Collier and Lee Counties Edition
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Healthy Hair

From the Inside Out

In a word list for writers, 400 words are noted for use by book authors seeking help in describing the hair of their protagonist. The plethora of terms used to describe everything from color and styles to cuts, movement and scent shouldn’t come as a total surprise because hair reveals so much about an individual’s personality and lifestyle. Also considered a universal sign of youth and vitality, hair is a window into an individual’s health, because it grows from the inside out. Hair, like every other part of the body, requires more than topical enhancement, including the right vitamins and minerals to remain strong and healthy.

Toxic Beauty Products

Maria Bella Pitzono, a Naples stylist specializing in organic hair treatments, is a 30-year veteran of the beauty industry. Pitzono’s awareness of what it takes to keep a client’s hair healthy is the result of serious health issues that nearly led her to leave her profession 15 years ago. “We didn’t know then about the toxic chemicals contained in the products used by nail technicians and hair stylists, and I had my hands in them every day. The results were severe allergies and a fibroid tumor on my uterus,” notes Pitzono.

Maria Bella PitzonoStress and a poor diet can also render hair lackluster or cause early hair loss and thinning. “I see vegans with dull, lifeless and thin hair that won’t hold color. This tells me that they aren’t eating enough protein. One client’s sleek hair became frizzy. She eliminated gluten, healed her leaky gut issue, and her hair returned to its original state,” remarks Pitzono.

Pitzono counsels clients about why deficiencies are visible in their hair, why eating organic is important and what ingredients they need to look for before buying any beauty products for hair, skin and nails. “I share the knowledge I gained from research and educating myself,” she says.

Melanie Nickels, owner of Raw Hair Organic Salon, wholeheartedly agrees with Pitzono regarding providing hair with the proper amounts of protein and moisture by eating right Melanie Nickelsand supplementing an organic diet with whole food supplements, vitamins and minerals. “Just as important is what we use on our hair when cleansing, styling, coloring or using any ‘chemical’ services which alter the natural state of hair,” advises Nickels.

Speaking from more than 22 years’ experience as a working stylist, Nickels calls attention to other things that cause thinning or hair loss. Inner factors include the imbalance of hormones from thyroid issues, pregnancy, menopause, heart problems, and stress. Outer factors are chemicals in the water such as chlorine, ammonia and metals, as well as products with strong chemicals used to color, bleach, perm and relax hair. “Cheap-quality hair products can cause build-up and also lead to hair loss,” notes Nickels.

Hair Loss and Iodine Deficiency

Thyroid hormones help control the growth of hair follicles. When thyroid hormone levels are low, hair follicles may stop regenerating. Over time, this may result in hair loss. For tDr. Carol Robertshis reason, people with an iodine deficiency may also suffer from hair loss

“I test all my patients for iodine levels. Only one in 100 has adequate amounts. Individuals using pink Himalayan sea salt need to realize that because it is not iodized, they should supplement with elemental potassium iodide, or they can use kelp or edible forms of seaweed such nori or dulse, and eat shellfish if they are not allergic. Don’t buy salt that isn’t iodized and don’t be afraid to use it,” advises Carol Roberts, M.D., who practices at Naples Center for Functional Medicine, formerly the Perlmutter Health Center.   

Roberts sees many patients not getting enough protein, especially vegans that don’t consume foods like bone broth that contain collagen. She advises them that because hair is made from collagen, they need to get theirs from a plant-based collagen builder that includes a complete protein, such as hemp. Vegans also need to make sure they are getting enough vitamin C and biotin, a B vitamin crucial to hair and nails.  

Vitamin and Mineral Deficiencies

Deb Post, ARNP, owner of Wellbridges, in Bonita Springs, cautions that to lose more than the normal 100 hairs a day is a sign of bodily stress. “Doses of biotin that are too high Deb Postcan elevate levels of thyroid hormones and thyroid antibodies, stimulating the thyroid gland to produce too much thyroid hormone. This results in hyperthyroidism. Anyone taking biotin should stop at least two days prior to taking a thyroid test,” she says.

Dee HarrisIn many cases, Dee Harris, owner of D-Signed Nutrition, in Bonita Springs, finds that individuals are disappointed to see that biotin doesn’t always work with hair loss because the root cause hasn’t been addressed. There are other nutrients involved, including vitamins A, C, D and E. Iron and zinc deficiencies can also reflect in unhealthy hair or hair loss. Rather than having patients self-diagnose and over replete with mega doses of supplements, we encourage them to test, and not guess. Routine blood work gives us an indication of some deficiencies, while labs such as SpectraCell test for absorbed micronutrients. Hormonal testing for thyroid, adrenal and sex hormones guides us in the area of what to address to rebalance and improve health, which ultimately results in a healthy head of hair and improved overall vitality,” notes Harris.

