Have you ever wondered why most of us don’t give our scalp much thought? It’s not like we didn’t learn in middle school science class that our scalp is what holds are hair follicles in place; that if we don’t take good care of our scalp, our hair won’t be as healthy as it should be. But unfortunately, unless we are parting our hair or our scalp is irritating us due to dandruff, eczema or some other irritant, the most attention most of us give it is when we’re parting our hair or on wash day.

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Image: Getty

So, in the effort to get us all on the same page when it comes to the upkeep of our scalp so that we can end up with strong and beautiful hair, here’s a brief lesson. Our scalps are made up of five layers— skin, dense connective tissue, epicranial aponeurosis, loose areolar connective tissue and periosteum. All of these layers work closely together; however, it’s the skin that contains the hair follicles and sebaceous glands.

Although there can be things like a hyper-sensitivity to hair products or a yeast called Malassezia (which causes dandruff) that can cause scalp issues, one of the main reasons why our scalps—which is basically the foundation of our hair—aren’t as healthy as they should be is due to neglect.

That’s the bad news. The good news is if you’re willing to apply just a couple of (more) steps to your daily beauty regimen, you’ll be on track to having a great-feeling scalp and a beautiful head of hair in no time.

Some witch hazel

A few years back, we actually did a feature on here about all of the ways that witch hazel can benefit your hair. It’s definitely worth reiterating how good it is for your scalp. Witch hazel is a fabulous way to tone it or even treat dandruff, eczema or psoriasis without removing the moisture that it needs. In fact, if you’re a curly girl who’s currently wearing your hair in a braided or twisted protective style, on the weeks when you’d prefer not to shampoo your hair, just dab some witch hazel on a couple of cotton balls and run them across your scalp. It’s a cool way to cleanse it without having to wash your entire head in the process.

A brown sugar exfoliant

Speaking of toning your scalp or treating certain scalp-related ailments that you may have, it’s also a good idea to exfoliate your scalp. To be fair, you don’t really need to do this on a daily basis; however, it is a good idea to do it on wash days. If you mix two tablespoons of brown sugar with one tablespoon of olive oil and rub it on your scalp right after dampening your hair, it will gently lift dandruff flakes and dead skin. Also, since brown sugar is a humectant, it will soothe your scalp by adding more moisture to it too.

Or a peppermint oil massage

Your hair follicles are what house the nutrients that your hair needs in order to grow healthy and strong. Something that you can do to stimulate your follicles so that blood circulation increases on your scalp, is do a peppermint massage. The menthol will remove any unnecessary bacteria and yeast that’s on your scalp while providing it with a cool tingling sensation. As a heads up, peppermint oil is pretty strong, so all you need to do is add 2-3 drops of it to ¼ cup of your favorite carrier oil. Zap the combo in the microwave for 5-10 seconds and then add it to your scalp and massage for 15-20 minutes. If you do this 1-2 times a week, you’ll notice a difference in how your scalp look and feels within a month or so.

Foods with Vitamins A and C in them

 Your scalp needs nutrients too. If you eat foods that are high in Vitamin C (berries, citrus fruit, bell peppers, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, tomato juice and kiwi), not only will the antioxidants in it help to protect your scalp, but foods with lots of Vitamin A (orange foods, cereal, liver, salmon, butter, goat cheese and eggs) in them will bring natural oils to your scalp so that it, along with your curls, will get the moisture that they need.

An omega-3 oil supplement

Having an itchy scalp is the absolute worst. Usually it comes from having a dry scalp or something like dandruff or eczema. Sometimes, those come as a result of having an omega-3 oil deficiency. A great way to resolve this issue is to take an omega-3 oil supplement. Since it also benefits your eye health, fights anxiety and heart disease, treats ADHD (in children), reduces inflammation and even improves mental disorders—why wouldn’t you want to add it to your weekly regimen?

Your fingers

Think about if you brushed or combed one of your arms several times a day. Based on how much pressure your applied, it could cause your arm to feel pretty tender; it might even break the skin. Even though your scalp is built to handle a bit of wear and tear from styling, it tends to get its own cuts and tears from styling tools every once in a while too. That’s why, if at all possible, use your fingers to detangle and even style your curls. Your scalp will most certainly thank you for it.

Lots of water

Did you know that extreme hot and extreme cold temperatures can dehydrate your scalp—all five layers of it? This is just one more reason why it’s such a good idea to drink no less than 8-10 glasses of water a day. If you infuse the water with blackberries, raspberries or pomegranate, that will give your scalp the zinc that it needs to keep your scalp’s tissues healthy too. Enjoy!

Have more tips to share for scalp care? Share them with us in the comments!