"Trichotillomania has correlation to sensory overstimulation disorder", ok and?
Screen Shot 2019-02-11 at 2.45.26 PM.png

I have wanted to write more about research on trichotillomania. No product out there is a going to "cure" anyone and I wonder if it's something that should be cured sometimes. I understand the shame aspect but I also now understand the freedom to say "This is me. If you think I am weird because I don't have perfect hair, that's a short coming on YOUR part". I don't feel like I owe anyone perfect hair or beauty. I don’t expect anyone to look perfect so why should anyone expect me to? So I understand acceptance but I also want to know why. Why do I do this? It’s ok that I do pull, but why? How come I don’t smoke cigs instead? Oh I know why, I can’t stand the smell. It makes me gag. But why can’t I stand the smell? This study could explain why.

What does it means on a deeper level to have this physiological urge that others don't have? What does it mean to experience the world this way? Those are questions I would like to explore more fully. The research out there isn't perfect and working in research enables me to suss out errors/weakness in studies more than a non-research person. For example, this study suggests, that people with Trichotillomania, have intense feelings and responses to sensory experiences. This could mean that smells or sounds and touch can bother/excite us more. That is to say, we experience the sensory part of the world differently.

Screen Shot 2019-02-19 at 12.28.24 PM.png

Sensory over-responsivity (SOR) has been described as a disproportionately intense, prolonged, or heightened reaction to ordinary sensory stimuli, such as tactile and auditory sensations (e.g., sound of people chewing, feeling of specific clothing textures) that leads to functional impairment Rogers and Luby, 2011). Recent research has begun to examine relationships between sensory triggers, perfectionism, and OC-related disorders, and in particular how these may be related to SOR.

There is wide variation among individuals with TTM in symptom presentation, and little is known about subtypes or endophenotypic variants, which could relate to treatment outcome, prognosis, and underlying genetic and neural vulnerabilities. Subtypes, or “styles,” of pulling have been proposed based on the degree to which an individual is aware of engaging in the pulling (e.g., Christenson and Mackenzie, 1994Flessner et al., 2008) and the extent to which pulling is related to emotion regulation processes (e.g., Alexander et al., 2016Diefenbach et al., 2008). 

So what does that mean? The authors jump to the conclusion that it means we have emotional regulation issues. Now I don't doubt I have those but I don't know if experiences sounds/smells more intensely = emotional regulation issues.

First the authors present that there appear to be two types of pulling

1) Automatic - characterized as a behavior that occurs outside of the puller's awareness.

2) Focused- occur within conscious awareness and to function more as an emotion regulation strategy.

I have always felt it would have been great to just be an automatic puller so I could buy an awareness device and be over it already. I know it’s not that simple though as there appears to be some overlap of both types for people so it’s probably more accurate to consider how much of your pulling style is automatic vs focused. An awareness device should be in your tool box if you have a lot of automatic pulling that you want to inhibit.

“Focused” pulling has garnered particular attention in the treatment development literature (e.g., Keuthen et al., 2012Woods et al., 2006) given that it may be less responsive to traditional habit reversal therapy (Azrin and Nunn, 1973). “Focused” pulling can often involve sensory triggers including tactile or visual sensations such as coarse hair, or the urge to pull hair to satisfy a need for symmetry, for example removing an eyebrow hair that seems out of place (e.g., Christenson and Mackenzie, 1994;), or with by-proxy urges to pull hair from other people that appear out of place (Falkenstein and Haaga, 2016). By-proxy urges have been associated with “focused” pulling and also perfectionism (Falkenstein and Haaga, 2016). Many hair pullers struggle with perfectionism as a trigger for pulling, and it has been found to be a useful treatment target for some (Mansueto et al., 1999Pélissier and O’Connor, 2004).

Whether “focused” pulling, SOR, and perfectionism are associated constructs in a sample with TTM remains unexamined.

Have you considered how much “perfectionism” plays into your trichotillomania? I hadn’t really until I read this carefully. I do exhibit the classic “that pokey hair is out of place and needs to be removed!” feeling intensely. Is it perfectionism? Is it an emotional regulation issue? Is it both?

So how did they study if people with trich had perfectionism and how did they define perfectionism? They recruited people online and with surveys they could classify someone as perfectionistic or not. The survey for perfectionism used a specific scale;

Frost Multidimensional Perfectionism Scale (FMPS; Frost et al., 1990)

This self-report measure assesses the following 6 dimensions of perfectionism across 35 items: concern about making mistakes, setting high personal standards, perceived parental expectations, parental criticism, doubts about actions, and the tendency to be organized (the organization subscale is not in the total score). Each item is rated on a 5-point Likert scale. This scale has been found to have adequate reliability and validity (Frost et al., 1990).

