The hair of your dreams starts with the skin that covers your head. Your scalp is the flower bed and soil from which your hair grows, so taking care of your scalp will in turn deliver healthy hair.
SO, WHY DOES A HEALTHY SCALP = HEALTHY HAIR?
Each hair grows from, and through, an individual follicle which surfaces on your scalp. Sebum (a.k.a. oil) is also produced by each individual follicle via the sebaceous gland, the amount of which will vary from person to person. It is essential that the follicle and the scalp, at point of exit, are clean, clear, healthy and maintained; follicles that are full of sebum or blocked by dead skin, dandruff or infection will have an impact on the quality of hair growth. In fact, permanently blocked or obstructed follicles may eventually cease to produce hair at all. The scalp is made up of cells which divide and continually work their way to the surface and then shed – which means, it is essential that dead skin is removed by brushing or washing, but also by weekly exfoliation with a scalp cleansing shampoo. I love the L'ANZA Remedy line which works to gently remove build up and balance the PH levels of your scalp.
HOW DO I KNOW IF I HAVE DANDRUFF?
Dandruff usually describes the flaking of the scalp and there are a number of variables, ranging from very mild to very severe. Common scalp flaking – that image of a little bit of white dust on a black top – should still be treated as a very mild dandruff. Specific shampoos, scalp toners and scalp exfoliants should maintain a healthy scalp (L'ANZA Remedy Line). Your skin is constantly shedding and producing oil and sweat which combines to form a protective layer over your scalp, but it also traps bacteria within. If and when those bacteria levels raise or change, the scalp can become infected. Issues such as hormonal changes, stress, illness or diet allow bacteria to multiply and this can lead to excessive shedding or infection. Other causes of dandruff can be poor hygiene, infrequent shampooing, and the consumption of too many dairy products, fatty, salty or sugary foods. People think that dandruff is a dry scalp, but dandruff can also be oily. See your GP if you're concerned.
WHAT DOES AN ITCHY SCALP SIGNIFY?
An itchy scalp is a sign of an imbalance of the scalp. Normally, itchiness will be due to bacteria caused by sweat, sebum and pollution remaining on the scalp which then, in effect, attacks the scalp and causes itchiness. However, it could also be caused by a reaction to a particular ingredient used in a product, shampoo or conditioner. Another common cause can be shampoo products not being rinsed from the hair thoroughly, which can dry out and irritate the scalp. It could also signify head lice… with the louse egg looking like lumps of dandruff, and the lice's desire for your blood causing the itching.
HOW SHOULD WE TREAT A DRY, ITCHY SCALP?
A typical dry, itchy scalp can normally be dealt with a thorough shampoo, toner and exfoliant specifically chosen for scalp health (L'ANZA Remedy Line). Slightly increased washing may also improve the situation, as dryness or irritation can be caused by build ups of skin cells or bacteria. The scalp is like a balanced eco-system, a sensitive one at that, and therefore responds to small changes.
SHOULD WE AVOID ANY INGREDIENTS FOR SCALP HEALTH?
The majority of people's scalps can cope with just about any product, however, product will work its way down the hair shaft to the scalp – as such I wouldn't recommend ingredients that 'block' or suffocate the scalp from breathing. Look for ingredients ending in 'cones' (the silicones, dimethicones, trimethicones), which are added to make hair feel softer, suppler and more conditioned, but they are molecularly heavy and will block the scalp. Known irritants would be another thing to avoid – things like heavy hold sticky gels, mousses or hairsprays with a high alcohol content could cause extreme dryness to the scalp.
SHOULD WE EXFOLIATE THE SCALP AS WE DO ANY OTHER SKIN?
The scalp is protected, in most cases, by a head of hair. If you do not brush, wash or blow-dry your hair regularly then the dead skin cells build up – coupled with sweat and natural oil production, this will lead to an overloaded scalp area. We maintain the skin on our face with lotions and potions yet tend to ignore the scalp. My recommendation is using the L'ANZA Remedy Shampoo once or twice weekly in cases where you are trying to clear built-up scalp debris. Use small, circular motions with your fingers to gently massage into your scalp – just as you would with a facial exfoliant. Be gentle but thorough, and leave for a couple of minutes before rinsing thoroughly.
SHOULD WE ALSO MOISTURISE OUR SCALP?
The simple answer is no. When working properly, which it does for many people, the scalp has its own moisture content which is generally superlative to most products. There are exceptions of course, so consult with your stylist or GP if you are concerned.
I hope this article sheds some light on the importance of scalp health, loves! If you have concerns please feel free to bring it up at your next visit and I will be happy to help you with a course of action!