Why You Need a Scalp Health Routine

Healthy hair begins with a healthy scalp.

I get so many questions from clients eager to solve hair problems like rejuvenating thinning hair, preventing breakage and weakness, improving texture and shine, and eliminating dandruff. They are always surprised when I start by asking about how they care for their scalp. The simple truth is that beautiful hair absolutely depends on the right scalp health routine.

The scalp is home to hair follicles, those tiny little organs that produce each and every strand of your hair. According to the American Academy of Dermatology Association, a scalp contains about 100,000 follicles. Their success in producing healthy, vibrant hair is entirely dependent on how clean, hydrated and conditioned your scalp and its follicles are.

Sebaceous glands also live on the scalp, producing sebum oil that nourishes your skin, retains moisture, keeps hair pliable, and protects the skin from infection. The scalp also features one of the densest networks of blood vessels in the entire body, carrying oxygen and vital nutrients to the scalp tissue.

As we age, our bodies become less efficient at producing collagen, maintaining nutrients, and regenerating skin cells.

These deficiencies can trigger a decline in sebum supply, leading to dry, flaky, itchy skin and inflammation.  Blood flow can become more sluggish, causing the skin of the scalp to become tighter. This shrinks follicles and weakens hair shafts, making it more difficult to push hair strands through the surface of the scalp. It can result in thinning hair and hair loss.

Environmental damage, overuse of harsh products and heat tools, and stress can have the same effects on the scalp as physical aging.

Sun damage and the effects of extreme cold leave skin and follicles parched and stripped of nutrients. Buildup of inferior product clogs pores, creating a dry, flakey scalp that can lead to dandruff, a mild form of seborrheic dermatitis caused by the Malassezia globosa fungus. And, as we know, stress just weakens everything.

The good news is that both age-related and environmental damage can be avoided. Here are the three most impactful ways to maintain a healthy scalp: cleansing, exfoliating, and hydrating:
  • Cleansing ~ This starts with clarifying to remove bacteria, sweat, and excess oils and unclog pores. Rene Furterer’s Complexe 5 Stimulating Plant Concentrate does a great job of purifying the scalp, stimulating circulation, and restoring balance without stripping hair. Another simple DIY technique is to saturate your scalp and hair with apple cider vinegar prior to shampooing to dissolve clogging agents. Choose gentle-formula shampoos that leave your natural oils intact. And be certain to shampoo right after workouts to prevent sweat from turning to fungus.
  • Exfoliating ~ Give yourself a scalp massage once or twice a week for 5 to 10 minutes. Use the pads of your fingers in a gentle, circular motion over the entire head to gently stimulate the skin, nerves and blood vessels to nourish and support your hair follicles. This removes the dirt and dead skin cells and helps sebum and moisturizing products more fully penetrate the skin and hair surfaces.
  • Hydrating ~ Using products that do not strip natural oils will go a long way towards maintaining the moisture of your scalp and follicles. Condition every day, even if you skip a shampoo. Add a scalp serum like Kerastase’s Initialiste Scalp and Hair Serum to condition scalp skin, strengthen and grow hair fibers, repair flexibility and elasticity of dry and damaged hair, and restore smoothness.

Your stylist can help you build the specific scalp health routine that is right for your hair. Of course, any serious conditions relating to the scalp, such as alopecia, skin cancers, psoriasis, impetigo, eczema and others should be immediately referred to your physician.

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