Thin Hair Solutions

While a healthy head of curly hair might bounce, coil, twist and spiral, thin, curly hair acts differently. According to Mida, owner of H&M Hair Salon, in Naples, moderate layering and a little texturizing encourages curly hair to have more volume and make fine hair look Midathicker and fuller. “Using Ouidad organic color with no ammonia prevents dry and brittle hair, as well as avoiding hairspray with alcohol,” says Mida, a certified curly hair specialist who is Vidal Sassoon-trained and organic color certified. Her salon is Quidad-certified.

Edmond, another certified curly hair specialist at Salon Zenergy, in Naples, advises clients with thin hair to stay away from long hairstyles that only make hair thinner. A chin-length bob Edmondis better for a round face, and a long bob for a woman with a long neck and face. Minimum or moderate layering encourages the curl to have more volume.

Another trick to add volume is fibrous hair powder made of keratin protein or natural hair fibers. “You can’t tell hair is thinning with this, because the moment it comes out of the container, it attaches to the hair and scalp. With a little waterproof hairspray, suddenly a woman looks like she has a ton of hair,” says Edmond.

PRP for Hair Rejuvenation

Platelet-rich plasma (PRP) for hair rejuvenation is similar to the popular PRP non-invasive facelift, which uses a vial of blood drawn from an individual. “It is spun in a centrifuge at intensely high speeds, causing the blood to separate into layers. Red blood cells, which comprise approximately 45 percent of blood, are forced to the bottom of the vial. White blood cells and platelets form a thin middle layer called a buffy coat, which comprises less than 1 percent of the centrifuged blood. After the centrifuge process is complete, the doctor or registered nurse removes the vial from the centrifuge and prepares the PRP solution for injection in an area where there are hair follicles. This can be done for women and men; however it doesn’t work for total baldness. Three treatments are generally sufficient,” says Dr. Brian Smith, a practicing physician at Sagewood Institute, in Naples.  

Coping Emotionally with Hair Loss

Hair loss has devastating psychological consequences for women because they equate hair with beauty. Carol Roldan, a licensed psychologist and owner of Revive Psychology, in Naples, has been specializing in Carol Roldanhelping women cope with life transitions for 10 years, not only as a therapist, but also as a yoga teacher. “When women are stressed by hair loss, I might recommend such things as yoga, breathing exercises, the services of a reiki therapist, mindfulness and activities such as going to a support group, as well as setting realistic goals. If a woman is starting to lose hair because of a traumatic event, I recommend therapy,” advises Roldan.

Self-acceptance is also very important, along with knowing and understanding our body. “Women and men should not depend on external values, but rather on internal values. Engaging in activities such as dancing, hobbies or contact with nature, or other things that bring pleasure and joy can help self-esteem issues that often accompany hair loss. Self-assurance affirmations such as, ‘I love and accept myself as I am,’ and, ‘Everything is the way it has to be in my life,’ are also helpful,” explains Roldan.

Local Resources

Maria Bella Pitzono, (inside Genesis Non-GMO Vitamins) 877 91st Ave. N., Ste. 4, Naples. 315-569-6245.

Naples Center for Functional Medicine, 800 Goodlette Rd. N., Naples. 239-649-7400 or

Raw Hair Organics, 2940 Immokalee Rd., Ste. 4, Naples. 239-597-0939.

Wellbridges Health Center, 9200 Bonita Beach Rd., Ste. 213, Bonita Springs. 239-231-8354.

D-Signed Nutrition, 3531 Bonita Bay Blvd., Ste. 300, Bonita Springs. 239-676-5249.

H&M Hair Salon, Heritage Court Plaza, 5020 Tamiami Tr. N. Ste. 102, Naples. 239-298-2569.

Salon Zenergy, 2950 Tamiami Tr. N. Ste. 4, Naples. 773.882.7799.

Sagewood Institute,801 Anchor Rode Dr., Ste. 304, Naples, 239-434-971.

Revive Psychology, Naples Professional Center, 4933 N. Tamiami Tr., Ste. 200; 12553 New Brittany Blvd., Ste. 32, Fort Myers. 239-330-5397.

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