Scalp Health 101: Keeping your scalp clean
Just as you care for the skin on your body, you must care for your scalp.
A necessary step in scalp health is cleanliness.
I want to help you avoid simple mistakes when in comes to scalp care.
So I'm covering the most common habits that we need to address or change:
- WHY IS MY SCALP DIRTY?
- SHAMPOO METHOD?
- HOW OFTEN SHOULD I SHAMPOO?
- HOW TO KEEP MY SCALP HEALTHY?
If you think about your scalp as skin, not cleansing your scalp regularly would almost be like not taking a shower often.
Just like your skin, your scalp continuously sheds to reveal new layers. So your scalp is basically regenerating itself throughout your life. You can use this natural process to your advantage.
WHAT CAUSES DIRTY SCALP?
Things your scalp is exposed to on a daily basis like dust, dirt, debris, dryness hair product residue, oils, creams, sprays, butters, hair grease etc can cause your scalp to become cracked, dry & polluted. Many products can also cause scalp irritation because they address issues of the hair but they are irritating to the scalp.
Anything that’s in your scalp that can become toxic is essentially a pollutant. These things can breed bacteria and disease which of course affects the health & growth of your hair.
- Dead skin cells: As I mentioned earlier, dead skin cells on the scalp that are not properly cleansed can get trapped in the hair follicle opening. Remember all of your skin from head to toe sheds as a natural part of skin renewal. So when these dead skin cells get trapped by your hair over a period of time they can clog the pores of your scalp. Several days go by and those cells continue to buildup and become pollutants.
- Products: Hair & scalp products can either be the greatest help for our hair or the biggest detriment. Many of the products we use don’t break down well in water so even if you do shampoo, some products don’t come completely clean. So what products should your be worried about? Any heavy waxy, greasy products can clog the scalp or leave a nasty residue on the hair. Regarding products, especially in the case of growth products, which is what I see a lot, women want the “right” product…we all do. The one that gives us results we can see almost immediately. But every product is not created equal. Many leave residue or buildup that causes the pores & follicles to become clogged which of course can stop hair growth.
- Environment: Weather you work from home, work outside, or in an office you cannot escape Dust, dirt, debris that is our environment. These pollutants can all collect in your hair and work their way up to your scalp and again get trapped in your pores or the opening of your follicles.
We use shampoo to keep our hair clean and to remove dirt, debris, product buildup, funky smells and to restore moisture.
How you shampoo your scalp or your cleansing method is also important. I know it feels good but using sharp objects to scratch your scalp while cleansing can cause tears in the scalp and open it to infection which an lead to hair loss.
Having a healthy scalp is important for healthy hair growth. A healthy scalp is less likely to develop disorders, diseases, and certain types of dandruff.
HOW DO YOU SHAMPOO YOUR SCALP PROPERLY?
If you often use styling products like hair sprays, setting lotions, and hair gels, you may need to use a clarifying shampoo to help remove product buildup more effectively. It’s also helpful for oily hair because a clarifying shampoo removes excess sebum and keeps your hair and scalp from becoming overly greasy.
Some clarifying shampoos, though, may have harsh cleansers that can strip away your hair’s natural oils, leaving it dry and rough. Use one with a gentle formula.
- Wash your hair thoroughly: Massage your scalp and finger-comb through your hair while rinsing to remove dirt and product buildup. When shampooing, concentrate on scrubbing the scalp — but not too hard. Scrub moderately, enough to rub in the soap, but not so hard that you're irritating your scalp. The irritation can overstimulate your glands and cause them to make more sebum. Rinse thoroughly
- Apply oil to scalp: Massaging oil onto your scalp helps get rid of the buildup on your scalp and roots. Go for tea tree oil, which has antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties. Mix 10 drops of tea tree oil with 1 tablespoon of coconut oiland apply it to your scalp. Cover your head with a plastic cap to allow the oil to be absorbed by your scalp.
- Apply heat: Steaming your scalp helps open your pores and unclog them. If you don’t have a heat cap or hooded dryer, you can soak a towel in warm water, wring it to squeeze out water, and heat it in your microwave oven for two minutes. Wear a potholder or gloves when taking out the towel to protect your hands. Put the towel over your shower cap and cover it with another shower cap or a piece of plastic. Leave it on for 30 minutes. If your towel loses heat, you can put it back in the microwave oven to warm it again.
