scalp care 1

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Those of us naturals with dandruff and dry scalp (which are actually two different conditions) know that dealing with those bothersome flakes can range from being a slight inconvenience, to a serious confidence buster. And although most people are embarrassed by their flaky scalps, it’s actually very common. There are endless treatments that you can find at your local drugstore, but knowing what to look for in treatment may prove to be a little more challenging than just reaching for the Head & Shoulders shampoo.

“Dry scalp occurs when the scalp’s normal pH is out of balance and causes the scalp to feel tight, irritated and peel,” says Sophia Emmanuel, trichologist and stylist at Crown Worthy Inc. in New York City. “It looks similar to other parts of your body that get dry from lack of moisture. The main difference between dandruff and dry scalp is that dry scalp is not always accompanied by flakes. Dandruff is when the dead skin cells flake off of the epidermis (the top layer of the skin) faster than normal, causing flakes to fall on your T-shirt, or stick to your scalp and hair. Itching may also occur.”

It’s true that dandruff and dry scalp can look similar, but each condition has different underlying causes. Dry scalp is often caused by environmental factors like cold or dry weather and irritating ingredients, while dandruff can be caused by stress, hormonal changes, a poor diet, and an overproduction of a special yeast called Malassezia.

When choosing the proper products to treat your scalp, Sophia encourages dandruff and dry scalp sufferers to know their scalp and what irritates it. “Pay attention to what products trigger your scalp dryness so you can stop using them. Many people tend to want to use tea tree or peppermint oil to soothe dry scalp because of their cooling properties. Although they help the scalp feel soothed, high doses used too often can make the scalp burn and feel drier and more irritated.” For dry scalp treatment, she recommends using pre-shampoo products and scalp toners. She uses Influence It’s a Natural Stimulating Spray as a pre-poo and Philip Kingsley’s Flaky Scalp Toner and Soothing Scalp Mask on her clients.

When treating dandruff, Sophia points out that creamy products may help, and similarly to dry scalp treatment, pre-poos are a must. “Pre-shampoos that have antibacterial or antiseptic properties are best, because they help control the bacteria that encourage flakes. Use products with a creamy consistency that helps lift and soften dandruff, making flakes easy to remove with shampoo.” On her clients, she uses Rene Furterer’s Complexe 5 Stimulating Plant Extract, Decca Satin Scalp Therapy, and Phillip Kingsley’s Flaky Itchy Mask. When it comes to looking for an effective pre-poo for dandruff, keep an eye out for these powerhouse ingredients: lavender, chamomile, aloe vera, peppermint, coal tar, salicylic acid, zinc, and selenium sulfide.

As important as it is to what products to use, it’s just as important to know what practices we should avoid or embrace. “Avoid scratching the scalp with combs or finger nails because this can cause hair loss, or inflammation of the scalp,” Sophia says. And when choosing what oil to use, avoid applying heavy oils like castor directly to your scalp. “Heavy oils like these clog pores and encourage more dandruff by trapping dirt on the scalp.” If you do happen to experience buildup, make sure your scalp is being thoroughly cleansed with shampoo on a regular basis—even (and especially) when you’re rocking your protective styles.

Read on for some dandruff and dry scalp products currently available in the SHOP.

1. Koils by Nature Refreshing Anti-Dandruff Tea Tree Mint Cleanser, $15.99

Thanks to antiseptic ingredients like burdock root and bay leaf, this cleanser will make removing flakes much easier, while following up with soothing tea tree and peppermint oil.

2. Palmer's Olive Oil Formula Anti-Dandruff Scalp Scrub Shampoo, $6.50

When a normal shampoo won’t cut it—consider an exfoliating scrub. This shampoo contains natural particles made for clearing off that flaky buildup. Plus, it won’t break the bank. Sophia recommends using exfoliating products in moderation, as they can sometimes cause irritation for sensitive scalps.

3. As I Am Dry & Itchy Scalp Care Olive & Tea Tree Oil Conditioner, $10.99

This conditioner is all about soothing the itch! The olive, tea tree, and peppermint oil will leave your scalp feeling cool and refreshed.

4. Design Essentials Scalp & Skin Care Detoxifying Tonic with Eucalyptus & Lemon, $8.99

Apply the Detoxifying Tonic directly to your scalp, massaging as you go to remove excess oil and dirt particles. Eucalyptus is a natural antiseptic and lemon’s acidity can help balance and restore pH levels.

5. CURLS Blueberry & Mint Tea Scalp Treatment, $12

This non-rinse daily formula is the perfect solution for soothing itchy scalp under braids, when wearing a wig, or before or after installing weaves or extensions.

6. Camille Rose Naturals Latte Define, $13.99

Define your curls and treat your scalp with Latte Define. This styling cream provides hold and features sunflower seed oils to moisturize dry scalp and minimize dandruff.

Do you experience dandruff or dry scalp? What treatments have been the most effective for you? Comment to let us know some of your fav products.