Best Health

HEAD START

Skin care for your scalp is one of the hottest beauty trends, but more im­por­tantly, it just might trans­form your hair.

- By KAREN ROBOCK | photograph­y by GE­OF­FREY ROSS Health · Health Tips · Massage · Lifestyle · Cosmetics · Fashion & Beauty · Beauty · Hair Care · Lifehacks · Skin Conditions · Health Conditions · Vancouver · British Columbia · Eczema · University of British Columbia Okanagan

UN­LESS YOUR HEAD is itchy or you spot some flakes on your shoul­der, you prob­a­bly don’t give your scalp a sec­ond thought. It’s mostly hid­den by hair, af­ter all.

“It’s not un­com­mon to over­look our scalp be­cause, un­like the rest of our skin, it’s not an area we can eas­ily see,” says Dr. Mon­ica Li, a Van­cou­ver-based der­ma­tol­o­gist and clin­i­cal in­struc­tor in the Depart­ment of Der­ma­tol­ogy and Skin Sci­ence at the Univer­sity of Bri­tish Columbia. But the skin on your head does re­quire care.

Why does my scalp need skin care?

“Scalp skin is­sues can range from hair loss to dry­ness and itch­i­ness to dull hair,” says Li. Se­vere dry­ness and flak­ing (of­ten called se­b­or­rheic der­mati­tis) is one of the most com­mon scalp skin con­cerns. It can be re­lated to a medical con­di­tion, like pso­ri­a­sis or eczema, but of­ten is just a sim­ple case of dan­druff that can be solved with an over-the-counter med­i­cated sham­poo con­tain­ing zinc pyrithione, se­le­nium sul­fide or ke­to­cona­zole, says Li.

Mild dry­ness can be caused by poor hair and scalp hy­giene or us­ing prod­ucts that are too harsh for your skin. You may need to swap your cur­rent prod­uct for one that is free of fra­grance or con­tains more hy­drat­ing in­gre­di­ents.

A ne­glected scalp can af­fect your hair too. “Scalp skin health is im­por­tant, as it plays a key role in healthy, nor­mal hair growth,” says Li. Clogged pores, for ex­am­ple, can lead to dull, dry strands and increased shed­ding.

So how do I care for the skin on my head?

For starters, wear a hat — sun pro­tec­tion is vi­tal. And if you sham­poo ev­ery morn­ing, stop. “The scalp does not need to be washed daily un­less your hair is greasy or the scalp is vis­i­bly soiled or sweaty,” says Li. “The ac­tual fre­quency varies de­pend­ing on the in­di­vid­u­als’ tol­er­ance and pref­er­ence.” But she rec­om­mends peo­ple with fair skin and hair sham­poo a few times a week and peo­ple of colour at least ev­ery two weeks. Sham­poo­ing too of­ten can dry out the scalp, but sham­poo­ing too in­fre­quently can lead to oil and prod­uct buildup, which can be just as bad, says Li. Hot show­ers and al­co­hol-based hair­sprays can also dis­rupt the in­tegrity of your scalp skin bar­rier.

“Scalp skin health plays a key role in healthy, nor­mal hair growth.”

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