Healthy hair starts at the scalp. If you're having issues with an itchy, flaky, dry scalp; chances are you may have also experienced breakage [from lack of moisture], thinning [from buildup of dead skin] and lack of luster and body. - This post is meant to stress the importance of picking and choosing healthy hair care treatments as some commercial products can exacerbate these issues.
While there are many commercial products I love, there are some that only camouflage certain issues, while causing problems in other areas. Take dandruff shampoo's for example, dandruff shampoo's do not actually correct the underlying root of dandruff. Dandruff shampoo's simply mask the issues with scalp inflammation by creating a film over the scalp thereby giving the illusion the dandruff issue was corrected. There are several problems with this; (1) that "film" on your scalp acts as a barrier from air, and moisture which makes the perfect breeding ground for more bacteria. More bacteria means more dandruff. This is why many complain that their symptoms worsen after using dandruff shampoos. The (2nd) issue is that using these products could cause hair thinning/breakage because of the buildup of dead skin cells present which clogs the hair follicle and acts as a thick barrier preventing nourishment and moisture from reaching the scalp.
Another culprit in dandruff shampoo's are the SLES [sulfates]. These are the surfactants used to strip the hair of bacteria and excess sebum. Pityrosporum Ovale [the fungus that causes dandruff] thrives off of overactive sebaceous glands; and this is why many dandruff shampoo's are formulated with harsh sulfates. The theory is that the issue with dandruff will be corrected by stripping the hair of excess oil and creating a film over the scalp preventing flakes from falling. Unfortunately though, the sulfates dry the scalp out to the point that your glands produce more sebum as a result of the imbalance. This results in a constant cycle of drying out the hair which may temporarily stop dandruff, then the reoccurance of dandruff, and possibly hair loss/breakage.
Choosing an effective hair care regimen starts by properly diagnosing hair care issues, and prescribing an effective solution. Here are some additional causes of dry, itchy scalp [not related to the overproduction of sebum]:
Hair care products: Some products contain alcohols or other harsh chemicals that are drying to the scalp. Many times the issue can be corrected by discontinuing use.
Heat: Are you blow-drying too close to your scalp? Is your pressing comb or flat iron too hot? All of the above can cause itching and flaking of the scalp.
Product Buildup: Product buildup can cause a film over the scalp trapping bacteria and dead skin cells which can eventually lead to scalp inflammation, hair loss and or breakage. Clarify your hair with a gentle cleanser or Apple Cider treatment to see if issues are corrected.
Finally, if your dandruff is related to the overproduction of sebum; here are a few effective alternatives for helping correct chronic scalp issues without the nasty side-effects:
Ion Scalp Exfoliating Treatment: This inexpensive product [$2.99] can be found at your local Sally's Beauty Supply. It is formulated to help remove dead skin cells, excess sebum and relieve issues associated with skin inflammation.
Phyto Scalp Elixir: This is a blend of essential oils mixed in a carrier oil base [corn oil]. While I do like this product, those that are handy in the kitchen can whip up their own mix using the same essential oils but in a better carrier oil like Jojoba. - With all of that being said [lol] this product can relieve scalp issues associated with skin inflammation and encourage healthy hair growth.
Jane Carter, Scalp Nourishing Serum: My favorite product for protecting and nourishing the scalp. This all natural product is formulated with essential oils that delivers nutrients deep into the cortex whilst promoting healthy hair growth. Not only does it nourish and promote growth, it also corrects chronic scalp issues naturally.
Tip: Use this product around the nape and hairline to promote growth to those areas.
John Masters Organics Deep Scalp Follicle Treatment: Another highly recommended product, this treatment can correct excess sebum production, protect your scalp from free radicals, promote growth, and correct chronic scalp issues.
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