When it comes to having great hair, it's not just about what's on the surface. Let's dive into the world of the scalp, that hidden hero that is often forgotten beneath our hair. A healthy scalp isn't just a foundation; it's the very soil in which the seeds of healthy hair growth are planted. Think of it as a nurturing environment for your hair follicles, those tiny powerhouses that bring your locks to life. A healthy scalp leads to healthy hair and healthy hair growth.
The scalp consists of layers: the epidermis, dermis, and subcutaneous tissue. An ignored scalp can lead to all sorts of hair troubles. From dull strands to thin patches, an unhealthy scalp can interfere with your hair goals. So, taking scalp care seriously is a must. Pampering your scalp isn't just a trend; it's a necessity for those luscious locks you've been dreaming of. After all, a happy scalp leads to happy hair.
To help you out, we've created this ultimate guide to tell you everything you need to know and give you tips for a healthy and thriving scalp.
Importance of a Healthy Scalp
The scalp is often a neglected part of hair care because everyone is always preoccupied with caring for the strands. However, a healthy scalp is essential if you also want to take care of your hair health. The scalp is the very thing that your hair grows out of, and if it is not healthy, no amount of nourishment you give to the strands will promote healthy hair growth.
The scalp's anatomy can be remembered by actually looking at the letters in the name:
- Skin – where the hair follicles and sebaceous glands are.
- Dense Connective tissue – contains blood vessels and nerves and connects the skin to the epicranial aponeurosis.
- Epicranial Aponeurosis – a tough layer of tissue that connects the occipitalis and frontalis muscles.
- Loose Areolar Connective Tissue – contains blood vessels and emissary veins that connect the scalp's veins to the diploic veins and intracranial venous sinuses.
- Periosteum – the outer layer of the skull
Now, this may sound a little daunting because of the fancy scientific names, but the gist of it all is that the scalp contains multiple layers that are essential when it comes to healthy hair. This is where it all starts, so scalp health is of the utmost importance.
Common Symptoms of Scalp Issues
It's fairly easy to tell when you've got a healthy scalp. You won't feel anything, and your hair will continue to feel and look good. On the other hand, if you've got an unhealthy scalp, there are a few symptoms that can manifest. It's possible to have multiple symptoms at the same time or just have one at a time. Either way, if you experience any of these, it's time to step up your game to ensure optimal scalp health.
Dry or Itchy Scalp
A dry or itchy scalp can mean a few things: your scalp has a lot of buildup and dead skin cells that are causing dryness and irritation, your scalp lacks moisture, or you are using products that are causing your scalp to dry out.
Overly Oily Hair
Overly oily hair is also a bad sign. The scalp requires a good balance of moisture from the natural oils or sebum that your skin produces, but not too much that it messes with the scalp microbiome and causes a hormone or chemical imbalance. Too much oil will make the scalp and hair greasy and cause irritation and other issues. If you feel that your hair gets greasy way too fast, you may have this imbalance.
Dandruff or Flaky Scalp
Dandruff or a flaky scalp can be caused by both excessive dryness and oiliness. Dryness causes a lot of dead skin to flake off and create dandruff, while too much oil and moisture can cause bacteria and fungus to grow on the scalp and with it, dandruff. If you find yourself itching and having white flakes fall off your hair, you have dandruff.
Probably the most alarming and severe symptom is excessive hair loss. There is a normal amount of hair loss that happens daily for everyone. People usually lose around 50-100 hairs a day, and it's completely fine and just a part of the natural growth cycle.
However, when you notice thinning or an excessive amount of hair loss, it can be a sign of scalp issues or other underlying problems.
How To Have a Healthy Scalp
We've already established that a healthy scalp = healthy hair. So, how do you get a healthy scalp and take care of it properly? Here are a few easy things to incorporate into your hair care routine and a few tips on how to improve scalp health.
Exfoliate using a Scalp Scrub
Not a lot of people have discovered the merits of scalp exfoliation using a scalp scrub, but once you get on it, it will change your life! Exfoliating your scalp regularly will help remove dead skin cells, promote hair growth by stimulating blood flow and cleansing the scalp, and lastly, helps keep the scalp healthy!
Choose a gentle scalp scrub which uses all-natural ingredients that gently exfoliate the scalp.
Deep Cleanse with a Clarifying Shampoo
Deep cleansing is one of the most essential steps when maintaining a healthy scalp. Buildup from product and dirt can cause clogging, irritation, and numerous other issues. This is why you should cleanse with clarifying shampoo every week or so. This helps remove buildup, prevent dandruff, keep the scalp clean, and prevent irritation and other hair and scalp issues. For those who have a drier hair type or don't need such frequent deep cleansing, a clarifying shampoo every 2 weeks or so is adequate.
Shampoo less often
While shampooing is important, too much of it may also cause some problems. Frequent shampooing may dry your scalp out and cause it to either flake or overcompensate with excessive sebum production. Try shampooing your hair less to regulate your scalp's moisture levels. It will be an adjustment at first, but be patient with it and you will definitely see a big difference.
Switch to a Sulfate-Free Shampoo
Sulfates are a common ingredient in commercial shampoos but it’s also incredibly drying. Using a shampoo with this ingredient regularly can cause dryness, damage, excessive oiliness, and numerous other issues. It’s best to switch out your regular shampoo with a sulfate-free alternative with no harsh chemicals to ensure that your hair gets gentle care.
Incorporate Hair Oils or Scalp Serums
While the scalp produces natural oils, a hair oil and scalp serum are a good addition to your hair care routine. This will prevent dry scalp, keep the scalp moisturized, and even help regulate the amount of natural sebum that your scalp produces. Hair oils such as tea tree oil, rosehip oil, coconut oil, and argan oil have different benefits that will suit different hair types and concerns.
Tips for A Healthy and Supple Scalp
If you have been neglecting your scalp in your hair care, it is high time for that to change! The scalp is one of the most important, if not the most important part of your hair growth journey. It is the soil of your seeds. If the soil is not properly taken care of, the seeds will not be able to grow. Invest in your scalp and make sure it is pampered and healthy to achieve those luscious locks you've been dreaming of.