Scalp Care 101: Tips for a Healthy Head of Hair
Do you ever feel like no matter how many products you put on your hair, it just doesn't look as healthy as it should be? The answer to achieving naturally healthy locks might not lie in your haircare routine. It is rather in proper scalp care. The scalp is the foundation for your healthy hair, and taking care of it is essential for maintaining healthy and vibrant locks. In this article, we'll cover everything you need to know about scalp care, from understanding common scalp issues to taking the right steps to achieve a healthy head of hair. So, let's dive into Scalp Care 101.
Why is the scalp important for healthy hair?
The scalp plays a more crucial role in healthy hair than you might think. Your scalp is the base for the hair strands, and when the scalp is not healthy, your hair won't be either. Inside each follicle in the scalp, new hair is produced and pushed out of the scalp. The part of hair you can see is dead cells, and it doesn’t get thicker or stronger itself. You can only make hair strands shiny or smooth by applying haircare products to coat the surface. The scalp is also responsible for producing sebum, a natural oil that keeps our hair hydrated and soft. When there is an imbalance in the scalp, newly produced hair can be dryer, more brittle, and prone to breakage. Additionally, dandruff and scalp irritation can be due to an unhealthy scalp. By taking the time to care for your scalp, you can prevent these issues and improve the overall health of your hair.
Understanding common scalp issues
Understanding common scalp issues is key to maintaining a healthy head of hair. One of the most common issues is dandruff, which is caused by an overgrowth of yeast on the scalp. This can result in itchiness and flakes that can be uncomfortable. Another issue is scalp psoriasis, which causes red, scaly patches on the scalp. This condition can be chronic and difficult to manage, but it can be minimized with proper treatment.
Scalp irritation can also be due to other factors, such as allergies, chemicals in hair products, or even stress. This can lead to redness, itching, or sensitivity. In some cases, the scalp can become inflamed and swollen, leading to hair loss.
It's important to recognize these symptoms as early as possible and address them promptly in order to maintain a healthy scalp and hair. The scalp looks very different from the skin on the other parts of our bodies, but structurally it is pretty much the same as the rest of your skin. So, the scalp can be overwhelmed by many hair products left on it all day or clogged follicles with oils. By taking steps to care for your scalp on a regular basis, such as minimizing haircare products, avoiding heat styling tools, and keeping your scalp clean and moisturized, you can prevent these issues from occurring or worsening.
How to care for a dry scalp
If you have a dry scalp, you may notice flakes or itchiness. Your scalp may be dry because of…
- Dry skin just like on the rest of your body.
- Dandruff or seborrheic dermatitis, which is related to a yeast called Malassezia
- A buildup of haircare products
If you have dry skin on the other parts of your body, your scalp is most likely dry for the same reason such as weather, seasonal changes, and lack of hydration. You could control it by washing hair less frequently, washing with a moisturizing shampoo, avoiding hot water, and using a hairdryer. You could also use a moisturizer to keep the scalp hydrated. Many hair conditioners are made of skin-friendly ingredients that can work as a moisturizer for the scalp as well.
When styling your hair with heating tools, avoid getting them too close to the scalp because these can further dry out your scalp. Instead, opt for air-drying or using a cool setting on your hair dryer. Also, avoid tight hairstyles that can pull on the scalp. The ongoing tension on the scalp can also exacerbate dryness.
Regularly massaging your scalp with a hydrating oil, such as coconut or jojoba, can help to moisturize and improve circulation. If you are confident with the correct usage of essential oils, you could add some to the carrier oils for massaging the scalp. Essential oils can be very beneficial, but you do need to use them in the right amount for the right purpose. And don't forget to stay hydrated - drinking plenty of water will help to keep your scalp and hair healthy.
When you find the symptom of flaky skin is due to dandruff or psoriasis, you should see a doctor and find out which one you are dealing with. The symptoms of both cases are very similar and are caused by skin cells shading off at an unusually high rate. Mild to moderate dandruff can be treated at home with shampoos containing antifungal ingredients such as ketoconazole, selenium sulfide, or zinc pyrithione. You will need prescription products to slow skin cell growth and reduce inflammation to treat psoriasis.
Eczema is often confused with other causes above. However, this is a chronic condition, and the reasons will be unique to each person. Because the immune system is overreacting to lead the dryness and itchiness, you should seek advice from a doctor while using topical treatments such as pimecrolimus or crisaborole. It is important to get an official examination and diagnosis from a dermatologist.
How to care for an oily scalp
Each person has a different amount of oil produced by follicles depending on age, diet, and the environment. However, if you have fine and straight hair, the oil can spread to the end of hair strands faster, and your hair gets oily in a shorter period than curly hair. So, you want to wash your hair more frequently but resist the urge to use clarifying shampoos often. Instead, use shampoo with a gentler formula and focus on the scalp when washing hair to avoid damaging hair strands.
