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HomeSkin CareIs a Scalp Care Routine Actually Mandatory? Here is What Specialists Say

Is a Scalp Care Routine Actually Mandatory? Here is What Specialists Say

I’ve been within the skincare trade for over 30 years now, so I’ve positively seen my fair proportion of tendencies come and go. A few of them had benefit, however as a rule, they didn’t reside as much as the thrill and so they turned out to be simply one other passing fad.

The newest pattern to come back about—which might be fueled not less than partially by social media—is all about scalp care. Skincare manufacturers are launching scalp-specific merchandise and individuals are sharing their private scalp care routines on Instagram and Tik Tok. However is a scalp care routine actually mandatory? Is that this simply one other short-lived pattern or is there actual worth to this?

On this submit, I’ll share my ideas on this subject. I’ll additionally focus on frequent scalp points and reply steadily requested questions with the assistance of two wonderful consultants. The primary is board-certified dermatologist Dr. Laura Speck, and the second is NYC trichologist, hair well being knowledgeable, and host of Hair Like Hers Podcast, Shab Reslan.

First, Is the Pores and skin on the Scalp Any Totally different From the Pores and skin on the Face?

From a physiological standpoint, the pores and skin on the scalp is thicker than the pores and skin on the remainder of the physique. It has quite a lot of blood vessels and capillaries that connect with and provide hair follicles. It additionally has quite a lot of sebaceous glands. In truth, it’s probably the most closely populated sebaceous gland areas on the entire physique, which explains why most peoples’ hair will get significantly greasy after it’s not washed for some time.

Though scalp pores and skin is thicker than the pores and skin on different areas of the physique, it’s very delicate. For that reason, it could be extra vulnerable to points than facial pores and skin. Take it from Reslan, who says, “because of the present nature of the setting and our way of life habits, our scalps require extra consideration than ever. Correct scalp care is usually ignored by many individuals because the focus is principally on the aesthetic of the hair itself. Resulting from an increase in hair thinning and hair loss points, the main focus is now shifting to the scalp and the significance of sustaining a wholesome scalp microbiome, particularly for ladies. For the reason that scalp is an extension of our facial pores and skin, it equally has a pH degree, moisture ranges, and cells that profit from exfoliation and regeneration.” 

What Are A few of the Most Frequent Scalp Considerations?


In keeping with Speck, probably the most frequent considerations (and the difficulty she sees probably the most in her personal sufferers) is dandruff. “The medical time period for that’s seborrheic dermatitis,” she says. “For adults, it sometimes begins within the late-20s and might ebb and move over time.” 

Dandruff occurs when the pores and skin undergoes speedy keratinization (that is when pores and skin cells reproduce too rapidly). As a result of they’re replicating so quick, they’re not capable of harden and change into flat and protecting. The consequence? The pores and skin isn’t tight and compressed, so it flakes off simply.

The reason for dandruff has been identified for over 50 years. It’s brought on by a fungus known as malassezia furfur. This fungus feeds on extra sebum on the scalp after which secretes free fatty acids and different byproducts. It’s these free fatty acids that inflame and compromise the pores and skin on the scalp. In different phrases, it’s not essentially the fungus itself, however its byproducts.

To handle dandruff, antifungal brokers like selenium oxide and zinc pyrithione are used. These brokers assist cease the overgrowth of the dandruff-causing fungi. For extra extreme circumstances of dandruff, there are prescription choices as effectively. Should you suppose you might have dandruff, Speck says you need to use an anti-dandruff shampoo 2-3 instances per week. “The secret is, that you just wish to therapeutic massage it via the scalp and let it sit for 2-5 minutes earlier than rinsing it out. Observe with the shampoo and conditioner of your selection for the size of your hair. If that isn’t chopping it, go to your dermatologist who can consider the reason for your flaking and offer you a prescription if wanted.” 


Right here’s an fascinating truth for you—many instances, when individuals are experiencing scalp flakiness, they’re not experiencing dandruff in any respect. As a substitute, they’re experiencing some type of irritation, whether or not that’s some form of dermatitis and even low-grade psoriasis. That’s why I at all times advocate consulting a dermatologist to get a prognosis. They’ve the skilled eye and data required to find out the distinction between dandruff and dermatitis. And truly, if you happen to attempt to deal with dermatitis or psoriatic pores and skin with dandruff shampoos, you would possibly make issues worse!


