Results for a new breed of hair loss cure have been announced by Aclaris Therapeutics, and the news is encouraging for hair loss sufferers everywhere. We look closer.


Aclaris Therapeutics

One of a host of life science companies that have sprung up in recent times, on the back of an ever deeper understanding of the mechanisms involved inside our body. Specifically, the messaging systems our systems use to regulate functions.

Aclaris have focussed their research on the immunologic messaging mechanisms and the results have been more than interesting. They found that by switching on and off certain messages, they have been able to influence a range of health issues. Their product pipeline features treatments aimed at ailments as diverse as common warts and vitiligo to psoriasis and rheumatoid arthritis. Notably, for us at least, are three so-called “JAK Inhibitors” which, they hope, will become the first new FDA approved treatments for alopecia in decades.

JAK Inhibitors

JAK Inhibitors are a type of drug that acts by interfering with the activity of certain enzymes. Aclaris has developed a drug, ATI-502, that is designed to disrupt signalling which would otherwise see the immune system attack and destroy hair follicles. This is the form of hair loss that affects the vast majority of sufferers and for which there are currently only two FDA approved medications, finasteride, and minoxidil, both of which come with some unwelcome side effects and require continuous use to remain effective (if they work in the first place). So an addition to the list would be extremely welcome.


Aclaris announced that they are halfway through a one year study of 23 patients. Of those patients, 20 are reported to have evaluable hair counts.. of those 20, 14 were men and 6 were women. Investigators said that they rated 73% of subjects as having had increased hair growth. Interestingly, when the investigators asked the patients to evaluate themselves that figure rose to 82%. We are told that they are already planning for 2020 when they will be looking to use higher concentrations following recent formulation work.

The Hair Ambulance

This news will be of particular interest to women, for whom only one of the FDA approved drugs is available. The complete absence of any negative aspects to the Aclaris trial will give hope that a potent addition might be made to their choice of topical treatment.

We will continue to track their progress and report back with news.


Claims made by a Californian research team at a medical conference have sent the global news into a frenzy. They say they are on track to offer people the opportunity to grow limitless amounts of new scalp hair. We look closer.


Sanford Burnham Prebys

Faced with the prospect of retirement, Dr. William Fishman and his career partner wife Dr. Lillian Fishman, decided they would rather continue to work. He left the Tufts Cancer Research Center in Boston, where he had been founder, professor, and director, to pursue his work in onco-developmental biology. The pair took a modest $ 180,000 grant from the National Cancer Institute and went on to establish a world-class medical research institute.

Over the years their focus widened to take in neuroscience, stem cell research, immunology, and drug discovery techniques. Donations, not least from the three men whose name now appears as the institute’s name, have seen them grow to live on a huge 5-acre site and become recognised as global leaders in their field.

Breakthrough Discoveries

The glacial advance of new hair loss treatments is understandable given the layers of approval drugs are required to undergo. These can take years and cost millions… with no guarantee of success for the manufacturer. It means that by the time a product makes it to market we have been aware of its existence for a long time. More than that, we will have seen the trial results and have a clear indication as to its efficacy.

So when Antonella Pinto Ph.D. turned up at the International Society for Stem Cell Research’s annual conference, with something to say about the work of Sanford Burnham Prebys on a hair loss treatment, it is fair to say nobody would have been too excited… but that was before they heard what she had to tell them.

She described their work, first on using pluripotent stem cells – those remarkable biological engines which can transform into any type of human cell. This still left a major technical hurdle to overcome before the techniques for turning these cells into a human dermal papilla cell, in itself a true breakthrough, might be considered a viable treatment.

The critical breakthrough came when they developed a technique, using the same material used for dissolvable stitches, to create a scaffold. This scaffold provides a structure through which the new hairs can grow, along with crucially being directed to grow in a specific direction… to this day one of the principal challenges in a successful hair transplant.

