While many people equate a healthy scalp to healthy hair, there’s much more to it than meets the eye. It is true that a healthy scalp encourages healthy hair, but that’s not all. The scalp requires much different care than the hair. In fact, you should view your scalp as an extension of the face rather than the base of your strands.
First things first, scalp care is not the same as hair care, and it shouldn’t be approached as such. It should really be treated more like basic skin care than hair care. While your goal with hair care is to encourage strong, soft strands, you are aiming for something completely different when it comes to the scalp. As certified trichologists say the goal is to balance the scalp microbiome and keep it in homeostasis.
When your scalp is healthy, the following things happen:
• Nutrient delivery: When the hair follicle is cleared, you are able to get nutrients from your hair care delivered to your scalp. When there’s excessive buildup around the follicle, however, your scalp can’t absorb the nutrients it needs to balance the microbiome and thrive.
• Hair growth: A healthy scalp encourages healthy hair growth. When there’s excessive inflammation, buildup, or dryness, the hair cannot grow properly.
• Hydration throughout the hair: If your hair is dry, your scalp is likely in a similar state and vice versa. Think of it like a chain reaction: Once you start prioritising scalp care, your strands will benefit too.
What not to do
Even the most diligent skin and hair care devotees may have habits that work against them. Some common practices that may be affecting your scalp’s health are not regularly checking the scalp, assuming flakes mean dandruff, ignoring your hair type: different hair types call for different approaches to scalp care, equating scalp care to hair care which has a common misconception that products designed for the body of the hair should be used on the scalp as well, pulling hair hard which can even lead to location-based hair loss, etc.
What you should do:
Exfoliate weekly. There are a few different ways to exfoliate the scalp, and it’s worth trying out different methods to find which one is best for you. A few options are scalp scrubs, chemical exfoliants like salicylic acid or even gentler is glycolic acid and detox products.
Replenish hydration. If you see dryness on your scalp or in your strands, using a hydrating product to replenish moisture. Hair and scalp oils are different from scalp serums. The latter is meant to stay in your hair without feeling greasy or leaving residue. These serums can aid in hair growth, help combat dry patches on the scalp, and overall contribute to microbiome balance. When you apply a scalp serum, do so to a clean scalp. Be sure to separate your hair with a comb and apply the serum to your entire scalp. After you apply, massage the serum into the scalp to ensure it absorbs. Pay special attention to any problem areas.
Scalp massage. Use your hands. Doing self-massage on the scalp promotes blood flow, which is relevant to natural oxygen in the body. This promotes healthier hair growth.
See a professional. Sometimes at-home treatment just isn’t enough. If you are having severe scalp trouble, whether it be excessive and treatment-resistant flaking, irritation, or hair loss, it’s best to seek professional assistance.
Weekly scalp oiling. This can work wonders for a dry scalp. Find a clean and natural hair oil you love and spend some time massaging the oil into your scalp. If you can, leave the oil in your hair for a few hours or overnight to increase absorption.
Silk or satin hair ties. Pulling the hair into extra-tight hairstyles can severely damage the scalp. Instead, opt for silk hair ties and scrunchies. This way, you can go for updos without worry as the satin won’t pull on the scalp as traditional, rubber hair ties would. This will also help prevent breakage on the strand where the tie is fastened.
In-salon treatments. There are tonnes of scalp-focused treatments offered at hair salons. These range from hair growth to hydration to exfoliation-focused processes. Your hairstylist can help you determine what your scalp needs at the time.