Whether you have a thick mop of hair or are as bald as a newborn baby, the skin on your head needs to be coddled like that aforementioned infant to maintain its health and that of your hair (for those who’ve still got it). This is especially true during the winter, when the plummeting mercury and moisture levels can have unsightly consequences on your scalp. (White flakes on the ground pretty; white flakes about your head and shoulders, not so much.) While there are issues unique to this skin—it being full of follicles and all—the scalp needs to be treated in a similar fashion as your face. You wouldn’t go a day without washing that, right? Clear hair care (a brand designed specifically to address scalp concerns) dermatologist Francesca Fusco explains how to get to the root of your scalp issues.
Don’t be flaky.
Dandruff is a bitch for most guys. The cause is, well, gross. “An overgrowth of yeast, plus an impaired skin barrier” create a veritably factory for those unsightly flakes, says Dr. Fusco. Luckily, the solution is a no-brainer: Regular use of a dandruff or clarifying shampoo will make it safe to wear dark colors again. Using one that you can stand the smell of will ensure continued use. Practicing good hygiene, as in shampooing on a daily basis and immediately following a workout, will help prevent a build-up of oil and dead skin cells, which also contributes to flakes, says Dr. Fusco.
Got that itching and burning sensation up top? Dryness is the culprit. Other symptoms are tightness or flakiness. “Avoid excess styling products as these will contribute to product build-up,” says Dr. Fusco. “A dry scalp will benefit from a conditioner that is formulated for scalp and hair, that can be applied directly to the scalp to provide nourishing benefits.” Swapping moisture-sapping alcohol-based styling products for water-based ones can also help alleviate the problem.
Get the right stuff.
When choosing your shampoos and treatments, make sure the label specifically says it’s for scalp and hair. “Botanical oils, like ginseng, tea tree, and natural mint, and Vitamins B5 and E are particularly soothing, hydrating, nourishing, and good for maintaining a healthy scalp,” says Dr. Fusco.
Some of those New Year’s resolutions might actually go to your head. Maintaining a healthy diet and reducing stress (might be time to take up meditation) go a long way to scalp health, says Dr. Fusco. Also, a running a humidifier during the particularly dry winter months can help address dryness.