So they also used a similar scale to examine SOR and anxiety and depression. It remains to be known how accurate it is for someone taking a survey to be objective about themselves. It would be useful if patients had their therapists also complete the survey and that way the person could have a score that was averaged between to offset personal bias about yourself. But who has that kind of funding and resources? It’s just not feasible probably.

Results showed people with TTM were more sensitive/responsive to sounds and tactile sensations. I sleep with a sound machine every night and without it, I feel anxiety so I definitely can’t argue against that result. I hate sounds when I am trying to sleep. But who doesn’t? Apparently we hate it MORE than your non-puller type.

Participants also described experiences with auditory over-responsivity, including, “I cannot fall asleep if I hear a clock ticking, or a tap leaking. I have to shout louder than the sound the dishes make when I'm arranging them in the cupboard. I scream or cover my ears if a truck or a bus passes by me.” And another participant stated, “When there is fire alarm testing at work, I have to leave for the day or I get almost zero work done if I stay.”

“Symptoms of SOR were very common in a large sample of adults with self-reported hair pulling: 77% endorsed at least mild tactile symptoms and 73% at least mild auditory SOR (in contrast with the non-affected comparison group: 59% endorsed at least mild tactile symptoms, and 61% at least mild auditory).”

Conclusion: We feel sounds, smells, and tactile sensations more intensely.

“It is also possible that SOR symptoms contribute to high levels of emotional arousal, which in turn increases the likelihood of engaging in hair pulling as an emotion regulation strategy. SOR symptoms may also be more directly functionally related to pulling, as is illustrated by our participants’ qualitative descriptions of sensory stimuli that elicit the urge to pull. Finally, it may be the case that a shared underlying neuropathology underlies both TTM and SOR; abnormalities in cortico-subcortical circuitry involved in emotion regulationemotional processinginhibitory control, and memory processing have been implicated in both conditions (Odlaug et al., 2014Koziol et al., 2011).”

And here we are back to emotional regulation issues. lol

“There are currently no empirically supported treatments for SOR, and it is unclear which techniques may be most useful. Interventions reported in case studies have utilized exposure (e.g., McGuire et al., 2015Reid et al., 2016), but if SOR is indeed related to emotion regulation deficits, other viable candidate treatments could be interventions targeting distress tolerance/emotion regulation. Future research should focus on clarifying the role of SOR in TTM and more broadly, the role of SOR within OC-related disorders as a whole, with the ultimate goal of improving conceptualization and treatment options for these impairing phenomena.”

Well, so bad news first, there is no treatment for SOR. Good news maybe by treating SOR it would help with TTM? If you are considering how your emotional regulation (of lack thereof) is affecting your trich, I would suggest looking at DBT.

However, if we do assume their one idea that SOR increases pulling behavior, we could try to inhibit our sensitivity to sounds and tactile sensations somehow which would lessen urges to pull. Something to consider. How would we experience sounds and tactile sensations less? That’s a good point they don’t address very fully, they just cite “exposure therapy”.

Maybe keeping sound machines on all day everyday? Maybe wearing gloves so you feel less? What do you think? What would make you experience sounds and tactile sensations less? Greater exposure to them maybe? Or less exposure to them? Maybe emotionally regulating the experience of sounds and tactile sensations?

I guess this study was interesting but not sure what to do with this info (they don’t know either lol). I already knew I didn’t like loud sounds and tight clothes. When I asked my partner if he thought I responded more to sounds, smells, and tactile sensations, he was like “Oh yea”. So what do I do with this information? Maybe just keeping it in mind will help me understand myself more. Maybe I should be asking myself if I am tolerating something as a non-puller vs puller? Would a non-puller mind this as much? I think that’s an interesting thought. Something to consider.

Emily Kight
Why did trichotillomania evolve in humans?

Recently I read a chapter from a book about how depression could have been advantageous 150,000 years ago because it provided a human with rest to recuperate while also withdrawing from the tribe to prevent disease spread within. Could trichotillomania have been an advantage 150,000 years ago too? If so, what was the advantage?

150,000 years ago humans lived in tribes and life expectancy was in the 20’s. Many women died in childbirth and many men died hunting and fighting. Still natural selection occured to pass down traits we still have today.

If you did live in a tribe, you presumably shared things or were in close quarters …..like caves.

A millennial human photographing humble beginnings and then hashtagging “woke”.

A millennial human photographing humble beginnings and then hashtagging “woke”.

I keep thinking what would happen if you woke up infested with lice or mites or some of the sort. It would be an issue to have hair. Lice would cause itching and sleep loss. Sleep loss would put you at risk for not reacting quickly to lethal threats. Not to mention lots of scratching could lead to infection which without medical treatment could eventually lead to further issues. Head lice have been around for a long time.

Genetic studies suggest that lice developed about 1.68 million years before homo sapiens emerged, and that they started their relationships with humans about the same time human evolution separated from chimpanzee evolution.

