The Weird Way Your Scalp Is Affecting Your Hair

Photographed by Erin Yamagata.
You've been scratching at your scalp since December, haven't you? Whether it's a subtle annoyance that only comes after you've skipped a day or two of shampooing, or a persistent itch that leaves white flecks all over your shoulders when you finally give in — it’s there. Though the dry winter air and indoor heat can initially cause the flakiness, it may stick around through spring if you don’t treat it, and it may be affecting your hair growth.

Steve Pullan, a trichologist at the Philip Kingsley hair clinic, explains: “The hair has a cycle," he says. "On a mild level, an unhealthy scalp can disrupt that cycle, so the hair doesn't stay in the ‘growing’ phase long enough and falls out more frequently. On a more serious level, scalp inflammation can disrupt the cycle so severely that it contributes to hair-loss factors. If you're prone to hair loss, it can exacerbate it." 

Before you start obsessively counting the hairs in your brush, don’t worry: An unhealthy scalp is one of the most common hair problems — and there are ways to get rid of the itch. Pullan suggests frequent washing (like, every day), but recognizes that isn't exactly attainable for everyone. So, he advises to shampoo your hair as often as you can, to routinely get rid of the sebum buildup on your scalp. This won’t necessarily get rid of the flakes on its own, but it will increase the efficacy of any dry-scalp or dandruff treatments you are using. "If there is a layer of sebum on your scalp, your topical treatments won't be able to penetrate," he explains.

Speaking of topicals, Sacha Mitic, cofounder of Sachajuan, says to look for treatments that contain some seriously complicated-sounding ingredients like climbazole to combat fungus and piroctone olamine to stop dandruff. But, he also says to look for some more familiar items like ginger and rosemary oils to soothe irritation, salicylic acid for light exfoliation, and menthol to cool. "Don't be afraid to massage the scalp if you have scalp problems," he suggests. "A good massage with the right products is the correct way to apply the actives and get better microcirculation." Sachajuan's new Hair Control Treatment is chock-full of these ingredients, and helps heal the hair at the roots. 

If you want to hand your head over to a pro, give a trichologist a visit. "It's like getting a facial for your scalp," Pullan says. "If you keep the scalp healthy, your hair will reflect that. Scalp health and hair health go hand-in-hand."


Related Content:
So, You Got A Bad Haircut — Here's What You Need To Fix It
Is This Food Flavoring The Secret To Hair Growth?
The Best Methods For Detangling Natural Hair


Like this post? There's more. Get tons of beauty tips, tutorials, and news on the Refinery29 Beauty Facebook page!
Advertisement

More from Hair

In a perfect world, we’d all have plenty of money to splurge on high-end products for each and every hair need. (Ditto skin and makeup.) And in a really ...
Sure, the lob may be the reigning cool-girl cut. And you may have a few friends who are snipping their strands into impossibly chic pixies. But that doesn'...
While the summer may have some beauty benefits (hello, dewy skin!), it can seem like a crapshoot for your hair. From protecting your color to maintaining ...
Looks like the PLL star is trying to soak in all of the fun as a blonde. Her hairstylist, Kristin Ess, posted a picture on Instagram of the actress ...
Just about anytime a video surfaces of a father styling his daughter's hair, our hearts collectively melt. Studies have shown that this type of dedicated...
As the saying goes, everything old is new again. And those shades of pink that took a backseat to the rainbow-hair trend for awhile? They're coming back in...
This story was originally published August 21, 2016. As Jennifer Lawrence, Kim Kardashian, and Solange have demonstrated, a new hair part can instantly ...
Our hair loves the idea of summertime. Beachy waves! Golden highlights! Braids on braids on braids! But unfortunately, summertime doesn’t always love our ...
This story was originally published August 18, 2016. When Anh Co Tran speaks, we listen. And when he does hair? We don't dare shift our gazes. Last year...
There's something about entering a new year that makes us want to ring up our hairstylist and demand an appointment. After the confetti falls, the ball ...
When I decided to transition my hair from relaxed to natural over the course of a year or so, I naively thought I could continue my usual lazy-girl routine...
Take a scroll through Instagram — celebs are cropping their hair left and right. And, there's plenty of short-hair inspiration to go around, even if the ...
The curly-hair market has been booming lately. New natural hair brands are popping up left and right, while "mainstream" lines are adding more products and...
When was the last time you thought about your hair brush? While easy to overlook in favor of the latest hair products or color inspirations, choosing the ...