Table of Contents
- Unearthing the Essence of a Healthy Scalp
- Best Practice for Scalp Cleaning
- Scalp Cleaning Made Simple
Have you ever wondered what the secret is to a full head of healthy hair? While there are many elements to gaining and maintaining healthy hair, an often overlooked factor is the health of your scalp.
Scalp cleaning, in particular, plays a starring role in the ongoing journey to beautiful hair.
Here at Fulham Scalp and Hair Clinic, our wealth of experience revolves around treating a variety of hair and scalp conditions, with scalp cleaning being a cornerstone. Let’s explore this together.
Unearthing the Essence of a Healthy Scalp
Just as you wouldn’t expect your garden to flourish in poor soil choked with weeds, we need to provide the right environment for our hair to thrive. What does that mean for your scalp?
Essentially, we need to consider the cleanliness of the scalp, ensuring that we’re not compromising the hair roots with dirt, oil, or other products. It also means that we should consider the importance of blood circulation and providing a nutrient-rich environment. Thirdly, we must closely examine the products we use – often daily – and how these affect the health of our scalp and hair.
Keeping a Clean Scalp
A healthy scalp is integral to healthy hair, but various factors can disrupt this balance, leading to scalp buildup. At the core is sebum, an oily secretion our scalps naturally produce. While its primary role is to moisturise the scalp, excessive sebum can combine with sweat, remnants of hair products, and dead skin cells, creating an unwelcome layer on the scalp if left for too long. Conditions like seborrheic dermatitis or psoriasis can elevate sebum production, intensifying this buildup.
Furthermore, the array of hair products we use, from shampoos to styling creams and gels, often contain waxy components. If not diligently rinsed out, these elements can adhere to our hair and scalp, contributing to the buildup.
To add to the mix, sweat and dead skin cells, which are natural byproducts of our body’s functioning, can amalgamate with sebum and product residue. Especially active individuals or those with higher sweat rates may find themselves more susceptible to this kind of buildup.
The build-up of this type of scalp debris can contribute to fungal and bacterial infections occurring on the scalp or trigger inflammation around the follicle and can impact healthy hair growth.
Therefore, understanding these factors and practising thorough scalp cleaning is pivotal to maintaining optimal scalp health.
Scalp exfoliation has gained huge popularity recently as a way of removing and lifting off stubborn scaling and build-up on the scalp. However, not all exfoliating practices are necessary or healthy.
Eleanore Richardson offers some sound advice. “We recommend avoiding physical exfoliation techniques that include scraping, scrubbing, peeling, or scratching. That includes products with granular exfoliants in them as they can cause micro tears on the scalp surface, which can trigger more inflammation. It’s the last thing you need for an itchy, tender or sore scalp!
“Instead, opt for gentle chemical exfoliants such as products containing salicylic acid, which helps soften and loosen dead skin cells and debris so that they can be easily shampooed away.
Our Soothing Scalp Exfoliator is a perfect pre-treatment for itchy, flaky, inflamed scalps. However, purchases can only be made after a consultation.”
Hair and Scalp Products
As we’ve mentioned in previous articles, there are hundreds of products on the market that are touted as healthy hair care choices. However, when we dig a little deeper, we see that they are responsible for some alarming chemical damage, especially to afro hair.
What should you be looking out for?
Shampoos, conditioners and other hair products containing chemicals such as:
- Some sulfates, such as sodium lauryl sulphate, can strip the hair and scalp of natural oils too effectively, leading to dryness, flaking, and irritation.
- Waxy substances, such as gels, sprays, and serums that provide a hold or fix for the hair. These can stick to the hair and scalp if not thoroughly cleansed away when washing hair, leading to product buildup on the scalp and hair.
- Formaldehyde (formalin) which can cause severe damage to the hair and scalp, leading to dry, brittle, and heavy tresses and who’s fumes can impact the lungs.
- Polyethylene glycols (PEG), which can cause scalp irritation and allergic reactions.
- Alkanolamides, sodium lauraminopropionate, ivy agave, and silicone, which can cleanse the hair without removing a lot of sebum and won’t dry it out, leading to scalp buildup.
Best Practice for Scalp Cleaning
With so much information and much of it difficult for the average person to understand, it can be hard to make the right decisions. Even with a heart full of good intentions, we sometimes stumble in our scalp-care journey. Perhaps in our enthusiasm, we are using products that we think are helping but are actually contributing to an itchy scalp. Overzealous scrubbing might lead to unnecessary abrasions, and products saturated with chemicals can wreak havoc on the scalp’s delicate pH balance and microbiome.
However, when you want to find the best solution to any problem, it’s best to talk to a professional. And in this case, here is what your local Trichologists advise:
- Cleanse your hair and scalp regularly (a minimum of once per week) with a gentle shampoo if not otherwise specified.
- You only need to use the pads of your fingers on your scalp when shampooing. Avoid anything with grit, granules or scalp brushes.
- Condition your hair with a quality conditioner or hair mask, such as our Deep Conditioning Clay Mask. If your hair type needs it, use a water-based leave-in conditioner to keep her moisturised throughout the rest of the week without creating build-up on the scalp. Our favourite is our Leave-In Hair Protector.
- If you notice persistent itching, flaking, redness, or tenderness, book a consultation with a Trichologist. They will personally assess your scalp and check if further treatment or routine hair changes are needed.
- Remember, your scalp doesn’t need to be oiled to stay moisturised or be stimulated; your natural sebum should be enough. If you are still noticing dryness, flaking and itching, book in to see a Trichologist and get your scalp assessed.
- When searching for a Trichologist, make sure they are AIT or MIT qualified with the Institute of Trichologists
Scalp Cleaning Made Simple
Radiant hair begins at the roots, and meticulous scalp cleaning is the path to this glory. Should doubts or concerns arise, the seasoned professionals at Fulham Scalp and Hair Clinic stand ready, guiding you towards your hair’s most vibrant version.
For more information on caring for afro hair, watch this video from Glamour UK. The Black Hair Conversation: Facts & Follicles.