"Frequent washing with harsh shampoos not specifically designed to treat the problem may make the symptoms worse," dermatologist Dr. Penny Alexander, said.
You may not realize it, but your face can help predict how your scalp will behave. That's because the skin on your face is similar to the skin on your scalp, so if you have dry, flaky cheeks, chances are your scalp will be the same. This means you should treat your scalp the same way you treat your face: with specialist products tailored to the issue at hand. Below, we've answered your most pressing scalp questions for all your summer hair care needs.
What causes a dry or oily scalp?
"A very dry scalp means there are not enough natural oils (sebum) on the scalp, and sebum performs a very special function, providing antibacterial protection, pH balance, and lubrication for the hair," said Megan Yabsley, education manager at De Lorenzo, an Australian haircare company. Yabsley added that "an excess of oil can cause the opposite by irritating the scalp and making the hair look unsightly."
Getting the balance of natural sebum on your scalp is hard, and there's no exact science to it.
"A balanced diet and healthy lifestyle will factor in the health of the scalp," Sydney-based hair stylist Barney Martin said.
Why is my scalp itchy? Is it psoriasis or dandruff?
An itchy scalp can be caused by a number of concerns, from a reaction to a specific product, an overly dry or oily scalp, or even psoriasis or dandruff. Check with your hairdresser, who may be able to offer a simple solution to your discomfort. However, for more serious conditions, seeking out your doctor is the next course of action.
Often, a topical treatment such as a scalp-specific shampoo and conditioner will be able to help relieve any itchiness or redness.
How often should I wash my hair then?
The "no shampoo" trend might be gaining popularity, but it actually could be causing more harm then good when it comes to a healthy scalp.
"The hair tends to trap pollutants, dead skin cells, and sebum, making it an environment that is dark, warm, and with an abundance of yeast and bacteria that will multiply given the right conditions," said Yabsley, shutting down the theory that not washing your hair is actually good for it. "Therefore, it is important to shampoo regularly as long as you do it with a product that is gentle and proven safe for long-term use."
Martin echoes these thoughts, recommending we "wash the hair at least every few days to cleanse the scalp and remove dead skin."
According to research, about 50 percent of Americans suffer from dandruff, so your scalp concern probably isn't as uncommon as you think. And there might be an easy treatment solution for you.
Massage is also an easy way to reduce scalp issues, as this will "stimulate the scalp and aid blood circulation," Martin said. It will also help distribute product throughout your hair and lift and remove any buildup of dead skin cells.
Use your finger tips (not your nails) or a specialized brush next time you're shampooing, and massage your scalp in circular motions from the nape of your neck all the way around your hair line. Add more water, and continue to lather the product while massaging until you get everywhere on your scalp. Ensure you rinse out the shampoo and conditioner thoroughly to avoid excess product stuck on your scalp.
Brushing your hair when it's dry will also help "to distribute the natural oils," Martin said.
A massage even goes beyond stimulating your hair follicles—it can help your mental wellbeing and aid relaxation.
"Many scalp disorders are related to stress, and, of course, a relaxing scalp massage will only help to alleviate stress levels," Yabsley said.
Wow, good to know!
This post was written by Amber Elias. For more, check out our sister site Now To Love.