Splitting Hairs is our monthlong exploration of hair based on a survey of women across America. It’s like you brought a photo to the salon — we’re giving you exactly what you want.
Over the past three months, I’ve said and Googled the word scalp more than I ever have in my entire life. It’s the hottest word in hair right now, and you may have noticed: The sheer volume of scalp products on the market is truly astonishing. All these masks, shampoos, scrubs, leave-in treatments, and toners — all made specifically for your scalp — are being marketed as the secret behind better hair days and longer, stronger, healthier hair.
It sounds exciting, but is this added step actually worth the space in your shower, or the cash out of your pocket?
Yes and no. It might really all depend if your scalp is actually in need of attention.
"For normal scalp, meaning one that is not irritated, red, or flaky, no special or unique product is required for maintaining scalp health," says Dr. Melanie Palm, a board-certified dermatologist and cosmetic surgeon. As long as you're regularly washing your hair with a cleansing, non-stripping, nourishing shampoo and haven't experienced any issues, you don't absolutely need to own a scalp-related product. Just be sure to follow a healthy routine.
"You maintain good scalp health by proper cleansing, conditioning, brushing, and protection [from UV light]," Dr. Francesca Fusco, a dermatologist at Wexler Dermatology in New York City, explains.
If you have noticed sensitivities, or have been diagnosed with a scalp issue like dandruff, itchiness, folliculitis, and psoriasis, or even hair loss, you might benefit from a formula made specifically for your scalp but your doctor can make that fi,nal call.
If it's not a necessity, why is the beauty market so focused on our scalps? It's not uncommon for brands to develop dedicated products for specific parts of the body, especially as consumers become more educated on what's available, and Anabel Kingsley, a trichologist of the Philip Kingsley clinic, thinks people are starting to understand the link between scalp health and hair growth.
"Hair grows from the scalp, and so the two are inextricably interlinked," Kingsley, says. "You need to give your hair a healthy base from which to grow; think of your hair as a plant, and your scalp as the soil supporting it. When the scalp is clean, clear of inflammation, irritation and skin-cell build-up, it is better equipped to produce hairs of high integrity."
All things considered, it doesn't hurt to add a scalp product to your routine, particularly if you're the type that needs to try that new-new. As long as you're not using a formula that strips your scalp of its natural oils, feel free to buy the scalp scrub.
Whether you're looking for products to help soothe a diagnosed scalp issue or just want to give one a try so you can leave a Sephora review, I rounded up five different brand new and cult-classic products worth investigating. Keep scrolling for various forms of scalp TLC.
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