Most of us pay some consideration to the shampoo and conditioner we use on our hair, in order to help it look it’s best.
We may also use dedicated styling products to coax our locks into the looks we love.
But what if we’ve all been missing a key step that could really make a difference to the way our hair looks and behaves?
According to experts, prioritizing the skin underneath all those strands, aka our scalp, can pay dividends when it comes to achieving thicker, shinier and more resilient hair.
An unhealthy scalp can result in oily, flat hair or the opposite, very dry flaky scalp and strands that are devoid of shine. But other than choosing a medicated dandruff shampoo, there hasn’t been a lot around to care for our scalp and keep it in good condition. That is, until now.
Consumers (that’s us!) and hair brands alike are recognising the difference a dedicated scalp approach can have.
The good news is, it doesn’t always require buying something new.
Here are five options to consider to help your scalp work like it should, as the factory that produces beautiful hair.
1. Consider a clarifying shampoo
A clarifying shampoo contains ingredients that cut through the build-up of natural oils as well as any residue from hair styling products. They give strands – particularly the roots – a really good deep-clean. While some have stronger cleansing agents, newer versions are harnessing the power of micellar water similar to that many of us use on our facial skin. Micellar water is very gentle and easily spreads throughout hair, removing dirt, pollution and build up, which also makes it great for curly and wavy hair.
Of course, there could be a solution residing in your pantry. Apple Cider Vinegar is a great DIY clarifying option for your hair and scalp. According to experts the antibacterial and anti-fungal properties of Apple Cider Vinegar can help promote the health of your scalp, balancing its natural ph that can be thrown out of whack by other hair products and lifestyle factors.
A clarifying wash or shampoo should only done occasionally, or when needed to ensure there are no products lingering.
2. Scrub up
While we know the benefits of exfoliating our face, we rarely consider the same of our scalp. Exfoliation increases the cell turnover in the area, ensures the skin is in good condition and helps balance oil production. It also helps remove any flakes or dead skin cells so nutrients from our shampoos, serums, masks and the like can penetrate properly.
All of these things help with hair growth and condition.
So what should you look for? Many haircare brands now make scalp scrubs with both gritty particles as well as gentle alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs) and come in both pots or tubes. To use, part your damp hair and place a small amount as close as you can to your scalp, before gently massaging it into the roots in small circular movements. If you have long or thick hair, you may need to lift up your hair in sections and work around the head to ensure the particles meet the scalp. Shampoo and condition hair after using.
3. Do a massage
You don’t necessarily have to purchase anything extra to help your scalp, particularly if it is in good condition. The area has a myriad of blood vessels that transport the all-important nutrients your hair needs for growth, protection, shine and suppleness. So to encourage circulation, regularly giving your scalp a vigorous massage with your fingers is a great idea. It could just be that you massage a little more deeply with your fingertips next time you shampoo.
Want to take that massage to the next level? There are dedicated scalp massaging tools you can use to do the job and they feel heavenly! The best options have rubber bristles with just the right amount of give so they are soft and flexible enough not to be uncomfortable, but still give that tension-reliving pressure that can usually only be felt when having a shampoo at the salon.
You can use while shampooing, or use on dry hair.
4. Add a treatment or scalp serum
Whether your scalp is dry and flaky, oily, or you just want to give it a boost, there are treatment products designed to help. The treatments usually come in the form of a serum and contain ingredients like omegas, hyaluronic acid and/or peptides. They are usually designed to be applied to the scalp like a mask and left on for 10-15 minutes before being rinsed away.
5. Go high tech
Still having trouble with your scalp? Its a good idea to visit a GP that can help diagnose other areas to consider, like hormones, diet and stress that can also play a part. If hair loss is one scalp challenge you’re facing, using LED light may help.
Using red light therapy to address hair loss has been gaining growing attention for years, with studies reporting that it can stimulate hair growth in men and women with androgenetic alopecia (sometimes called male-pattern baldness) however more research is needed.
Like many specialist-only skincare treatments, there is now a somewhat pricey option to use at home. CurrentBody, creator of a popular flexible LED Light Therapy Mask, has extended its range with a helmet-shaped Skin LED Hair Regrowth Device designed to treat low-progressing hair loss. The brand says the device is clinically proven to increase scalp circulation and follicle endurance, while calming inflammation on a cellular level, aiming to tackle some of the impacts of androgenetic alopecia.