Scalp health. Sure it doesn't sound super sexy, but that doesn’t mean it should be overlooked. In fact, it very well could be one of the factors responsible for your next good hair day. You know, the one that makes you post that Boomerang hair flip pic on Instagram Stories, so it might just be sexier than you think.
It’s also a topic of popular discussion in the beauty market, with brands launching new shampoos, masks, and treatments that help eliminate dandruff, stimulate growth, and more.
"Scalp health is vital to hair growth,” explains board-certified dermatologist, cosmetic surgeon, and medical director of Art of Skin MD, Dr. Melanie Palm. "Our scalp supplies the network of blood vessels that nourishes the base of the hair bulb, allowing it to grow with proper exposure to nutrition, oxygenation, and removal of toxic byproducts. When there is an interruption in scalp health, hair can be greatly affected. Hair loss, sudden shedding, loss of hair density, and even changes in hair architecture—decreased hair strand width, brittle nature, or even change in color—may result.”
Dandruff is probably one of the most commonly talked-about scalp concerns, but Dr. Palm says some other extreme conditions can cause scarring or alopecia.
So what does a healthy scalp look like? "A healthy scalp should have a normal coloration of the skin, no visible flaking or redness, and should not be overly shiny or dull. There should be a hair density consistent and uniform for the individual. Additionally, there should be no areas of skin breakdown, crust, scabs, or acne-like lesions,” explains Dr. Palm.
However, keeping your scalp healthy is relatively easy. In addition to preventing product build-up by washing your hair with a purifying or stimulating shampoo (product buildup could lead to clogged hair follicles!), Honey Artists celebrity hairstylist Nate Rosenkranz suggests giving yourself a scalp massage. "This will increase the blood flow thus bringing more of vitamins and nutrients to your hair,” he says.
But how you keep your scalp healthy might depend on your situation. For instance, if you have a dry scalp, you might need to wash less, explains Dr. Palm. If you're dealing with dandruff, there are plenty of shampoos out there with formulas addressing that specific concern.
Some other tips include using a UV product to protect the scalp from sunburn, staying hydrated, and eating a healthy, balanced diet that includes foods with vitamin A, E, monounsaturated fatty acids, antioxidants, omega-3 and 6.”
Need help finding a product? We've rounded up a few staples below.
Head and Shoulders Dry Scalp Care Shampoo with Almond Oil
Head and Shoulders is no stranger to scalp health and preventing dandruff. The brand has been a tried-and-true solution for years. This new shampoo is made especially for dry scalps, helping to lock in needed moisture using almond oil.
Head and Shoulders | $5
Philip Kingsley Exfoliating Scalp Mask
Yep, there are scalp masks, too. Philip Kingsley, a brand that has made scalp health its specialty, designed this mask to exfoliate the scalp of dead skin and flakes, using ingredients like zinc to control oil as well.
Philip Kingsley | $30
Dove DermaCare Scalp Series Invigorating Mint Anti Dandruff Shampoo
Part of Dove's very first scalp health launch, this minty shampoo is made with active pyrithione zinc to address dandruff while leaving your hair and scalp feeling clean, fresh, and comfortable.
Dove | $5
Dr. Dennis Gross Skincare Anti-Aging Scalp Serum
Your scalp is your skin, and we should treat it with just as much care. So if you're worried about how aging will affect your hair growth, you might be interested in Dr. Dennis Gross's foray into the category. This serum uses ingredients to nourish and strengthen the hair follicle to promote better growth.
Dr. Dennis Gross | $54
Phyto Phytologist Botanical Scalp and Hair Concentrate
This leave-in product kicks the scalp into high gear, helping to protect and strengthen the hair follicle. In addition, it works to promote thickness and sheen, using a compilation of plant extracts.
Phyto | $95