The Secret To A Magnificent Mane? It's Much Less Sexy Than You Think

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scalp We're kinda obsessive when it comes to our grooming habits, but there's one body part we often overlook: the scalp. No, it doesn't sound particularly glamorous, but as it turns out, keeping your scalp in shape is essential to looking and feeling good, especially when it comes to having fabulous hair.

According to Head & Shoulders dermatologist Dr. Ilyse Lefkowicz, if you want enviable hair, caring about your scalp is a must. "Without a healthy foundation, hair won't grow properly," says Dr. Lefkowicz. Unfortunately, torturing our tresses can create real problems beyond just split ends and crunchy curls. Chemical treatments, like coloring and relaxing, or even regular blowdrying, can lead to a dehydrated and irritated scalp. "I constantly witness patients trying to mask symptoms when what they really need is to get to the root of the problem — don't make the mistake of ignoring your scalp," Dr. Lefkowicz says.

Luckily, it's easy to stop the scalp-damaging madness. By slightly switching up your regular routine, you can ensure that everything up there stays in tip-top shape. Here, a few easy changes that will give your scalp some much-needed love.

Your shower water? It's too darn hot. That dry, tight-skin feeling you get after a hot shower happens on your head, too. "Hot water strips the natural oils from your scalp," says Dr. Lefkowicz. And that results in dry, itchy skin. Try lukewarm water and shorter showers to guarantee healthy hair.

The weather could be messing with your mane mojo, too. Everything from humidity to indoor heating can dry out your skin and scalp, leading to flaking and redness. Following a season-specific skin-care regimen can help you stay comfortable and flake-free all year round. Dr. Lefkowicz recommends Head & Shoulders Dry Scalp 2-in-1 Shampoo + Conditioner — it contains almond oil, which will not only soothe your scalp, but also help lock in hair's moisture.

Don't skip the conditioner. A good conditioner will protect your hair from damage caused by brushes and blowdryers. Dr. Lefkowicz recommends looking for moisturizing and protective ingredients like dimethicone, which in addition to preventing breakage — whether your hair is wet or dry — will also up the shine factor. Make sure you leave it on for a few minutes, maybe while you're shaving your legs (or just singing along to the radio).

Turn down the heat! Avoid using your hairdryer at the top setting, especially when you've just toweled off – your wet hair is very fragile. Wait until your hair is damp instead, and then use your dryer on the lowest setting, being sure to keep it moving over your whole head. Sure, it might take a little longer, but it'll also keep you from doing any permanent damage.

Photographed by Amelia Alpaugh