As a HIS insider, my views are unavoidably a little biased, because I believe passionately in what this company sets out to achieve. Bearing in mind however that I will soon become a client of HIS as well as an employee, I thought it would be useful to share some of my thoughts from my own unique perspective, whilst being as unbiased as I possibly can.
Any company can print a glossy brochure and make a ton of promises. This applies to any business, whether in the hair loss sector or otherwise. The core aim of any business is to generate sales, because without sales, no business can hope to survive. Coming from a strong marketing background, my role has always been to present products and services in as positive a light as possible, however this makes me extremely skeptical as a buyer because I know how the marketing machine works.
Many companies I have come across during my 15 years in marketing have lived by the mantra - "generate sales at any cost". Unfortunately many businesses in the hair loss sector subscribe to the same ethic, a practice that I am fiercely opposed to. This is evidenced by the number of transplant clinics, hair system suppliers and pill pushers that suffer from extremely poor reputations. I'm not suggesting that all these businesses operate in this manner, far from it in fact, however few would deny that this problem is rife within the hair loss industry in particular.
As I write this blog post, I am sat in my mobile office (caravan) at the top of a hill in the beautiful Lake District. To those not based in the United Kingdom, I strongly recommend you look it up (see Wikipedia page
). Anyway, across the room from where I'm sat is a mirror - you know, one of those mirrors that shows you in your most unflattering state - and looking in that mirror, I'm really not satisfied with what I see.
The following are some mugshots, 'before' photos I guess. Apologies for the unshaven appearance, its my holiday look 🙂
Now I have a choice - either I accept my situation and learn to live with it, or I do something to change it. The way I approach my choice is very personal to me, in fact every individual faced with the same choice will deal with it in a different way. For what its worth, here are my trains of thought:
An absolute non-negotiable factor for me is that I refuse to jump on the hamster wheel of hair loss, trying one solution after another after another. My experience of working at HIS has proven beyond all doubt as far as I'm concerned, that this approach very rarely results in happiness. I want a solution that does the job, and nails my anxiety once and for all.
The second, is that I do not want to trade one anxiety for another. In other words my treatment needs to look like real hair, otherwise what is the point of trying to make myself feel better by having it done, and only succeeding in making me feel worse?
The third is that I refuse to keep it a secret. I completely understand why some people do, and to be fair I have a massive advantage working at HIS, because everyone here already knows about SMP and would never poke fun at my choice. I know that not everyone has this luxury. Given that I do however, I have no intention of hiding it from my family or friends. If they approve, that's great. If they do not, that's their choice. Either way it will have no bearing on my decision, or the level of satisfaction I experience post-treatment.
So why have I chosen SMP?
It's simple really. I haven't been able to find any other option that works for me.
I would never consider a hair transplant. I don't want the pain, I don't want the scars, and to be honest there is a part of me that feels that hair restoration surgery is a little archaic and barbaric, even though I accept that procedures have advanced considerably in recent years. I know many may disagree with my view on this, but it's just my personal opinion.
I would never consider a hair system. I don't want the hassle, and I certainly don't want to be caught wearing one. Even if no-one ever found out, it would still make me feel less confident. I guess before I worked for HIS I still had the preconception that 'wigs' as I used to call them, were for grumpy old schoolteachers with bad teeth. Please do not take offence - this was my view before I started at HIS and has since changed.
Concealers? I do not believe they really make anyone happier. There are so many guys on our forum who have used Toppik, Couvre, Nanogen or DermMatch, yet they're still searching for an answer. Besides, concealers aren't going to be much use when I eventually lose ALL of my hair, which I'm sure is going to happen soon.
That leaves drugs, principally minoxidil (Rogaine) and finasteride (Propecia). I am yet to find anyone who has experienced positive results from minoxidil, aside from a slight slowing of their rate of hair loss, and believe it or not, I have already tried finasteride. I took it for about three months, which is nowhere near long enough I know, but then I found out about the potential side effects and never took it again.
Finally, whilst a handful of cures and magic procedures are supposedly in the pipeline, and a couple do look promising, I am not prepared to join the queues of people who are pinning their hopes on one of these 'advances'. Such a solution would cost well beyond what the average man could afford, would no doubt be riddled with side effects and besides, some men have been in this queue for two decades or more. I'm sorry, but I have way too much self-respect to just sit back and pray for a 'cure'.
