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?

Lookfantastic Advent Calendar 2018 Review & Sneak Peek

Let me tell you a funny story. Near where I live there’s an office space that says Santa Claus: there’s a bearded fellow in a red shirt who does his paperwork while sipping Coke Zero. He has a red car that says “Santa Claus has come to town” and even a digital counter in the window, counting down days until Christmas. It’s both confusing and amusing.

Look Fantastic Advent Calendar 2018 Review | Laura Loukola Beauty Blog

The Holiday season doesn’t usually excite me too much, but I do like gift giving. When kindly approached me if I wanted to check out their Beauty Advent Calendar 2018 of course I said yes! I did a poll on Instagram asking if you wanted to know all of the secret contents and the votes were close divided. So in this review I mention some brands and a couple of random products, but if you hate spoilers then scroll with caution!

LookFantastic Advent Calendar 2018

The Advent Calendar 2018 features 25 beauty items (mainly minis or deluxe samples) from skincare to haircare, cosmetics, tools and tanning. Each item is individually wrapped as a small gift, designed to bring you or your family/friends joy every day in December until Christmas. The calendar costs £79 / €109, with contents “worth over £300 / €325”. Lookfantastic often has discount codes so check out the front page of the site before ordering!

Look Fantastic Advent Calendar 2018 Review | Laura Loukola Beauty Blog

Packaging and Delivery

The Advent Calendar was very neatly in a fitted cardboard box, no extra padding. For me the delivery took about 2 weeks: I received a text message I could fetch the box from my local Post Nord pickup point. The actual size of the Advent Calendar surprised me: it’s huuuge. I don’t think the size comparison above with my hand does justice for this beautiful box. The box has a nice magnetic closure, feels sturdy and the look is very chic: Lookfantastic logos only in the front and top.

You pull out one of the mini boxes with gold foil numbering to see what’s inside. The items themselves are individually wrapped in beautiful red silk paper, which is great especially if you “happen to” sneak a peek what’s coming next.. I love this kind of attention to detail without excess packaging: silk paper wrapping is easy to recycle. If you decide to purchase this Calendar to yourself it could easily be reused next year by filling it with sweets for example.


OK this section has a couple of small spoilers. Be warned.

Look Fantastic Advent Calendar 2018 Review | Laura Loukola Beauty Blog

As I said above, most of the products are travel sizes or minis. The sizes vary, but they’re about 4ml to 15ml and valued around £10 / €12 according to the press release. There’s a couple of full size items, which raise the value of the box, but one of them seems very over-prized to me (never heard of the brand and exclusive item to Lookfantastic) . Therefore I don’t think the real value of the Advent Calendar should be advertised over £300/€300. I decided to completely disregard this expensive item and the counted value using the press info and it was still over £250/€250 – not bad at all.

Some of the brands that caught my eye include:
Emma Hardie, Caudalie, First Aid Beauty, Illamasqua, Rituals and Omorovicza.

Final Thoughts

I devoured the whole Calendar in one evening, but as a gift for someone who enjoys beauty this is a very nice one. Displaying the beautiful Calendar, opening the doors and unwrapping alone is so much fun. There’s a good variation of products from skincare to hair to makeup, so if someone isn’t very into makeup alone I think this mix of “a bit of everything” still makes this a good gift. In my opinion The Lookfantastic Advent Calendar 2018 is a good value, but for me it’s not as high as advertised. Some of these items I could imagine as gifts with purchase, but this is a personal preference as I’m not too crazy about sample sizes. I’m going to switch out a couple of products I need to try (you know, for science) and gift this forward for a family member to enjoy.

Have you bought any Beauty Advent Calendars? Can you resist opening all doors at once?

**This item was kindly gifted for consideration. All thoughts are my honest & my own.

Hair Styling Products I've Been Loving Lately

Since cutting my hair I've paid extra attention to my styling and treatment products. Previously I could just let my hair air dry before rushing out of the door, maybe straighten the ends a bit if I wanted to look more sleek. That's not happening now. I'm heat styling way less, but I do use more product on my hair to keep my pixie cut looking piece-y, voluminous and nourished. Today I'll share a couple of styling products from my heavy rotation! I bet these will work for you whether you have short or long hair!

Hair Styling Products for Pixie Cut | Laura Loukola Beauty Blog
Hair Styling Products for Pixie Cut | Laura Loukola Beauty Blog

KC Professional Four Reasons Black Edition Foamy Blow Booster

€14.90 / 200ml (available at most Finnish hair stores/salons)

My hair dresser used this longest-name-ever-spray while styling my hair with a blowdryer and a round comb. I trust it was my hair dresser's skill and not the product that made my hair look so awesome, but as the spray was inexpensive I decided to give it a go. I spray this to the roots and shake or mess my hair a bit, it gives a nice amount of volume but not much hold. I do feel there's product on my hair, but it's not sticky or crunchy. I know this spray is meant for blow drying, but I rarely have the time/energy and I still get the volumized effect I want.

Hair Styling Products for Pixie Cut | Laura Loukola Beauty Blog

Maria Nila Schist Fibre Cream*

€16/50ml or €25/100ml available at*

I talked about my affection for Maria Nila vegan shampoos and conditioners line in this post, but I'm also venturing to the styling products. The texture is a milky gel with some viscosity without being sticky or waxy. I use it to style my bangs and keep any hairs that stick up in control (mainly on the back of my head). I do enjoy several hair gels/waxes, but Maria Nila's doesn't weight my hair down and the semi-matte product is hard to detect. The scent is subtle and won't linger around. Two thumbs up from me!

Hair Styling Products for Pixie Cut | Laura Loukola Beauty Blog

Schwarzkopf Bonacure Hyaluronic Moisture Kick BB Hydra Pearl*

€18.80 / 100ml (available at most hair stores)

I've used the hydrating mist from this brand for years, but lately I’ve been testing this leave-on hyaluronic treatment. I admit I was immediately drawn to the bottle because of the "beads" inside. It's just so pretty while being an interesting concept for me; the product mixes when you pump it out and feels like a cool, lightweight gel. My hair dresser who did the pixie cut recommended to not use too much conditioner or otherwise my hair might weight down or look greasy. The Schwarzkopf Bonacure Hyaluronic Moisture Kick keeps my whorl and flyaways at bay while making the hair feel super soft and hydrated (if hair can be 'hydrated', but you know what I mean). I’ve got comments have I done something differently to my hair and it’s this! No added shine, just a good drink for my dry hair without weighing it down. I like it! 

Final thoughts

All of these products are available at salons or dept. stores who sell salon-grade products. I especially enjoy the Maria Nila hair gel (vs my old OUAI Matte Pommade which was heavily fragranced) and the Schwarzkopf BB Hydra Pearl. The textures are so light I think they’ll suit for a variety of hair types! I’m currently testing some leave-on conditioners, more about those in my next hair post.

What styling products are you loving lately?

*Products kindly offered for consideration.
My thoughts are my honest & my own.