Keep your hair on, girls! How a celebrity retreat is using strict diets and head massages to save women from baldness

  • The SHA Wellness Clinic in Spain vows to help you strengthen your locks
  • Treatment includes head massages and a strict macrobiotic diet regime

By Sarah Hartley


Losing locks: Eight million British women suffer from hair loss or thinning hair at some point in their lives

Losing locks: Eight million British women suffer from hair loss or thinning hair at some point in their lives

It is pretty safe to say that my hair – namely, my worries about it thinning – is bordering on obsession. It’s a concern my mother, Maggie, shares.

At 66, she is worried that her good head of healthy hair is now thinning  due to age. We’re not alone.

Eight million British women suffer  at some point in their lives and chemists’ shelves heave with potions and vitamins aimed at remedying the problem.

Causes can range from hormonal and genetic to the dietary and psychological.

I am 41, and, despite being fastidious about eating healthily, exercising and taking a daily multivitamin, my  hair often falls out in alarming amounts. I swap the side I part my hair and try to ignore the fact that in certain lights, you can see scalp.

When I heard about a medical spa offering a treatment package aimed at halting hair-loss, my mother and I booked in without hesitation.

No matter that the weekend break would set us back close to £2,500. If I counted up the amount I have spent on hair supplements, then it would be an investment.

It was a no-caffeine, no-alcohol,  no-sugar regime (and pity the poor smokers who were not allowed to puff on site).

Serious medical assessments  were bolstered by a strict vegan diet to cleanse the system.

But the SHA Wellness Clinic, set in the mountains of Valencia, Spain, has been voted best medical Spa by Conde Nast Traveller.

The luxurious resort has played host  to guests including Barbra Streisand and Donna Karan. So if we were to suffer, we would at least do it in style.

WHAT’S THE TREATMENT?

SHA focuses on improving health through natural therapies combined with Eastern and the most advanced Western medicine.

 

The weekend programme examined every aspect of our medical history and there was a health check, then individual spa treatments.

We were put on a macrobiotic diet – based on 60 per cent grains, plus seasonal local vegetables, seaweeds (yes!) and seasonal local fruit.

We enjoyed delicious, delicate and stunning-looking dishes which made us realise brown rice, soya and tofu can be exciting and we could forgo meat, fish, eggs and cheese without it feeling a punishment.

Hair-raising in a good way: Sarah Hartley and her mother Maggie visited SHA Wellness Clinic in Valencia, Spain to try to reverse age's effect on their hair

Hair-raising in a good way: Sarah Hartley and her mother Maggie visited SHA Wellness Clinic in Valencia, Spain to try to reverse age's effect on their hair

But cutting out three double espressos and two cups of tea a day was hell. When I woke, I looked as if I’d done rounds in the boxing ring – my eyes were puffed  up and blackened – all part of the detoxification process, I was told.

Nutrition expert Kenneth Prange asked if I suffered with kidney problems (yes) and poor circulation (yes). I spotted a chart on the wall of a woman’s face indicating related areas. Mum and I are both blessed with bags beneath our eyes – not related to sleep deprivation – and that area was linked to .  .  . the kidneys.

The solution is to stimulate and strengthen the kidneys through diet and to make sure blood flows to the head through massage and exercise.

A daily cup of Japanese Mu tea was prescribed  to support the kidneys. It had an acquired bitter taste which we grew to love as it was the nearest thing we would get to a nice cuppa. Mum was reassured that  due to genetics her hair is strong, but could be improved.

SPA SOLUTIONS

A daily programme offered optional nutritional lectures and macrobiotic cooking demonstrations. We were to swim in the outdoor pool, then follow the indoor pool circuit which encouraged circulation with hot and cold plunge pools, baths, a sauna, a steam room and an ice fountain.

We had two daily treatments, one in the morning and one in the afternoon, either side of breakfast and lunch.

Healthy home: The SHA Wellness Clinic follows a no-caffeine, no-alcohol, no-sugar regime and medical assessments were bolstered by a strict vegan diet

Healthy home: The SHA Wellness Clinic follows a no-caffeine, no-alcohol, no-sugar regime and medical assessments were bolstered by a strict vegan diet

The first was a nutritive capillary treatment (25 minutes, €70), including nourishing, repairing and hydrating treatments. Using Ayurvedic massage, essential oils were vigorously applied to stimulate the scalp. We felt wide awake and invigorated.

In the afternoon came the SHA capillary treatment (50 minutes, €120). It started with a relaxing massage using rosemary, mint and sesame oil to increase blood flow to the scalp and included massage techniques based on traditional Chinese medicine, aided with a glass-cup method which stimulates blood circulation.

We finished with a relaxing, warm hair masque. SHA offers an extraordinary range of preventative treatments with 100 therapists  on hand. We could also have tried a ‘mineral elements in hair profile’ (€200), a ‘woman’s hormonal profile’ (€340) or the OSTEOgen (€630) genetic screening for osteoporosis prevention.

. . . AND AFTERWARDS

We both followed a macrobiotic diet for three months and felt tremendous. It requires serious dedication long-term. But the essence of the programme remains with us both, which has been a surprise. I now drink only green tea and have turned vegan, and Mum limits meat to once a week. We’re now both big fans of almond milk and spelt bread.

Our hair has responded brilliantly to what turned out to be simple adjustments and it was well worth the effort. We no longer fret if the plughole occasionally looks like a scene from a horror film. We simply step up the scalp self-massage and neck exercises we were taught, keep the diet in check – and talk about our next booster visit to SHA.

shawellnessclinic.com

The comments below have been moderated in advance.

Best thing to give you hair loss and dull lifeless hair is a Vegan Diet. Your hair is primarily made up of protein.Where is it coming from, if not your diet ? In fact, the main cause of women`s hair falling out IS dieting.

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Its the seaweed that helps most likely. Unless you have any thyroid issues are are taking mefication, then a little regular sea kelp is brilliant for helping maintain hair and boost over all for women

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and where are the photo's to prove this "advert" ?

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If you have alopecia or female pattern baldness, going to an expensive spa, eating new age food and rubbing oil on your scalp will not accomplish any regrowth. There's no known cause for alopecia and if you have the gene for baldness you can't do a thing. The only known, medically and scientifically proven ways to help these two conditions is the use of minoxydil and possible finasteride if there is a hormone deficiency. You can sometimes improve the condition of your hair by ensuring you are getting nutrients like zinc, Vitamin B and biotin - which you get in a balanced diet. I don't see how this article, which is basically an advertisement for the spa, will help anyone.

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also bad for hair loss; processed foods, refined sugar, alcohol and smoking.

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Sarah Hartley is stretching the truth saying this place is in a mountain setting in Valencia when it is on a high density housing estate in Albir . Lovely views of Benidorm from the rooftop at night though!

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People just have to accept the fact we grow older and our hair changes and gets thinner, it's just a part of life.

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It's horrible as thin hair is part of the ageing process. If you feel that desperate you believe in anything and justify the money. Your devastated though when it doesn't work and feel gullible.

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Just eat pumpkin seeds. Organic ones are under £9 a bag in a well known health food store. Works for me, I've gone from having hair that's falling out and won't grow beyond shoulder length to having thick hair that reaches my waistband and grows so quickly I have to have my roots redone every 22 days.

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Vitamin B12 deficiency can be one cause of hair loss and there is no B12 in a vegan diet! A few other common causes are iron deficiency and hypothyroidism. A multivitamin isn't going to do anything for a vitamin or mineral deficiency.

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