Whether you have thick, long hair or are as bald as a newborn baby, the skin on your head needs to be taken care of 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 facial skincare routine. You wouldn’t go a day without washing your face, 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.
Combat flakiness: Dandruff is a nuisance for most guys. The cause is, well, gross. “An overgrowth of yeast, plus an impaired skin barrier” creates a veritable factory for those unsightly flakes, says Dr. Fusco. Luckily, the solution is a no-brainer: Regular use of 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 contribute to flakes, says Dr. Fusco. For an all-natural scalp treatment, try out Avalon Organics’ bestselling lemon clarifying shampoo.
Cleanse: This gentle hair cleansing extract from Act + Acre will rinse away buildup without disrupting the pH balance in your hair. Its lightweight formula stimulates and strengthens. The moringa and rosemary help stimulate scalp microcirculation for strong, healthy hair growth. If you’re looking for something to help cleanse but also keep the balance and moisture in your hair this is the perfect option to keep your hair hydrated through the winter.
Avoid dryness: 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 hair styling products for water-based ones can also help alleviate the problem. Hanz de Fuko Hybridized Wax is a great water-based hair styling product for men and has a medium hold.
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. In line with that, we recommend you try Malin + Goetz Peppermint shampoo which is made from natural ingredients.
You’ll need some added stimulation: Powered by organic spearmint leaf oil and floral extracts, this shampoo detoxifies oily scalps and helps to regulate sebum production. It’s refreshing, yet not harsh on the scalp (even though there is a slight tingle!)
Don’t forget to scrub: Oftentimes the scalp has a ton of buildup that we can’t even see, and your daily shampoo and conditioner aren’t powerful enough to get the job done. Give your scalp a deep cleaning with this apple cider vinegar and pink Himalayan sea salt scrub that removes product buildup, impurities, and dead skin cells.
Bonus points for tea tree: You need to give your scalp the same exfoliation TLC you give your face. On days you need a little extra boost just apply a few pumps of this hydrating hair mask formulated with Vitamin E and shea butter. Your scalp will thank you.
Leave it in: Get to the root of the problem with this leave-in scalp treatment by Aveda that’s formulated with Amla to visibly thicken the hair. Use the handy nozzle to apply to the scalp, and then give it a little zhuj. Once massaged in, potent plant actives invigorate the scalp. No need to rinse, just style and you’re good to go!
Or choose to spritz: Too lazy to apply a hair mask? We can relate. This intensive growth spray can be spritzed on wet or dry hair daily without leaving it greasy or weighing it down. Peppermint, tea tree oil, nettle extract, and Vitamin B5 clear blocked pores, thicken the hair, and help prevent hormonal hair loss.
Try out the powers of CBD: Briogeo uses 100 mg of broad-spectrum CBD oil to calm, nourish and soothe the scalp. It’s incredibly lightweight, non-greasy, and spreads easily across the scalp. You can use it as an overnight treatment, or put a few drops into your conditioner.
You’ll need a scalp brush: Scalp brushes work to loosen natural scalp buildup, as well as any accumulated buildup from hair products. On top of that, they stimulate the hair follicles and help lead to hair growth. Use the tool for about 5 minutes a day in small circular movements on either wet or dry hair.
You may need a little more help: And that’s where Nutrafol comes in, one of the best products for those with thinning hair. These medical-grade pills are made with natural ingredients to combat stress, hormones, and poor nutrition — all things that lead to the thinning of hair. In a clinical study, 83% of men saw an increase in hair quality after six months of use.
And protect yourself from the sun: The sun’s harsh rays can cause destruction to your scalp over time if you don’t protect it. It’s an incredibly sensitive part of the body, and prone to UVA/UVB damage because it faces the sun directly. This organic SPF 30 sunscreen from Coola is chock-full of plant-based antioxidants and weightless, yet powerful.
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) can go a long way to better scalp health, says Dr. Fusco. Also, keeping a humidifier running during the particularly dry winter months can help address dryness.
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