Hair Loss: Should we treat root cause or symptoms. A Comparison
Hair Loss- Treat the root cause vs symptoms to achieve REAL hair health.
The American medical and personal care industry is often criticized for its focus on fixing or curing existing health conditions – you visit a doctor or specialist only when you have a problem. Unfortunately, the same thinking has also filtered down to the thinning hair market, where most people don’t seek professional advice until their hair loss is advanced and causing discomfort and embarrassment. HairSmart intends to change that.
Hair Authority recently met with Prerna Khemka, founder and CEO of HairSmart, a company that brings a fresh approach to hair loss.
HairSmart has combined Modern Western Technology of Low-Level Light Therapy + Ancient Eastern Science of Ayurveda + High Performing Nutritional Superfoods to create a new hair growth program for distinct needs.
Prerna was born in India, where hair is revered and protected. It was also the birthplace of meditation and Ayurveda, and these powerful forces played an important part in the development of HairSmart.
Hair Authority : What was the inspiration behind HairSmart?
Prerna Khemka : I’ve been in the hair industry since 2012, consulting with physicians and my inspiration came from what you might call a “need perspective.” For every person who is actually going to a doctor for a transplant surgery there are 900 people who are not doing anything. So, there’s a huge unsatisfied demand out there.
Hair loss is the #1 Modern epidemic that is plaguing men and women and especially the young generation in their ‘20s and ‘30s. That’s how HairSmart came about.
I have a deep understanding of Ayurveda and plant-based medicine and alternative medicine. It’s something I’ve been studying my whole life.
I’ve seen how much drugs and invasive procedures have dominated hair loss solutions and what a small role plant-based therapies are playing.
I wanted to create something that was safe for the body, safe for the environment, and was mindful, gentle, and effective. Nobody else was doing it. None of the herbs or medical knowledge from the East was being used in the Western therapies here. I wanted to marry my technical knowledge with my Eastern knowledge and create the blended line that became HairSmart.
Hair Authority : Is it a very crowded marketplace?
Prerna : We all say that it’s a crowded market, but actually it’s not. First of all, the market itself is expanding. 20 years ago, most people suffering from hair loss were in their ‘40s ‘50s and ‘60s. Now hair loss is impacting a much younger population. It has become a modern epidemic. In fact, hair loss is supposed to overtake the weight loss industry in the next 10 years.
So, the market is growing. There is a lot of competition in the service industry and in the FMCG/consumer brands. But when it comes to medical-grade personalized healthcare solutions, this is a wide-open market. In fact, personalized, @home health care is a new market and it’s exploding. In hair as well, we only have a few players, most entering in the last 10 years, and they have done extremely well! And that’s where HairSmart intends to play.
We offer three different “Hair in a Box” – solutions. Each solution is a professional grade hair growth plan intended for home use. Hair wellness enthusiasts can also customize their own plan at a provider’s office or through our website.
We’re very excited to be in this space and welcome other players. The more the merrier.
Hair Authority : Tell us about growing up in India and your exposure to Ayurveda. How have you integrated the “Wisdom of Mother Nature” into your HairSmart collection?
Prerna : HairSmart is a blend of three sciences or modalities; light therapy is the most clinically studied hair loss treatment so I’m not going to go into that. There are actually more clinical trials and studies done on light therapy than on any other hair growth treatments such as drugs, PRP, etc. We are combining light therapy with Ayurveda and with nutrition.
Ayurveda is a science that has been around in India for over 5000 years. Ayurveda works on this belief that each of us have a fundamental physio-energetic constitution or blueprint which is based on our proportionate composition of the five elements – earth, fire, water, air, and space. This constitution: defines our body shape, your skin color, hair quality, physical strengths, illnesses you are prone to, personality, your food preferences, temperament, emotional health and much more. It’s a mind-body-spirit blueprint of who we are.
So, according to Ayurveda, there are three primary constitution types. Pitta (Fire + Water), Vata (Air + Space) and Kapha (Water + Earth). Pitta people are muscular, determined, competitive, ambitious, highly intelligent people, sensitive to heat as they already have a lot of innate fire, strong digestive systems and so forth. Vata people are creative, slim, slender built, talkative, energetic, can be easily distracted, and always on the go. Kapha people are broader, stocky, heavier set, cool, calm, sometimes lazy, cheerful and are mostly stabilizing, prefer status quo.
