Modern Original People: Bridgette Hill

Fresh out of beauty school at the Aveda Institute in Minneapolis, Bridgette Hill trained with colorist Renne Patronik at Garren in New York City. Now with 20 years of experience, she divides her time between Paul Labrecque Salon & Spa in New York City and the luxe new Paul Labrecque Salon & Skincare Spa in the revamped Royal Poinciana Plaza in Palm Beach, Florida.

“As a colorist, who used a lot of chemicals, I was always mindful of the fact that hair is a fabric,” says Hill, who notes that once that fabric is damaged, a quick fix is pretty much out of the question.

Protecting the integrity of the hair has become a priority for Hill, who has been offering deep-conditioning treatments to her clients with color-treated hair for years. Recently she began studying Trichology, a branch of dermatology that deals with the scientific study of the health of the hair and scalp, and as a hair treatment specialist will begin offering intense scalp treatments once a week using a combination of salves, oils and tonics along with laser, steam and lighting to stimulate circulation and combat congestion, which can cause hair loss.

“My passion has become prevention and retention,” says Hill, who has observed firsthand how everything from cancer and hormonal fluctuations to medications—antibiotics, anti-clotting drugs, cholesterol-lowering drugs, antidepressants and mood stabilizers, birth control pills and hormone replacement therapies—can contribute to hair loss and scalp abnormalities. “I began studying Trichology so I could address these problems.”

Hill has been investigating Ingestibles like hair vitamins and nutritional herbs that treat hair loss. Lately she has been encouraged by research indicating that the use of extract of saw palmetto berries may block 5-alpha-reductase, the molecule responsible for hair loss. The theory is that saw palmetto in pill form may prevent hair loss and shedding, actively promoting hair growth in both men and women. 

Hill notes that hair loss has become problematic for women in the African American community, who have relied on chemical relaxers, flat irons and hot combs to straighten their hair. Additionally, tight braids, twists and other hairstyles that place strain on the scalp for extended periods of time can result in irreversible hair loss called Traction Alopecia. Still, Hill believes that early intervention can control the problem.

“Women are almost embarrassed to talk about it, but there are options that an educated hairdresser can offer,” says Hill, who is convinced that hair loss is preventable.

Hill’s passion for her craft began when she was still a little girl with a “knack” for makeup and hair. “I did my mom’s hair all the time growing up,” says Hill, who was  fascinated with fashion and beauty magazines like Vogue and Elle. “I was the girl who loved newspaper stands. I knew all the models in these magazines and knew who the hairdressers were who did their hair.”

Still, she opted to go to college to study communications with a focus on radio, television and film at Clark Atlanta University. It was only after graduating that she made the decision to get her cosmetology license. “I think because I chose hairdressing and that it wasn’t my only option has contributed to my success,” she says. “It was a passion for me.”

Hill recalls the ‘90s, which she calls the golden age of hairdressing. “That’s when hairdressers became celebrities,” she says. “It was an era when everyone—photographers, fashion designers, hairdressers and makeup artists—created this incredible body of work that elevated the taste level for hair and beauty.”

Hill returns again and again to the notion that hair is a fabric. “If you think about your hair as a piece of fine lace, imagine what happens to it when you repeatedly stretch it, put it and snag it,” she says. “Over time that beautiful piece of lace will become a hot mess.” Hill’s plan is to educate the consumer when it comes to proper cleansing of the hair and to offer tools and techniques that support her contention that healthy hair starts with a healthy scalp. 

“The whole idea is to extend the growing phase of hair. You want to feed the scalp with vitamins and minerals that let you manipulate the cellular turnover that’s happening on the scalp so it becomes more efficient at making new hair,” she says. “Topical treatments alone won’t work. If you want to see real results in the war against hair loss, you need a multi-pronged approach,” which is precisely what Hill provides.