Could obsessive hair removal been an evolutionary advantage then? Lice was probably common and bald patches would have limited the area lice could thrive. No hair = no lice.

Having no eyelashes would have been one of the only ways to get rid of lice living on your lashes 150,000 years ago. Think about that for a second…….lice can happily live on your lashes!

Perhaps, this "urge" or "itch" we feel to pull, is an old physiological response to pre-emptively protect us from a possible lice infestation in our eyes and scalp. Perhaps this trigger is stress related since meeting new tribes or moving locations would have been stressful which are also common ways to get lice.

The problem is our genes don't evolve as quick as technology. While hair pulling could be useful then, it does not serve as much of a purpose now (assuming it did at all).

Millennial humans reach more tribes than their ancestors with the advent of social media.

Millennial humans reach more tribes than their ancestors with the advent of social media.

These are just thoughts of course but maybe if you are a hair puller, you are just born in the wrong century to appreciate it?

If you are wondering how mental disorders could have evolved in humans, check out this article from 2017 in Scientific american; https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/geneticists-are-starting-to-unravel-evolution-rsquo-s-role-in-mental-illness/

“Another team, lead by human geneticist Renato Polimanti at Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut, is trying to tease out links between environmental factors, mental illnesses and behavioural traits. Polimanti and his colleagues looked at 2,455 DNA samples from individuals at 23 sites across Europe and quantified each person’s overall genetic risk for mental disorders, such as autism, and personality traits, such as extraversion. They then calculated whether that risk was associated with certain environmental factors, such as rainfall, winter temperatures or the prevalence of infectious disease—exploring the idea that these factors might have been involved in selecting for the human traits.

People who live in European regions with relatively lower winter temperatures, they found, were slightly more genetically prone to schizophrenia. Polimanti suggests that if genes that helped people tolerate cold were located close to variants that promote schizophrenia in the genome, then the latter could have been inadvertently carried along during evolution as a “fellow traveller”.

Emily Kight
Make your own grape seed extract hair growth tonic!

Here are some quick tips to get you started on making your own hair growth tonic!

Screen Shot 2018-11-21 at 9.08.22 AM.png

First you will need to buy a gallon of distilled water, Grape Seed Extract (95% Proanthocyanidins) powder, and a container for everyday use. You can also buy a preservative to stop mold growth or you can leave it in the fridge. If you are making a large batch like this, might be safer to do both!

For preservative you just need a drop of phenoxyethanol-SA which contains caprylyl glycol and sorbic acid. It will protect against, yeast, bacteria and mold. Only need 0.75-1.5%. Can be used in both hair and skin products. Where to buy one? Here at Making Cosmetics!

For buying your grape seed extract, you don’t want cheap. It’s also imperative you use products that say specifically “95% Proanthocyanidins” or you are probably wasting your time.

What evidence is there that it will help grow hair? Academic article Here!

So this is a good product to have if you want something to keep in after you get out of the shower. The problem with other growth products is that you have to wash them out but this is just water and extract so its lightweight. Towel dry your hair and ad a few dabs and go on about the day!

Step 1) Get 1/4-1/2 teaspoon of Grape seed powder and put into beaker/jug

Step 2) Fill beaker/jug up with distilled water until you don’t see powder particles drifting around. You want it to go into solution.

Step 3) (Optional) Pour the beaker into the distilled water jug to further dilute the solution

Step 4) Pour some into second container for everyday use. Then apply half drop of preservative to it. You want it to be around 1% of the entire container solution so you don’t need much.

Step 5) (Optional) Add 1%-5% follicle booster. So again prob just another drop to your secondary container. Mix thoroughly.

Note* Be sure to use a secondary container the size of the one picture or larger. If you use a small container, you need to use even less of the preservative and follicle booster…..which is hard without a pipette.

PLEASE remember to keep out of the light. Store somewhere light will not reach it.

This is how much just a 1/4-1/2 teaspoon makes up! Can you believe it?

This is how much just a 1/4-1/2 teaspoon makes up! Can you believe it?

Nice part about this extract power is that its edible. People use it as a mix in drinks.

Nice part about this extract power is that its edible. People use it as a mix in drinks.

Emily Kight
Neural Pathway Disruption

My goal in creating a cooling in-leave conditioner was to create a new habit. Pulling can be like an automatic movement that becomes almost irresistible to urges. It may start from anxiety and stress, but over time the neural pathways become ingrained and it’s just what feels right to do.

The goal in making Prohibere was never to be a quick fix or a “cure”. The goal was just to disrupt the behavior and with a lot of work, and make the pulling more infrequent and less uncontrollable.

Habit Reversal Therapy has helped some people but it’s so easy to backslide. Traditionally, patients were trained to “fist clench” instead of pull hair. I tried this but it didn’t work for me. So I decided to make something that would still generate a sensation since I wondered if the sensation of hair being pulled drove the behavior (for me atleast).

