Losing hair affects more females than ever with devastating effects on their self-esteem. Now, a Banbridge health shop owner claims his new supplement can restore luscious locks, as these customers testify.
It is our crowning glory and we've never pampered it so much. Straightening irons, curlers, extensions, blow drys and colours are all taking their toll on our tresses - sometimes with devastating results. Normally associated with men, hair loss has become a major issue for women of all ages with an estimated eight million in the UK affected.
While nearly all women will suffer hair loss at some stage in their lives, for around two-thirds it will be severe.
Thinning hair can have a massive impact on self-esteem and it doesn't help that it remains largely taboo with many suffering in silence.
In one little corner of Northern Ireland, however, hundreds of women - and men - have found an effective solution thanks to the skills and enterprise of a local homotoxicologist.
Simon Shaw, who runs Eden Health in Banbridge, was so intrigued by the growing demand for hair loss supplements - especially among young women - that four years ago he decided to try and develop a product to help.
The result was Mega Mane which, through word of mouth alone, has been flying off his shop shelves with over 7,000 bottles sold to date.
"I had noticed that I was selling a lot of big brand hair loss supplements but not getting any feedback on them," says Simon.
"Then people were asking if ingredients in other supplements they were taking could be helping their hair.
"That sparked off the idea to develop something myself especially for hair loss.
"I spoke to some experts at a lab I work with in Wales and did some research - and together we came up with a formula for Mega Mane.
"It has been unbelievable and it still shocks me how well it works," adds Simon.
"I have complete confidence in the product and I haven't promoted it at all, it has all been through word of mouth.
"Hair loss is a massive problem and it has amazed me how many young women it affects.
"A lot of our customers would be aged between 20 and 30 years old.
"Many of them would have over-treated their hair over the years with products and stripped it of the nutrients."
And Simon has witnessed first hand the trauma for women who come into his shop desperate for something to help with their hair growth.
"Many of my customers are at their wits end and have tried everything they can," he says.
"The psychological impact on women whose hair is coming out in handfuls when they have a shower is pretty severe, so it doesn't just help physically but also on the psychological side as well.
"I am now considering developing it further by adding a shampoo and conditioner to the range.
"We are just so delighted that it is helping so many people."
We talked to four local women who have all struggled with hair loss and who have put Mega Mane to the test.
Heather: ‘My tresses are healthy and in better condition’
Heather McCrum (20), from Rathfriland, is studying history at the Queen Mary University in London. She says:
My hair is naturally thick, and it is dark blonde or brown. When I was 16, I bought a home hair dye — but it turned out ginger rather than blonde.
After that my hair started to become really thin. It was awful and I couldn’t grow it because it was in such bad condition and very fine.
This meant I couldn’t wear my hair straight anymore because it looked so thin. I couldn’t put it up in a pony tail or plaits either — curling was the best way to hide it.
I just did my best to cover it up.
My hairdresser told me about Mega Mane, so I started taking it about four months ago and noticed a difference a month later.
My hair is more volumised and the condition has improved — it looks a lot thicker with more texture to it. It is definitely healthier now and I can have it straight again if I want.
Hair loss at my age is more common than people realise. A friend has thinning hair due to stress, while girls from school suffered because of exam pressure.
If your hair is not right you don’t feel good about yourself.”
Olivia: ‘The damage caused by hair extensions is gone’
Olivia Martin (23), a podiatrist from Banbridge who is working in Edinburgh, went through a distressing phase in her teens when hair extensions caused her hair to fall out. She says:
I had quite fine hair and would always have loved a bit of volume and wanted it big and bouncy. So I decided to have hair extensions glued in, which cost me £400.
Within about three weeks of getting the extensions my mum noticed a bald patch at the back of my head. When she looked more closely there were bald patches all over my head where the extensions had been glued in, apparently too tight.
I was devastated. I was in tears and knew I had to get them out straight away. The woman who had put them in didn’t want to know and was going to charge me £200 to take them out. Thankfully, my hairdresser did this free.
My hair was ruined. I had about half the hair I had before the extensions. Just a couple of weeks after getting the extensions my hair had fallen out in handfuls. So much of it had gone that it was like a little baby’s hair.
I was so conscious of it I didn’t want to go out and I didn’t go out for a while. I tried putting ordinary rollers in to give my hair some volume — but then what hair I had left fell out.
I tried everything I could find — vitamins and special shampoos — and even went to my GP.
My mum went into Eden Health and asked Simon if there was anything I could try and he recommended Mega Mane.
It was so good. After a week or two I could see all this new hair growth at the back of my head.
Within two months all my hair had grown back and even more — it was thicker and healthier than before, too.
It is the best product ever and I still use it. My hairdresser thought my extensions hadn’t been put in correctly. I would advise anyone to stay away from them and buy the clip-in ones or the hair pieces instead.”
Maureen: ‘It had got to the stage I was afraid to brush my hair’
Maureen Higgins, a part-time civil servant from Banbridge, is married to Hugh and has three children, Ciara (28), Steven (24) and Laura (17). She says:
I’ve never had great hair — it was always very thick and wiry. After I had my youngest daughter, Laura, my hair started to thin, especially at the front left side where my parting was.
There was about three inches of very fine hair where you could see my scalp. I know that you lose hair as you get older, but it got to the stage when I was afraid to brush mine, as I was losing so much.
It does make you feel self-conscious and, although I hadn’t reached the stage where people would have looked at me and thought I was bald — my hair didn’t look good.
I started to take a supplement and was in the health shop one day buying it when I noticed Mega Mane.
I decided to try it and about three or four months later I noticed a difference.
My hairdresser said she could see a lot or regrowth when she was blow drying it, especially along my parting.
She had to get a smaller brush to get into the roots. I was like a hedgehog with all this new hair standing up.
That was four years ago and I can honestly say that, not only has my hair never been thicker, but it has never been in better condition.
I would never miss taking the supplement.
Now I only take one a day, whereas at the start you have to take two daily.
And the capsules don’t cost a fortune. I get a bottle of 90 tablets for about £16, so it is affordable.”
Grace: ‘Stress had taken its toll on my crowning glory’
Grace Hamilton, a nurse who lives in Banbridge, is in her 40s and married with one son. She has been taking Mega Mane for a year with fantastic results. She says:
I am a full-time working mum with a demanding job but I have a healthy diet and lifestyle. My stress levels, though, took a toll on my hair.
My hair was always very fine but had thinned over the years. I had no bald patches but at the sides and front I noticed it was thinning — especially when I pulled it back into a pony tail for work.
When it comes to hair care it is the whole package that matters — how you wash it, dry it and care for it.
I always used organic products on my hair and trying the supplement specifically for hair was part of that package.
I started using Mega Mane about a year ago and my hair is definitely thicker and in better condition.
It was my hairdresser Julie Matthews who noticed the difference as my hair was taking longer to dry. So, when she noticed I knew it was really working.
I can see the improvement, too. Previously it took about 10 minutes to dry my hair and now it takes 20 minutes.
It is definitely fuller and I am less conscious of it. I think the answer is in prolonged use of the supplement and taking the recommended dose.
It took about four to six months to see real changes and certainly after a year the improvement is clear.”