The Global Healthy Living Foundation Launches HEROES Program

The Global Healthy Living Foundation (GHLF), an international, patient-centered, nonprofit organization whose mission it says is to improve the quality of life for people with chronic illness, has launched the HEROES (Health Education + Reliable Outreach + Empathetic Support) program. Created by, with, and for stylists, salons, and barbershops, with input from patients and health care professionals, GHLF’s HEROES program is a free platform to equip salon professionals to better support their clients with skin and scalp conditions. Evidence-based information about psoriasis, as well as atopic dermatitis (eczema) and alopecia, will be provided in accessible, easy-to-understand formats for both HEROES and their clients.

According to a new GHLF survey, 96 percent of stylists surveyed know what psoriasis is, but only 27 percent often or always talk to their clients with psoriasis about the condition. And 98 percent of stylists interested in the HEROES program reported that, after receiving information about skin conditions from GHLF, they would suggest a client gets medical care if they have signs of a skin condition.

As places of conversation, connection, and community, salons and barbershops play a key role in the health and well-being of their clients. The survey showed that the top conversation topics among beauty professionals and their clients were their personal life (52 percent), skin health (46 percent), and hair health (43 percent).

“Over time, our stylists, barbers, and related beauty professionals become close confidants, someone we share personal stories with while sitting in the chair. Building on those trusting relationships, we created the HEROES program to spark positive health conversations, reduce stigma, and accelerate diagnosis to improve health outcomes for patients with chronic skin conditions,” said Sarah Shaw, GHLF’s BIPOC community outreach senior manager. “Addressing the fact that skin diseases might present differently in Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) is one way we are working to reduce health disparities. One of the most important ways to improve health outcomes is helping to facilitate early and fast diagnosis in marginalized communities.”

Of the estimated 7.5 million Americans with psoriasis, about half have it on their scalp, with symptoms including fine scaling that looks like dandruff, or thick crusted plaques that cover the entire scalp. However, in patients of color, the skin discoloration may be less obvious — more violet than red — making it more challenging for patients to spot and for some physicians to diagnose accurately.

“In addition to the stigma associated with visible illnesses such as psoriasis, eczema, and alopecia, there are also significant health disparities in recognizing and effectively treating these chronic diseases,” said Dr. Loyd Godwin, MD, founder of Dermatology Physicians of Connecticut, Norwalk and Shelton, CT, who will serve as one of the medical advisors of the HEROES program. “As a dermatologist, I’m excited that GHLF’s HEROES program will help beauty professionals educate their clients about what a healthy scalp looks like and advise action if additional support from a dermatologist or medical professional is needed.”

Black, Indigenous, and People of Color are less likely to see a dermatologist and less likely to be prescribed a biologic (now a standard treatment for psoriasis) than white people, possibly because they may lack exposure to and knowledge about biologics to advocate for this newer, systemic treatment. Instead, racial and ethnic minorities may be prescribed topical treatments or no treatment at all for their psoriasis. This insufficient treatment can greatly affect a person’s quality of life.

Through the HEROES program, salons and barbershops can learn to provide welcoming environments for patients with chronic skin conditions, where they can feel accepted and understood without being judged. Everyone involved in the salon, from the front desk to the shampooer, stylists, and owners, can learn how and when to raise health concerns in a way that makes their clients feel supported and confident.

“I have long-term relationships with many of my clients and believe that my job as a barber goes beyond making my clients look good. I want them to feel good and be healthy, too. While I can’t diagnose skin diseases of the scalp, I can spot symptoms and advise my clients to see a board-certified dermatologist or medical professional,” said Brittane Thames, a mobile barber and social media manager from Atlanta, GA, who also has psoriasis. “Without a healthy scalp, you can’t have healthy hair. As someone living with psoriasis, I’m excited that GHLF’s HEROES program will help hair care professionals educate their clients and reduce stigma related to living with a chronic disease.”

The HEROES program includes online educational content and resources for salon professionals to learn about common skin diseases of the scalp. It also includes text message support and a social media tool kit that they can share on their own Instagram handle to raise awareness of scalp health and destigmatize living with a chronic, lifelong disease. Salon professionals can easily enroll in this free program by visiting

The Global Healthy Living Foundation also has numerous educational resources for patients living with skin diseases of the scalp as well as its podcast, Getting Clear on Psoriasis, available for free at

The HEROES program is sponsored by a grant from Bristol Myers Squibb.