Here’s something that’s gonna change your life: your scalp is an extension of your face. So scalp care is skincare. We know....mind-blowing! Your skin gets gentle cleansers, exfoliation, toners, essences, serums, moisturizers, oils, a gazillion masks, sunscreen. And then there’s your scalp — it gets umm a shampoo lather a few times a week. Your hair gets a bit more extra love with conditioner and maybe a mask. But is a happy head of hair truly possible without a happy, healthy scalp?? NO!
We get the sexy part is luscious hair blowing in the wind, beachy waves, perfect cute curls. But how do you think you get there? By focusing on taking care of your scalp since that’s where all that gorgeous hair is growing out of. All the hair teasing, blow-drying, dry shampoo, styling products, pollution, and sun exposure ... they’re all doing a number on your scalp, and it’s time for a change.
What do I need to know about scalp skin?
As we just said, the scalp is the extension of your face, but it is slightly different because the scalp skin is more delicate, it has a higher number of sebaceous glands, sweat glands and hair follies and a lower barrier function as compared to the skin on rest of the body. It’s a very unique ecosystem in itself that works tirelessly to promote hair growth and regulate oil production.
How can I do to take good care of my scalp?
Scalp care includes good cleansing, massaging, re-balancing oil production, and moisturizing. Anabel Kingsley, a trichologist, explains, “...dirt, pollution, dead skin and sebum can easily build up, making hair dull over time and potentially leading to irritation on the skin. Many people think they have dandruff, but it’s actually dead skin cells sitting on the scalp, not washed away frequently enough.”
We recommend using a weekly prewash that soaks into your hair for at least 20 minutes because then it allows the right nutrient to really clean, balance, and moisturize your scalp and follicles. Ingredients rich in vitamins A, C, D, E, and K are great, along with vitamins B1 and B2. All these vitamins along with minerals, antioxidants, and amino-acids help produce and maintain healthy collagen, prevent hair loss, reduce damage caused by free radicals and UV exposure, fight premature aging, and are crucial to the metabolic pathways involved in building the protein in your hair. All that has to start with taking care of your hair follicles and scalp.
Along with using a prewash, massaging the scalp is a well-known method of stimulating blood circulation and detoxification. Increased blood flow to your scalp allows nutrients and oxygen to enter and nourish your hair follicles. Make sure to take the time and spend a few minutes using your fingertips to massage your scalp on a daily basis. It feels good and it helps build a healthy scalp!
Experts also recommend using ingredients that are antibacterial and increase cell-turnover, like tea tree oil, peppermint oil, witch hazel, and salicylic acid.
What is the right way to shampoo and condition for optimal scalp health?
What’s key here is to use a shampoo that’s right for your scalp skin type. If you have a sensitive scalp, use a gentle shampoo. If you have an oily scalp, you can look into clay-based shampoos. If your scalp is dry, use a more moisturizing-focused shampoo.
Proper application and distribution of shampoo on your scalp is really important and needs to be followed by circular movements to cleanse the scalp (remember we just said how massaging it is oh-so-good!). A second shampoo is commonly advised by hair experts to ensure a good cleanse of both the scalp and the hair. As for conditioner, make sure to focus your conditioner on your hair strands and not your scalp.
Anything else that helps with scalp care?
As we always say, keep an eye out for the pH level of your hair products. The natural pH of your scalp and hair ranges from 3.5-5.5, so using products with pH levels in that range is very important. If you’re using harsh detergents and ingredients that are too alkaline (above 8 pH) it disrupts the natural balance of your scalp, which can lead to dryness, over oiliness, dandruff, and a bunch of other issues.
Also, we mentioned sun damage is also something to keep in mind. We wrote a whole article on why and how the sun damages both your hair and your scalp, and the best ways to protect them from those harsh rays.
And go easy on the dry shampoo...