- Exfoliate: After steaming, rinse to remove excess oil, then apply an exfoliating shampoo. Gently massage your scalp as you shampoo to promote good blood circulation and stimulate hair growth. Shampoo your hair thoroughly from the roots to the tips for a more effective hair cleansing. You can make your own scalp scrub with a number of recipes on google. I suggest looking for a scalp scrub that contains less salt and is more sugar-based. Although salt will pull out impurities, sugar provides moisture that will help to soften the scalp
- Hair mask or conditioning treatment: End your scalp detox session with a hair mask treatment to keep your hair deeply nourished and moisturized. Apply the mask, then cover your hair with a warm towel for the nutrients to be absorbed better. Leave it on for five minutes, then rinse out the mask with water.
HOW OFTEN SHOULD I CLEANSE?
Your regular hair care routine & styling habits determines how often you should be shampooing along with the fact that your scalp is shedding dead skin cells daily and these dead cells have to go somewhere. Usually that somewhere is piling right on top of each other. Sounds kind of gross right? Good! Lol
Remember if you are using a product and notice that it is leaving your scalp itchy, it’s possible that there is an ingredient your are allergic to or that your scalp is sensitive to. So if you’re using products in your scalp daily especially heavy ingredients, cleansing regularly is key (twice per week)
No, we don’t need to shampoo daily but definitely “as needed”. (you need to recognize, when your scalp needs it)
HOW TO KEEP MY SCALP HEALTHY?
So lets talk about how to maintain a clean, hydrated, stimulated environment for your scalp to produce healthy hair. When we say “healthy” scalp, this is what we mean.
I’ve set it before, but I can’t say it enough the scalp is the foundation for hair growth. So if you are not protecting it on a regular basis and you’re dealing with hair loss issues then continued damage will occur.
You can correct the health of your scalp without spending a lot of money, but you will need patience, consistency & focus.
In order for your scalp to be considered healthy it needs to by hydrated, it needs to be clean (of course) and it needs regular stimulation.
- Clean: Keeping your scalp clean helps to prevent buildups and keeps the follicle from being clogged. Scalp is skin and it needs to breathe.
You should be cleansing your scalp as much as is needed. If your scalp is oily then you should be cleansing more frequently. If you work out frequently or if your scalp sweats then you should shampoo more often as well.
- Stimulation/Circulation: Your scalp benefits from good blood circulation. At the base of the follicles located within your scalp is basically like a tiny organ with veins & arteries attached. This makes scalp stimulation crucial for hair health. Your blood flow is how nutrients get fed into your hair. Good circulation makes this process effective.
While your shampooing your scalp is a great opportunity for scalp stimulation. Massage by deeply rubbing your scalp with your fingertips. This is not scratching!
Another way is by sitting at a table with your elbows on top then put your head in your hands and press your hands and fingers against your scalp while moving the skin back and forth. Repeat several times in all directions. Taking deep breaths will help as well.
Lastly you can massage your scalp as your are working in oils or hydration into your scalp. That leads us to the next point
- Hydration: If you’ve been following me for any amount of time, you know that I preach hydration, hydration, hydration is key for the hair & the scalp. There are so many things that cause our scalp to become dry and in my experience, weaves are the #1 reason. Because I initially started my business in hair extensions, I’ve seen what improper installation and neglect can do to the scalp. However, other things like medications, chemicals and certain hair products can also cause dryness. A scalp that’s missing hydration will ultimately cause hair loss. Think of a flower.
The top layer of your scalp holds moisture naturally but its our job to keep that moisture sealed in. If you’re someone that deals with dry scalp often, this is definitely something you need to do. We seal in by applying oil lightly to the scalp while it’s damp or after rinsing with a conditioner.
If you’re worried about doing this process because your hair is fine or thin, then you can do this process and then sit under a dryer or a heated cap for 20-30 minutes then rinse with warm water.
I’ve given you the basics of why & how to keep your scalp clean. You know what causes dirty scalp and some easy things you can do to maintain scalp health. Healthy scalp is the foundation for healthy hair growth.
And now that you have the knowledge, you can take action.
Knowledge is progress, action is power!