How To Maintain A Healthy Scalp
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In our daily routines, the majority of us think about skin and hair health, and take the condition of our scalp for granted. A healthy scalp is really important because it helps to determine the health of our hair.
When choosing shampoos, conditioners, and other hair products, we tend to focus on how they will benefit our hair, but it is really important to look after our scalps too. Some simple changes to your hair care regime can make a huge difference to scalp health.
Every scalp contains about 100,000 hair follicles, which produce sebum from sebaceous glands to help keep it moisturised, as well as protecting the skin from infection, all contributing to glorious healthy hair. A healthy scalp will be free of itchiness, redness, flakiness, irritation, oiliness, painful acne and sun damage.
Issues such as dandruff, seborrheic dermatitis, atopic dermatitis and psoriasis can impact hair health in terms of roughness, breakage and reduced shine. Poor scalp health linked to these conditions may even result in premature hair loss, and can also affect one’s confidence.
If you notice issues such as constantly feeling the need to scratch, dandruff flakes falling onto clothing or finding alarming bumps, you will benefit from learning how to take care of your scalp.
It is worth noting that many healthy scalps have a lump or two, and conditions such as epidermoid cysts cannot be prevented with a product or hair care regime.
Furthermore, it’s possible that the hair product you are using or a medication you are taking may be causing issues. If unsure, always visit your GP in the first instance.
These tips are applicable for all hair types but are especially important for those with wavy and curly hair, who don't tend to brush their hair, especially when dry. Hair brushing is like a mini stimulating scalp massage which also releases loose strands!
- When you wash your hair, gently massage your scalp rather than rubbing it. Massage will help promote circulation and release those loose hairs. You can either use your hands or a scalp massager such as one of these.
- Regularly clarify to prevent product build-up, but don't overdo it. Clarifying is the process of stripping away product build-up with either clarifying or chelating shampoos, or a variety of DIY home remedies.
- Use a pre-shampoo (aka ‘pre-poo’) massage oil on your roots before shampooing. This has several benefits including helping maintain moisture: great for curly and wavy hair which tends to be drier than straight hair.
- Wash less often—perhaps three to four times per week. You won’t avoid oily hair by frequent washing. On the contrary, shampooing too often strips away natural oils. In turn, your scalp may produce more oils in order to maintain hydration, resulting in excess oil and greasy looking hair. Those who already struggle with a dry or itchy scalp will benefit from increasing time between washes to balance out oil production.
- Occasional use of dry shampoo is perfectly fine for most scalps, but using it too often or for extended periods could damage your hair and cause scalp problems. It is important to remember that despite its name, dry shampoo does not clean the hair, and overuse can result in the temptation to not wash hair often enough. The best thing you can do for your hair and scalp is to keep it clean and conditioned.
- A scalp scrub is a great way to exfoliate the skin on your head to remove dead skin cells. Scrubs contain exfoliants that help remove excess skin cells, oil and dandruff, and may dilate the blood vessels under your skin, potentially boosting hair growth. They can feel very relaxing and can help you de-stress.
- Never plop hair for too long because bacteria love a warm, damp environment. I recommend a maximum of 30 minutes. Plopping is a technique used by those with wavy or curly hair. It helps to set and define curls before drying (either by air or diffuser). Most people find it a game-changer (along with switching to the right type of towel and a silk pillowcase). For the same reasons, don't go to bed with wet hair.
- Our gut health is linked to our skin health, and our scalp is skin, so taking a probiotic may improve the skin microbiome and also promote the health of your hair and scalp. You could also try Omega-3s and fish oils, or aim to eat a diet rich in fish or other fatty acids. The oils will nourish the hair by stimulating circulation in the scalp and have the potential to reduce damage caused by oxidative stress, and could potentially help with thinning hair.
- When applying products, keep them away from your scalp as some ingredients can cause irritation. Upside-down styling makes it easier to target the mid-lengths to ends, which generally need the product more than the root area.
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