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