Trichology expert Mark Blake from Blushes gets to the root of hair loss
When most of us experience a bad hair day, it usually means we haven't had enough time to make it look as good as it can be in the morning.
A woman's hair is supposed to be her crowning glory – but what happens when something goes wrong that can't be solved by a wash and blow dry?
No one bats an eyelid if a man starts going bald – it's a fact of life for many – but it is another thing altogether if it happens to a woman.
Yet hair problems for women are not as rare as you might think and range from thinning and hair loss to scalp problems and dandruff.
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Causes can be as diverse as illness and stress to genetics, hormonal changes and even diet.
And that's not to mention damage caused by the wrong use of products that can cause hair to fall out or damage to the scalp.
Although we are spoiled for choice for hairdressers on the high street, finding someone who can help you with a hair problem is much harder. Trichologists are few and far between.
But soon women in Cheltenham will have a friendly face to turn to if they find out one of their worst nightmares is coming true.
Hairdresser Mark Blake, who co-owns Blushes hair salon with his brother Darrell, is coming to the end of his trichology training and will soon be able to advise clients on how to deal with all these problems.
Having been at the forefront of hairdressing for 30 years, Mark feels he is particularly well placed to advise people suffering from hair and scalp problems.
"I have done hundreds of thousands of heads during my career and have seen all sorts of different problems," said Mark, 51. "I can not only help them with a particular problem but also advise them how to make the most of a hair cut or colour if they do have a problem that can't be fixed completely."
"For years I have been cutting hair and seeing hair and scalp problems without knowing what they are all about. Eventually I decided it was time to learn more about it."
Around two years ago Mark enrolled on a two-year course with the Institute of Trichology and since then has been travelling to London twice a week for lectures and tutorials, working on consignments and spending hours reading journals and reports on the subject.
"I can spend three hours a day reading up about it," he said. "It sounds a lot but I am fascinated by the whole thing."
Mark has also been seeing patients and learning how to read blood tests, analyse hair under a microscope, dispense prescriptions and discuss clinical trials.
"Most trichologists can only do the medical side whereas I will be able to advise clients on the best cut, style or colour to mask any problems they may have.
"Sometimes there is nothing you can do medically but there are things you can do to disguise it.
"Most times if someone goes to a trichologist for help, they will treat them and that's it," he said. "The difference with me is that I can treat them and then follow that up with a cut or style, so they leave my clinic looking great and not looking as if they've just had their hair treated for something."
Apart from the usual problems such as dandruff, alopecia and thinning hair, Mark said there were other, not so well know conditions, including something called 'handbag hair'.
"A woman will come in and say 'my hair is getting really straggly on one side and I just can't work out what it is'," he said. "They don't realise it's the side they hold their bag and the strap keeps getting caught in the hair. Every time they pull it free it is also pulling away hairs."
Mark also said trichologists could slow down the approach of thinning hair on women by using certain treatments before it becomes noticeable.
"You can't stop it altogether but there is certainly often lots you can do to prevent it happening for as long as possible," he said. "It's important to catch it before it gets too bad."
Mark is hoping doctors will refer patients with hair problems to him in the future. "I think they will be pleased to have an expert to refer people to as we can offer them specific help," he said.
He also plans to visit women's groups and business groups to raise more awareness of the subject and show that there is help out there.
"It's true that hair is a woman's crowning glory. It is so important to many women for their hair to look good and my aim is to help them keep it looking good," he said.
Hair loss - the facts
Women naturally lose between 75-100 hairs per day
Hair grows, on average, for 1,000 days or about four years before it falls out
The average person's head has between 100,000 and 150,000 hairs
Hair is the second fastest growing tissue in the body. Only bone marrow is quicker.
Each hair grows around 0.3mm a day. On an entire head that's 36m of hair growth a day or 1.1km a month.
African hair grows more slowly and is more fragile than European hair. Asian hair grows the fastest.
Early hair remedies included restoring hair by applying a mixture of boiled slugs, olive oil, honey, saffron or soap.
Hair is very strong. A single strand can support 100gm.
You must lose over 50 per cent of your scalp hairs before it is apparent to anyone.
Hair supposedly grows faster in warmer weather.
Female hair grows more slowly than male hair, but male hair is more dense.
Your hair turns grey because the pigment cells known as melanin in your hair follicles are not working properly. The hair bulb degrades as you age or when you are stressed.