One other fascinating truth concerning the scalp is that the pores and skin doesn’t change very a lot with age, except for pores and skin thickness and dryness. In one research, researchers discovered that scalp thickness elevated, and the flexibility of the pores and skin to remain hydrated decreased with age. Meaning transepidermal water loss, and subsequent pores and skin dryness and dehydration, are more likely to enhance with age.

On this occasion, hydrating scalp merchandise would possibly come in useful. You may strive utilizing merchandise that comprise humectants. These are elements that assist the pores and skin protect and retain moisture. They’re useful for dehydrated pores and skin, particularly if you happen to’re shampooing too typically and stripping your pores and skin of moisture (however extra on that in a bit).

What Form of Scalp Care Merchandise Are Out There, and Are They Mandatory?

Whereas there’s no scarcity of scalp care merchandise that declare to handle nearly each situation and concern, I consider they are often boiled down to a few principal classes. There are scalp serums, scalp oils, and scalp exfoliators (or scalp scrubs). Let’s do a deep dive into every sort of product and focus on whether or not or not they will present any actual profit for the pores and skin on the scalp!

Scalp Serums

Similar to face serums, scalp serums are marketed as focused therapies to enhance the state of the pores and skin (and hair). Whereas it is a comparatively new product class, I feel they are often useful when you have dry pores and skin and so they comprise the best elements. Once more, search for humectants. These will assist replenish moisture and maintain your scalp hydrated.

You can even search for scalp serums which can be labeled as “microbiome-friendly” or one thing to that impact. We’re simply starting to be taught concerning the significance of the microbiome, however what we do know is that it’s essential to maintain it balanced. I  would additionally search for scalp serums with elements that assist cut back or regulate oil since that may assist maintain dandruff-causing fungi in examine.

Scalp Serums and Hair Loss

Some scalp serums declare to scale back or reverse hair loss, however I’m not bought on that. In truth, I might warning in opposition to utilizing any of those in your at-home scalp care routine. That’s as a result of there are a lot of causes for hair loss, and customarily talking, a scalp serum gained’t deal with the foundation causes. That’s except it accommodates an ingredient known as minoxidil, which is the one accepted ingredient in the USA and Canada to assist regrow hair. If something, most of them are in all probability serving to to scale back breakage, which may be useful, however they gained’t essentially goal hair loss immediately.

“If you might be experiencing hair loss or signs similar to an itchy or flaky scalp, see a dermatologist to have them diagnose the trigger,” Speck says. “They’ll information you thru what routine can be most useful for you.” 

Scalp Oils

Scalp oils are simply that—plant oils used to nourish, moisturize, or deal with the scalp in a roundabout way. Personally, I feel scalp oils may be useful since they moisturize the hair and stop breakage as new hair enters the expansion cycle. This may be particularly useful for individuals who have curly, coily, and textured hair because it reduces breakage and retains fragile hair lubricated.

Scalp oils are additionally useful for anybody who has a dry scalp or is experiencing transepidermal water loss. They’ll present a barrier between the pores and skin and the air and assist cut back flaking and irritancy. Nonetheless, similar to while you’re coping with the pores and skin in your face, you would wish to hydrate your scalp first after which put oil on afterward. (Be sure to know the distinction between dry and dehydrated pores and skin.)

Once more, if you happen to’re vulnerable to dandruff or have some other scalp situation, I wouldn’t advocate utilizing oils. Should you do, it may imbalance your microbiome even additional, exacerbating the difficulty. I might additionally keep away from scalp oils if you happen to’re vulnerable to scalp odor. They may doubtlessly make it worse.

Scalp Exfoliants

Exfoliating merchandise are a preferred a part of many at-home scalp care routines. The concept is that the pores and skin on the scalp requires common exfoliation, similar to the remainder of the pores and skin. Like all different exfoliants, they are often break up into two classes—bodily and chemical.

