A Brief History of the Institute of Trichologists

In 1902, a group of like-minded doctors, scientists and hairdressers came together to found the College of Diseases of the Hair, later to be known as the Incorporated Institute of Trichologists. Their objective was to put the care and study of the scalp and hair on a professional basis and to share the sum of the available knowledge in order to advance the science of hair.

Mr. Francis Law who had a special interest in education was one of the early founding members and is acknowledged as ‘One of the Father’s of the Institute’. During the early stages Francis Law acted as General Secretary and was later Chairman of the Board of Governors for fifteen years. He features greatly throughout the history of the Institute.

For many years the Incorporated Institute of Trichologists had wanted to provide an adjunct to their educational work in the form of a specialised hospital for the treatment of patients suffering from maladies peculiar to the scalp and hair, one which would also establish the nucleus of a school of trichology. This was accomplished by the founding of The Scalp and Hair hospital at 23 Fitzroy Square, London, NW1. It was the first of its kind in the country and was opened on 24th September 1928 under the supervision of Mr. Francis Law (as ‘Superintendent in Charge’). The hospital earned a most respected reputation and rendered great service to the public; it helped significantly to raise standards in trichology by monitoring and evaluating treatments undertaken there.

The Institute was blessed by the patronage of Her Grace the Duchess of Portland who championed awareness amongst society friends and raised funds with organised society dances to support the endeavours of the Institute. The Institute was honoured to have had her and her family’s loyal support from 1923 to 1954 when she died at the age of 91.

Mr. Francis Law FIT

In 1925 the Institute became formally incorporated under the terms of the Companies Act as ‘Institute of Trichologists (Incorporated)’, a company without a share capital, limited by guarantee. The Institute was granted special dispensation by the Board of Trade to omit the word ‘Limited’ from its title.

The search for larger and more suitable premises in the summer of 1939 was quickly quashed by the commencement of war. The Hospital had to close its doors for the first time since it was opened nearly ten years before. This was in consideration of the ruling of the authorities that no congregation of people should be brought about within the central part of London for their own safety, and the probable paucity of patients who would not go far from their homes during the blackout hours. There was difficulty in staffing the Hospital since many Institute members were on active duty in His Majesty’s Services. By December 1942, 70 per cent of associates and members of the Institute were away on active service and eventually enemy bombing destroyed the building.

In the years following the war, time was spent concentrating on the education of the students and the assimilation of knowledge and rebuilding the spirit of the Institute.

On 6th July 1959, after the culmination of months of negotiations by the Governors, the new Hospital, which was situated in the then leafy suburb of Brixton, was opened at 228 Stockwell Road, London, SW9. This building served us well until 1997 when the clinical training and patient observation moved to officially designated training clinics in the north and south of England. In 2010, a dedicated training facility in London opened where students from the UK and worldwide continue their training to qualify as registered Institute trichologists. The facility also provides continuing professional development seminars for Institute members who wish to update their skills and knowledge.

The Institute has since forged close links with scientific and medical societies including the Royal Institute of Public Health and The Society of Cosmetic Scientists. The Institute is recognised as one of the most prolific contributors to scientific and medical articles. In the late 1990s, the Institute accepted an invitation to join the Associate Parliamentary Group on Skin, a gathering of skin care professionals, patient groups and parliamentarians with an interest in various skin disorders and diseases and their treatment. In 2012 the Institute joined the Dermatology Council for England.

In September 1998, the Institute introduced a number of amendments to its Articles of Association, one of which was to formally change its name from ‘Institute of Trichologists (Incorporated)’ to ‘The Institute of Trichologists’. The values of the Institute however, remain in same as stated in The Trichologist (first published in April 1937) by Francis Law:

‘Our vision should be one of a united fellowship of specifically trained men and women, carrying on the work founded by this Institute, raising it to its place on a proper professional plane in the joint interests of its Members and of the community. It is the duty and privilege of everyone connected with the Institute to assist in every possible way towards the furtherance of trichological knowledge’