How to Build a Solid Foundation for Hair Health
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. Sounds 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 what that means is that you can only do so much to nurture and repair your hair. The largely ignored cardinal principle to long-term hair health is taking care of the actually living part of your hair: your scalp.
Your scalp is made of hair follicles — where your hair grows from — and is similar in composition to the skin in 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 your scalp health. There is also such a thing as overdoing it in cleaning your scalp, which happens when you wash your hair too often -especially if it has sulfates, which cleans your hair with very aggressive ingredients.
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 fat or drying out, depending on your type of scalp. The result is going to either be very clumpy, greasy hair, or a dry, itchy scalp, neither of which leads to good hair health. If your follicles are weighted down due to 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.
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.
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