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Healthy Hair Starts with a Healthy Scalp: 3 Useful Tips

Build a Solid Foundation for Healthy Hair

What do you see in most hair advertisements?

A shiny mane with healthy strands. No split ends. Flowy hair that has a bounce to it. Sound familiar?

Most of the time, nobody talks about the fact that the beautiful hair we see in commercials is, like all hair, actually dead.

As soon as your hair pushes out of the follicles in your scalp, it starts dying.

Why am I telling you this?

Because it means you can only do so much to nurture and repair your actual hair. The largely ignored cardinal principle to long-term healthy hair is taking care of the living part of your hair: your scalp.

Your scalp is made up of hair follicles — where your hair grows from — and is similar in composition to the skin on your face: very delicate and sensitive. Hair products that are not right for your hair type, piling up the styling products in a way that crowds the follicles and harsh weather conditions can seriously affect the health of your scalp. There is also such a thing as over washing your scalp, which happens when you shampoo too often – especially if it has sulfates, which also strips your hair of important protective barriers.

When your scalp is over-cleaned or exposed to irritating products, the result is an itchy scalp or dandruff. You could also be more prone to conditions like eczema. As a result of all of this, you could end up with damaged hair that breaks more easily, and even hair loss.

So how can you avoid sabotaging your healthy scalp and instead build a solid foundation for hair growth?

There are some easy steps you can incorporate to ensure you’re promoting a healthy scalp. Some important things to remember are:

1. Take it easy on the dry shampoo and styling products

Dry shampoo and styling products build up on your scalp over time and could lead to clogging your follicles. Just like with your face, when you clog your follicles, they overcompensate by producing more oils or drying out, depending on your hair type. The result is going to either be very clumpy, greasy hair, or a dry, itchy scalp – neither of which leads to the beautiful head of hair you were meant to have. If your follicles are weighted down with product buildup, they have less space for your new hair to grow. So as tempting as it may be to “refresh” your hair with dry shampoo, do your best to use it sparingly.

2. Switch to a sulfate-free shampoo

Sulfate=detergent. Contrary to popular belief, the more lather your shampoo makes doesn’t mean that it’s cleaning more effectively. Sodium laureth sulfate — usually the second ingredient listed in most shampoo labels, after water — is an abrasive cleaner, way too harsh for the delicate skin in our scalp. What you want is to find a shampoo that will clean gently,  getting rid of product buildup without irritating your scalp. Using a shampoo that cleans more gently will help stimulate your follicles to work in the way they are intended and not respond to the harsh cleaning with extra grease or itchiness as a defense mechanism. Combine that with proven botanicals that nurture and moisturize, such as rosemary and lavender, and you have a winner.

onion remedy shampoo and conditioner on shelf in shower

3. Go healthy scalp-specific on your hair care routine

Giving your scalp focused, concentrated care is a great way to get back to a healthy scalp and maintain your hair in good shape over time. In the same way that you use a serum in your face with concentrated ingredients to address specific skincare needs, your scalp can greatly benefit from the same kind of attention. A gentle massage onto a clean scalp will feed your follicles most directly and improve nutrient absorption. Look for concentrates with minerals and aminos — the building blocks of proteins —  to give your follicles good-quality nutrition that translates into healthier hair over time.

In the same way that “you are what you eat” is true for our bodies, “your hair is what you feed it” is true for your hair. If you use abrasive ingredients on it, it will react to defend itself. Using gentle, nutrition-dense products is key to getting a positive reaction from your hair and will make maintenance more organic over time.

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References

7 ways to baby your scalp for younger-looking hair. (2015, July 30). Prevention. https://www.prevention.com/beauty/a20471938/scalp-health-tips/

Gotter, A. (n.d.). Home remedies for dry scalp: Easy and helpful tips. Healthline. https://www.healthline.com/health/home-remedies-for-dry-scalp#coconut-oil

It takes a healthy scalp to grow healthy hair. (n.d.). Waterpik® Official Site: Oral Health & Shower Heads. https://www.waterpik.com/shower-head/blog/it-takes-a-healthy-scalp-to-grow-healthy-hair/

Lister, R. (2018, October 5). These products are the key to healthy hair, no matter your texture or type. Refinery29. https://www.refinery29.com/en-us/scalp-treatment-healthy-hair

Taylor, M. (2019, February 5). Five must-have products for a healthy scalp and lustrous hair. Forbes. https://www.forbes.com/sites/meggentaylor/2019/02/05/five-must-have-products-for-a-healthy-scalp-and-lustrous-hair/#3b1e67334939