Style... mind your head
A healthy scalp, we're now told, is the key to healthy hair. With a little help from the experts, we root out the best ways to keep your scalp in top condition
We think nothing of spending €20 or €30 on hair masks and good shampoos, but rarely spare a thought for our scalp, when in fact it's the scalp that is the gateway to healthy hair. Yes, it's true, ask any expert, healthy hair, - as modelled by the stunning Blake Lively - starts at the root! The science behind it is that balancing the scalp's natural oils and improving the blood circulation promotes healthy hair growth.
According to leading hairdresser and L'Oréal Colour 2015 winner, Aimee Penco, from Brown Sugar in Blackrock, Dublin, the most common reason for a distressed scalp is irritation from products.
"Shampoos/conditioners/styling products that are the wrong type for your hair, or using too much of them so that they build up, can causes an irritation to your scalp over time," she says.
Also, the problem is that we wash our hair too often, and in the wrong way. We don't need that much product, and we need to massage it into the scalp in gentle circular motions to get the blood going.
If you've any major issues with your scalp, ask an expert. As well as offering amazing scalp treatments, some leading salons even offer scalp diagnostics.
Look on the scalp as an extension of the face. It needs as much TLC. Yes, we're talking, cleansing, exfoliating and nourishing. Aimee Penco shows us how, below.
Dos and Don'ts
● Overusing dry shampoo can cause dandruff.
● Avoid scratching an irritated scalp.
● Avoid washing your hair in overly hot water.
● If you know your scalp is sensitive, spend a little extra money on a shampoo that suits your scalp/hair type, it will be worth it in the long run. Clear shampoos contain less concentration so it won't build up on the hair. Invest in a good balancing shampoo.
● A clarifying shampoo should be used about once a month.
● Don't overload your hair with products that are creamy in texture.
● Massage the scalp gently while shampooing to remove dead skin cells and increase blood circulation.
● Don't wash the hair more than it needs and make sure products are well rinsed out.
● Keep your scalp well protected in the sun by wearing a hat or a hair sunscreen.
● If at all possible, try and make your dye job stretch that little bit further, particularly if you're getting an all-over colour that comes in contact with the scalp.
● Amy doesn't advise taking supplements for a flaky scalp, but emphasises the importance of maintaining a healthy diet, because if you feel good on the inside, your hair and skin always look much better.
Massage a little bit of coconut oil into the scalp before shampooing. It's renowned for its scalp-friendly qualities.
How to maintain a healthy scalp
A step-by-step guide with Aimee Penco (pictured) of Brown Sugar, Blackrock
1. Saturate the hair first with warm water.
2. Using a small amount of shampoo and using your fingers, gently massage it into the scalp. I recommend using a balancing shampoo or light non-sulphate shampoo to prevent any build-up. The Bain Divalent Balancing Shampoo from the Kérastase Specifique range is excellent. It's a very lightweight cleansing shampoo that doesn't leave residue on the hair.
3. Repeat the above if your scalp is very flaky.
4. Just like you exfoliate your skin to remove dead skin from your pores, you should do the same for your scalp. Try a good exfoliating treatment once a month. All the top brands have great offerings.
5. Use conditioner only on the mid-lengths and ends of your hair, as most conditioners can be quite heavy and cause product build-up.
6. Serums specific to scalp care can be very beneficial, and should be massaged into the scalp before any heat is applied.
7. If you're using any other styling products avoid the scalp if you can, keeping them on mid-lengths and ends.
8. If you're blowdrying your hair, try and avoid leaving the heat on the root for too long.
Scalp Care Toolkit
1. Bain Divalent Balancing Shampoo, €19.50, Kérastase, available in selected salons nationwide
Gently but effectively cleanses the hair and removes excess oil, without stripping it of moisture. Safe to use on coloured hair.
2. Deep Micro-Exfoliating Scalp Treatment, €24, Kiehl's, available in selected Kiehl's stores nationwide
A facial for the scalp, this gentle exfoliator loosens flaky build-up and stimulates healthy cell turnover on the surface of the scalp.
3. Hair and Scalp Serum, €29.95, Viviscal, available in selected pharmacies nationwide
A lightweight, non-greasy, serum that nourishes hair and scalp at a topical level. Also, it contains menthol, which stimulates cell renewal.
4. Scalp Benefits Conditioner, €25.50, Aveda, available in Brown Thomas Dublin
A scalp-friendly conditioner that feels rich and nourishing but isn't at all heavy on the hair or scalp.