How do we fix a neural pathway behavior? Practice. Have you ever learned a movement and years later still know how to do it? It’s because the neural pathways are ingrained. Is this the issue with trich?

Path of Least Resistance

Most people live on autopilot most of the time. This is because our neural pathways operate under the law of least effort, or the path of least resistance. The most worn path is the strongest and easiest to travel. It’s like traveling down a super highway. It allows you to conserve mental energy and respond quickly to your life experiences. This type of automatic conditioning can be seen in the body memory of professional athletes or top piano players. It can also be seen the last time you drove home from work yet didn’t recall the entire trip.

What can you do instead of pull? Is it possible to step away and do something you like? Not always.


Visualization is almost as powerful as the real thing given your brain cannot tell the difference between something real or imagined. Research shows that anytime you are thinking, you are engaging and thus conditioning neural pathways. Consequently, whether you are reminiscing about the past, thinking about the present or anticipating the future you are strengthening the neural networks associated with whatever you are thinking about. 

What about visualizing stopping before you have to stop? Will you imagine feeling the strength and power? Intensity of emotion and feeling is required to take an experience and make it a solidified habit. The more emotion you engage, the more neurons you activate to form well-worn pathways.

Repetition and Practice

Neural pathways are strengthened into habits through the repetition and practice of thinking, feeling and acting.

You can do this without buying anything if you are limited on funds. Putting lotion on your hands the first time you pull and repeating it for every attempt after that may suffice. What also will help? Practice in the mirror. It sounds stupid but reaching up to a hair as if you were to pull and then grabbing your lotion or Prohibere, 20 times in a row can strengthen the neural pathway. Repeat this each day.

Don’t want to use a product? Practice moving your hand up to pull and with the other hand, swatting it away. Repeat 25-30 times. Every time you go to the bathroom you fit in a “work out”. See if you can condition your body to start swatting the hand away when you start to pull on it own.


How do we know practicing stopping could help? Police are trained to disarm a suspect in a specific way at the academy where they usually give the gun back to the person they trained with. They repeat this movement quickly and many times. They do this so much in training that in real life, they also disarm and then return the gun back to suspects! It became a real problem that needed to be addressed in training.

What if I practice but I still fall into a pulling episode? RECORD the time, place, and activity. Rate how much you wanted to pull, how many hairs pulled, how many times you pulled and if you were able to stop. Bag the hair to hold yourself accountable. If each time you pulled you had to record it and then put it in a bag, you would start to find it harder to pull because you would be looking at the “work” to do after pulling. The trick is forcing yourself to record EACH time.

Ok, great but what if I still can’t stop pulling?!?!

I get it. All this stuff is great in theory but sometimes life get hard and so stressful. Sometimes you can’t do it all. Some days trich wins. Can you step away and meditate? Can you ask yourself why you might be pulling? Did something trigger you? Were you watching a movie for too long and your body got restless? Do you feel anxious about something? Can you take a hot shower? Can you look at something online real quick to make you laugh?


The true masters of manifesting meditate daily. When you meditate you slow down the nonsense, ungrounded chatter of the busy mind and access the calm abiding wisdom of your inner awareness and the skill of laser focus. Meditation is the process of relaxing the body and quieting the mind. In order to tap into the benefits of neural plasticity you have to disengage the stress response and stimulate the relaxation response. When you are stressed your brain rigidly defers to the strongest neural pathways out of survival and the path of least resistance. Consequently, during stress you do not have access to newly formed neural networks because they have not been tried and proven yet. Most people live in a perpetual state of stress believing feeling tense, time pressured or overwhelmed is the norm. This is simply not true and is the result of an undisciplined mind and body.

Headspace is free! Practice in the mirror is free! I believe you can make steps to lessen the grip trich holds on your life. It may never be 100% gone but it can be disempowered. The fact that you read this and can consider trying something new is a good start to changing your trich. Keep creating a new neural pathway! Good luck!

Emily Kight
Why Do I have Trichotillomania
why do I have trichotillomania.jpg

For me when I was 7-8 years old, someone told me that if an eyelash fell out, you could blow on it and make a wish and it would come true. I remember going to our downstairs bathroom and methodically pulling eyelashes out and making wishes. I would wish for all sorts of things. From treats for Ariel, the family cat, toys, stuff for my family, and world peace. Obviously none of these came true. 

At the same time, my parents were divorcing. There was so much yelling and screaming. I remember when I use to go to my friend's house how quiet I thought it was. My mother supported two kids for many years alone and needed a partner to meet her half way. I remember her coming home late after 9 pm many days. I remember missing her.  It must have been awful for her. My father was either mentally ill or not, but couldn't get along with anyone to stay at a job. Sometimes I wonder if he had/has autism. Either way, providing for his family was just not on his agenda. 