The Future

The team is already working on a human version after successful trials using human follicles grown on hairless mice. Their aim is to produce an “allogeneic” version of the treatment. The current method only requires some blood to be taken from the patient but an allogenic version would mean that cells from another person could be used. Which opens the possibility of being able to walk into a clinic and receiving treatment on the spot.

The Hair Ambulance

The conference was blown away by Dr. Pinto’s presentation and awarded her team a Merit Award. Their own confidence in the treatment is evidenced by their setting up a firm to commercialise it. Stemson Therapeutics has been established by the inventors and has major industry partners as well as some of the most senior individuals in the world of stem cell research.

We see plenty of this type of news story… one we have been following for two years was suddenly reported as a very expensive dead end only this week.  But there is something particularly interesting about this one, the nature of the treatment, the quality of the research team, the size of their partners… it all adds up to give it a great shot at success. Rest assured, we will be watching and reporting back.



PCOS is a huge issue for a surprising number of women, we offer our top three tips on changes that can be made to improve the condition.



Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome as it is medically known, PCOS affects women of childbearing age, lots and lots of them. It is estimated that between 5 and 10 percent of that group will experience this hormonal endocrine disorder.

If you are not familiar with the symptoms the diagnosis and explanation can come as a bit of a shock. The range of symptoms is pretty intimidating for anyone, hair loss is just for starters, though some grow unwanted hair. Weight gain, infertility, acne, and heavy or irregular periods also feature, and there are more.


Today, there is no cure for PCOS. Women are invited to treat the various symptoms, most of which can be treated using modern and available FDA approved medicines. For some women, this can involve something of a cocktail but the principal treatment is usually in the form of a birth control pill. While this can help by regulating their out of balance endocrine, or hormone, system, it is not for everyone.

Fortunately, there is a natural approach to taking care of yourself which can give great results in managing the condition.

Three Top TIps

You are what you eat.  By removing preservatives, hormones, and sweeteners from your diet you can go a long way towards improving your condition. All of these appear in processed foods and will interfere with the normal functions of the endocrine system. By removing them from your diet you will give your system its best chance of managing itself.

If, at the same time as ridding your diet of processed food, you can increase your intake of healthy foods, so much the better. Organic fruit and vegetables along with grains, foods high in proteins and healthy fats will all contribute to your wellbeing.

Get your (inner) beauty sleep. We are all aware of the importance of getting enough sleep, but this is even more important for PCOS sufferers. For women with PCOS, there can be dire consequences from sleep deprivation. Increased risks of mental issues and insulin resistance among them. Missing out on sleep will increase the level of cortisol in your system and this stress hormone can aggravate the symptoms of PCOS, for some of those symptoms this can be extremely serious.

Buck Up Your Beauty Game. Many of us swathe our bodies in products every day, paying little or no attention to the number of toxic ingredients that can further disrupt the endocrine system and aggravate the PCOS.

By switching to products that use only natural ingredients you will instantly begin to treat your body’s largest organ, the skin, with much more respect.. and again give your system its best chance to work properly.

The Hair Ambulance

The scale of the problem is immense. Making these changes to lifestyle could save literally millions of women from the worst effects of a truly miserable, and potentially life-threatening, condition.

An American court rejected a lawsuit against L’Oreal filed by a disgruntled customer who claimed a defective product they manufacture was responsible for her hair loss.


Hair Relaxer

We will write again soon about this popular styling asset, typically used mainly by women with curly or very curly hair. The chemicals in the product straighten the hair by “relaxing” the curls, which is another story for another day.

L’Oreal is one of the world’s largest brands of any kind and with a turnover of $30B they a monster beauty brand. Among their hair care range is a relaxer. Their Optimum Salon Care Defy Breakage No-Lye Relaxer is applied in a six-stage process and makes a great range of claims about its benefits. But it also comes with a warning, that before you start the process you should do a “strand test” on a single hair to test for breakage and irritation, a warning which just saved them a substantial sum of money.

