At first glance, the news that a treatment for hair loss caused by regularly wearing the hair in a ponytail, is to become available in China would seem to be good news.
This shedding, which is often concentrated around the hairline and temples, is caused when excessive strain is repeatedly placed on the hair follicles. It is known as Traction Alopecia and, in extreme circumstances, can cause permanent hair loss.
On closer inspection of information regarding this novel, topical hair loss solution - marketed as a treatment for Traction Alopecia - all may not be quite as it first seems.
Details provided in a 12th February 2019 Applied Biology press release state that the innovation, created by the Hairmore Group and newly licensed to Applied Biology for sale in China, states that the company's scientists "discovered a novel TAAR receptor agonist that when applied to scalp reduces the force exerted by the ponytail on hair follicles; thus reduces the likelihood of development of ponytail alopecia".
It also advises, "While cessation of styling the hair in a ponytail avoids the development of this condition, a large majority of Chinese women continue to wear a ponytail hair style; thus, a prophylactic treatment that prevents the development of ponytail induced alopecia is of great clinical importance".
As such, the product seems to be designed to help prevent this very specific type of hair loss by supporting the follicle to better keep it in place, rather than to actually promote hair regrowth in cases of Traction Alopecia.
If this is the case, it does not appear to address cases where there is existing hairloss. Rather it is something of a preventative measure than a 'treatment'.
It is interesting that this new solution is only aimed at Traction Alopecia when it is caused by wearing ponytails too frequently.
There are many problematic hairstyles which can cause this hair loss condition, including wearing hair extensions or tight hairstyles such as braids. However, the reason for concentrating exclusively on women who wear their hair in a ponytail may be two-fold.
Firstly, the information provided in the official press release explains the potential audience they are targeting the product to, "A recent study conduct by Dr. Goren et al. demonstrated, that approximately 79% of women wearing a ponytail hair style four or more times per week for a period of at least ten years are at high risk for developing ponytail induced alopecia".
Secondly, as Belgravia hair loss specialist, Rali Bozhinova notes, "Ponytails do not apply as much tension to the follicles as braiding or extensions."
Additionally, Belgravia superintendent pharmacist prescriber, Christina Chikaher, points out that preventing hair loss from tension exerted by a ponytail would be tricky whilst the person affected is still repeatedly wearing the hairstyle causing the issue - something the company seems to allow alongside use of its product.
"As long as the traction force is still being exerted - in this case, the repeated wearing of the hair in a ponytail - the only way to stop the traction is to change the hairstyle and remove this source of tension. At Belgravia we always recommend Traction Alopecia treatment clients with tight hairstyles, or hair extensions that are causing or significantly contributing to their hair loss, remove them or at the very least reduce the frequency with which they wear the problematic styles in order to assist their recovery."
Whilst there does seem to be a lack of clarity surrounding this new hair loss product, we very much look forward to seeing how women in China respond.
For people who regularly wear tight hairstyles or extensions who are currently concerned about thinning edges or shedding around their hairline, the first step is - as Christina advises - to abandon any hairstyle that involves tension. This includes taut buns, high ponytails, braids and plaits, as well as extensions or weaves.
Wear the hair naturally to remove the source of tension then consult a specialist hair loss clinic where a professional diagnosis can be made and a personalised course of treatments and hair growth supporting products can be recommended.
The Belgravia Centre is a world-renowned group of a hair loss clinic 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 from anywhere in the world for home-use treatment.
View our Hair Loss Success Stories, which includes the world's largest gallery of hair growth photos and demonstrates the level of success that so many of Belgravia's patients achieve.