Even if we have the best of regimens (and intentions), our scalps can become dry, irritated, and inflamed. Some of the reasons why may be out of our control, such as changes in the weather, hard tap water, hormones, and forced air heating. Others, though, can be caused by certain common practices seen in curly hair routines across the internet. Regardless of the reason, if you are experiencing any of the following, please see a Doctor for an assessment and treatment:
- excessive itching not relieved by a regular shampoo.
- scabs, bumps, cysts, pus, or bleeding (all these can be signs of an infection)
- hair thinning or hair loss
- waxy scaling
- redness and/or pain or discomfort
To limit flare-ups of pre-existing scalp conditions, and to grow longer, stronger, healthier hair, examine your curly hair routine, and then eliminate the things that might be sabotaging your efforts. Below I’ve listed the questions you should ask yourself, and provided some tips to keep both your hair and your scalp happy.
Image Source: @naturallycurly
Are you overdoing it?
By overdoing it, I mean doing your hair every single day. I am not referring to refreshing, or putting your curls up in a messy bun, but rather doing the entire routine, from shampoo, to finishing mist, every morning. While your curls may look their bouncy best, your scalp is not going to be happy. It may take it a while to protest, but when it does, it won’t be pretty.
A good curly hair regimen is meant to make your life easier, not more complicated. If you are just discovering the Curly Girl Method, learn ways to work with second day hair. Try refresher mists, techniques, and super cute updos. If you are transitioning, know that in time your curls will retain their shape much more consistently so that second-day and beyond hair is much more easily achievable. Until then, go easy on your scalp.
Are you failing to remove excess sebum from your scalp?
Sebum is an oily, waxy substance that prevents moisture loss from the scalp. It also contains anti-microbial properties that fight off pathogenic bacteria. Sebum in and of itself is not a bad thing, but it can become problematic when it is allowed to build up often along with dirt, dead skin cells, oils, and styling products. What we refer to as blackheads is actually oxidized sebum. As you can imagine, sebum build-up can clog hair follicles, leading to inflammation, and in severe cases, hair loss. In the video below, there is a magnified view of this, and its removal.
While extra gentle co-washes, and cleansing conditioners have a place in most regimens, most of us do need a scalp care regimen that includes scalp exfoliation in addition our hair care routine. Fortunately, there are a number of great products available to optimize the health of your scalp and hair follicles. Two of my favorites are Briogeo Scalp Revival Charcoal + Coconut Oil Micro-Exfoliating Shampoo which removes dirt, dead skin and other impurities, and sooths the itch and Briogeo Scalp Revival Charcoal + Peppermint Oil Cooling Jelly Conditioner which cools the scalp and provides all-over hydration.
Are you introducing too many new products at once?
If you have ever gone to the salon and walked out with every single product the stylist used to create your Gram-worthy look, this is for you. Your scalp can easily react to ingredients in products, resulting in everything from flaking to blistering. Some examples common allergens in hair products include: fragrance, propylene glycol, certain alcohols, sorbitan sesquiolate, benzoic acid, cocamidopropyl betaine, and silicones. Unless you have used the products regularly in the past, it is best to trial each product individually for a few weeks, particularly if you are prone to skin allergies. When each product proves to be safe for your skin, move on to the next.
Are you creating an environment for dandruff to proliferate?
Dandruff is caused by the fungus Malassezia globosa which feeds off of sebum. It thrives in warm, moist environments, for example, those created when plopping. Wet hair combined with the heat of your scalp can really exacerbate dandruff issues. Likewise, sleeping on wet hair, or pulling your wet hair up can be problematic as well. The fix here is to dry your scalp as much as you can with a microfiber towel, and then diffuse until dry on a no to low-heat setting.
What are your biggest scalp woes? Let us know in the comments. For more scalp care products to love click here.