Due to internal and external factors, sometimes our composition is out of whack or imbalanced, meaning Pitta, Vata or Dosha can be spiked or out of balance. These are called “Doshas.” Dosha literally means imbalance and presents itself as symptoms of illnesses in the body and/or mind.
The science of Ayurveda is about treating the root cause of illness. So, stomach-aches, ulcers, hair loss, arthritis, heart diseases, diabetes, high blood pressure, even HAIRLOSS – can be treated by addressing the imbalance/dosha in the body.
Hair Authority : Ayurveda believes in a balanced constitution and imbalances presenting themselves as diseases or illness. So how does Ayurveda explain hair loss?
Prerna : Sure. Ayurveda considers hair loss as a tridoshic problem.
Pitta Imbalance is the #1 cause of hair loss per Ayurveda. Our scalp tissues receive excess heat from inside. This causes inflammation in your follicles, which weakens your hair roots. The inflamed follicles fail to nourish the hair, leading to hair fall and premature greying. It’s no surprise that most of us Type A people have more hair loss since we have aggravated Pitta due to us being overstressed, undernourished, under rested, and socially isolated. The heating in the body and therefore, of the hair follicle, is causing hair miniaturization and making the hair thinner and wispier.
Vata dosha spike dehydrates scalp tissues. Your hair follicles lack protection from harsh conditions like UV radiation. This creates breakage and split ends in your dry hair. The roots also become weak, and hair falls off from the damaged follicles. Eventually, these damaged follicles become dormant, causing hair loss.
Kapha dosha results in mucus build up in the system resulting in scalp overproducing sebum. Sebum build-up clogs the hair follicle receptors thus preventing hair growth. Kapha dosha also results in greasy scalp and dandruff.
Mental stress, anger, fear, and shock, also play a very big part in aggravating Pitta and Vata dosha affecting Rasa and Rakta, (plasma and blood) which in turn have a direct effect on the scalp and hair loss.
Going back to the herbs in HairSmart, we address the root cause of hair loss through these balancing ayurvedic herbs that balance Pitta, Vata and Kapha.
Hair Authority : Can you go over some of these exotic Ayurvedic Herbs that treat the root cause of hair loss?
Prerna : Absolutely. We have several extremely beneficial ayurvedic hair herbs which carry through many of our products. Let me quickly highlight a few.
Brahmi – Miracle hair herb that creates natural protective layer around the hair follicles that keeps the hair fibers healthy, reduces split ends, makes hair lustrous and helps develop volume and length
Bhringaraj, also known as eclipta prostrata, which is actually, very popular right now. If you go on Amazon, everybody’s selling this in herbal powder form and encouraging people to ingest it or mix it in oil. It’s often called the “King of Hair” according to Ayurveda as it helps balance all three doshas and helps in delaying the onset of gray hair. It Strengthens hair roots, stops hair loss, induces hair growth by promoting hair follicle transition from telogen phase to the anagen phase. It consists of ascorbic acid (Vitamin C), stand oleasters and flavonoids
Amla is another popular nutritional food. In English, it’s called “Indian gooseberry” and if you know anything about goji berries and berries in general, they are rich in antioxidants and very good for heart health. Amla is included in a lot of our oils and supplements because it’s rich in vitamin C, antioxidants, tannins, flavonoids, carotene, kaempferol and gallic acid. Each of these helps improve hair texture and boost hair growth. It also helps in providing elasticity. Amla is very effective in delaying premature graying of hair and can also help in avoiding breakage and split ends. if you were to Google Amla, you will be blown away by all the studies that have been done and how powerful they are.
Another powerful Ayurvedic India herb is Neem, or Indian lilac. It’s an antifungal antibacterial, anti-inflammatory herb that is important in Ayurveda medicine. If you had a skin rash or a skin disease, you could boil a few Neem leaves, mix in water, and bathe yourself with it. It’s very powerful. We use it to promote scalp health and maintain pH balance. It also encourages healthy cell division.
A lot of times when people are sick in India, they drink one or two teaspoons of Neem juice. Just like we have wheatgrass shots here, they do Neem shots. It’s extremely bitter, but very effective. It’s also been shown to be effective in combating cancer, which, as we know, is something that’s still a mystery, in the West despite all the research.
