Skip to main content

How to take care of your scalp for healthier hair

Image used with permission by copyright holder

When they say “out of sight, out of mind,” they are NOT talking about your scalp! Just because you may not be able to see the skin under your hair doesn’t mean it isn’t there. Scalp care is just as important as the rest of your skincare routine if you want to maintain healthy, happy hair throughout your lifetime. Everyone has at least heard of hair oils, but here’s what else you need to know to keep a healthy scalp.

Hair, obviously, starts at the root. Think of your hair like a house plant: it can look healthy above ground, but if the roots are wilted and broken underneath, that plant will soon start to die off. Adding hormones or otherwise taking care of the roots will grow them back stronger and sturdier — and your hair roots are no different.

You could be shampooing your brains out, but if your haircare doesn’t extend to your scalp, you just aren’t doing it right. Why is scalp care so important? Your scalp is a surprisingly delicate area, containing millions of sweat glands and hair follicles. These micro-orifices are easily irritated, especially under the wrong conditions.

If your head ever gets itchy while you’re wearing a hat, it’s because the hair follicles on your head are becoming displaced, and sweat is causing irritation. Proper scalp care gives your follicles, and the hair roots just below them, more flexibility and durability. Beyond just wearing a hat, prolonged mistreatment of your scalp causes dead skin cells to block your hair follicles. Over time obstructed or broken follicles will stop producing hair, creating bald spots.

Your hair protects the scalp from all but the worst sunburns but isn’t a foolproof defender against sun damage generally. If you spend a lot of time in the sun, particularly in the summer or in an especially dry climate, your scalp will begin to dry out over time. This leads to redness, itchiness, or even chronic dandruff.

Tips for a healthier scalp

First thing is first: you need to determine what type of scalp you have. Much like the skin on your face, your scalp can be dry, oily, sensitive, damaged, or a combination of these. Figuring out what products work best for your skin is THE key to having a healthy scalp.

Once you determine your skin type, you want to make sure you’re using the right shampoo. Try a paraben- and sulfate-free shampoo with no artificial colors or scents, as these harsh chemicals strip the scalp of natural oils that are essential for healthy hair.

Image used with permission by copyright holder

Scalp massagers don’t just feel good, they also help exfoliate and deep clean all the right places. Use one of these while shampooing your head to ensure you get rid of all the dead skin cells trapped in your hair. Even if you don’t have dandruff or if your scalp isn’t particularly dry, these affordable tools work wonders.

How often should you wash your hair?

How often you wash your hair really depends on a multitude of factors. Remember when you figured out what type of scalp you have? That plays a big part in answering this question for yourself. If your scalp is excessively oily, you’ll want to wash it more often than if it is on the dryer side. If you do have a dry scalp, avoid washing your hair daily. Once every three days (or twice a week) should keep your hair clean while giving your scalp time to recover and reproduce some of its natural oils.

Your location also plays a role in how often you should wash your hair. If you live in a large city with lots of pollution, like Los Angeles, for example, you will want to wash your hair more often. Air pollution causes bacteria buildup on your scalp that leads to itchiness, blocked hair follicles, and in severe cases, infection.

Every other day tends to be the general rule of thumb for people looking to maintain a healthy scalp and hydrated hair.

A man with a facial mask.
Image used with permission by copyright holder

How to care for an unhealthy scalp

Hair oils are the first thing you should grab if you’re looking to generally improve the quality of your scalp. Most hair oils work as a mask if they’re applied 15-20 minutes before showering, and this is the recommended application process for already damaged scalps.

Look for a hair oil that is rich in antioxidants, vitamins, and fatty acids. These ingredients will keep your scalp and your hair hydrated and healthy for longer.

If your scalp needs a little more TLC than hair oils can provide, check if your local spa has a “scalp facial” on the menu. These trendy new treatments use natural ingredients to strip the scalp of any dirt, oils, sweat, or products that may be buried deep in there. These detoxes are rather intense and can be harsh on your skin, so utilize them sparingly. One or a handful of these treatments, along with general maintenance as described above, should do the trick to reviving a scalp that has seen better days.

Remember: scalp care is a marathon, not a sprint. It’s going to take time for an unhealthy scalp to recover from damage, but consistency in your routine will generate smooth results.

Editors' Recommendations

Topics
Hunter Reis
Former Digital Trends Contributor
Hunter has worked with E! News and Entertainment Tonight, where he won a Daytime Emmy in 2022 for video production.
How to shape a beard: The ultimate guide for every face shape
Trimming a beard

You never want to be caught with a scratchy, messy beard while you're out and about. Regardless of the time of year, it's vitally important to keep your beard grooming on point. For starters, having high-quality beard oil or beard balm will definitely help you get started, product-wise. Whether you're still getting the hang of growing one out, or are a seasoned pro, it's crucial to upkeep and maintain the best beard shape for you and your face shape. Yes, you read that right, learning how to shape a beard will help you maintain the best beard shape for your facial features.

Shaping your beard takes diligence, yet it yields incredible results and will make you look more handsome, as opposed to Tom Hanks in Cast Away. Whether you have experimented on your own with trimming your beard or not, now is the perfect time to learn how to trim your beard properly to freshen up your look.

Read more
How often should you change your razor blades?
Razor being rinsed under water.

It's a hassle and an annoyance, but when it comes to your daily shaving ritual something that you absolutely don't want to skip is changing out your razor blade. Trying to shave with a dull razor is bad for your skin and can cause razor bumps, plus creating a higher likelihood of problems like infections, and it will do a poor job of removing hair, resulting in a patchy shave. If you're not up for trying out a straight razor, then you'll need to get into the habit of regularly swapping out the replaceable blades on your razor or using fresh disposable razors instead. Knowing when to swap out your old blades for new ones will help keep your skin happy and your face looking its best, so our guide can help you work out how often you need to change your razor blades.

How often you should change your razor blades
According to the American Academy of Dermatologists, you should change your razor blades or throw away disposable razors after every five to seven shaves. High-quality razor blades should last five to seven shaves if you take care of them properly and keep them clean. However, cheaper disposable razors may wear out sooner.
Signs it’s time to change your razor blades include skin irritation after shaving, a less close shave, patchy areas or spots missed, skin that still feels rough after, dullness of the blades, feeling hairs are getting pulled instead of cut, and excessive friction of the blades across your skin that it feels like you have to drag it over your skin.
Moreover, a razor that has an accumulation of gunk that can’t be rinsed away should be immediately discarded, as this causes nicks and infections by dragging unevenly across your skin and introducing harbored bacteria into your pores.

Read more
How to shave with a straight razor without hurting yourself
Straight razor shave

Learning how to shave with a straight razor is a delicate art form of its own that requires practice and patience in learning how to master it. It's a ritual that can become a meditative discipline for those who hone its craft, almost transporting you back in time -- a suave experience. But don't just take our advice on it. Look no further than the epitome of sophistication -- 007 himself.

When Moneypenny helps James Bond finish shaving with a straight razor in the 2012 classic Skyfall, she says -- knowingly -- that "Sometimes, the old ways are the best." It's an adage to live by and one that holds true when it comes to men's grooming routines.

Read more