Good looking hair starts from within, so start here to learn more about nurturing a healthier scalp for healthier hair.
The hair products and tools we use to manage our tresses can create quite a bit of stress for our scalps—the skin that, along with our hair, protects our heads. As we clean and condition our hair, change its color, secure the latest styles with heat, sprays or lotions, our scalps are largely hidden, so any effects are often “out of sight, out of mind” – at least until we feel discomfort there!
It’s so easy to forget the impact our hair care can have on our scalp, and the follicles within. But the scalp is an important part of maintaining a healthy mane. Here’s what you need to know about scalp care:
Why does having a healthier scalp matter?
A healthy scalp is an important contributor to healthy hair. You see, just below the scalp surface is where your hair growth begins, one hair per follicle (or shaft). Along the walls of each follicle are glands that produce oily “sebum” that help condition the hair, and lift up dead skin from inside the shaft.
It’s important that hair follicles remain clean and open so there’s good blood flow and the hair, follicles and scalp thrive: nurture a healthier scalp for healthier hair!
If your scalp is coated with too much oil, dead skin, or unhealthy bacteria, that can make it harder for your hair to stay healthy, and can even cause it to thin or fall out. Like most elements of good health, the goal is to maintain good balance: clean, hydrated, moisturized.
How do you know whether your scalp is healthy?
The short answer is that It should feel good — no dryness, flakes, redness, pain or irritation. When it’s healthy, the skin on your scalp shouldn’t really feel like anything.
But if any of these sound familiar, your scalp may need some care:
- FLAKING is sometimes due to dandruff—most often seen as visible white or yellowish flakes. Dandruff can stem from a simple build-up of oil on the scalp that makes it hard to shed skin cells (instead they flake off in tiny patches). Or, it can also be due to a skin condition like eczema, psoriasis or similar. And of course, just like with any skin, a sunburned scalp will eventually peel and flake!
- DRY OR ITCHY SKIN can also cause flakes, but they tend to be lighter and almost powdery. Your scalp could be dried out from a cold, arid environment or not staying hydrated enough overall. Or, you could be having an allergic reaction to something you’re using on your hair.
- HAIR LOSS happens when hair follicles shrink, causing the growing hairs to become thinner—and eventually to stop growing at all. Hair loss is sometimes associated with a medical situation like chemotherapy or medications. It can also be triggered by too much stress on the hair follicles from pulling or twisting the hair too vigorously. Sometimes dietary changes, hormonal changes, or stress, can throw your body off balance.
How can you help your scalp stay healthier?
Good nutrition, staying hydrated, and stress management will all give your body, scalp, and hair roots the best chance of good health. On top of these, there are some hair-specific tips to help your scalp stay healthy:
- Use fewer products overall. Many hair products are designed to last—which means they don’t always respond well to a quick wash and rinse. Instead they build up around your hair follicles and cause trouble. Dry shampoo, sticky sprays, and heavy oils are top offenders, so try to use as little as you can in your day-to-day styling.
TIP: Unless your scalp is feeling itching, or your hair is visibly oily, there’s no need to wash your hair daily. Every 2-3 days is often enough.
- Free your hair to flow naturally. Choose a hair style that holds its beauty with less pulling, twisting, spraying and heating. Find a stylist who will enhance your hair’s natural gifts and let your hair be itself!
- Choose products that suit your hair type. Fine hair is better off with lighter products that won’t build up; coarse or very long hair may benefit from shampoos or conditioners that offer more moisture and protection. A lightweight scalp oil massaged in before washing can help those with dry scalp. And if any conditioner is not designed to be leave-in, be sure to rinse it off.
- Avoid products with artificial ingredients and perfumes. There are many beauty products available commercially that reputable studies have shown can cause irritation, and even be toxic. Your best choice is to use products with fewer, and all-natural, ingredients known to be safe for humans.
- Eat a good balance of healthy nutrients. Just as its important to eat well to keep our skin looking its best, good nutrition from a balanced diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains and quality proteins, will support your scalp’s health too.
Our hair is our natural beauty accessory, showing off our personal style and framing our faces to draw attention to our eyes, lips and expressions. Follow these tips and begin the journey to a healthier scalp for healthier hair! Tap here to read more about hair care.