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Back in August, The Times ran a Dear Sarah story about Viviscal, a supplement that purports to restore hair.

Does caffeine prevent hair loss?

The author wrote that they’d never tried it and it may or may not work. She recommended trying to find a trichologist and that Boots might have something that worked. Anyone could have written that. Fine, no problem.

Then J D Erhlich responded on the website with “I thoroughly checked out Rushton, Kingsley and other ‘experts’. These people are making money promising much– delivering NOTHING, BECAUSE THERE IS NO REMEDY FOR THIS COMMON KIND OF HAIR LOSS!”

Now, you see, that’s just plain rubbish. When a drug has gained FDA approval, it’s been scientifically proven to work. So saying it doesn’t involves a complete denial of science. Now, that’s become quite fashionable in the wibbly wobbly world we live in nowadays as people grasp at straws that might provide some extra stability. We all want some certainties in life, but actually one of the biggest source of certainty is science and research based knowledge.

Not only that, we create hair growth every single day and have done for years, and for thousands of people. Erhlich is just so wrong.

So we added our own comment.

And then we added another.

And then we tried again.

And The Times didn’t print any of those responses.

Why? We’ve no idea. Maybe for The Times it’s old news. Maybe they think we were promoting ourselves (we really weren’t, just trying to set the record straight).

So, for whatever reason, you can’t believe all you read in the papers.

But we know you know that. We know you’d take one look at Erhlich’s comments and disregard them. It’s an obvious case. What’s interesting is how much of this is happening in a much more subtle way across the whole of the press.

We’re not complaining, we’ve had good press coverage. We’re just saying it’s hard to find the information you need to make a great decision. That’s partly why we ran our secret shopper tests on hair loss clinics. We know we’re not an independent source of information, but we don’t know of any other direct comparison.

As for Viviscal, our view is: start with what’s proven to work. All the time you spend trying to work out whether this or that natural remedy is working or not, your hair follicles are dying off and your hair is getting thinner. The proven remedies work better if they are applied earlier. The Belgravia Centre offers medically proven hair loss treatments that work every day for our clients.

One of the most common questions we are asked is “how do you prevent hair loss?” Clearly people are searching the Internet for an answer. The difficulty is that anyone can publish on the Internet, so it’s hard to know who is credible and who is simply being a good, persuasive, sales person. We successfully treat thousands of people with hair loss every year, so we really do know what works.

People ask all sorts of things: “does caffeine prevent hair loss” or “does scalp oil prevent hair loss”. Even “can testosterone help prevent hair loss”. So let’s tackle some of these queries…

Coffee and Hair LossDoes caffeine prevent hair loss?

The caffeine one is interesting. In January 2007, the International Journal of Dermatology (skin) published a study that showed caffeine did significantly stimulate hair growth in hair follicles that had been removed from 14 people and were kept growing in the lab.

Let’s be clear, this isn’t about drinking coffee. You’d have to drink enough coffee to kill you before it had any significant effect on your hair. The idea is to apply it topically (ie. on your scalp) in sufficient concentration.

Now, we know that substances can be absorbed through the skin. Rub garlic on your skin and your breath will smell of it. Nicotine patches are another example. And caffeine will certainly harm you in a large dose. So there’s a big difference between steeping hair follicles in caffeine in the lab, and working out a way safely to deliver enough caffeine to the hair follicles to make a difference to your hair growth.

We have seen caffeine shampoos. But we’ve not seen anything that demonstrates it works as a hair loss treatment. We think it’s likely the development of caffeine shampoos has been driven by marketing departments who saw that same study and know that we’ll make the link between coffee as a friendly everyday stimulant and our hair’s need for stimulation. We have to buy shampoo, so why not buy the coffee one? Coffee is even associated with mornings, which is when many people shower. It’s a way for them to gain market share. No problem with that, we just are not convinced it will prevent hair loss.

Can testosterone help prevent hair loss?

Lack of testosterone might. In male pattern baldness (and in some instances of female pattern baldness), some hair follicles are genetically susceptible to a derivative of the male sex hormone testosterone. The effect is that those follicles gradually get weaker and eventually stop, causing baldness.

