Finding a hair loss product formulated for black South Africans, especially women can be a mission, but now a customised hair treatment range that promises just that has officially dropped; renowned SA actress Gail Mabalane’s brand new Ethnogenics hair range is now available exclusively at Clicks stores countrywide.
The all vegan, paraben free hair range was inspired by Mabalane’s own personal struggles with finding the right products to combat hair loss, an autoimmune condition also known as Alopecia. Many would recall the overwhelming support the former ‘Generations: The Legacy‘ actress received when she started documenting her hair loss journey through her YouTube channel in 2019 – with a picture of a big, round bald patch on the top of the head – which she started to experience following a salon visit.
It wasn’t long before the ‘Blood and Water‘ actress started receiving messages from multitudes of women who were going the same challenge, with many saying they’re battling to find information and products that could treat hair loss.
“It was clear from my own hair loss journey that knowledge was the missing piece,” said Mabalane, who has spent the past three years researching hair loss with a team that spans demartoligists and highly trained hair and scalp experts.
“I realised there was a distinct lack of education around how to solve the problem. This led me to create the Ethnogenics range and to provide consumers with the information they need to make smarter and more empowered hair care choices, aimed at preventing long term damage to their hair.”
Ethnogenics, as she explains, is more than just a range of products, and it’s rather a hair care platform that seeks to enable better control over the pain of hair loss. “This is done through a combination of high quality, vitamin-enriched products, coupled with education and support around good hair care practices and routines.”
I realised there was a distinct lack of education around how to solve the issue of hair lossGail Mabalane
The range comes at a time when some COVID-19 survivors found themselves having to deal with an unexpected side-effect long after they’ve tested negative: a form of hair loss called Telogen Effluvium, which involves a dramatic increase in hair shedding.
Unlike Alopecia, which though is commonly hereditary can be triggered by toxic hair treatments, tight hairstyles and wearing weaves – and in such cases presume the name Centrifugal Cicatricial Alopecia (CCCA) – this type of hair loss (Telogen Effluvium) is not patchy or permanent, and patients will notice handfuls of hairs coming out when showering, brushing, or even on their pillowcases. As per recent study by Pubmed, it is associated with post Covid-19 infection and can last up to six months.
Traction Alopecia on the other hand affects one-third of women of African descent, according to a study in the medical journal Clinical, Cosmetic and Investigational Dermatology.
6,000 women of African descent by Boston University’s Slone Epidemiology Center found that almost 48% of respondents had suffered hair loss on the crown or the top of the head – mostly caused by Traction Alopecia.
Inspiration behind Ethnogenics hair range
Apart from using it as vehicle to get empowering information to women, for Mabalane, at the core of this brand is education, “because if I didn’t educate myself, I’ll be completely bald. My CCCA would have continued spreading. I mean if I could show you pictures of myself, it went from ‘this’ small, then it became a tomato and it continued growing and growing. It would have gotten worse if I wasn’t treating it.
“So for me it’s about getting this conversation going. I get a lot of women on social media asking me, ‘how did you do it?’,” she says, adding: “So it’s about becoming part of the change. I mean I have a daughter, who has the most beautiful afro hair, and how do I prevent her from making the same mistake? The truth is, most of the time it’s self-inflicted. Yes I was diagnosed with CCCA, but if I had known better, I wouldn’t have gone with coloring my hair, using peroxide.”
Explaining what she believes to be what exacerbated the problem, she says: “I went through a process where, with just a single hair treatment when I went grey, they had to process my hair 15 times with peroxide to get it light. Instead of just saying ‘just spray your hair, and wash it off tomorrow’, because it’s a phase and you’ll get over it, but I went ahead with it. Also, we expect our hair stylist to know better, but the reality is that most of them are self-taught and they’re trying to build their businesses, and there’s no knowledge piece attached to it – and I’m actually saying this with a good heart.”
Customised hair and scalp care ingredients
The range contains moisturising and natural ingredients like shea butter, coconut oil, argan oil, extra virgin avocado oil and castor oil. It also contains biotin, which stimulates keratin production in hair and can increase the rate of follicle growth needed when dealing with the above mentioned conditions, specially CCCA or traction alopecia, which affects one-third of women of African descent (study).
Ethnogenics products specifically focus on enhancing moisture, nourishment, protection, and regrowth. It is vegan, paraben and sulphate free too.
It comes in a wide range of products, including Restoring Conditioner, Cream Shampoo, Conditioning Co-Wash, Stimulating Scalp Lotion, Hydrating Moisturiser, and Hair Growth Supplement Capsules.
Priced between R179,99 to R299, 99, the range will be available at selected Clicks stores at the end of March and online. For more info visit www.ethnogenics.co.za.
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