I remember my father came into my room when I was watching my favorite tv show "Family Matters" and looked at my lack of lashes in disappointment. I just remember his face reacting to what "I have done to myself". I felt shame. If you have a child who pulls their hair out, try to make a different experience for them. 

When my parents finally divorced and I lived with my mom, I got to see my dad every so often. He would usually ask "So, are you still pulling your hair out?" Please don't ask your kid this. There is no point. It puts a lot of pressure on stopping which is harder on kids than adults I imagine. Ask them how they manage uncomfortable emotions, ask how they soothe themselves, and ask if they would like to try new things like yoga or meditation for a few minutes. Those were not even sentences my parents knew to ask since they themselves had poor models growing up for self-love and self-comforting. 

Anxiety is a fact of life. I think how we decide to manage anxiety dictates so much of our future. Some people don't pull their hair out but resort to chain smoking, drinking, drugs, stealing, cheating, or all sorts of things that are more known about but much worse than bald spots in my opinion. Trichotillomania can't cause cancer or destroy your liver and take years off your life.  

I think trichotillomania can result from either nurture or nature. Over all, if you don't model how to self-soothe or self-comfort, your child can be at risk for some dysfunctional behaviors. 

My father spoke at nauseam about the "amygdala" being the source of all humanity's troubles. I am really regretful he did not ever find a therapist or support group to teach him how to calm the "amygdala". Only later in his life did he try meditation. Stress is a part of life. Our response to stress can be modeled for us in ways that are problematic later. 

Parents do the best they can so looking back there is no use in the "what if's". I know my friends who came from different families have their own set of unique issues. When you have trich, you wear your issue on your sleeve so it's more public. 

OCD can also be a way someone copes with stress so when I read the scientific study that showed people with trichotillomania usually have one first relative with OCD, this was not surprising. Research article here. 

So what can you do if you or your child have trichotillomania and want to learn to self-soothe behaviors? 

1. Meditation- Headspace app is free! 5 min or 10 min can set your day back on track. I like how it teaches you to allow your thoughts to "come and go" like watching cars. Finding a peace in your mind when it's so loud and busy is very important. I learned how to distance myself from bad emotions better after doing it. I regret not learning more from meditation earlier in life. 

2. Pets- This blog starts with a picture of a guinea pig because that was my first personal pet. Animals were always soothing to be around. They don't "talk at you" or criticize or hurt you. It wasn't until this year that I got my own dog that I learned the power of someone happy to be with me or just be around me no matter how I felt. I love taking her on walks and throwing her ball. I wake up to her sleeping by my side everyday now. Sometimes I wondered what it would be like if I had gotten a dog sooner. I think things would have been better when I was younger for sure. I moved a few times and felt some really lonely years. If you can't have a pet now, you can visit pets at the pet store or shelter. I use to walk dogs at a shelter as a freshmen. 

why do i pull hair strand by strand.jpg

3. Working out/ yoga/exercise- I don't want to write much on this since we all know the benefits of endorphins running through your body! Maybe dancing and cleaning to favorite song can be a way to self-soothe when you are pulling and anxious. I am not going to sit here and pretend I have been to the gym recently though! lol. 

4. Hair care/ Showers/ Bubble Baths/ massages- I have wanted to experiment with hair growth ingredients and I have found those times were soothing. Taking a shower is always enjoyable for me and so at night when I tend to pull, I started also doing "hair care" which included doing hair masks and growth serums. So I would take a usual shower, hop out and apply mushroom hair mask and/or Crescere growth serum. Then I would wait (usually however long something else lasted like homework...maybe 10 min or an hour) and take another shower to wash it out with baby shampoo. Remember wet hair, is harder to pull! I'd also do my brow treatments too. Oily brows are harder to pull too! Sometimes I ask my partner for a massage or scalp massage. 

5. Drinking tea/ Eating popcorn with your dog watching Netflix comedy or "extraordinary homes"- I know this is random but it's my favorite thing at night now. Watching tv can be a "high hair pulling scenario" so popcorn is nice because it keeps your hands busy and makes them greasy. You probably aren't gonna stick your hands in your hair when they are coated with butter! 

6. Gardening- Plants are calming. I don't know why but I love them. I like building terrariums. I like watering something and watching it grow. It's just slow and peaceful. 

7. Art- Even if you don't think you have much ability, it does keep your hands occupied. Art was an outlet for me during some dark times. There was a year I painted nothing but horses in high school which angered my one art teacher to no end. I look back and I am pretty disappointed in how some of my teachers interacted with me. I had one AP English teacher who use to point my trich out to the class by saying "I can't stand that hair thing you do". I started sketching instead to occupy my hands and he became even more irate and threatened me in front of the class that if i didn't stop drawing he was going to "put the paper somewhere I didn't want him to". It was humiliating. My parents really should have spoken to my teachers about my trich so they understood what was happening. Teachers reading this should be aware that some behaviors are not personal digs at you and your kids come from varied backgrounds resulting in different psychological manifestations. To parents reading this, don't let your kid have this experience, send a quick email. Maybe go to parent-teacher conferences or call the school guidance counselor.  