One of the recognised treatments (medically proven, actually works) is finasteride 1mg because it gets in the way of testosterone affecting the hair follicle, so preserving its life and indeed, preventing hair loss.

Does oil prevent hair loss?

I think we are squarely in the world of ‘snake oil’ here. Even if someone once got a benefit from massaging an oil into their scalp, that doesn’t mean it will work for you. And there are hundreds of things you could try. Meanwhile, you’ll be getting more bald. We say: start with what’s proven to work, you might save yourself a whole lot of time. If you get insufficient joy from proven treatments, you can try massaging oil into your scalp if you like.

Belgravia Centre Hair Loss Treatment Men Women Hair Growth Hair Care 360pxSo what is the best treatment to prevent hair loss?

Some illnesses cause hair loss and some drugs have hair loss as a side effect, so the first thing is to check with your doctor.

Hair loss treatment is not available on the NHS, however, so once ‘illness’ is removed as a cause, doctors won’t have spent much time thinking about how to cure thinning hair and will often just recommend a hair loss shampoo, so you need to see a specialist.

The Food and Drugs Administration (FDA) has approved two medical treatments for hair loss, finasteride 1mg (for men only), and Minoxidil. Whilst everyone responds differently – which is why each solution is tailored to the individual client’s requirements – Belgravia specialists find the most effective treatment outcomes tend to arise from using both these complementary medications with the right combination of formulations, paired with suitable hair growth supporting products.

circ - Mens and womens hair vitamins Hair Vitalics for Men Women Belgravia Centre hair growth supplementThe Belgravia Centre

The Belgravia Centre is an organisation specialising in hair growth and hair loss prevention with two clinics and in-house pharmacies in Central London, UK. If you are worried about hair loss you can arrange a free consultation with a hair loss expert or complete our Online Consultation Form from anywhere in the world. View our Hair Loss Success Stories, which includes the world’s largest gallery of hair growth comparison photos and demonstrates the levels of success that so many of Belgravia’s patients achieve. You can also phone 020 7730 6666 any time to arrange a free consultation.

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(This blog is by guest contributor John Allsopp). As a man, I didn’t think I was going to like Breaking the Silence on Women’s Hair Loss. I mean, I’ve read Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus: How to Get What You Want in Your Relationships
, so I’m comfortable being uncomfortable when the book jacket talks about “women who struggle with hair loss and its accompanying emotional toll and shame”. The third sentence in chapter one is “Fairy tales, myths and legends abound with hair central to the story”.

women's hair loss

It turns out, though, that Hoffmann herself, a ‘seasoned medical journalist and editor’ also seems uncomfortable with that and soon gets into her stride talking about what causes hair loss and what you can do about it. Journalists aren’t flowery by nature, they like to report the facts as they see them. That’s their job. I love it.

So, I think what’s happened is the flowery stuff has been forced there by the publisher in order to satisfy their model of what sells the books to women. That’s fine, just don’t get the impression the book deals only with the emotional and social side of hair loss. There’s a load of great information in here that I haven’t seen elsewhere.

I’ve taken a step back. And that’s very slightly annoying 


Hoffmann gets serious with hair loss, providing, for example, the biggest list I’ve seen anywhere of reasons to see your doctor first, from Lupus to statin drugs and SSRIs like Prozac with hair loss as a possible side effect.

There’s advice on who to talk to and how to build a ‘hair loss team’ around you. The largest chapter is probably the one covering a wide range of hair loss treatments. Then it’s hair nutrients, wigs and finally she reaches the book’s basic conclusion which feels like: you may improve your hair but you probably won’t get back your teenage years. You need confidence in you, and your hair isn’t you. The major battle isn’t your hair, it’s you and your attitude towards it.

It’s in the treatments part of the book, however, that I think it falls down. Basically, I’ve read the book and I learned a whole lot about hair loss causes and treatments. But I still don’t know what to do.

If I have hair loss, why should I have to learn about it? 


What I really wanted was for Hoffmann to write a book titled “John’s hair loss, what it is and what he should do next”. I’ve spent maybe four or five hours reading the book and I know more about hair loss, I’m better equipped, I have a more rounded appreciation. But I’m nowhere nearer making a decision about getting my hair back. In fact, whereas before I was looking for a hair loss solution, now I’ve reverted to wondering whether I should just accept me for who I am. I’ve taken a step back. And that’s very slightly annoying.