Then we have Turmeric – the king of spices! Lab research shows that Turmeric has properties like finasteride, works as a 5-alpha-reductase (5-AR) inhibitor which reduces the body’s ability to convert testosterone into dihydrotestosterone (DHT). This allows the damaged hair follicles to heal and stop hair loss. Also, studies have shown that curcumin in turmeric can inhibit the effects of DHT- which causes hair loss and thus restore hair growth of those with androgenic alopecia. In other studies, the antiseptic and anti-inflammatory properties in curcumin have shown positive effects in reducing hair loss and encouraging growth by healing the scalp from seborrheic dermatitis and dandruff.
And how we can forget our dear friend Ashwagandha lovingly called Ashwa:) present in our supplements, Ashwa is an Immunity boosting herb that strengthens hair root, gives scalp a firmer grip, reduces overall stress that causes halt fall, improves sleep quality, fights free radicals that cause hair greying, boosts melanin production. Ashwa is good for all dosha types and is a balancing herb.
While most of our herbs come from plants that are native to India, we have a few herbs from China, a couple of nutraceuticals from Africa in our DHT blocker, and some Native Hawaiian herbs in our formulation. I have attempted to incorporate the best medicines from ancient tribes and ancient civilizations. We’re really excited about being able to source these wonder herbs from all over the world!
Hair Authority : You talked earlier about the pledge to be respectful of our bodies and bringing mindfulness into hair growth.
Prerna : We are conscientious not only about the ingredients in our products, but also our packaging. We have made a deliberate attempt to be eco-friendly. All our packaging is aluminum or glass, both of which are 100% biodegradable. If you look at our product formulations, we avoid the use of harsh chemicals, binders, or artificial ingredients.
I believe if you can’t put it IN your body, don’t put it ON your body. For example, I use coconut oil as a toner and as a makeup remover. I try to use very clean ingredients in my skin and makeup routine. I’ve tried to bring the same thing to HairSmart. None of the HairSmart products bring toxicity into your body, on your body or in the environment. They’re drug free, gentle, clean, made with love, and help you live more mindfully. That’s the idea: Mindfulness in everything we do.
Hair Authority : You’ve combined these herbs with the best that science can bring to hair loss. How did you become involved in light therapy?
Prerna : I joined the light therapy industry in 2012. Over the years, the results have spoken for themselves. Most of the physicians I talk to love the results they get from lasers. So, I knew that I wanted to incorporate light therapy because it is therapeutic, side-effect free, and double-blind, placebo-controlled trials have demonstrated its effectiveness. Plus, it’s also very affordable. Over a period of 10 years, people suffering from hair loss might end up spending $’000s of dollars on medical treatments, expensive hair products, expensive hair-spa sessions, and so forth, but with light therapy, you invest in one device, and it lasts for years.
Hair Authority : What is the three-step program you call “Hair in a Box”?
Prerna : if you search for “hair loss” on Google, you will see 1.3 BILLION results. On Amazon – over 20,000 products! That’s crazy. There are serums, shampoos, supplements, oils, ingestibles, topicals and more! These individual products are advertised as the magical solution to your hair loss and people buy into it! But you and I know, hair loss is very complex. It’s not just one thing that causes hair loss – it’s a combination of factors such as genes, stress, nutrition, lifestyle, environment, pollution, hormones, aging, illness and more! So, we need a combination solution that tackles hair loss in a 360 manner.
We’ve created three systems called Protect, Repair and Grow. Each system has everything that you need for your hair goals in one place, so you needn’t worry about anything else. All the products in each box tackle different aspects of hair health and work synergistically.
I’ll quickly go over each system:
Protect is our first line of defense to prevent hair loss. It is for the young adult who may not necessarily be experiencing hair loss or balding but is aware that they will eventually be on that thinning path and they want to keep their hair strong and healthy while they still can. We have four products in this Protect system; a shampoo, conditioner, a natural DHT blocker that’s safe for both men and women, and a nourishing hydrating hair oil (which happens to be one of my favorite products).
Everybody can be on the PROTECT plan. It’s very affordable. Just set a monthly subscription and you’re done.
