Creative Control: Tamrell Hunter
She’s an international singer currently touring with El-Live Productions. She’s also currently working on her own EP with Janet Jackson's producer, T. Lumpkins, (which will be released in early 2018). She’s also a DJ, dancer, model, song writer and music producer. She has her own channel on YouTube which she not only hosts but films and edits herself. She’s appeared as a model in Photo Vogue and her schedule is booked solid with interview requests and photo shoots for high fashion / couture labels. She’s Tamrell Hunter and while originally from Pasadena, California, she’s come a long, long way to take centre stage to perform at her current gig in Beijing.
With model looks, a dazzling smile and intelligent, charming conversation skills the world is basically Tamrell’s oyster however what makes Tamrell just as human as all of us mere mortals is that there is a long, painful story behind her runway-ready modern hairstyle.
As to whether the story ends happily is yet to be seen but one thing’s for certain and that’s the fact that Tamrell is adamant about sharing her experience in the hope that others will be able to gain insight and if necessary, get the help they need should they ever face the same (often unexpected) physical challenge.
Hair Apparent: In The Public Eye Being onstage every night as part of a popular show means that Tamrell is basically always in the public eye. Clearly, a singer’s best asset is their voice but (especially for female singers) there is also the constant pressure to look the part as well. Facing the challenge of thinning hair (with a number of completely bald spots) meant that Tamrell was dealing with even more pressure. Years of wearing hair extensions had created traction alopecia which is just one of the many reasons why hair loss can occur for women, (with others being genetic, stress / diet related and/or hormonal, to name a few). Tamrell decided to take some time to investigate the options on hand and realised that not only for men but also women, FUE hair transplants can indeed offer hope in the case of premature hair loss. Bravely, Tamrell agreed to share her story with our editor, Christina Morrison, with a view to inspiring others dealing with hair loss, thinning hair and baldness of any kind.
CM: “We’re all very aware of the men’s journey with having hair implants a la Shane Warne but in all seriousness, women have routinely been fairly tight lipped about sharing their experiences with hair loss and how to tackle it. If someone is then to choose the FUE transplant approach, what, in a nutshell, does the FUE treatment entail?”
TH: “The FUE Transplant was, for me, a painless outpatient surgery. It took about sixteen hours from start to finish. I highly recommend the FUE technique as there are no scars or signs of the having had the surgery after the hair has grown in. It is extremely important to go and get as many consultations as you can and a variety of opinions before choosing a clinic and a type of hair transplant that meets your desired results.” CM: “Choosing to take the plunge with any kind of surgery to enhance one’s appearance is always a mixed bag. There’s always an element of risk. How do you feel after taking the big step with FUE?” TH: “The best thing is regaining my self-confidence. I feel like myself again. Years of insecurity about my bald spots vanished when the new hair grew in after having the FUE. I have a natural complete look, as opposed to covering and disguising my thin areas of hair with restricted hairstyles and hair extensions. I love wearing extensions, but only as an option now (not as an imperative). I now have more trust in myself in general because making this decision has taught me to trust my intuition. I didn’t realize how much joy and comfort this would bring me. I just knew I wanted hair in those bald areas. I use to visualize having hair in the empty spaces and in time miraculously found the means to have the procedure. This gives me confidence that my other dreams are also able to come true, such as this one here of being a cover-story gal!” “I now have more trust in myself in general.”
CM: “What were some of the challenges you faced in taking care of your hair to date?” TH: “Being comfortable with my own hair texture is a new phase for me! Curly, coarse and unruly are some of the labels that used to haunt me about my hair as a young girl up to early adulthood. After my FUE treatment, now, with having a full head of hair I’m actually able to embrace my natural hair texture. I used to always feel the need to straighten my hair with chemicals or with heat to imitate images I saw on television or in the magazines. However, the current trends today show that natural hair is advertised more often, making it more appealing for people to love the texture hair they were born to wear.”
CM: “What changed within you during this process in terms of your approach?”
