Scalp Care: The Ultimate Guide
Be honest; when was the last time you thought about your scalp? If you’re anything like us, you’re probably more-than happy to spend hours applying hair serums, face masks or exfoliating scrubs, but when it comes to the delicate skin on the top of your head? It’s definitely a case of “out of sight, out of mind”.
Sure, dandruff or persistent itching skin might force us to switch shampoos or try out a new conditioner, but scalp care definitely isn’t a regular part of most women’s beauty regime.
And that’s a real shame, because a nice, healthy scalp is key to flawless hair. Renowned trichologists – including Anabel Kingsley – are quick to point out that each and every hair follicle grows from the scalp, which means that any issues with clogged pores, blocked glands or excess oil will have a huge impact on the appearance of your hair.
What’s more, an awful lot of everyday hair problems are known to start at the scalp, so if you’re struggling with thinning, limp or dull hair (not to mention dry or itchy skin) it may well be time to switch up your routine, and start paying attention to scalp health.
To help you get the ball rolling, we’re sharing our top scalp-care tips right here:
Don’t wash your hair too often
The skin on your scalp is super delicate, which is why your sebaceous glands pump out a steady stream of natural oils (including sebum) to protect and nourish the top layers of tissue. Sadly, a lot of modern shampoos are packed with harsh surfactants, which strip away these natural oils and leave the delicate skin of your scalp exposed to the elements.
If you wash your hair every day, you may find that this process leaves your scalp irritated, dry or enflamed which can result in all sorts of unpleasant hair woes. The best solution? Just wash your hair less often. You can also switch to a gentle shampoo – like Sassoon’s Professional Pure Clean Shampoo – but the most important thing is to reduce your exposure to those harsh chemical surfactants, and the easiest way to do that is to make sure you only wash your hair once every 2-3 days.
This’ll keep your hair nice and clean, while still protecting your scalp. It might feel odd at first, we promise it’s a positive change!
Alter your diet
Your diet can also have a pretty profound effect on scalp health. Much like the rest of your skin, the delicate tissue on the top of your head has a complex ecosystem of its own, and it requires a huge variety of different vitamins, minerals and amino acids to stay healthy. Vitamins A, B, C and K are some of the most important examples, but biotin, zinc and various proteins are also super important – particularly if you’re keen to encourage cellular regeneration and keep your scalp nice and vibrant.
Luckily, it’s quite easy to nourish your scalp. All you really need to do is eat more:
If you can shift your diet in this direction, you should see a pretty quick shift in overall scalp health, and an end to dry or itchy skin.
Switch to a clarifying shampoo
As mentioned above, your scalp is a delicate ecosystem that needs to be treated with care. Washing too much will inevitably strip away all those lovely natural oils, but washing too little can let dirt and grime clog your pores. Especially if you spend a lot of time outdoors, where you’ll be exposed to icky airborne pollutants and other chemical nasties.
This makes finding a nice, gentle shampoo super important. You want something that’ll lift away grime without disrupting the natural oils, and you also want something that’s free of parabens, sulfates and other irritants.
Our top pick would definitely be Label.M’s Cleanse and Condition Gentle Cleansing Shampoo, which is a lightweight and very cleansing shampoo that targets the roots of your hair, without disrupting your scalp’s natural oils. Sassoon’s Proffesional Pure Clean Shampoo is another option, because it has a similar – lightweight – formula that’s designed to target dirt without interfering with your scalp too much.
Switching to these shampoos should help to slowly bring your scalp back into balance. It might take a few washes to see a real difference, but in our eyes, it’s one of the best things you can do for your scalp.
Stick to gentle conditioners
It’s definitely worth thinking about your conditioner too. Particularly if you’re struggling with oily or greasy hair. A lot of conditioners go too far in the other direction, and add too much oil to your hair which blocks pores and – in some cases – even stops new hairs from growing.
That’s not to say you should move away from conditioners entirely though. These deeply nourishing products are an essential ingredient in the sort of glossy, shiney hair we all crave, so it’s probably best to spend some time finding one that will nourish your hair, without drowning your scalp in excess oils.
We’d strongly recommend something gentle like Wella Proffesionals Elements Lightweight Renewing Conditioner, which uses a lightweight formula to target the inner cortex of your hair follicles, without adding an extra layer of oil to your scalp.
L’Oréal Professionnel Série Expert Volumetry Conditioner is also worth a look. This little miracle is formulated using L’Oréal’s own Intra-Cyclane™ technology, which – again – dives deep into your hair to nourish and revive, without weighing down the cuticle layer with excess oils.
Massage your scalp
Massages are a great way to boost your scalp health. Even a simple finger massage can increase blood flow in the delicate tissues of your scalp, and more blood means that more nutrients – including oxygen and those all-important vitamins – being carried to your cells.
Increasing blood flow to your scalp can also help your body to shift some of the toxins that build up in your skin, and some doctors also think that it can actually encourage new hairs to grow so it’s well worth learning some simple massage techniques! According to a number of trichologists, the best way to massage your scalp is to rub your fingers across your skin in small circles; starting just above the ear and working your way up to the crown.
You might also want to try some scalp exercises – even if it’s just something simple like raising and lowering your eyebrows ten times – or trying out a rubber scalp massager. Anything that feels good and boosts blood flow should do the trick, and trust us, you’ll definitely feel more relaxed afterwards…
Stay out of the sun
Ok, so we’re often told to spend more time outdoors, particularly if we want to boost our vitamin D intake, or keep our skin healthy. Sadly, this advice can have pretty severe consequences for your scalp though, because the skin on the top of your head tends to be very sensitive, and prone to burning.
Obviously a burnt scalp is an unhappy scalp, so it’s best to try and stay out of the sun if you have thin hair, or very sensitive skin. It can also be very helpful to wear a hat or a headscarf when you’re outdoors – especially now that it’s nearly spring, and you’ll probably be exposed to a lot more direct sunlight.
That’s not to say that you should sit indoors all year round though. It’s another of those pesky “balancing acts” that’ll take a bit of time to get perfect, but we’d strongly recommend keeping the sun off your scalp if you’re struggling with dry or itchy skin.
Try a specialist scalp treatment
Specialist scalp treatments are another great option. Particularly if (like us) you’re guilty of neglecting your scalp health, and haven’t done a deep clean in quite some time. Like the serums (or masks) on your face or hair, these treatments are designed to nourish and refresh your skin; rebalancing your scalp’s ecosystem, and encouraging healthy, new skin to thrive.
The best options include Nioxin’s System 1 Scalp Treatment, and Kerastase’s Nutritive Masquintense Cheveux Fins. Kerastase’s flagship scalp treatment is a firm favourite here in the Regis office, because it provides glucose to re-energize ailing skin cells, and a heaped dose of protein which is great for repairing damaged tissue.
These treatments are dead easy to use, and they will help to bring your scalp back into balance so if you need a serious refresh, make sure you give them a shot!
Still struggling with a dry or itchy scalp?
If you’ve tried these tips and you’re still struggling, we’d definitely recommend booking an appointment at your local Regis salon. Some people really struggle with scalp health and there may be an underlying problem that’s causing your skin to dry out, or react to certain hair products.
Getting an expert to take a look and make some recommendations should help you get back on track, and our expert stylists will be able to recommend some gentle products that are just right for your skin so book today, and let us help you bring your scalp back into balance!