8. Cog. Behavioral therapy- Now, let's be clear. There are good therapists, mediocre ones and some that really you should skip. They are people too! You don't have to commit to someone just because you spent one session or a few with someone. Standard practice is usually 6 sessions anyway. If you call them and ask them about trich and CBT, and they aren't familiar or have experience, you should keep calling around. I saw a few who didn't know much about trich and it was kinda useless for trich. They told me to "use a rubber band" on my wrist to replace pulling. It didn't work for me and I have literally not seen anyone attest that it worked for them. One did suggest a trich journal where you record time, place, date, feelings, how many hairs pulled etc. That was interesting and helpful. You DO need to become aware of the triggers and the dangerous times and places. He also suggested bagging the hair and bringing it in each week. Kinda makes me uncomfortable but I guess that's the point. It really holds you accountable. He wasn't a trich specialist but had a few helpful ideas. Maybe they can help you? 

What was the best therapist for me? Not a therapist but a life coach. I remember walking in and saying how "My dad said I should work on X" and he was like "Why? Do you want to work on that?" and I didn't. Instead we made a list of things together. It was active. Afterward, I would leave his office and implement the list. It wasn't just me going into someone's office with a bunch of sound machines and crying about people and failures I couldn't change and then handing over a check. You could do that in your room for free! 

9. Napping- Enough said really. Make yourself yawn, meditate, and drift away. ZZZzzzz. For all those people who can't sleep, I challenge you to wear yourself out midday and then read dense articles for hours in a cold room after eating potatoes or doing calculus. 


Emily Kight
Hair Growth

Every strand of hair on a human head is genetically programmed to a cycle that includes growth, stabilization, aging and shedding. On average, every day a human head sheds about 50–125 hairs (depending on sex), but most of them will come back after the resting stage as the follicle itself is not destroyed. Trouble begins when the loss exceeds re-growth, or the re-growth is weak and unhealthy.

The hair follicle cycle is a complex process and entails involvement of cell differentiation, epithelial–mesenchymal interactions, stem cell augmentation, pattern formation, apoptosis (programmed cell death), cell and organ growth cycles, and pigmentation. 

Normal hair follicles cycle between a growth stage (anagen), a degenerative stage (catagen), a resting stage (telogen) and a shedding stage (exogen). The scalp hairs have a relatively long life cycle: the anagen stage ranges from 2 to 5 years, the catagen stage ranges from a few days to a few weeks, and the telogen stage is approximately 3 months. Hair cycle disturbances have dramatic effects on visible hair growth. 

An analysis of hair shows that it is composed of iron, oxygen, hydrogen, nitrogen and sulphur. The blood must be supplied with these minerals so that nourishment will be carried to the scalp. Angiogenesis, the formation of new blood vessels from the pre-existing vascular network, is a driving force of hair growth. Using products that have been shown scientifically to increase blood circulation such as Prohibere, will help promotion of hair growth as the vessel level. 

Hair loss has been correlated to vitamin deficiencies (vitamin B especially). So what nutrients  should we all be taking (but probably don't)?

Emily Kight
What can help trichotillomania?

It's the holiday season so for some of us, it's also the "trichy" season. Here are some extra tips to help you manage trich! 

1. Bandaids/finger covers/Guiatar Fingertip protector

I love these! I included these finger tip covers with the first 50 pre-orders and saw customers using them as an applicator to help apply the product. Didn't expect that! 

2. QuitThat App / NoMore App

I think it's important to be aware of things that may trigger you such as tv, driving or studying. Then you can get prepared before those times with finger tip covers and Prohibere. Having a game plan before can really help mitigate a possible pulling episode. Tracking helps to solidify your goal of pulling less or altogether. Joining a trich group on facebook might help you find a buddy and see other ways people have manaegd their trich too. 

3. Awareness devices for unconscious pullers such as Keen from Habitaware. Here is their site; Habitaware.com. It was created by a former trichster. Some researchers believe pullers can be categorized as conscious and subconscious. For people who don't even know they are doing it, this is a good option to look at. 

4. Probiotics


Maybe you are thinking that gut health has nothing to do with trichotillomania. However, medicine in general has shifted more towards considering the gut on psychology;

"Probiotics are beneficial bacteria that are introduced into the gastrointestinal tract. Interestingly, gut bacteria are able to synthesize the same neurotransmitters that are found in the brain. These gut neurotransmitters have the same structure and are produced via the same biosynthetic pathway as those in the brain. Gut bacteria are able to communicate with the brain through the vagus nerve, a phenomenon known as the “gut-brain connection.” 

Check out the article on the Gut Health and TTM (Trich) connection Here

I know people who said they saw results in 4-6 weeks after starting them. Gut health is more important that you realize! 

