced about this scent. The citrus or floral notes are not overpowering and marry together with the white leather beautifully. I’m happy the leather tones aren’t too strong (like in some musky fragrances), but balancing, grounding and again - awfully elegant.

On me, I don’t find the cologne very strong (I do one spritz on my wrists, and one spritz behind each ear), it doesn’t linger in my clothes. The scent sort of melds with my skin, the scent doesn’t wear me nor I wear the scent: we’re one (sorry for the cheesy description but it’s true!). During a long day I feel I need to reapply, but in my case this happens with all of my perfumes except one oil roll-on. Not that I mind, I’m smitten with Mimosa Indigo.

Final Thoughts

I only wish this cologne would wear longer on my skin as I wouldn’t mind all my scarves smelling like Mimosa Indigo. But as I’ve said, I find most colognes disappearing on me within a couple of hours (the scent from the full size bottle lasts longer on me, could be due to application method). Mimosa Indigo not only a pleasure to smell and wear, but gives my self-esteem a boost through its story. I couldn’t recommend more giving Atelier Colognes a sniff!

**This product was kindly sent for consideration.
My thoughts and observations are my honest & own.
Thank you to the lovely Atelier Cologne Stockman HKI SA for the help and information!

Korean Medicinal Skincare in a Jar: ATOCLASSIC Real Tonic Calming Intensive Cream Review

Today it’s all about one of my favorite topics: Korean medicinal skincare aka hanbang. In March I did a post (read here) about hanbang, fermented skincare and an interview with my lovely friend Lisa aka @beautybemused, I hope you check it out first. Lisa is also the creator of Be Mused Korea, a beautifully curated K-beauty shop that ships worldwide(!!). After the interview she asked if I was interested in trying a hanbang line from her shop called ATOCLASSIC - a herbal brand that aims to combine maximum efficacy with safety for all types of skin.. and of course I said yes. Today I’ll introduce you to the Calming Intensive Cream**!

 Atoclassic Real Tonic Calming Intensive Cream Review | Laura Loukola Beauty Blog

Atoclassic Real Tonic Calming Intensive Cream

ATOCLASSIC is a Korean ‘hanbang’ aka traditional medicine brand that has dedicated their research for over 3 generations around traditional herbs, roots and leaves. Their product development focuses on maximum efficacy and minimal active ingredient loss, while still being extremely low irritant, sensitive-skin friendly. Their Calming Intensive Cream from the Real Tonic line is meant to be used as the last step in a routine. Comes in a 50 ml / 1.7 fl oz jar with a spatula, retailing $42 / €~36.85 (currently on sale on BeMused Korea).

Using ATOCLASSIC Calming Intensive Cream

It had been a while since I’ve used a cream that’s in a jar and oddly, I’ve kind of missed it. Although I prefer air-tight containers for all of my skincare, there’s something luxurious about jars. Balms, creams and gels feel just that little bit more luxurious when you take them out with a spoon or a spatula. The rose gold and white colors of the jar packaging also make the cream feel more expensive.

I have a dry skin so I love oils and creams, but don’t like a tacky or greasy residue on the skin (say, like Weleda’s Skin Food). ATOCLASSIC’s cream feels almost whipped in texture as it is very light to touch, but packs a good amount of moisture and hydration to the skin. I feel I can use this both day and night: it sits nicely under SPF and makeup, but can be topped up with an oily balm if you want that extra amount of moisturization. I do feel the cream plumps my skin and I can double it as an eye cream without my eyes getting puffy. The scent is very light and a hint of floral, but pretty unisex to my nose.

 Atoclassic Real Tonic Calming Intensive Cream Review | Laura Loukola Beauty Blog


Water, Glycerin, Dipropylene Glycol, Cetearyl Alcohol, Betaine, Butyrospermum, Parkii (Shea) Butter, Hydrogenated Vegetable Oil, Lecithin, Macadamia Integrifolia Seed Oil, Cetearyl Glucoside, Cetearyl Alcohol, Glyceryl Stearate, PEG-100 Stearate, Vitis Vinifera (Grape) Seed Oil, Glycyrrhiza Glabra (Licorice) Root Extract, Citrus Unshiu Peel Extract,Sophora Angustifolia Root Extract, Ulmus Davidiana Root Extract, Angelica Gigas Root Extract, Cnidium Monnieri Fruit Extract, Forsythia Suspensa Fruit Extract, Lithospermum Erythrorhizon Root Extract, Sanguisorba Officinalis Root Extract, Xanthium Strumarium Fruit Extract, Astragalus Membranaceus Root Extract, Scutellaria Baicalensis Root Extract, Coptis Chinensis Root Extract, Trehalose, Beeswax ,Tri-C14-15 Alkyl Citrate, Hydrogenated Polydecene, Limnanthes Alba (Meadowfoam) Seed Oil, Water, Imperata Cylindrica Root Extract, Viscum Album (Mistletoe) Leaf Extract, Butylene Glycol, Glycerin, Stearic Acid, Polyacrylate-13, Polyisobutene, Polysorbate 20, Caprylic/Capric Glycerides, water, Citrus Paradisi (Grapefruit) Fruit Extract, Caprylyl Glycol, Panthenol, Lavandula Angustifolia (Lavender) Oil, Potassium Hydroxide, Disodium EDTA, Ceramide 3

The INCI list of this cream is pretty long, but the bulk of the ingredients are in the middle: root extracts after root extracts. Some more familiar herbal ingredients to me include mistletoe and licorice; they are naturally skin-calming ingredients that can soothe, help with redness, even out complexion and act as anti-inflammatory. Especially licorice is a common ingredient in treating dark spots, pigmentation and dark undereye circles.

The cream is water based with moisturizing glycerin and shea butter. Other oils include macadamia seed oil and grape seed oil that help to seal in moisture. What I researched, the rest of the ingredients are mostly emollients and solvents to probably create the cream texture. I wish I knew more about all the herbal extracts ATOCLASSIC uses, but as far as I know many of them are used in Chinese medicine. I’m going to paste the major herbal ingredients here separately:

Lithospermi Radix, Angelica Gigas Root, Coptis Chinensis Root, Mistletoe, imperata Cylindrica Root, Citrus Unshiu Peel, Elm Bark, Sophora Angustifolia Root, Scutellaria Baicalensis Root, Sanguisorba Officinalis Root, Licorice, Forsythia Suspensa Fruit, Astragalus Membranaceus Root, Xanthium Strumarium Fruit, Cnidium Monnieri Fruit

 Atoclassic Real Tonic Calming Intensive Cream Review | Laura Loukola Beauty Blog

Final thoughts

I’m happy there are companies that combine the ancient wisdom with more technology, but I wish there was more articles to read about the herbal ingredients. For example, many Korean sheet masks with unfamiliar (to me) roots, barks and mushrooms have become my favorites, but I know little about the herbs themselves. In the future I wish I can research and share more about ‘hanbang’.

Right now I can only speak from my personal user experience and honestly I’m very much enjoying ATOCLASSIC. The cream is certainly one of my favorites from the line as it pampers and plumps my very dry skin without any residue. I can’t speak about its soothing properties too much as my skin isn’t very sensitive. From experience I know some Korean medicinal lines with a lot of fermented ingredients can be too active and irritating if I’ve done a lot of exfoliation, but I’ve had no such problem with ATOCLASSIC. So if you’re sensitive and interested in K-beauty, maybe check out this brand?

Have you tried K-beauty? How about hanbang brands? xx

**This product was kindly gifted for consideration. All thoughts are honest and my own.