Bodily Exfoliants

The most well-liked scalp exfoliants appear to be salt or sugar-based scrubs. I’m not an enormous fan of those for a few causes. The primary is that it’s troublesome for these tiny particles to get previous strands of hair. In truth, lots of them by no means make it to the scalp in any respect. So, they will’t roll throughout the pores and skin and slough away useless cells like they’re speculated to.

The second cause is that each salt and sugar dissolve in water. This implies they’ll dissolve quickly on moist hair. Once more, this implies they won’t slough away useless cells as successfully as some folks suppose.

Chemical Exfoliants

Lately, although, there’s been a rise in chemical exfoliants for the scalp. Whereas I feel these may be useful, they need to be used sparingly. In any case, the scalp is a fragile space. You don’t wish to over-exfoliate it or expose it to too many energetic elements. “Low concentrations of exfoliating acids are secure for the scalp and shouldn’t be used each day however as an alternative used as supplemental weekly therapies very like your facial exfoliant,” Reslan says. “The 2 hottest exfoliating acids and secure percentages for the scalp getting used right now are salicylic (round 2%) and glycolic (round 7%).” 

Should you do use chemical exfoliants in your scalp, be sure you’re defending it from the solar. Should you’re not defending new, weak cells, you could possibly incur harm. Over time, solar harm may result in an elevated propensity for irregular cells. I at all times advocate dusting an SPF-infused powder alongside your hairline, in search of shade, and sporting a hat while you’re outdoors.

How Typically Ought to I Actually Be Utilizing Shampoo?

An enormous a part of any scalp care routine is shampooing. Nonetheless, with all of the discuss of “coaching” your scalp and the “no-shampoo” motion, many individuals are confused about how steadily they need to be cleansing their hair and scalp.

In keeping with Speck, “the excellent interval to scrub most hair varieties is each 2-3 days. Kind of steadily can result in over or underproduction of oil. That being mentioned, somebody with wonderful straight hair would err on the extra frequent aspect (ex: each 2 days), whereas African American hair is extra fragile and must be washed solely as soon as each 1-2 weeks.” 

The Splendid Shampooing Methodology

The way in which you shampoo additionally issues. In keeping with Reslan, “The largest mistake folks make when washing their hair will not be sufficiently cleaning the scalp and leaving product and/or sebum (pure oil) residue behind. That is why scalp care merchandise are important in sustaining a wholesome and balanced scalp setting that may develop wholesome and powerful hair with none interruptions or hindrances.”  

That’s why she recommends shampooing twice. “I like to recommend two shampoos each time you wash your hair,” she says. “You need to focus the shampoo in your roots and therapeutic massage gently in round motions to really assist take away build-up. I like to recommend solely working the shampoo down your ends if you happen to use styling merchandise repeatedly.”

Reslan says folks typically overlook the nape of the neck and the edges of the pinnacle above the ears. That explains why it’s frequent to seek out flaking and irritation in these areas. “Should you shampoo your hair sometimes, it may be more difficult to sufficiently cleanse your scalp because of the enhance in product and sebum build-up,” she says. You actually must be your individual choose and be sure that everytime you’re washing your hair, you’re eradicating all of the build-up, and your hair isn’t left feeling waxy or wanting greasy because it dries.” 

What’s the Verdict?

In my view, scalp care merchandise, and a scalp care routine, aren’t completely mandatory. And truly, I might argue that most individuals don’t must do a lot to care for his or her scalps, except for utilizing shampoo and conditioner. Nonetheless, if you happen to’re experiencing dryness otherwise you’re involved in testing out this ever-expanding product class, go for it! There are quite a lot of fascinating merchandise on the market, and you need to take a look at them out if you happen to’re curious. On the finish of the day, in the event that they make a distinction for you, that’s nice!

As Reslan places it, “our scalp is an extension of our face and simply as distinctive for every particular person. Similar to we deal with the pores and skin on our face, our scalp deserves to be washed, exfoliated, nourished, and moisturized utilizing a topical.” 

Should you’re experiencing a diagnosable scalp concern, although, I like to recommend skipping the scalp care merchandise and consulting a physician. Even when it’s a situation that doesn’t require medicine, you’ll be able to relaxation assured understanding knowledgeable has checked it out. It’s at all times higher to be secure than sorry!

Subsequent, may hair conditioner be inflicting your again breakouts?



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