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Tea with Pantene’s trichologist…

It’s not everyday you get to have tea with a trichologist and I really was very excited when this invitation landed in my inbox. You may or may not know that I’m somewhat hair  involved obsessed.

We met at The Pudding Shop in Parktown  – what a cute spot, why haven’t I been there before? As luck would have it, I walked in and the closest and only free seat was the one next to Dr John Gray. I felt a bit sorry for him as I’d plotted & planned for weeks that I was going to bend his ear but now it was definitely going to be a reality!




First let me tell you a bit about Dr Gray. He trained in the UK and went on to be a GP in London with interests in dermatology and latterly trichology. He says he’s always been fascinated by hair (he has a pretty good head of hair himself!). His interest in hair encompass the holistic management of hair disorders, particularly the cosmetic aspects. He has published several books on hair diseases & was elected as a member of the European and North American Hair Research Societies, European Academy of Dermatology as well as the Royal Society of Medicine and the Institute of Trichology (so yes, he knows his stuff!). He ran a family based primary care practice and trichology clinic before moving to South Africa in 2010 and now lives in Durban. Basically trichology is very specialised and I’ve heard that its not a field that can even be studied in SA…




Turns out I was not alone Dr Gray did a short intro and then opened the floor for questions and boy did we keep him busy!

Here are some notes I took from what Dr Gray said that might be of interest:

  • there is more genetic diversity in Africa than anywhere else in the world – this filters down to hair too
  • unaltered, our natural hair is incredibly resilient
  • any chemical process (colouring, perming, relaxing) permanently alters the hair and there is no guarantee that it can ever be reversed (short of cutting that hair off)
  • with continued (mis) use heat has the potential to do the same damage over time
  • great hair during pregnancy is hormonal (due to oestrogen production) & is then gradually lost via breastfeeding
  • only 1.8% of women are naturally blonde, hence the desire for many women to go blonde

Dr Gray’s general tips for healthy hair:

  • we asked Dr Gray what his #1 tip was. His reply: work with what you have, with what nature gave you (i.e. instead of beating your hair into submission to achieve the opposite)
  • condition, condition, condition! Hair must be conditioned after every wash
  • applying shampoo should be concentrated to the roots of the hair &
  • conditioner to the ends of the hair
  • if you’re going to look after your hair, you need to do it consistently
  • trim scraggly ends

Dr Gray’s tips for thick/curly (like mine)/long hair:

  • you need to spend extra time doing your hair
  • section the hair (during washing, conditioning & styling) to ensure you get to all of it
  • concentrate on conditioning the ends more

We spoke at length about the role of genetics (choose your parents wisely), horse shampoo, hair loss (alopecia), hair tools (go for a plastic wide toothed comb), vitamins (there’s no scientific evidence that they help), steaming, keratin treatments (a big no-no due to the high temperatures required to activate it) & ingredients. As a natural we’re always looking for sulphate free, mineral oil free, silicone free, petroleum free (what else am I missing ladies?) formulations so it was interesting to hear his perspective on this. In a nutshell he said that these ingredients aren’t bad per se and that there’s varying quality of & levels of these ingredients as well – something I hadn’t really thought about.



We all got our hair analysed through a series of diagnostic questions and got our tailored “prescription” of Pantene. Mine turned out to be the Pantene Nature Fusion range (for strength and shine – yes please). I haven’t used Pantene in quite a few years so I may give this a go. I did not know that Pantene is over 2o years old! I hope we see the Pantene for ethnic/curly hair from the US in SA sometime too…


On a very separate note this post would not be complete without telling you about the best thing I ate all week at this launch. Exhibit A above is crème brulee on “toast” (tasted like biscotti). It doesn’t look like much but trust me you need to get some in your tummy!

I don’t mean to brag (ok maybe I do!) but Dr Gray said my hair looked like it was in good nick and asked me about my regime 🙂

Have a great Easter  & be safe!




PS I am off to Ethiopia so Wiscellaneous may get a liiiiiittle quite but you can keep up with me on my adventure on Twitter & Instagram – wi-fi dependant of course!

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