Struggling with bad hair days? You're not alone. Many people wonder how to stop breakage of their tresses or battle dry, brittle strands regularly. But what you may not realize is that the root of the problem may lie with your scalp — and there are a lot of steps you can take to protect and restore your beautiful locks.
“Hair follicles are influenced by the health and blood supply of the surrounding scalp tissue,” says trichologist Elizabeth Cunnane Phillips of the Philip Kingsley Clinic in New York City. If the scalp is unhealthy, the hair may be too. Fortunately, once you identify the problem, it’s easy to fix.
Prone to breakage? Your scalp may be oily. Humidity can cause sebaceous glands on the scalp to release excess oil, which clogs hair follicles so strands don’t grow to their thickest potential. The result: weakened hair that breaks easily. But to stop hair breakage, the ingredient you need may already be in your kitchen.
The surprising fix? Olive oil. “Applying oil to the scalp tricks glands to stop overproducing because they sense the oil is already there,” says Chaz Dean, creator of WEN Hair Care. Plus, olive oil delivers hair-fortifying nutrients and has a host of other health benefits, including protection against breast cancer. If it's not already a staple in your kitchen, it's time to make it one — and to mix it into your beauty routine as well.
TO DO: Once a week, massage a few drops onto the scalp. Cover with a shower cap overnight; shampoo in the morning.
Dry, brittle strands? Your scalp may be parched. It’s easy to blame the sun and chlorine for straw-like strands, but when the scalp is itchy (you may also notice small white flakes) it’s likely a case of chronic dry scalp. And this lack of moisture on the scalp, whether from heat, stress or hormone imbalance, can lead to brittle tresses. To rehydrate and get instant relief from itchiness, Phillips suggests a rinse with coconut oil (its fatty acids add hydration), witch hazel (its anti-inflammatory properties soothe skin), vodka (an astringent that dissolves dead skin), and mouthwash (the menthol helps nix itch).
TO DO: In a bowl, mix 2 Tbs. of melted coconut oil, 2 oz. of witch hazel, .5 oz. of vodka and 2 oz. of mouthwash. Dab onto scalp with a cotton ball and massage in for 5 minutes, then rinse.
Repeat once weekly for a month.
Thinning hair? Your scalp may be sweaty. Soaring temperatures lead to an increase in perspiration, creating a moist environment that allows the natural fungus found on the scalp to multiply. This leads to dandruff, which weakens the scalp’s outer layer of cells and makes strands more vulnerable to falling out, says Phillips. A fast-acting solution: Wash with a shampoo containing piroctone olamine (like Klorane Shampoo with Peony, $20 for 13.4 oz., Amazon.com).This compound has been shown to decrease scalp fungus by 82 percent after 6 weeks of use while also reducing hair loss by 17 percent.
TO DO: Phillips advises massaging the shampoo into the scalp in a circular motion. This allows the active ingredient to absorb into the skin better while also boosting circulation for increased hair growth.
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