Your Scalp, Your Garden: how to stop flaking, shedding, and irritation on your scalp
Flaky scalp? Excessive shedding? Irritation under your hair? You’re not alone
One of the most significant concerns we see in the salon on a daily-basis is scalp issues. Issues like flaking, excessive shedding, and irritation are common irritants. Most of these problems can be traced back to one of two things: internal or external factors. Imagine your scalp like the soil in your garden. Gardens need daily tending, nutrients, and proper care. So does your scalp. Follow along and I will explain!
What causes Scalp Irritation: External factors
First, let us start with external factors since it is one of the easiest to decipher. External just means things that affect your scalp from the outside of your body. This can range from how often you shampoo your hair, how well you shampoo your hair, how well you rinse out the shampoo/conditioner from your scalp, the amount of pressure you use when scrubbing your scalp, air quality in the places you visit, how you put your hair up, and even down to if you wear hats very often! All these things can affect the overall health of your scalp.
Keeping your scalp clean
Remember back to my analogy of the soil in your garden? Think of what you would do to keep a garden healthy: you would try your best to keep the soil as fresh and clean as possible, so plants would have the best environment to grow. Think of your scalp as the same.
How often to use shampoo
Paying attention to how often you shampoo can make a huge difference. Now the time between shampoos can vary depending on the person. It depends on how quickly your scalp produces oil and what type of environmental conditions you are exposed to daily. For example, if you have a very oily scalp, you will need to shampoo your hair more often than someone who has a dryer scalp. Just like someone who works outside in a dusty environment daily would need to shampoo more regularly than someone who stays indoors where there is usually less particulate floating in the air.
Back to my analogy, think of this like leaves building on the ground – you would want to remove the leaves to keep the soil in good shape, right?
So, keeping your scalp clean is a good thing. If you have an oily scalp, utilize lots of products, or work in an area where there would be more air particles floating around, you should begin by shampooing more often.
How to shampoo (yep, there’s a process)
This leads into how you shampoo. Most people assume shampooing is getting your hair clean. They don’t focus much on the scalp. The focus of your shampooing technique should be the opposite: without a healthy scalp, you cannot have healthy hair – so show your scalp some love!
When shampooing your hair, make sure to focus on massaging your scalp. Massaging your scalp will loosen dirt, left-over product residue, and dead skin cells. And an added plus: not only is this good for your scalp, but it feels amazing.
Your scalp contains lots of blood vessels that are supplying your hair follicles with nutrients and taking away toxins. As you massage, you are forcing fresh blood into the area – this is great for keeping your hair follicles healthy. Think of it just like you would for your nightly routine for cleaning your face.
Going back to my original analogy of soil, look at your garden: would you allow leaves and other debris on the surface to smother your plants’ roots growing through?
What causes Scalp Irritation: Internal factors
Now that we have mentioned the blood supply, let’s talk about the internal factors that affect your hair! A good rule of thumb to follow is: “Whatever you put or do not put in your mouth affects your hair growth.” Let me explain.
Your blood supplies all the oxygen and nutrients to your hair follicles which give them the energy to grow well or not so well depending on what is being delivered to them. So, for example, the foods you eat or don’t eat have a big effect on what nutrients are being supplied.
Medication and how it affects your hair
Another big factor is any medication that you are taking can also have a significant effect on the overall health of your hair follicles. Back to my garden analogy, think of this like the water you give your plants, or the “fertilizer” you use to make the soil more nutrient-rich. (See why I use the “garden” analogy so much when talking about this subject? Usually, about this point, a light bulb moment happens with my clients!)
Hormones and your hair health
When we talk about nutrients or “chemical imbalance” it is important to mention hormones! Hormones can play a huge role in the overall health of your hair/scalp, hijacking the body’s normal process of oil production and hair growth. If you have ever been pregnant you know exactly what I mean.
Menopause will show changes in hair growth. Teenagers as well, that all-too-well known puberty changing their body’s composition. Suddenly teens can start to see a dramatic difference in oil production on the scalp, which we discussed earlier how that can affect the hair and the overall health of your scalp.
The Scalp Routine
So, as you can see your scalp is an especially important part of your body and the overall health of your hair. Without a healthy scalp, you may end up with some flaking or itchiness, or even, premature hair loss.
So next time you are about to jump in the shower, remember to show your scalp some love:
- Take time to shampoo well, massage, and rinse well.
- Do not forget that proper nutrition is also important, so think about your diet.
- Ask yourself if you are getting all the nutrients that you need?
- Should you add in supplements?
- Are your medications affecting your hair?
- Are you going through any hormonal changes, puberty, pregnancy, or menopause?
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