Additionally, many people with trich have reported that NAC (N-Acetylcysteine) has helped reduce their urges. However, this double blind study on it showed there was no benefit. There have been successful case studies so it may be worth trying if you are still struggling. 

5. Wigs/Toppers 

One thing people hate about wigs is that they fear people will know they are wearing one. So what! You can happily pull from a wig all day long while your hair grows beneath. If someone asks if you are wearing a wig, you can squint in confusion and respond with "why are you asking me this?". This should shift the focus away from you to why they are prying into your hair choices. Alternatively you can own it like Kylie Jenner who has a closet in her house devoted to wigs. Brag about your wig! Why not? It can be a style choice. 

Also, many trichsters love Toppik for its ability to build fibers into thinning places to hide "works in progress".

6. Finding the right salon!

I have avoided salons my whole life because it's too embaressing to explain to someone that you have a hair pulling disorder. Sometimes people who work in salons don't even know how to respond. So it can be painful......unless you go to a salon that specializes in trich!

Here is a list that specialize in trich services! 

7. Lots of people have asked me if there is anything to help with eye lash pulling. I think putting cold water on your face as soon as you start can abate the urges quickly. I keep vitamin e oil in the fridge for this reason. It also coats the lashes in oil which makes them harder to pull and it is also good for growth. I have also used eye glasses as barriers. If you don't need glasses, get fake ones! 

Additionally, I know mascara can be a trigger for people who pull lashes so investing in cleaning wipes might help too. Getting soothing aloe make-up remover might help when the urge is high. Then add the oil, glasses, and finger tips and you just avoided a bald patch in the lashes! In some ways, it helps to run a "good strong defense" for lashes and brows because you don't have as much room for error. You start pulling from your scalp, 5-10 hairs later you might not make a dent, but 10 eye lashes pulled can show damage. 

Also, I know lashes pullers feel like they can't wear mascara but there is a vibrating mascara by Lano that might tickle your urges and work for you. 

Anyways, until there is a cure, we have to do our best to manage the best we can. Please let me know if you think I should add anything else to this list! Good luck everyone! <3


Emily Kight

 It was going to cost a lot of money to ship our microbatch of Prohibere to Philly so we just drove down to the Texas to pick it up instead. 44 hours of driving out on the open road! 

Emily Kight
Trich: Just a Habit or Motor Inhibition impairment?

I've been reading lots of academic articles about trich for awhile. In academic writing, the text can become very technical and heavy. So, I thought I might share some of my own thoughts on the interesting ideas brought up in the science of trichotillomania. 

Take a look at this article; Motor Inhibition and Cognitive Flexibility in Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder and Trichotillomania

They tested one trich group, and one OCD group against "healthy comparison subjects" on the computerized Stop-Signal Task, "subjects respond rapidly to left- or right-facing arrows on a computer screen with corresponding motor responses and attempt to inhibit responses when an auditory “stop signal” sounds. With a tracking algorithm, this task estimates the time taken to internally suppress prepotent motor responses (stop-signal reaction time)." 


This study provides data that there is a statistically significant difference between you (person with trich) being able to easily stop a task and someone without trich being able to stop doing the task in the study. How much worse were people with trich at stopping than the healthy comparison group?

The Trichotillomania group versus healthy comparison group: p<0.001. This is a small p value and we can reject the idea that the groups are the same. There is less than a 0.1% probability of a "false positive" or in other words extremely unlikely chance the trich people are the same as the healthy comparisons. In short, we are different! 

One of the interesting conclusions they drew: "Impairment of motor inhibition correlated significantly with symptom severity in trichotillomania." This suggest the more you pull hair out, the more you would perform worse at the test stop task. This makes sense intuitively as the worse you are at stopping, the more you pull because.... you just aren't good at stopping! Duh! At my worst, I felt like I couldn't bring my hand down. I felt like my hands were making the calls. So reading this study makes me feel like I wasn't just having "behavioral" problems that I had complete power to stop this whole time.  "Symptom severity in trichotillomania (Massachusetts General Hospital Hairpulling Scale scores) correlated significantly with stop-signal reaction times (r=0.564, p<0.02)". Again, this is a small p value showing that the worse the trich is, the worse the person was at the test stop task. 

Screenshot 2017-10-11 23.29.03.png

Maybe trich is simply a habit for others. Or maybe a habit is actually a type of motor inhibition impairment? Maybe what starts off as a habit, can transition into the involuntary area. When it crosses that line, perhaps it becomes more of a motor inhibition impairment and that's why it can be so hard to stop. 