Kim E. Chandler

Kim Chandler is a resident of Pennsylvania, USA. In March 2017 she applied the L’Oreal relaxer to her hair and watched in horror when she rinsed it off. A lot of hair rinsed right off with it. She was forced to seek immediate medical attention and launched a lawsuit against L’Oreal for $50K, accusing them of selling her a defective product. On the face of it, she might have had a case, you might not expect a product that claims to prevent breakage to relax your hair to the point where it falls out.

What The Judge Said

Judge Thomas M. Hardiman presided over the case in the U.S Court of Appeals for the 3rd Circuit. He ruled against Chandler and told her she would not be able to put the case before a jury. In his written opinion he explained that she had not followed the advice to perform a “strand test” prior to application. He rejected the argument made that a “hypothetical reasonable customer” would not understand the importance of that test. On the contrary, the judge told them: “A reasonable consumer reads and heeds the warnings and expects exactly what they state.” Indeed, the warnings on the label included the risk of permanent hair loss.

The Hair Ambulance

It should serve as a salutary lesson to us all. that to ignore the warning labels on beauty products is done at our peril. In this case, the product includes the word “salon” in its name. You wouldn’t seriously expect a professional salon to apply any product without a patch or strand test first.

Kim Chandler’s story is terribly sad, and we feel for her. We can only hope her lawyers were engaged on a no win no fee basis. We send our best wishes whether she chooses to come to terms with her new condition, or embarks on a search for hair loss solutions that work for her.



Stories have been coming out of China for a while pointing to a huge increase in the number of young people experiencing hair loss. We look closer.


Hair Loss in China

Statistics can be misleading when it comes to China. The sheer size of the country makes for some extraordinary outcomes when you start to count anything. Trying to get a fix in the scale of hair loss among the under ’30s is a challenge, there are hundreds of millions of them, to begin with. A good example might be a hospital at Sichuan University which put up a Weibo notice inviting people to volunteer for a new hair-growth treatment and received 200,000 applications in just 4 days.That said, some good work has recently been done to attempt to get a grip on the problem., a website affiliated to the Communist Party in China, conducted a survey of students at 643 colleges from around the country. The staggering result was that over half of the undergraduates reported thinning hair. Previously, a government report had estimated that over 200 million people suffer from some degree of balding. Their report suggested that 24% of that 200 million, or 46 million, were women, many between the ages of 20 and 40. There seems to be a suggestion that hair loss is affecting this new generation of Chinese anything up to two decades earlier than previously.

21st Century Signs

Beyond the university surveys and government reports are some pieces of real-world anecdotal evidence. Evidence that points clearly towards a real and growing problem among the young.

One postgraduate described there being a range of balding emoticons she and her friends can use in communication. This type of emoticon is popular and found on all three of China’s main social networking platforms.

Another entirely anecdotal piece of information highlights the level of concern among young Chinese. The best wish a schoolchild can offer another has become “may you grow thick hair.” While “May you lose your hair faster” has taken over as the most damning of curses.

The Hair Ambulance

There seems little doubt the problem in China is real with the anecdotal evidence, in many ways, being more powerful than the officially published documents.  Local professionals point to the transition to a modern lifestyle, with its stresses and pollution, as a likely culprit. This may turn out to be a double-edged sword given the scale of resources at China’s disposal, so we might anticipate new treatments being produced at a rate never seen before as local pharmaceuticals firms gear up to service their own market.

Today we are witnessing an exploding market for hair loss treatments up to and including transplantation there. It is entirely possible they will be leading the way for new treatments in a short time, we will be watching closely.

Dry shampoo has become an essential part of equipment for busy women everywhere. But are the negative rumours surrounding its use to be taken seriously? We look closer.


Dry Shampoo

Far from a new phenomenon, dry shampoo has been around for a very long time. Clay powder was used in Asia to clean hair over 500 years ago. While in the English court of Queen Elizabeth clay powders were used to remove oil and dirt from wigs.

In fact, according to the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History, since 1790 there have been no less than 71 patents filed for products labelled as a dry shampoo.

