Do you have a healthy scalp? So you cleanse, tone and moisturise the skin on your face daily… but what about the skin on the rest of your head?
Ironically, a healthy scalp is essential for healthy hair, but neglecting our scalps is a common mistake in the quest for luxurious tresses. Ironically, we tend to focus on the condition of our hair, rather than our scalp, to the detriment of the hair we are often trying to rejuvenate and grow.
Why is a healthy scalp important?
A healthy scalp is essential for healthy hair growth. The scalp is home to the follicles (all 100,000 of them!) from which head hair grows. These follicles, which you’ve had since you were a 22 week old foetus in utero, are all the follicles you’ll ever have – so we need look after them!
In addition to these follicles, your scalp is home to many sebaceous glands which are essential to moisturise the hair and skin and it’s important to nurture them too.
As with the skin on our face, the skin on our scalp changes as we age – losing density and becoming thinner. And along with this, the size of the follicles decreases, in turn producing thinner hair shafts.
What can we do to ensure a healthy scalp?
A regular scalp care routine is essential to maintain a healthy scalp, which in turn will help provide healthy hair growth. So, what are some things we can do to maintain excellent scalp heath?:
- Choose a chemical free shampoo: cleansing the scalp from excess sebum, bacteria and every day environmental build-up is the best starting point. The trend towards natural, chemical free products is not just a fad, it’s essential for healthy scalp care. Normal “supermarket” shampoos contain literally dozens of chemicals, many of which do not easily wash out, leaving a build-up on your scalp that clogs up your compromised follicles. So it’s best to choose a paraben and sulphate free range. This will also help remove ‘gunk’ your cheaper products have left behind, cleansing your scalp and revitalising your follicles.
- Break the conditioner ‘rules’: many of us remember our Mums telling us to only condition the ends of our hair. This was probably to avoid over moisturising your oily teenage scalp and being left looking like an oil tanker had leaked on your head! As we age this advice is less relevant. As our follicles shrink, sebum production decreases and our scalps become dry and in need of a good condition. So, go ahead and try applying conditioner from root to tip, not just the ends.
- Invest in a good quality recovery oil: in addition to conditioning your scalp after washing your hair, a monthly oil treatment can also do wonders. A good quality hair oil, applied before bedtime and left on overnight, can be washed out in the morning without sign of an oil slick on your head. You can use an oil treatment more frequently, if required, but maybe just for a few hours at a time, rather than overnight.
- Slip, Slop, Slap – your scalp too!: as your hair thins, it’s increasingly important to ensure your scalp is protected from harsh UV rays. Of course a hat is the most obvious option for protecting the scalp, but not always practical. A cotton bud is a handy tool to carefully apply sunscreen to a widening part line, as is a good coverage of a hair fibre concealer to cover the scalp.
- Banish the snowstorm!: Did you know that dandruff is commonly thought to be caused by a flaking dry scalp, but it’s actually caused by an excess of sebum. When oily sebum builds up it leads to an overgrowth of yeast and occasionally fungi, causing the skin cells to shed more frequently. There are many supermarket treatments available, but be certain it is actually dandruff you’re dealing with before trialling these as they can actually make a dry scalp worse. If in doubt, always seek advice from your GP who can refer you to a dermatologist, if required.
Healthy scalps promote healthy follicles and healthy follicles grow healthy hair. Don’t forget to love your scalp!