What effect does losing all your hair have on your life? – Interview with Annette Clark Headley.

Sometimes I hear people complaining about their hair shedding or thinning edges. Imagine if you were to lose all your hair? This is what happened to Annette Clark Headly founder of Almond & Avocado Ltd. Find out how she dealt with it and more about her company by reading below.

What is Almond & Avocado Natural?
Almond & Avocado Ltd is a holistic haircare and personal wellbeing company founded in April 2010. Through it I work as a complementary therapist specialising in Aromatherapy, Reflexology, Hot & Cold Stone Massage and Therapeutic Massage therapies, as well as providing Sisterlocks and natural hair care services. It is also the parent company for my bespoke range of natural products: Almocado Naturals which offers shampoos, conditioners, styling prducts, moisturisers (Skin and hair) alongside aromatic bath and body products. I have bene doing it  officially since 2010.

 

Why did you start it?
I have always loved hair – relaxed or natural, I could and would style it. Throughout college and university I was always doing hair on the side. While working in investment banking I was introduced to holistic therapies and became passionate about wellness and stress management which led to further study and training in these areas. Too often people focus on and treat symptoms instead of causes when it is really important to look at disorders from a holistic perspective and promote self-healing by coaxing the body back into a state of balance. In a nutshell, the company was birthed to fulfill a desire I have to provide holistic solutions (hair care, skin care, emotional & physical wellbeing) to the community.

What is your favourite product from your range?
That’s a tough one. I love the aromatherapy body butters because I can choose one depending on my mood that day… but if we’re talking hair care then I am evenly split between Twist n Twirl defining buttercream – because it is super as a conditioner as well as a styling cream so you get more for your money; Triple Treat Hair Milk with lecithin is moisturising but light as a daily leave-in and the Curl Silk Spritz which is particularly popular with clients with looser curls and children!

Triple Treat Hair Milk

Are there any you could recommend for me?
If you’re into twist outs, I’d suggest Twist n Twirl on damp hair. Use less than you would with raw shea butter and smooth it into your hair strands before twisting.  For daily moisture, work a  squirt of Triple Treat into your strands, lecithin is an excellent moisturiser and also helps strengthen the hair – this doesn’t feel greasy and it won’t leave build up. If you prefer a sprayable product, use the Curl Silk Spritz which is like Triple Treat but contains silk amino acids instead of lecithin.  To refresh twists or braided styles, I’d suggest either the Silk Spritz or the Keratin based Coconut Water Moisture Mist for a shot of hydration which you can use alone or before sealing with your favourite butter product.

Coconut Water Moisture Mist

So wait, you do products aromatherapy and sisterlocks?
I totally and absolutely love locs!  Particularly small/micro locs. Sisterlocks are a form of micro locs formed 100% naturally ie without the use of gels or waxes – just purified water and a small patented tool. I love that there is no messing about with additional product during the locking process and I love meeting new people and helping them on their way to beautiful healthy hair! I took the training in 2010 and am happy to call myself a fully Certified Sisterlocks Consultant.

As I already have mentioned you have alopecia what is your definition of it?
Alopecia is simply defined as ‘hair loss’. There are about 6 types: androgenetic (hereditary balding), traction (caused by tight hair styling practices), scarring (where the hair follicles have atrophed and hair loss is permanent), areata (which occurs in small defined patches, usually confined to the scalp or beard), totalis (which causes complete baldness in affected areas) and universalis (where hairloss occurs all over the body).

The type I suffer from is called Alopecia Totalis. I was diagnosed in July 2010 and was completely bald by October 31, 2010.

Annette Before

Annette Before

 

That was so quick! What causes it?
It is hard to pinpoint one given cause for an episode of alopecia but research has shown a link between auto-immune diseases such as alopecia, vitiligo and even lupus – and stress. The stress can be acute (sudden shock or stressful event) or chronic (high levels sustained over a period of time). I had a mixture of the two. My last child came early and spent a touch-and-go period in Neonatal ICU immediately after being born. That was absolutely heart breaking for us – not knowing whether she was going to come home… I remember people being afraid to post their congratulations on Facebook… ((((shudder)))). Alopecia can also occur as a result of iron-related anemia and hormonal imbalances. I happened to be severely anemic at the time due to complications with my pregnancy. So all in all – the odds were stacked against me.

 

The First signs of hair loss for Annette

The First signs of hair loss for Annette

I woke up one morning with a small patch at the crown of my head, which was diagnosed as alopecia areata. Over several months more patches occured and began to coalesce into larger patches until I had Alopecia Totalis on my scalp. I subsequently lost all the hair on my arms, armpits and legs.

When that happened how did you cope?
To be honest it was really difficult. At first I was optimist, after the first shock I rallied and filled my head with positive thoughts – after all it was just one patch. BUT, when it became five patches, 10 patches, 20 patches …. and those patches started coalescing into even larger uglier bald spots I started to panic: involuntarily losing one’s hair and becoming completely bald is surely every woman’s worse nightmare – after all, we are taught that our hair is our crowning glory and here I was – losing my crown.

Initially, I wore scarves and wigs to hide my baldness but after 2 years that was beginning to feel very constrictive, I felt like I was hiding and suffocating. I decided that I would just have to be me and be publicly bald.

And I had so many questions: How would my business survive? Who will buy hair products from a baldheaded woman? Who will trust me with their hair? I was petrified. BUT life goes on. You realise that yes, you no longer have hair, but you still have the same wisdom and skills and I learned to be thankful I was alive. An old friend of mine started losing hair around the same time I did, unfortunately they are no longer with us. How lucky am I that my hair loss wasn’t the first sign of something more sinister?  While I have breath, I will continue to LIVE.

2inspire

That is such a lovely way of looking at it. Did your family see it the same way? How did they react?
They cried. Every time another friend or cousin saw me bald for the first time, they cried. It was tough. But it’s been 3 yrs now – they’re all used to it: no one cries anymore. I’m still me. My sister (a seasoned natural) has vowed not to cut her hair until mine grows back (LOVE her) and my nieces (also all natural) regular tag me in their facebook posts so I can enjoy their latest hairstyles etc the way I would have tagged them when I had my hair. 

2013-ACH

Annette now!

Well Annette, it seems like you came through just fine. To be honest I thought it was just a styling choice as (you do look beautiful by the way). I suppose strangers just think the same right?
Thanks Angel, It’s probably a 50-50 split. People DO stare. On the school runs, when I go to the clinic, on public transport, at the shops, when I’m doing exhibitions…. there’s always a lot of staring. Sometimes I wanna say “Do you wanna lick it?” just to be rude back – but most days I just smile. It makes them remember their manners lol. Oh and men give me compliments. It’s quite funny.

LOL at the men, Annette thank you for giving me a few insights into your journey.  It just made me remember that phrase that God doesn’t give us anything we can’t handle.

You can visit Annette’s website so see her products or find out about her sisterlocks service at www.almocado.com

For more information about Alopeica you can contact www.alopeciaonline.org.uk

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Comments

  1. Annette is an inspiration, she looks great in my opinion! She must save so much time getting ready in the morning as well.