SMP is my only real option. I love the fact that I won't need to worry about losing my hair anymore, and aside from shaving, moisturising and the occasional touch-up, the maintenance is easy. The look is realistic enough for me and although I accept that SMP is not perfect, it's as close as I'm ever likely to find to getting my real hair back.
What are my concerns?
There are a few niggling worries I have about having this treatment done.
My hair is very light, lighter in fact than almost anyone I have ever seen on our forum. I already cut my hair on a zero guard with clippers, but I know that when I pluck up the courage to wet shave my head, my follicles are going to be almost invisible. I couldn't get away with a zero cut post-treatment, but I might try shaving with a Remington face shaver to see if my follicles are still visible. Failing that, it might be that my whole head has to be treated a slightly darker shade than my real hair, and I'm not sure how this would look on me. I need to speak with one of the team about this really to get a second opinion.
I'm a little worried about fading, purely because my pigments will be so light. Even a little fading will make my treatment look a lot less visible, but at the same time I know the team will not risk going too dark on my scalp due to my hair colour. This probably means I'm going to need more sessions than average.
I also want to find out a little more about my laser removal options in the future. I have it on very good authority that if I chose to laser it off at a later date, my remaining hair would be unaffected. I trust the person who has told me this, but I want to understand exactly WHY this is the case. When I get the answer, I'll report it back here because I'm sure others would also like to know.
Finally, I have a needle phobia. Not just a slight dislike of needles, but a full-on hatred of the bloody things. The last time I had a blood test, I nearly passed out. Seriously. Haha! I know given that I work here, I'm going to take some stick for this, but there it is. I think I'll be okay though, because I won't be able to see the needle at all. I guess I'll just have to man up.
What about HIS?
Lets get one thing out in the open - just because I work for HIS, does not mean I don't have the same worries and anxieties as everyone else.
This treatment will be with me for the rest of my life, and during that time anything could happen. I'm not worried about HIS going bust because I can honestly say this is extremely unlikely, and even if it happened, there are plenty of laser removal companies out there who could remove the pigments easily enough.
I'm just acutely aware of how much I have changed in the last ten years, and equally how much could also change in the next ten. My privileged position as an insider might not continue forever. I might change my mind. Someone might say something about my 'hair' that makes me feel self-conscious about it. Equally if I don't get it done, later on I might be angry with myself for procrastinating.
A real big factor for me is how much I trust the company doing my treatment. Forget about the fact that I work for HIS, because that might not always be the case. I have to look at my options from as pragmatic a point of view as possible to work out what is really best for me.
To give you a little background, I won't even buy a sandwich from someone I don't like. If I'm in a shop, or looking for a gas fitter, or booking a holiday, I can't abide a bad attitude. If the person I'm dealing with comes across like they can't be bothered, then I will thank them for their time and buy the item or service from someone else. I'm sure I drive my wife insane sometimes, but its something I feel very strongly about and I have always been that way.
As well as looking after the HIS website and forum, I also managed the service team in Birmingham for a short period of time. I am involved in almost every senior team meeting at HIS, and I speak with the Founders on a daily basis. It is fair to say that my perspective on the overall business is unique, very broad and highly detailed. I am therefore in a very strong position to make an accurate assessment of the company, and whether or not I trust them to look after my best interests, even if I chose to leave for pastures new.
I'm not going to write a gushing review of the team and how wonderful they are. This post is not a PR exercise, so I'll just cut straight to the point.
I believe that HIS are the best in the world at what they do, and I also believe that their intentions are always pure. This doesn't mean they always get it right, however I feel safer in their hands than any other company in the world.
I have also had the privilege of getting to know some of the practitioners really well, the same guys who are likely to be working on my head. Most likely my treatment will be completed by Simon Lane or Paul Clarke, although Ian might want to get involved too, I'm not sure. I trust both Simon and Paul unconditionally, and I am genuinely unconcerned about who I am allocated to.
Finally, I know that if anything went wrong I could call Ian and Ranbir, and it would be sorted out really quickly. This is not a privilege just for me - I regularly give out Ians personal cell number to clients for exactly this reason. One of the real plus points with HIS is although the company has grown beyond all recognition in recent years, Ian and Ranbir have never lost touch with how they got to where they are now and care just as much as they always did.
For what its worth, I'm nervous as hell. I know I shouldn't be, but I can't help it. I said I would be as honest as I can, so there it is.
I dont have any dates for my treatment yet, but it will be soon. If anyone wants to comment on anything I've said, please feel free to find me in the forum