If there’s one beauty ritual that’s trending on social media, it’s scalp care. First emerging on TikTok (internationally, because we’re only seeing those videos on Instagram, clearly), we saw beauty influencers use The Ordinary’s Glycolic Acid on their scalp to exfoliate it and prevent dandruff. With the excessive use of styling products, shampoos and conditioners that are heavy for the hair, our scalps are increasingly getting irritated, which, in turn, leads to hair damage. If you identify with this conundrum, here’s what to do.
What Causes Scalp Irritation?
“With the rampant use of hair care products, heavy-duty conditioners, hair mousses, masks, leave-in conditioners, dry shampoos, pomades, etc, the tendency of the scalp to clog as a result of these products is on the rise,”says dermatologist Dr Jushya Sarin, founder of Sarin Skin Solution, New Delhi. “When oil or dirt or hair care products fill in the hair follicle, it becomes clogged. This gives rise to a blackhead. When this blackhead is inflamed, it can present itself as acne or pimples on the scalp. These can be itchy and recurrent in nature. It can also lead to scalp folliculitis, a condition that mimics scalp acne, which is the development of painful, pus-filled lesions on the hair follicles due to inflammation caused by bacteria or fungus.” Dr Sarin also reveals that the constant urge to scratch your scalp could be a sign of build-up on the hair follicles, without any signs on the surface of the scalp.
Scalp Care 101
Looking after your scalp is extremely important, as a healthy, clear scalp can help prevent certain types of hair loss, dandruff or general itching. Dr Sarin goes on to add, “A healthy scalp means not only one that looks clean from the top but also one with good blood circulation underneath, one that is well moisturised, has hair all equal in diameter and one that is free of flakes, redness or acne.”
The scalp surface attracts the build-up of oil, debris, atmospheric pollutants and hair products. These give rise to an inflammation on the surface of the scalp that can also translate to hair loss. The oil naturally released by the oil glands in the scalp also makes good nourishment for the fungus that inhabits the scalp. If this oil is not removed from the scalp, the fungus overgrows, leading to the formation of dandruff.
Get A Li’l Help From Friends
If you’re looking to kick-start your scalp care routine, you could incorporate a scalp scrubber while washing your hair. The gentle bristles not only stimulate your scalp but will also help remove any build-up. Alternatively, you can put AHA serums such as glycolic acid, lactic acid or salicylic acid on a cotton pad and gently rub on your scalp 30 minutes prior to washing your hair. These acids gently exfoliate your scalp and prevent any further build-ups.
However, it is important to note that this exfoliation should happen only once a week, and a hydrating shampoo and conditioner must be used afterwards.
Avoid Very Hot Water
Skincare gurus generally advise against really hot showers as they can sap the moisture out from the skin. The same rule applies to your scalp. Hot water can damage your scalp, so ensure that you keep the water tepid instead.
Don’t Neglect The Rest Of Your Hair
While it is key to focus on your scalp, you might be neglecting the ends of your mane. Ensure that you use a hydrating hair mask for the rest of your hair that will not only nourish it but also prevent split ends. Healthy scalp and shiny locks? That’s a win-win situation.