Emily Kight
What each new step brings

I can't believe all the people who have helped me bring this year long project so close to completion! It's been a big challenge for me to reach people with trich to get their feedback.  It is amazing how supportive strangers are and how healing it is to connect with so many people with this issue. I have worked for one year figuring out the formulation, pitching to events to raise funds for a small product run, working on the manufacturing and distribution logistics, as well as designing an IRB study.  Everyone who tried it said it was helpful which was really rewarding to hear. I can't wait to get more feedback and work on more projects for trich! This project all started one year ago with just an idea and a competition submission. 

This was the first competition I ever competed in. I have never been "public" about my trich before. &nbsp;446 ideas were submitted to this competition. I was pretty excited I was a finalist. However, I am not a public speaker so getting prepared to talk about my trich in front of lots of strangers and judges was......terrifying to me.&nbsp;

This was the first competition I ever competed in. I have never been "public" about my trich before.  446 ideas were submitted to this competition. I was pretty excited I was a finalist. However, I am not a public speaker so getting prepared to talk about my trich in front of lots of strangers and judges was......terrifying to me. 

I won 2nd place at the IEI contest here! Couldn't believe it! I never thought of myself as an "innovator" or "inventor".&nbsp;

I won 2nd place at the IEI contest here! Couldn't believe it! I never thought of myself as an "innovator" or "inventor". 

Back in December/Jan 2016 when I made my first small batch of product in the lab! An exciting time because I never made a hair product before.&nbsp;Thankfully an R&amp;D chemist who makes skin care products for a big company gave me lots of advice on how to create a formula and how to make a small amount to test. I feel really lucky and appreciative she helped me. Looking back, it would have been almost impossible doing this part by myself. Thank you such much!&nbsp;

Back in December/Jan 2016 when I made my first small batch of product in the lab! An exciting time because I never made a hair product before. Thankfully an R&D chemist who makes skin care products for a big company gave me lots of advice on how to create a formula and how to make a small amount to test. I feel really lucky and appreciative she helped me. Looking back, it would have been almost impossible doing this part by myself. Thank you such much! 

So what happened when I created my product and started using it? First of all, I had to keep using the product if I started pulling. You have to carry it with you and apply it when you find yourself starting to pull. After 2 months, the rhythmic pulling pattern doesn't feel as strong. I got used to "applying" a sensation in place of pulling in order to create a sensation.  I started opting for the new sensation and I opted to get in front of the movement before it began to take hold. My brain started "looking" for the hair conditioner.  The Prohibere sensation replaced the pulling sensation. Now the pattern of pulling feels like a faint song instead of a blaring call begging me to pull. 

I was able to give some samples to a few others with trich and they liked it. Some people said it was helpful for their headaches and migraines too. My next step was submitting to the BYOBB Competition to get more funding! This was a more intensive process than the IEI because I had to create a business plan (which again I had no experience in). I knew nothing about manufacturing or "profit margins". I had to become a business woman in 3 months. 

I won second place and got $10,000 to put toward my product.

I won second place and got $10,000 to put toward my product.

My next stop was finding manufacturers to work with my budget of $10,000. I called a lot of manufacturers and most just didn't work with small batch sizes which was all I could afford. I even had one account executive tell me I wouldn't be ale to get this project off the ground for less than $100,000. Eventually I found a place that would do minimum quantities that I could actually afford. So I paid my deposits and waited. I found a journalist interested in the story.  Unfortunately, I found out the hard way that stories get sensationalized to be newsworthy.  Even asking a journalist to change words like "cure" or "freak" doesn't guarantee they will. I hope people can overlook the sensationalism for the bigger picture here. 

Million dollar question: So are you done pulling? Are you "cured"?

Me: I wouldn't say that. That same rhythmic song could start playing louder and my body could start pulling again.  However, I know what it feels like for the song to be faint which is a brand new feeling.  I can turn my back on that "pull signal" and get further away from it. 


Everyone is unique and with trich it is no different.  Maybe there are some individuals for whom this product will not be useful.  Instead of waiting for the perfect silver bullet in 20-30 years, I'll settle for some help until then. I'd love a cure. Since trich isn't life threatening and can be hidden, the research into a trich "cure" has been lackluster. I hope more people decide to create new methods and products to manage trich so other people can feel some relief and hope! All the different tools out there can help. 

&nbsp;I have purchased these thumbs covers for my first 50 pre-orders as a thank you for the support of this project. The thumb covers can be used to help rub the Prohibere product into the scalp (and also just be worn as barriers to pulling).&nbsp;

 I have purchased these thumbs covers for my first 50 pre-orders as a thank you for the support of this project. The thumb covers can be used to help rub the Prohibere product into the scalp (and also just be worn as barriers to pulling). 

Maybe a combination of tools will get someone's pulling down more than 50% or even 90%. Maybe that person will "fall off the wagon" one day, but even just 50% over all is good progress. Just 50% could be the difference between having a thin spot and a full on bald spot.  Anytime you re-enforce the pathway in the brain to stop pulling, the stronger the new non-pull pathway becomes, like a worn trail in the forrest.

Emily Kight