Andrew Todd knows the best way to prevent hair loss from cancer, and he wants to let the entire beauty industry in on it.
Many years ago, Todd — visionary hairstylist and diPietro Todd co-founder — was catching up with some friends in his native England. One had just completed chemotherapy treatment for breast cancer, not that you’d know it by looking at her — her hair looked as long and full as ever.
“She was telling me about cold caps that save your hair during chemotherapy,” Andrew recalls. “I noticed one tiny part of her hairline where the tabs on the cap didn’t completely cover her hair. That’s the only place her hair was missing. I thought that was incredible… it clearly worked.”
The premise is simple. Chilling the scalp constricts blood vessels around hair follicles, making it difficult for cancer-fighting chemicals to reach them. Though cold-cap therapy was common in the United Kingdom when Andrew learned of it, it hasn’t been nearly as well known in the U.S.
“I was amazed at how many clients had not heard of it,” Todd says. “All of us as stylists have had clients with cancer who have come to get their hair cut because they’re expecting to lose it. It’s heartbreaking.”
“I’d tell them to ask their doctor about cold-cap therapy, but usually by the time they got to my chair it was too late. They’d already have started their treatment without the cold caps and they’d already started to experience hair loss.”
Recently, Andrew learned of cold-cap trials conducted for the FDA by the Breast Care Center at University of California San Francisco. Everything clicked: “I thought, of course we’re going to support this. It’s the perfect opportunity. It’s such a natural fit.”
As a result, dPT has thrown its support behind The #HairtoStay program, which is working to make scalp cooling therapy available to patients who may not otherwise be able to afford it. The treatment is rarely covered by insurance, and runs from $1,500-$3,000 for a typical set of chemo infusions.
“It doesn’t work for everyone, but it should be available to everyone who would benefit from it,” Andrew says. “Hair loss is a difficult byproduct of cancer… it’s such a visible reminder. People are treated differently when it’s obvious they’re sick. Not to mention, we get more and more mothers going through treatment and when they cut their hair off dramatically or they lose it, it’s shocking. Their kids get upset. Everyone gets upset. And the last thing you should be worrying about during cancer treatment is losing your hair. That energy should go into getting better.”
diPietro Todd is now donating 1% of all product sales to #HairtoStay. As an influential voice in the beauty industry, the company has also launched an awareness campaign about cold-cap therapy. Andrew has been interviewed on ABC News about the company’s efforts, and is promoting #HairtoStay to industry connections.
“Our next hurdle is that insurance companies should pay for this treatment,” Andrew says. “We’re trying to get the word out in our industry, so we can use our voice to push this. Fashion magazines need to pick up on it — their readers would find it very relevant. It’s a conversation that needs to grow louder. Even if you can’t get involved financially, talk about it. Learn about it.”
Harnessing the beauty industry to champion cold-cap therapy is just one example of the trust, intimacy and relationship building that the salon industry cultivates. “The hairdressing industry is quite wide and quite deep,” Andrew says, “and I don’t think people realize some of the information we’re privy to. The salon business is an amazing portal for information. We want to use that to do something very powerful.”
For additional information or to join the #HairtoStay campaign, please contact Bethany Hornthal at (415) 999-7121.
For more information about the DigniCap® scalp cooling system, please visit www.digniCap.com.