For as long as I can remember, I’ve had a terrible scalp—a scalp that trembled at the idea of shampooing less than once a day, no matter how many dry shampoos I tried to placate it with. It was so frustrating because it seemed like the rest of the world had the CoverGirl of scalps: easy, breezy, beautiful. Was no one else dealing with itchiness, flakiness, and oily roots? A scalp that just felt unhappy? Well, if the sudden wave of new scalp products is any indication, it seems like my problem was way more common than I thought.
For hair care companies, a healthy scalp was never as appealing or easy to sell as the promise of gorgeous hair. But now, we’re wising up to the fact that our hair is totally dependent on our scalps, and companies are too. Without a healthy foundation, hair can’t grow properly. It’s even been proven that a flaky, itchy scalp can increase hair loss. Hair loss!
I was a woman on a mission. I collected product after product that promised to solve all my scalp problems, and most of them did absolutely nothing at all. Worse, they came in unappealing, medicinal bottles that publicized my unsexy problems to the world. But with great effort comes great reward. I finally landed on a routine that actually works and leaves my hair looking better than it ever has. It requires a little TLC, but considering it’ll get me through three days without shampooing, it actually saves time. And even if you don’t have obvious scalp issues, each of these steps promotes healthy hair growth and can help prevent hair loss—plus, not a medicated shampoo bottle in sight.
Switch to a gentler shampoo
Think about it—your scalp is skin. Would you wash your face with harsh soaps and then not even slap a moisturizer on it? Sulfates can strip away your skin’s natural oils and dry out your scalp, leaving it itchy and unbalanced. Then, your skin can overproduce oil to compensate, hence oily roots. Of course, there’s no one-size-fits-all answer to what ingredients to avoid, but if you already have a dry scalp, sodium laurel sulphate or sodium laureate sulphate (SLS) can make it worse. Look for a gentle, pH-balancing shampoo free of sulfates, alcohol, and artificial fragrances. It’ll change everything.
Deep cleanse your scalp
What with all the dry shampoo we’re using, shampooing alone isn’t enough to lift away the week’s build-up from our roots. And even if you’re not on the dry shampoo train, your natural sebum and skin cells alone can stay on your scalp and clog pores. This Japanese scalp cleanser is what taught me what a truly clean scalp feels like. Once a week, I massage it into my scalp—it creates a super-soft, meringue-like foam at your roots—and wash it off, following with a gentle shampoo and then a hydrating conditioner. It gives my hair more volume than I thought was possible and keeps my hair clean for what feels like forever.
Massage and exfoliate your scalp
The piece de resistance of my obsessive scalp care routine? This $25 scalp massaging brush that furiously vibrates, giving me a more satisfying scalp massage than I’ve had in any salon chair. Besides feeling super relaxing, it stimulates blood flow to your scalp for better hair growth, while gently breaking away all those stubborn flakes. And the soft, flexible spikes work shampoo into your scalp way better than your tired fingers can. With regular use, I’m positive that my hair has been growing faster and healthier.
Use a leave-in scalp serum or treatment
I have approximately 100 bottles of serums for my face from vitamin C to hyaluronic acid cluttering my medicine cabinet, but until now, I had given my scalp no love—which seems like a major oversight, if you think about it! Now, when my scalp is feeling irritated, I massage a few drops of this serum into it while my hair is still wet. The cooling oils calm it down immediately, and sodium hyaluronate and aloe keep it hydrated and happy. I was worried that putting a serum directly into my scalp would weigh my hair down and make it greasy, but I haven’t noticed that at all. Depending on your needs, you can switch up the serum. This one is great for promoting hair growth.
Do you have any tips or tricks for better scalp health? Have you tried any of these methods?