But isn’t that how life is now? We’re suffering under a weight of choice. Want broadband? You’ve got to understand it before you can buy it. Want a mobile phone? May your God help you. Want something to calm your nerves? First, you have to deal with more information than you can shake a stick at, and nowadays the first place people turn is the Internet. Anyone, even stupid people, can write articles on the Internet.

I have a different view. I think there will be a backlash against the herd, against stupid people you don’t know or trust making stupid online comments. Against DIY. Against information overload. I think the pendulum will swing back towards the expert.

If I have hair loss, why should I have to learn about it? Surely I just want to turn up to an expert, get it treated, walk out and get on with what I want to do.

Our life is just the hours we get given. We shouldn’t waste them. Do what you want with your life. Learn about hair loss if that’s what you really want to do. Otherwise, consult a hair loss expert, get it sorted to the best of their ability (and let them worry about that), then get on with your life. Hair loss can’t stop you.

(Pic courtesy Dawn Ashley on Flickr, some rights reserved)

Delicious.com is a social bookmarking site. That means that instead of keeping bookmarks (web pages you like and would like to remember) on your computer, in your browser, you can now keep them online at Delicious.

Delicious.com logo

The benefit to you is partly that you get to keep your bookmarks when you change computer, and you can access them from other computers too. So you’ll never lose your bookmarks.

But the real benefit is that you get to share great websites with your friends. So if you’re a gardener, manager, taxi driver, performer or whatever you do, you can see what your friends have discovered online, and you can share great sites with them.

Underneath all that, however, is something that benefits us, the Belgravia Centre, as well as you. When you bookmark a website with Delicious, it’s as if you’re voting for it. You give it human approval. If enough people do that to a site, it’s clearly a useful or popular site. The search engines watch what people bookmark and that influences how high in the search results sites are placed. It makes the Internet interactive.

Clearly, then, we’d like you to bookmark us in Delicious. You could even comment on our service there. But equally, as you bookmark sites you like, you’re influencing the Internet, making it more your kind of place, helping those you like.

So, take a look at Delicious.com. Open an account, and start bookmarking web pages you like. Connect with your friends and share your bookmarks. Get into the habit of bookmarking good sites as you browse the Internet. And if you think one of those good sites is ours, bookmark your favourite pages here too.

Step by step:

  1. open an account at Delicious.com go through the setup process
  2. bookmark a few sites just to get the hang of it (dare we suggest ours?)
  3. start building a network of friends and start sharing your bookmarks

Get your friends into Delicious then you can share bookmarks, especially if you have friends who share a hobby, a course, you’re in a band, or just others in your town. Click People->Go_To_A_User and enter their Delicious username, then add them to your network (top right). Click People->myNetwork each day to see what your friends have discovered across the Internet.

Get new friends by checking who else bookmarked the pages you hold dear (click the number that represents how many people bookmarked the site). Click on each username. When you find someone who bookmarks stuff you like, add them to your network too.

Network with us, our username is JonnyBe.

Check out the Delicious blog to get in the loop.

And remember, when you see the Delicious logo (for instance at the end of each of our blog posts), that’s a shortcut quick way for you to bookmark that blog. Easy.

There’s a blog about Digg too, check that out.

This Christmas the Belgravia Centre are donating to ActionAid UK to help prevent poverty in some of the less fortunate areas of the world.


Together with more than 2,000 civil society partners worldwide, ActionAid work with and support the poorest and most vulnerable people to fight for and gain their rights to food, shelter, work, basic healthcare and a voice in the decisions that affect their lives. Founded in 1972, ActionAid has been fighting poverty worldwide for over 30 years. In 2003, ActionAid’s work reached almost 13 million people in Africa, Asia and the Americas.

If you would like to make a donation you can visit the ACTIONAID WEBSITE.

Tiki Barber

We can only assume ‘poppers’ means something different in America to what it means here in the UK, and that the shape of an Eagle Popper inspired this bout of bald loving fun, but Eagle Snacks recently announced the results of their “THE BALD AND THE BEAUTIFUL™ Sweepstakes” which sought to find America’s most beautiful bald celebrity.

