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?

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 Eleven.fi*

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.

Autumn Empties with Mini Reviews

Another season has passed, so time for another round of empties! This time I'm doing things a bit differently - there are a couple of products I'm letting go. Mostly because they are expired, but I've started a new rule that if an opened product t a) doesn't bring me any joy b) can't be repurposed c) I would feel bad to pass them on - they'll get some Mari Kondo and recycled. Mostly these products are win for me, I'll mention if they are or will get repurchased!

Autumn Empties and Product Reviews | Laura Loukola Beauty Blog

Skincare

Innisfree Eco Safety SPF 50 Sunscreen

My favorite sunscreen of all time; I've even loved all of it's reformulation. The yellow tube is not very photogenic and the formula is a thicker cream, but for someone who has dry skin yet hates greasy feeling from a sunscreen, this is perfect. Mentioned in multiple posts, such as my Best Sunscreens for Summer 2018 post.

Absolution Eye Cream*

This slightly illuminating eye cream was okay, but in the end I noticed no difference in, well, anything. I would've preferred it if the illuminating properties were stronger to cancel my under eye darkness or if the formula was more hydrating. Not awful, but won't be purchasing this. Part of my Glamlin box review.

NIOD Flavanone Mud*

Speaking of awful, it remains a mystery to me what is the purpose of this mask. The smell was absolutely dreadful, like rotten olives, and usually I'm OK with funky smells (such as yeasts) if the mask performs. Didn't use this up, it's gotta go. In the future I doubt I will be reviewing any Deciem products.

January Labs Daily Brightening Tonic

One of my favorite toners of all time! This one I purchased, but January has sent me backups fyi. This tonic is gentle, both slightly hydrating and exfoliating with lactic acid, perfect for everyday use. I see all skin types would benefit from this product without irritation. Full review here.

Josh Rosebrook Hydrating Accelator

Josh Rosebrook makes some of my favorite skincare products and if you like mists this one is among the best. Great ingredients, the spritz is super fine, hydrating and has a slight vanilla scent (far from overly sweet). I prefer traditional toners over mists, but this one I'm planing to have in my routine.

Biologique Recherche Lotion P50 (mini)

I got this mini size from my friend and fell hard in love. I've already purchased 150ml size and I rotate it with the January Labs toner. If my skin feels bumpy, congested or my blackheads look visible - it's time for P50. Very strong, so I recommend trying a sample size or a mini first.

Pur~Lisse Blue Lotus Serum*

As much as I like Pur~lisse, this serum falls into the category of products I just don't notice any benefit from or get particularly excited to use. I'm happy I powered this through, I used a ton on my neck and chest. Perhaps an okay 'starter' serum for someone in their teens, but for me.. nope.

Diego Dalla Palma Vitamin C Radiance Serum*

Vitamin C serum that doesn't discuss the % of Vitamin C. Despite the opaque package I felt this oxidized pretty quickly, could be because of the dropper packaging. Didn't see any results, won't use again. Part of my Glamlin box review.

Max and Me Sweet Serenity Mask and Wash*

One of the most decadent and delightful masks I've used. I would never ever use this as a cleanser, but it does "wash away" dirt when you rinse it off. Magical, creamy concoction of kaolin clay, manuka honey and shea butter that draws out impurities very gently, doesn't dry out the skin and pampers both mind and skin. Will repurchase (the mini-size, as this one is pricey)!

Mahalo Vitality Elixir Serum

One of my favorite oil-based serums of all time. Nourishing, antioxidant-rich, anti-inflammatory and very balancing and hydrating. I love Mahalo products and I think this is one of the gems. This facial oil/serum is very luxurious but I will repurchase once I've worked through some of my other facial oils.

Mahalo The Bean Mask

Again, one of the best antioxidant and exfoliating mask. A blend of cacao, coffee and vanilla (thus, the Bean) that draws out impurities, balances yet doesn't dry out the skin. My favorite mask from this line is still the Petal (review here), but I can't wait to dig into a fresh jar of the Bean.

