The forgotten step that’s actually crucial to your hair’s health
While many of us are willing to spend a considerable amount of time and money looking after the skin on our faces, we often don’t extend the same courtesy to the skin on top of our heads. By not prioritising (or simply ignoring) the health of our scalps, we’re doing our hair a serious disservice.
To find out why the health of our scalp is so important and for advice on the best ways to treat scalp conditions, we spoke to trichologist and Education Manager for De Lorenzo, Megan Yabsley.
The causes of scalp irritation
Unfortunately, one of the main causes of your dry and irritated scalp is your genetics. However, some other things that may exacerbate the problem include “sensitivities to fragrance or harsh chemicals, changes in the weather, overheating, poor general health and other medical conditions,” explains Yabsley.
The level of oil production on your scalp can play a role in its health, too. “If the skin is too oily or too dry, scalp conditions may occur. Many people do not realise that excessive oil on the scalp may produce oily dandruff – a condition where the skin becomes irritated due to the excess oil and sheds the skin, causing flaking and scaling. Similarly, if there is not enough natural oil on the scalp, the skin is open to bacterial or fungal attack,” Yabsley adds.
Why our scalp health is so important
If you don’t take care of your hair from the roots, you won’t be able to achieve the luscious head of hair you’ve always wanted. “If certain scalp disorders are left untreated, the scalp may become severely compromised and the hair in that area may be lost. This hair loss generally isn’t permanent and will grow back, but it’s important to maintain a healthy scalp in order to grow healthy, strong hair,” explains Yabsley.
To do just that, she recommends using products specifically formulated to your skin/scalp type. “If a person with an oily scalp uses a heavy moisturising product, it may exacerbate the oiliness, making the hair hard to manage and irritated, and vice versa with dry skin types.”
How to improve scalp health
As many scalp conditions occur due to a genetic predisposition, such as psoriasis, they often can’t be completely treated. However, other causes of irritation are temporary and can be corrected. Whether you have a long-term scalp condition or are experiencing a flare-up due to a seasonal change, stress or use of certain medications, symptoms can be alleviated when good-quality haircare products that have been formulated for your specific hair type are incorporated into your routine. Avoid overly-fragranced products and hair products containing petro chemicals such as propylene glycol, paraffin and mineral oil, as they have the potential to compromise the health of the hair.
Three of our favourite haircare products for protecting and maintaining good scalp health include De Lorenzo Tricho Scalp Balance Cleanser, Oribe Serene Scalp Soothing Leave-On Treatment and AVEDA Scalp Remedy™ Dandruff Solution.
Living a healthy lifestyle can also help improve the condition of your scalp. “As the saying goes, we are what we eat and our hair and skin echo our lifestyles. Poor nutrition, smoking, excessive alcohol consumption and prolonged high levels of stress all contribute to poor scalp and hair health. Twenty per cent of the protein we eat goes into making our hair and skin, so if you’re living on burgers, it will eventually reflect in the hair and skin,” warns Yabsley.
Additionally, as tempting as they may be – especially during winter –, hot showers are a big no-no as they can overheat the scalp and cause dryness and irritation.
Looking for more hair tips? Then find out why you need to start exfoliating your hair and discover the seven pre-shampoo treatments you need to try.
Do you suffer from an irritated scalp? Let us know what products you swear by in the comments below.
Main image credit: Getty
Kate started working for BEAUTYcrew in early 2016, first as a contributor, and was then named Beauty Writer in 2017. She loves picking the brains of the industry's top experts to get to the bottom of beauty's toughest questions. Bronze eyeshadow palettes are her weakness and she's forever on the hunt for the perfect nude nail polish to suit her fair skin. Her words can also be found in Men's Health magazine, and she now works in PR.