To strengthen your hair and to make it look shinier, you may be accustomed to reaching for products like a hair mask or leave-in treatment to nourish your mid-lengths and ends. But it turns out we need to take a step back and actually focus on the overall health of our scalp; after all, the skin on our head is really an extension of the skin on our face, and it requires just as much TLC.
“[Your hair] is the third most metabolically-active tissue in the body, but it’s a non-essential tissue so it’s only supported when the rest of the body is being adequately supported, and it’s the first to show problems,” says trichologist Anthony Pearce. “The state of your scalp is really important to healthy [hair] growth because if you've got an irritated scalp, the skin will try and keep repairing itself. It'll do that by shedding the skin which we see as flaking, or it'll shed the hair shafts. So then you'll get hair fall-out.”
Read on to discover three of the most common scalp problems, why they happen, and ways to address them.
If you have an irritated or itchy scalp
What it looks like: In terms of appearance, “it can be red and angry-looking or it can have flaking or scales,” says Pearce. “Or, it can look like nothing but just be intensely itchy.”
Why it happens: The reason behind an itchy scalp can be multifaceted. “It can be from your diet, a zinc deficiency can lead to an oily or greasy scalp but dry, brittle hair, [or] it could also be the products you're using, perhaps they're just too heavy for your hair,” says Pearce.
Sodashi Deep Conditioning Hair and Scalp Mud: Just as clay can decongest your skin, argiletz white clay in this formula can balance and purify the skin on your scalp. Plus, the addition of lemon and cypress work to gently remove dead skin cells on the surface.
Kératase Bain Vital Dermo-Calm: “This shampoo works brilliantly to soothe an agitated scalp, all thanks to the addition of calophyllum oil which can address irritation,” says Jordan Hone, Director of Sloans North Sydney.
Head & Shoulders Cool Menthol Anti-Dandruff Shampoo: This hard-working formula can remove dandruff when used regularly (psst… you’ll also love the addition of refreshing menthol on your scalp in summer!).
If you have an oily scalp
What it looks like: An oily scalp looks greasy and can weigh down your roots, making your hair look flat and heavy.
Why it happens: “An oily scalp can range from a condition called seborrhea oleosa, which is someone who has an ultra-oily scalp, and that's often tied up with a pH imbalance in their skin or they get an overgrowth of yeast on their skin.”
KEVIN.MURPHY MAXI.WASH: “MAXI.WASH is the ultimate product to detoxify and stimulate sluggish scalps,” says founder and hairstylist, Kevin Murphy. “There is a mix of powerful ingredients that make this product really stand out. Firstly, the use of AHAs from fruit extracts work to get rid of debris and purify the hair whilst removing build up on the scalp. Then there is Hamamelis virginiana (witch hazel) bark leaf extract, which is a known natural antiseptic and this helps detoxify the hair and scalp. It tightens the cuticle, adds radiance and restores balance so that hair looks and feels soothed and soft.”
Oribe Serene Scalp Balancing Shampoo: Salicylic acid gently exfoliates the surface of your scalp, whilst the addition of orange and lemon fruit extracts help balance moisture levels.
Redken Scalp Relief Oil Detox Shampoo: “Redken’s Scalp Relief Oil Detox Shampoo is perfect for purifying the scalp and hair,” says Redken Artist Marie Cain. “Its formula contains highly absorbing micro-sponges and pH balancing lipacide to soothe and clarify. It will leave your hair feeling cleansed, light and airy.”
If you have a dry scalp
What it looks like: Your scalp is generally rough and flaky, with some itchiness.
Why it happens: Did you now that your inner health plays a huge part in your scalp’s health? “It’s very much linked to nutrient-deficiency or metabolic-disturbance,” explains Pearce. “Metabolic means what it takes to drive your body, and people with thyroid problems will often get quite a dry scalp or dry skin. Plus, [people who have] low iron levels (which is a very common deficiency in young women) will often report a dry scalp, dry skin, and dry, lifeless hair.”
Moroccanoil Dry Scalp Treatment: Massage a few drops of this formula into your scalp. It’s enriched with salicylic acid, argan oil, lavender and geranium essential oils to eliminate flakiness and address dryness.
Goldwell Kerasilk Revitalize Exfoliating Pre-Wash: Ectoin is the secret ingredient in this hair treatment that helps to protect the scalp from oxidative stress. You’ll also find keratin inside to strengthen every strand it touches.
L’Oréal Professionnel Serie Expert Sensi-Balance Shampoo: Boosted with sorbitol and vitamin PP, this refreshing shampoo is gentle enough to be used on sensitive heads and coloured hair, but can effectively comfort your scalp.
With summer well and truly here, it's time to equip yourself with the absolute essentials of the season. b
Have you tried any of these scalp health products before? What did you think? Let us know in the comments below.
Main image credit: @shaninamshaik
Iantha is BEAUTYcrew's Beauty Editor, and has been part of the team since the site launched in 2016. Besides pinky-nude nail polish and wispy false lashes, she has a healthy obsession with face masks and skin care ingredients. Her previous work can be found in Virgin Australia Voyeur, Women's Health, and SHOP Til You Drop.