Researchers at the University of Washington have been investigating how logging what they eat on Instagram can help people lose weight, and their findings suggest that people who are being treated for hair loss could also use the social media image-sharing network to assist their progress.
The research team conducted interviews with 16 dieters who were committed to posting a quick Instagram snap of everything they ate to see how the resultant visual data helped them to get a broad view of what they were eating. Unlike with a regular food journal, which people on a diet are often encouraged to keep, Instagram offers a less intrusive and much quicker solution, and lead author of the study, Christina Chung, said that “The benefits of photos is that it’s much more fun to do than taking out a booklet or typing hundreds of words.”
According to the University’s website, the interviewees said that social and emotional support from other Instagram users helped them stick to their own tracking and healthy eating goals, and many also tried to provide similar support for others.
Tip of the iceberg
The study is to be presented at a conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems, and perhaps represents just the tip of the iceberg in terms of the way the internet and social media in particular are shaping our lives.
Just 12 years ago, anyone who signed up for hair loss treatment, for example, would likely have kept it to themselves, but things are rapidly changing. Thanks to footballer Wayne Rooney and TV stars like James Nesbitt talking openly about tackling their male pattern baldness, as well as female celebrities who have experienced hair loss, including Naomi Campbell, Jennifer Aniston and Ariana Grande, the issue has lost much of its stigma.
For those who are open about the fact that they are taking a proactive approach to dealing with their hair thinning, progress from following a pharmaceutical hair loss treatment course can be just the ticket for chronicling on Instagram, as improvements tend to happen gradually.
After three-to-six months, depending on their initial level of shedding, many people see that their shedding has stopped and often notice visible signs of new hair growth; after a year the levels of regrowth can be significant. By taking a quick Instagram snap every day, week or month, it is easy to create a timelapse-style video that could show many months’-worth of regrowth in just a few seconds.
Keeping track of hair growth progress is an important part of a person’s journey as they go through hair loss treatment. By comparing clear images of their hair before and after starting treatment they can be inspired and motivated by seeing positive changes. Equally, if it appears that over the course of a few months – in order to allow for the natural length of time involved in the hair growth cycle – there have been few changes or any deterioration, it can spur them into further action. Sometimes, the influence of other factors such as an underlying illness, dietary deficiencies or side effects of new medication, can stall hair growth. In these instances, Belgravia clients will have their bespoke treatment course components tweaked in order to ensure they are always using the optimum products for their needs.
Belgravia clients also have regular professional photo scans taken during their quarterly check-ups in order to help both the patient and their treatment team monitor progress. Many clients go beyond this, however, using image-sharing apps to generate support from friends and even from their treatment advisors; Belgravia’s instagram account – @belgraviacentre – is often tagged in clients’ recovery selfies so we can see how they’re getting on between appointments.
Understandably, some people prefer to log developments more privately, taking selfies and then storing them in a special album on their phone. We have heard from clients that, although the album stayed private initially, they are now so proud of their results that the album didn’t stay hidden for long!
Clients getting younger
What is interesting is that many hair loss clinics have seen a steady increase in younger clients experiencing androgenetic alopecia, though there has not yet been a dedicated clinical evaluation of why this is the case. There are two schools of thought: one is that young people, who can easily appear on several different social media accounts throughout the average day, are becoming increasingly pre-occupied with their self-image. Someone who was showing the first signs of losing their hair, therefore, might be getting daily reminders of their thinning, and feel compelled to take action. Awareness of hair loss treatment could be playing a part, too, as many people now know that genetic shedding doesn’t have to be the fast-track to baldness it once was.
The other reason why hair loss clinics are seeing a downward trend in the age of new clients could be to do with stress. Much has been written about the pressures of the modern age – from hellish commutes to unpaid internships to body image and beyond – and young people are often at the sharp end of this. Women in particular are starting to experience female pattern hair loss much earlier in life than was seen in previous generations and this has been linked to the pressures of modern living.
Given that stress can speed up genetic hair loss in men and women, as well as actually being the main cause of some other conditions such as Telogen Effluvium, it is equally possible that incidence levels are rising.
Most hair regrowth journeys begin with a diagnosis of their hair loss condition by an expert, followed by advice about what can be done and an explanation of the products that are available. A free consultation at Belgravia is frequently described by clients as a friendly and stress-free way to get the ball rolling.
The Belgravia Centre is the leader in hair loss treatment in the UK, with two clinics based in Central London. 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 UK or the rest of the world. View our Hair Loss Success Stories, which are the largest collection of such success stories in the world and demonstrate the levels of success that so many of Belgravia’s patients achieve. You can also phone 020 7730 6666 any time for our hair loss helpline or to arrange a free consultation.