A typical dry shampoo contains a carrier agent containing the active ingredient, usually starch. Sprayed onto hair the carrier agent will evaporate away leaving just the starch. At least, that is the theory, but is it the whole story?

What’s Left Behind?

As is often the case with topical applications, it is important to understand how the product behaves over time. As the original composition breaks down how do the remaining ingredients react with the skin and hair?

Let’s start with the propellant because that is essential when you are working with aerosols. It will normally use butane or propane and this will represent up to 90% of the contents. When the dry shampoo is applied the molecules will bond with water and oil droplets. These contained droplets are then easily removed. The process can result in calcium salts being left behind, these are alkaline and the residue may cause irritation.

What To Guard Against

Keeping the scalp clean is essential, especially if using dry shampoo regularly.  Hair follicles are a long way beneath the surface area of the scalp and as such well away from any possible direct negative effects from the shampoo. But a build-up of that alkaline residue can cause problems. Skin irritations from the blocking up of pores are not uncommon and there is a possibility of fungal growths triggered by the accumulated powders.

The Hair Ambulance

Dry shampoo plays an important role in the lives of many women. Pressures on time and societal demands can combine to make it an essential ally. Used sensibly it represents no danger to the vast majority of us. Maintaining a sensible hygiene routine for your scalp and hair, around your use of dry shampoo, will keep you perfectly safe.

The remarkable story of a woman in labour worrying that her partner of two years might spot her hair loss highlights just how traumatic the condition can be. We take a closer look.


Tanya Hughes

Tanya is a young mum from Wales in the UK. Her story is not uncommon, it is just the sort of thing many people find difficult to discuss.

Shortly after the birth of her second child, ten years ago, she noticed her thair beginning to get thinner. This is not unusual and for many new mums losing hair is just a part of the process. During pregnancy, unusually high levels of hormones can trigger some exuberant growth of hair and fingernails. After birth, those hormone levels return to their normal levels. Many hair follicles which have been stuck in a growth phase for a while will enter a rest phase, which sees the old hair get shed to make room for a new one to grow. In some cases, like the unfortunate Tanya, this does not happen and the shedding can be as permanent as it is unwelcome and extensive.

Tanya went from having the sort of hair people commented on for its thickness, to finding it in clumps all over her home. It began to fall out leaving bald patches, occasionally these patches would grow over only to fall out again. She even began to lose eyelashes. A divorce in 2013 exacerbated the problem; “I was like a moulting dog. I wondered if anyone would find me attractive again…” she said to the Sun newspaper in the UK.

Coping Mechanisms

When she met her new partner, Algirdas, she adopted a series of strategies designed to keep her secret. A complicated set of 5 hair extensions were used to mask her hair loss, which she would sleep in. Washing her hair was, of course, a time-consuming business requiring careful removal of the extensions.

The longer she left it the harder it became to broach the subject. So that even when she became pregnant it had still not been discussed… and this remained the situation right up to the point where Tanya was delivering their baby. She describes lying in the delivery room and the hair extensions being a serious concern. She recognised the ridiculous position she had created for herself and took to forums for support and advice. There she found others who had been through the same problems, who all urged her to share with Algirdas.

When she did she found he was totally supportive, comparing her to the Amber Rose and urging her to, like the famous pop star, shave her head. Which she promptly did in a move she described as strange but liberating.

The Hair Ambulance

We recognise Tanya’s story as one we have heard many times before. Young women carrying the stress of living with their hair loss every day and lacking in support or advice. Strangely liberating is a great way for Tanya to describe shaving her head. It is going to feel strange exposing a scalp that you have spent the last decade desperately trying to hide.

But there is nothing more liberating than taking ownership of the problem, which for Tanya was about accessing the range of alternatives to extensions that a shaved head provides.

According to the BBC, there are demands for more support to be given to those undergoing the mental trauma of hair loss. We look closer.


