It’s time to talk about maintaining a healthy scalp. Sure, it doesn’t sound that nice – when you hear the word "scalp" no doubt you recall the problems that go with it: dryness, dandruff, itching, soreness…
But the fact is, scalp problems are an inescapable part of everyday life. There’s a 50% chance that you’ll experience dandruff at some point in your life.
Arguably the best solution for any problem is to get to the root of the cause: How often do you give it a deep massage with nourishing essential oils? Have you ever used a scalp cleanser?
None of the above? If so, this neglecting of your noggin could can poor scalp health and your dreams of fade faster than a temporary hair dye.
This year, tag on a healthy scalp routine to your self-care rituals. It doesn’t have to be long or arduous; there are easy ways to detox your scalp that your hair will thank you for.
Read on and we’ll explain how.
WHY IS A HEALTHY SCALP SO IMPORTANT?
Essentially, a healthy scalp = healthy hair. You can lather your tresses in endless expensive products, but if you ignore your scalp it’s all in vain.
Trichologist explains: “The scalp is the bedrock for the hair follicle, and if it is not in good condition the chances of you experiencing problems with hair growth and health increase significantly.
“In fact, research has proven that a flaky, itchy scalp can cause and/or worsen hair loss in certain individuals.”
Think about it this way. Your hair deals with external stresses every day: pollutants, UV, heat styling and seasonal changes. But, so does your scalp.
Fail to care for your cranium and you’ll have a clean-up job on your hands.
The common telltale signs of a stressed scalp are flakes, itching, soreness, and redness. However, there are less obvious symptoms too.
Overly oily roots are often the result of chemically-laden sulfate-rich shampoos, which strip away your hair’s natural oils and cause your body to produce way too much sebum. An unbalanced PH can go on to cause a range of unwanted problems - like the ones we’re going to talk about.
If you’re gunning for long, luscious locks then the key lies in making sure you have a healthy scalp.
DRY SCALP - WHY IS MY SCALP ITCHY?
There are a number of reasons that can experience an itchy or dry scalp and dandruff are not always to blame. Scalp psoriasis, eczema, bad diet and seborrheic dermatitis can all lead to a bit of scratching.
But if it tends to come and go, it might be more to do with your lifestyle...
“Shampooing infrequently may cause flakes and itching, and dandruff is more likely to flare up during periods of stress or when the body undergoes hormonal changes.”
“You should also look at your diet. Certain foods can trigger flare-ups and make them worse. They are not the same for everyone, but the most common are full-fat dairy products (especially cheese), spicy and sugary foods, as well white wine and champagne.”
HOW TO GET A HEALTHY SCALP
Using a product that looks after your hair and scalp simultaneously will save you time, money and stress.
But if you're watching the purse strings, ensuring a healthy scalp doesn’t have to cost a fortune or add hours to your beauty regime. Don’t believe us? Take a look at this.
Dry scalp remedies
1) Tea tree oil - studies have shown that the essential oil can fight bacteria, viruses, and fungus, making it a great healing option for quelling the effects of red, itchy rashes (known as seborrheic dermatitis)
2) Cleaning your brushes - sounds way too simple, right? Some causes of an itchy or dry scalp are contagious, so making sure you pull out those pesky hairs from your brush is an easy - and free! - solution
3) Yoga - that’s right. A weekly yoga class improves blood flow, relieves stress and has been shown to reduce scalp inflammation according to the National Psoriasis Foundation
Vitamins for healthy hair and scalp
Supplements can help, so look out for those that contain Vitamin B2. It promotes healthy cell growth and helps maintain red blood cells which supply vital nutrients to hair follicles.
Sounds scary, right? It’s actually easily cleared up with a bit of TLC.
A great scalp cleanser can work wonders to gently balance sebum levels, exfoliate the scalp and help to remove the effects of pollution.
HOW TO TREAT DANDRUFF
The sciencey bit: dandruff is caused by a naturally occurring fungus known as Malassezia globosa, which feeds off the oil, sebum, which your body produces to keep your scalp and hair moisturized. See? Your body is doing its bit to help.
But as the sebum is diminished, oleic acid is produced which can be an irritant to 1 in 2 people, according to Head & Shoulders, which then leads to an inflamed, itchy and often red scalp.
In retaliation, your body starts shedding skin cells to get rid of the irritation, leading to - you guessed it - dandruff.
“As dandruff results when skin cells on your scalp divide too rapidly, it’s really important to cleanse and treat the scalp daily to return cell turnover to normal,” Anabel advises.
Use an antimicrobial shampoo and soothing anti-microbial toner every day until symptoms clear. Then reduce usage to every other day for 10 days, and you should soon notice a difference.
If tough shampoos and cleaning products aren’t working, you might want to try the following:
Salicylic acid - studies show that products containing a high concentration of salicylic acid could help with descaling and relieve itching
Topical steroids - scientific evidence suggests that the use of topical steroids on the scalp can reduce uncomfortable symptoms and are a solution to treating scalp psoriasis
Change in diet - a red, itchy scalp could be a sign of too much salt and sugar in your diet. Instead, load up on foods that are rich in omega-3 and - everyone’s new go-to beauty ingredient - Vitamin C
So the proof is in the pudding - a healthy scalp results in healthy hair.