Next PLAN is Repair. As the name suggests, this is for people who have thinning, early stages of male/female pattern hair loss, and/or damaged hair. They need to repair and revitalize their hair, get their density and volume back, stop further hair loss and also get some hair growth. So, Repair is a more active plan. In this box, we introduce a medium-power laser cap as well as our best-selling vitamin which has nutrition for hair, but also for full body health.
Finally, our #1 seller System – Our GROW system which is also our main professional channel product. This features our most advanced laser, the medical grade 272 diode laser cap, plus a topical, that activates hair growth. The GROW system helps in rapid new hair growth and improving density texture as well as stabilization of hair loss. Many of our wholesale customers customize this system according to their client’s needs.
The Growth plan may be in tune with today’s psychology – “I want more of everything, and I want it now!” However, the market is shifting towards protection. People are working out, managing their sleep, trying to drink their eight glasses or of water. And due to the pandemic, they’re now sensitized to the need to look after themselves.
Prerna : You are absolutely right! As expected, we are seeing more people buying into the Protect plan on our e-commerce channel and through social media. Younger folks are more open to the Protect plan. They’re exercising, big on supplements, and want to invest in their hair health as well. Also, as expected, The GROW system does the best in the B-2-B channel!
Hair Authority : How has COVID impacted your business?
Prerna : Last year was a year of pivoting and regrouping for us. We were going to launch in the physician channel last year, but a lot of practices were shut down. So, we pushed back our launch to this year. COVID has been bad for everybody, but in some ways, it’s also been a wake-up call for the hair industry as we are now seeing a big emphasis on personalized health care at home. Everything is moving home. People are very aware of how they look on Zoom, and they want to look their best.
We are also seeing a lot of professionals who realized they cannot just rely on service and now want to add more product offerings to their business.
Hair Authority : You said that hair in India is revered and has a special role in everyday life. People even sacrifice their hair at their temple. Could you take us to India and explain why hair is so important?
Prerna : India is the land of mysticism and spirituality. Much as we like to be politically correct, we all know that long hair is a sign of youthfulness, and femininity. Men are more attracted to women with long luscious hair. I don’t know if you’ve noticed this, but Indian women tend to keep their hair longer.
In the Western world, we can have Bob cuts and boy cuts, but in the East, people are more old fashioned when it comes to their hair, and they like to keep it longer.
But to answer your question why we sometimes sacrifice our hair in India, you must understand that hair is an outer identity, a personal vanity. So, sacrificing our hair is the ultimate sacrifice – as we are giving up our looks, our vanity, our ego, basically our physical identity. When people are going through hardship in India, or when they are confronting an important life event, they make this ultimate vow to sacrifice their vanity and to move inwards. Sacrificing your hair is also a sign of grieving. In the Hindu religion, if you lose a parent – the sons of the family shave their heads as a sign of grieving. It’s a sign that they are choosing to focus less on the outward, material life, interactions with the world, to give up what is most dear to them, and focus on detachment, faith, healing, and introspection.
These rituals are not confined to India. Even amongst Jews, Muslims, or Sikhs – historically, many religions have had the practice of keeping their heads covered as a sign of devotion and to help them detach from their ego, and to conserve their energy on focusing inwards.
Hair Authority : They say you don’t really notice your hair loss until you’ve lost about 50%. Men don’t like admitting that they are ageing. How do we change that?
Prerna : It’s social conditioning! However, both the earlier onset of male pattern hair loss as well as more and more companies targeting ‘health and beauty’ for men is fast changing this mindset. There is an increasing awareness among men about exercising, skin care, grooming, supplements, and hair health than ever before. In HairSmart, our PROTECT system focusses on early intervention and preventing hair loss in the first place.
Hair Authority : Any final words?
Prerna : We owe it to our clients to offer them with alternate sources of treatment such as HairSmart. HairSmart is not competition – it is one more tool in your toolbox which helps you serve your existing client, and to expand your reach and get new business. HairSmart compliments existing modalities like PRP, Stem Cell, exosome, HT surgeries, and FDA drugs like minoxidil and finasteride.
There is a big demand for holistic and plant based personal care products that the Hair Loss Professionals are not meeting. Let’s change that, and watch our businesses grow.
Thank you for taking time out of your busy schedule. We look forward to following HairSmart and wish you every success.
Readers can learn more and order HairSmart at by visiting myhairsmart.com.