Traumatic Hair Loss

Whether or not your hair loss might be considered traumatic is very much a subjective question. Each of us will go through the experience in our own way. For the majority this will mean embracing the hand fate has dealt us, our own genes predestined at birth with the point at which we would begin to lose hair. For others, however, hair loss is an unwelcome surprise because it has come at an incredibly young age, or as part of another condition.

We take a closer look at two women featured by the BBC with very different hair loss stories.

Charlie McGory

Charlie (pictured above) is a typical 17-year-old girl in almost every respect. Except that Charlie began losing her hair when she was just 3 and by the time she reached 8 she was wearing a wig.

She told the BBC that she had been subjected to some cruel comments, though most were kind. But it clearly helped shape the character of this remarkable girl who is currently in the middle of her exams, she went on to say: “Most of my friends have accepted it. In earlier years there were some smaller incidents, but you can’t let it get to you, you can’t let it get you down.”

Linda McIlrath

Linda lost her hair during chemotherapy, as so many do. For Linda the experience was devastating, she lost all the hair on her scalp along with her eyelashes and eyebrows in the space of just a week.

She said to the BBC “I felt so vulnerable. It stripped me of all my confidence and I just wanted to hide away. I saw a person, I didn’t see a woman.”

Hair Support

The NHS provides a level of service for victims of hair loss who might be being treated for a range of conditions. Oncology is one, but so are haematology, transgender, and dermatology. The trouble is that demand for their help is huge and waiting times for appointments can take months.

This is where the work of cancer support groups, like the one Charlie and Linda belong to, perform important work. For many of the women in the group, finding the right wig was a hugely positive step forward. Many of the women expressed frustration that the NHS service restricted them to a single choice of vendor, so providing support and information to one another, including practical help like answers on how and where to buy their first wig, can be crucial support.

The Hair Ambulance

Given the stresses on today’s NHS, it seems unlikely that we are going to see any improvement to the service they provide any time soon. As much as we would welcome it there are countless other worthy candidates for their cash. So the work of local support groups, helping women as diverse as Linda and Charlie, will continue to plug a large and important gap in provision.





keto diet and hair loss

The keto diet has become a weight loss phenomenon as people realise they can drop the pounds quickly by causing the body to burn fat instead of carbs. Ketosis kicks in after a few days of following the high fat, low carb diet. Equally famous, though, is the accompanying ‘keto flu’ which can make people feel tired and nauseous and it seems like that isn’t the only side effect.

As well as a drop in libido, kidney damage and heart problems, the keto diet can possibly cause hair loss. Our view is that reducing your body’s intake in valuable nutrients and the stress of committing to such a restrictive diet could result in hair thinning, but this should be a temporary change. Our top tip is to increase your consumption of biotin, one of the most effective nutrients for increasing the thickness of hair follicles. There’s a whole host of ketogenic-friendly foods that contain biotin, including cauliflower, eggs, salmon, avocados, mushrooms and spinach.

body fat hair loss injections

We’ve known for some time that Platelet Rich Plasma Therapy or PRP can help boost hair growth as part of a carefully-planned treatment programme, but now it seems that using hair loss injections of body fat rather than you blood platelets could be more effective. A small-scale US trial recently published its results in the use of scalp injections of adipose-derived stromal vascular fraction (SVF) to treat androgenetic alopecia.

Hair loss injections of body fat show promising results

Body fat or adipose fat was harvested using liposuction and then gently centrifuged to remove SVF which is known to contain cell populations that can be regenerative when injected. The trial initially began with seven subjects, but then three withdrew, leaving two male and two female participants. After six months, there were no incidences of adverse reactions and there was increased hair density for all participants, with each achieving a 31% gain in the number of hairs per square centimetre on average.

Although these results are really exciting, such a small-scale trial means we need much more clinical testing of the efficacy of this hair loss treatment. We look forward to hearing more though.

Get in touch

    The Hair Ambulance is our mobile service where you can be seen by one of our experts but if you prefer you can attend one of our private hair loss clinics. Fill in the contact form and one of our team will be in touch to find out how best we can help.

    Alternatively, call us on the number below or drop us a line.

    0121 312 2999

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