If you often use hair styling products, you may want to use gentle exfoliators to remove buildups. You have options such as a scalp massager (or shampoo brush) and scalp scrubs. If you use dry shampoo, be aware it is not a replacement for washing with water. The dry shampoo will bind with oil and build up on the scalp.
How to treat scalp acne
Scalp acne can be a frustrating and uncomfortable issue to deal with. It is very common to have pimples on the scalp, and there are ways to adjust your haircare routine to clear them. Scalp acne generally happens in a similar process as acne on other parts of our body. Starting with excess oil and buildup of dead skin cells lead to inflammation in the blocked hair follicle. You can still get scalp acne even if you have good hygiene. In many cases, scalp pimples are caused by hair styling products that leave residues on your scalp. Acne Cosmetica is the medical name for scalp acne caused by hair products. If this is the case, acne will disappear when you stop using the products causing it. You could switch hair styling products to the ones without oil content. Also, wash your hair more often, especially after you got sweaty or spent time outdoors. When washing hair, make sure to rinse off shampoo and conditioner well.
It is a good idea to look at items that your head touches often. The oil and haircare products can transfer to whatever contacts your hair and cause the problem. Make sure to frequently wash accessories such as pillowcases, hats, visors, headbands, bedsheets, etc.
It's important to keep in mind that scalp acne can be a symptom of other underlying health issues, such as hormonal imbalances or digestive problems. If you are experiencing chronic or severe scalp acne, it may be worth speaking to a healthcare professional to rule out any underlying health concerns.
Choosing the right products for your hair and scalp
Ensuring to use of the right hair and scalp care products is crucial for maintaining a healthy scalp and luscious locks. Everyone has different hair types and needs, so finding the right products that work for you is essential. Start by understanding what types of hair and scalp you have. Do you have oily hair or dry hair? Is your scalp prone to dandruff or irritation? Answering these questions will help you narrow your options and find a product suitable for your specific needs.
When choosing hair and scalp care products, pay attention to the ingredients list. Avoid products that contain chemicals that you know you may be sensitive to. Be open to synthetic ingredients. Natural ingredients contain tens to hundreds of chemical substances while synthetic ingredients are purified and contain only the desired substances. It is easier to find which synthetic ingredient your scalp is reacting to than the natural ingredient.
The pH level of the product is a must to check as well. The ideal pH range for your scalp is between 4.5 and 5.5, which is slightly acidic. Using products that are more alkaline can disrupt your scalp's natural pH balance, leading to dryness and irritation. Shampoos made with soap bases are not ideal because of the high pH.
Choosing the right hair and scalp care products will help your hair and scalp stay healthy.
Lifestyle changes for healthier hair
Aside from using the right hair and scalp care products, making certain lifestyle changes can also help promote healthy hair and a nourished scalp. One key factor is diet – consuming a balanced diet with plenty of protein, vitamins, and minerals can provide the necessary nutrients for hair growth and strength. Drinking enough water is also essential in keeping the scalp hydrated.
If your poor hair health is due to particular nutrient deficiencies, supplements may give you improvements. But there is no clinical evidence that hair supplements promote hair growth, prevent hair loss, or improve hair health. On the other hand, a diet low in calories, fat, and protein is linked to hair loss. It may be tempting to rely on supplements, but eating whole minimally processed foods will give you better results.
Another important lifestyle change is managing stress levels. Stress can cause hair loss and thinning, so taking steps to reduce stress, such as through exercise or mindfulness practices, can benefit both your mental health and your hair.
Additionally, consider chemical hair treatment carefully. Many hair treatments are available such as keratin, straightener, perms, and more. We all want to have what we don’t have. If your hair is straight black, you may want blonde curly hair one day. But understanding the effect of chemical hair treatment is important before you proceed. We have a list of articles from reliable sources below about chemical treatments.
A healthy scalp is a foundation for healthy hair, and regular care for your scalp will improve the look of your natural hair. Think of your scalp like your facial skin. By understanding the importance of scalp care, identifying common scalp issues, and taking proactive steps toward caring for your scalp, you can achieve the hair you have always dreamed of. Remember to choose the right products, make lifestyle changes where necessary, and start taking care of your scalp today. As the saying goes, "Great hair doesn't happen by chance, it happens by appointment - with your scalp."
Scalp Condition Impacts Hair Growth and Retention via Oxidative Stress - https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6369642/
Hair straightening chemicals associated with higher uterine cancer risk - https://www.nih.gov/news-events/news-releases/hair-straightening-chemicals-associated-higher-uterine-cancer-risk
Effects of chemical straighteners on the hair shaft and scalp - https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0365059621003147#
What are the side effects of a Keratin Treatment? - https://www.healthline.com/health/what-are-the-side-effects-of-a-keratin-treatment
Everything you want to know about permanent hair straightening - https://www.healthline.com/health/beauty-skin-care/permanent-hair-straightening