Mahogany Naturals The Blue Lover*

If May Lindstrom's cult favorite balm is out of your budget, but you love blue tansy - you need this balm. This under-rated balm is gorgeous: nourishing, moisturizing yet very calming and soothing for both your skin and mind. I used a decant version of this balm so unfortunately my full-size started to grow mold, so I had to discard it. Will get a new jar once I've used up some of my other balms. 

Lina Hanson Global Treasures Balm

Another balm I simply loved. This balm is softer, melts easily between your fingers and works great around the eyes. Packed with antioxidants, simply a delight to use. Again, will repurchase once I've worked through some other balms and masks.

Luxe Botanics Marula Oil*

Simple yet excellent facial oil that moisturizes without leaving your skin feeling too greasy or oily. I loved the scent of this. I love how well-curated line Luxe Botanics is, my favorite product is still the Camu serum, but I would recommend the Marula oil if you're looking for a high quality marula. Full review here.

Autumn Empties and Product Reviews | Laura Loukola Beauty Blog

Body and Hair

Ben and Anna Deodorant in Vanilla Orchid*

My favorite eco deodorant to date! I was very sceptic about this baking soda and shea butter-based formula, but it keeps me dry and odour free on most days. Vanilla Orchid is my favorite scent to date! Read my full review here.

Rituals Shower Gel in Sakura

I like Rituals, great if you're looking for a pampering gift. I prefer the shower foams though.

Mahogany Naturals Body Scrub*

Unfortunately this scrub was way too dried (or dried out?) on me.. The huge particles were kind of a messy for someone who'd prefer to use a scrub in the shower. Not my cup of tea.

Max and Me Flight to The Sun Body Oil

I adore Max and Me body oils! The Flight to The Sun was what I "needed" at the time, but at the moment I'm using Circle of Protection, which feels more like my cup of tea. Heavier than a dry oil, but doesn't make my skin feel greasy for a long time. They have several gorgeous nourishing body oils, just choose one what feels most like "you".

Makeup, Nails and Perfume

Essie Nail Polish

Unfortunately I can't find the shade name of this polish, I wonder if it was LE but judging by swatches 93 Mesmerized is pretty close

Rouge Bunny Rouge Diaphanous Powder

My favorite powder of all time. Despite the fact I used this powder daily to set my under eyes this jar lasted me for ages. This is the most smoothing, finely milled powder you can ever imagine. Will definitely repurchase. Review here.

KATE Liquid Eyeliner in Black

This might sound gross but I think I used this liner for a good year or two at least. It simply just didn't dry out and the brush tip kept its shape beautifully. Long-lasting, nice shade of black and the price is very reasonable. Will repurchase. 

Anastasia Beverly Hills Brow Wiz

I think this is my second? third? Brow Wiz and sadly my last. It's an okay product, but I just don't see what's the hype when there's a lot of competition on the market. A spoolie that breaks is a total no-go and turn-off for me. I much prefer Clinique or Dior.

Wella Luxe Oil

Nice and basic hair oil. Despite my hair being dry I guess this was a bit too heavy and a bit too scented for my taste, but I can see why it's very popular. If you have more damaged, perhaps bleached hair, I think you'd really enjoy this one.

Chloe Eau de Parfum

Chloe's Eau de Parfum brings me back a lot of good memories from Japan and my friends who live there. It'll always have a place in my heart, but as the years went by I noticed the scent wasn't very "me" any longer and I had found perfumes that I prefer. I might give it a sniff if I'm needing a new scent, but not sometime soon. The bottle has little left as I didn't use it all up before it started to smell funky. 

Autumn Empties and Product Reviews | Laura Loukola Beauty Blog

Here's my most recent empties! Spot any favorites? What have you used up lately? x

*Products marked with an asterisk (*) were kindly gifted for consideration.
My opinions are honest and my own.