So, get ready for America’s most beautiful bald people. First, the runners up: Tiki Barber, Terry Bradshaw, Chris Daughtry.

And the winner: Charlie Villaneuva. No, we’d never heard of any of them either. Clearly our own Wayne Rooney needs to work on his awareness ratings over the pond.

Chris Daughtry

We note that bald ladies don’t appear to be represented.

The winning voter, a ‘snack fan’, won a years supply of Poppers and a holiday in some mountains.

(Tiki Barber pic courtesy alexa627 on Flickr, some rights reserved.
Chris Daughtry pic courtesy caswell_tom on Flickr, some rights reserved)

Put “hair growth” into Google and you’ll see the best of the worst. There are Chinese factories offering to manufacture your own brand hair loss product, and there are shampoos guaranteed to make your hair grow faster.

What can we say? All life is on the Internet.

A survey came out today that says almost half of hair loss sufferers would spend their life savings to get their hair back, and more than a third said they would give up sex. Very curious, that; we thought part of the point of getting your hair back was … anyway.

Another survey of women showed that hair loss is the body issue they feel would make them least attractive to men.

Hair loss is incredibly important to those dealing with it. People will do a lot, and give up a lot, to get good hair growth.

Of course, that makes it an area ripe for sharp practice.

Our approach has always been what everyone’s should be: we use our comprehensive expertise and years of experience to deliver only what works. By cutting out everything else, we save you money. We take our knowledge from proven studies, not conjecture, hearsay, touched-up photographs or made-up testimonials written by the sales guys.

So when you walk in through the doors of the Belgravia Centre, you’re free of all that. We just treat your hair loss. It works. Job done.

John Cleese has had a hair transplant

You will have probably read by now that John Cleese has had a hair transplant. So, why did he choose surgery and not the established hair loss treatments?

Well, it’s not actually a choice.

Male Pattern Baldness affects the hair follicles over the top of the scalp, often leaving thick and bountiful hair around the sides .. the ‘power doughnut’ look of President Ford.

The idea of hair transplants is to take hair follicles from the side of the head and transplant them into the bald areas on top. Because those follicles aren’t genetically sensitive to DHT, the chemical derived from testosterone that causes all the hair loss trouble, they grow quite happily in their new site. Clearly once the evidence of surgery dies down this will look natural because it really is the person’s own hair.

So, what’s obvious about that? Well, if you take hair from the sides, there will be less hair there .. you’re just moving hair around. Sure, it’s probably better to have it up top than hidden around the back, but still.

If, say, you’ve lost 80% of your hair, moving the remaining 20% of your hair around isn’t going to give you the full head of hair you probably had when you were 18.

For hair transplantation to be successful, you really need to increase the hair you have, both because that will lessen the areas you need to transplant into, and it will provide more hair for you to harvest for transplantation. Maybe if less transplantation is required, the cost will be less too.

So if you’re trying to choose between a hair transplant and drug-based hair loss treatment, it’s the wrong question. It’s not a choice. Established hair loss treatment is a necessary first step. Once you’ve done that for a while, if you still want a hair transplant, you’ll have much better results. And if you’re having a hair transplant for a small area of hair loss (i.e. the hairline) you will need to use treatment to maintain the rest of your hair, which will most probably otherwise be affected in the future.

(Pic courtesy Luc Van Braekel on Flickr, some rights reserved)

New drug for longer eyelashes may help hair lossAs you know, we love proven, medically tested, officially approved hair loss treatments. Not because we have any particular axe to grind. It’s just .. those are the treatments that work and we like happy clients.

So we read with interest about Latisse which appears to be about to get FDA approval as a treatment to encourage the growth of eyelashes.

Latisse comes from Allergan, the company that brought us Botox. They say they will investigate the hair loss gains further because .. what makes eyelashes grow makes hair grow. Whatever makes hair grow gets us all excited.

They say it should become available in the UK next year, but, let’s see if they get approval first.

(Pic courtesy the prodigal untitled13 on Flickr, some rights reserved)

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