TH: “I discovered I could find strength by nurturing my own inner happiness via meditation and creating stillness. Post surgery, there was a need for extreme healing and a peaceful environment in order for the new hair transplants to stay safely under the scalp and for the donor area to heal. This process taught me the importance of stillness and meditation. The only discomfort I experienced was a few headaches the first three days after surgery and sleeping sitting up for two weeks to avoid disturbing the new implants. The swelling on the recipient area took about two weeks to completely go away. The Clinic (LA Hair Clinic) was awesome with assisting me with any questions or concerns I had. I literally could not talk or laugh for the first two or three days because I had to avoid headaches and head swelling. Although it was a challenge, I discovered the beauty in stillness. The inner peace and feeling of choosing to create less mind clutter allowed me to hear what my soul has to say, which is: ‘Take it easy!’ The more calm I was in my mind, body and soul the faster I noticed that I physically healed.”
CM: “What are some of the main joys you’re finding in having done this FUE treatment?” TH: “Honestly? I’m now more comfortable in front of people. Truthfully, I am my own worst critic. Back when I still had thinning hair, there were definitely hidden fears in my mind about the thin spots. I never felt comfortable going to salons and letting people style my hair. However now, after the FUE treatment, having full natural hair gives me more confidence conversing eye to eye with people, performing better on stage and looking natural on photo shoots.”
CM: “What are some of the other added benefits?” TH: “I can help, I can advise and I really hope to motivate others. I’m not only a singer but I also have a background as a professional hairstylist, so I feel motivated to educate people about healthy hair more than ever before . Post surgery, my scalp was extremely delicate and sensitive to all products…including tap water! I now encourage the use of natural products; even making homemade shampoos and conditioners if possible to ensure proper nourishment for the scalp and hair. I still purchase hair products, but with knowledge of the ingredients and the effects it has on my hair and skin.”
CM: “What would you say are key nutrition tips for better hair in general?”
TH: “We really are what we eat! I truly understand this now. Before the FUE I sat down and planned a strategy for how to prepare my body in terms of nutrition so I could be approach the surgery. I started taking vitamins, I drank absolutely no alcoholic beverages, I ate fresh vegetables and fruits, I eventually cut out refined sugars and drank tons of water. Although I made these changes to accommodate the healing process, this remedy was extremely effective after the surgery as it helped clear my acne skin problems and helped with the hair growth.”
CM: “What are your suggestions for choosing the right clinic?”
TH: “I recommend following your intuition when choosing the clinic for this surgery. Get as many consultations as needed to clearly see what each clinic has to offer and how comfortable their personalities and professionalism make you feel. I knew right away when I found the right clinic from the smiles from the hair technician at the reception desk, the patience during the consultation and the free mini FUE trial transplant they gave me to determine how my skin would react to the procedure. I knew the clinic genuinely cared about the results over making money.”
CM: “Can you take us through what life was like immediately following the treatment?”
TH: “Having this FUE is one of the best investments I’ve made for myself. The cost might seem intimidating, but most clinics offer affordable payment plans. It’s now been over one year since the surgery and with the guided care of the clinic and my new healthy hair awareness, there are absolutely no detectable signs of my having had a hair transplant. I’m extremely happy about that!” GM
(below: These three modelling photos of Tamrell are by Sunkai Photography, Beijing; the other shots in this story are all by Avenz Photography, also in Beijing).
Where to find: LA Hair Clinic is located in Pasadena, Californa. www.lahairclinic.com
To follow Tamrell Hunter on YouTube and to hear more about her personal experience, go to: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=boWCn65IkYQ The video title is: “Hair Transplant FUE Recovery First 28 Days/African American/Tamrell.” This is the first of the series presented by Tamrell, documenting her recovery from traction alopecia to again having a full head of natural healthy hair. To follow Tamrell’s music in her capacity as a singer/songwriter & producer, go to:
https://soundcloud.com/tamrell_123 and to follow her cousin Thomas, go to:
Special thanks to Capital M in Beijing for the location.