What’s the key to healthy hair? Under all those gorgeous tresses there’s skin that needs TLC. A healthy scalp is foundational to maintaining beautiful, healthy hair. Your hair follicles are fed and nourished by the blood and tissues of the scalp. Keep your scalp happy and healthy by following these five tips:
1. Add Nutrients
Just like your body, your hair and scalp need nutrients and thrive when fed good things. Vitamin E in hair products can help improve scalp circulation and stimulate hair growth. Olive oil is one of the top ingredients to seek out in your hair care products. It’s very hydrating to the hair and rich in beta-carotene, fatty acids and antioxidants. It softens and moisturizes the scalp and helps to create the optimal conditions for hair growth.
2. Avoid Irritants
Any ingredient that has a drying effect on your skin will have an even worse effect on your scalp. Fatty alcohols like stearyl, myristyl and cetyl are moisturizing; other types of alcohol are drying, such as denatured alcohol, propanol, ethanol and isopropyl. Be sure to check the list of ingredients in the hair products you buy and avoid the ones with the drying alcohols. Salicylic acid can be found in products that treat flaking scalps, but these products should be used sparingly — no more than once per week. Menthol is another ingredient to use in moderation; while it can have a cooling, refreshing and invigorating effect (like peppermint), it can also cause itching in sensitive scalps.
3. A Quality Brush
Choose a brush made of soft plastic, as it is gentler on hair than harsh boar bristles or more rigid natural bristles. Find a brush with ball-tipped bristles for a smoother effect on the hair and brush lightly. Vented brushes allow for a more even dispersion of heat and smoother brushing while blow-drying. Hair dries more quickly without burning of your hair or scalp. The gentlest option of all? A wide-toothed comb.
Regular scalp massages help promote circulation, which stimulates hair follicles to grow thicker and more lustrous hair. After applying shampoo, take time to gently massage your scalp with your fingertips for 30 seconds to a minute. You can also do a prewash massage with nurturing oils such as grapeseed oil, an antioxidant-rich argan oil or a soothing naturally antibacterial lavender oil. Work just a few drops of the oil into your scalp and slowly massage for a minute or two.
5. Sun Protection
Just as the rest of your skin requires protection from the sun, so does your scalp. Prolonged exposure to UV rays can burn your scalp, dehydrate it and lead to itching. Repeated sun exposure will dry out your hair and make it brittle. The sun has an aging effect on hair just as it does the skin and can result in a coarse, dry texture. Take precautions to wear a light-colored hat or scarf if you know you’ll be out in direct sun.