It’s Time To Think About Your Scalp If You Want Healthy, Shiny Hair

By Lucy Slight
The heads up on how to look after your scalp. Photo / Scott Hardy

Long, shiny, healthy hair traditionally symbolises youth and aesthetic beauty, and it’s often also seen as a sign that you’ve got your s*** together. Think of the flipside to that; the frazzled mother depicted in popular culture with her hair in disarray, or unruly locks thrown carelessly into a top

Whether you’re interested in presenting the illusion you’ve got everything under control, or you just want to get your hair in its best shape possible, the key to achieving this could well be in thinking about how you care for your scalp, not just your less-than-luscious locks.

The state of your scalp is crucial for healthy hair as it provides the foundation for hair growth and strength. It supports and nourishes the hair follicles, delivering essential nutrients — vitamins, minerals, oxygen and protein — to the hair. If the scalp is not in a healthy state to produce these nutrients, hair may become weak, brittle and prone to breakage.

According to Dyson’s 2022 Global Hair Study, which surveyed 26,000 people from around the world, most respondents had concerns about their scalp health, with those in the Asia-Pacific region reporting the highest levels of concern. Dandruff was the number one issue, with dry or itchy scalp coming in next, followed by worries around scalp sensitivity.

Dandruff can be caused by dry skin and the build-up of oil, which can come about when the glands work harder to produce oil once it has been stripped from the skin through excessive cleansing.

“Over-washing can be very damaging, stripping the scalp of natural oils while leaving the hair dry,” says Rob Smith, senior principal hair scientist for Dyson. Using too many products to try to rectify dandruff or a dry scalp can cause further issues too, leading to build-up, clogged hair follicles and inflammation or irritation.

“Be gentle to your scalp, and use shampoos suited for your hair type,” adds Rob. “Some poorly formulated shampoos can cause irritation to the scalp so swapping to a milder alternative could help keep your scalp in good condition.”

As a former hair stylist, Chloe Zara would often see scalp issues arise in her clients during the change of season but she found treatment to be challenging. Using products such as scalp scrubs to help lift some of the dry skin or flakiness, as well as promote circulation, are beneficial, but Chloe noticed many of her clients required a more gentle approach. She customised her own “scalp facial” using two products she had formulated herself — the Chloe Zara Silk Hair Balm and Hair & Body Perfume Oil — to rejuvenate hair follicles and keep them functioning properly, as well as remove impurities from the scalp.

“Scalp facials can help to get rid of build-up, reduce inflammation and promote strong, glossy hair growth,” explains Chloe.

“I start by combining our Silk Hair Balm and Hair & Body Perfume Oil and evenly applying to your scalp and hair. Spend about three to five minutes massaging the product into your scalp to soften skin cells, exfoliate, and remove excess debris to encourage blood flow. The hair mask can be left on for 30 minutes, rinsed, then followed by your normal hair wash routine.

“Research also shows that we store a lot of stress and tension in our scalps. The massage process during a scalp facial can release tension through the muscles and boost endorphins.”

Hair fall is another scalp concern, which tends to predominantly affect men as they age. It’s common to lose between 50 to 100 hairs per day, but any more than that is considered excessive, and there are several factors that may contribute to this acceleration. Exposure to UV rays and pollution and an inadequate diet can all cause stress on the body, leading the cells that are involved in regeneration and growth of hair follicles to lose their full functionality.

Alongside this, as we age, the hair follicles start to shrink, which can cause the diameter of the hair fibres to decrease too. Hair can then appear less dense, more sparse and lacking in shine, softness and strength. Kerastase recently launched a range targeted specifically at men affected by these changes, which offers a two-pronged approach to thickening the hair, both immediately and in the long term.

The range contains a shampoo, fortifying serum and instant thickening, moulding clay which work on a cellular level to enhance the scalp’s ability to hold on to more hair for longer. Studies showed that the serum helped to reduce hair fall in six weeks, while use of the shampoo increased hair strength by 85 per cent.

Hair exposed to extreme heat is more susceptible to damage too, and no matter your hair or scalp concerns, limiting heat styling or using products designed with safe levels of heat will help make all hair types less susceptible to breakage and split ends.

The Gentle Air Attachment for the Dyson Supersonic hair dryer is engineered to be kinder to fine hair and scalps, with a gentle, cooler airflow, which still dries hair quickly. The attachment can diffuse the airflow and lower the temperature by 20C, making it more suitable for sensitive scalps.

Likewise, with Ghd’s latest tool to market, the Duet Style hair dryer and straighter in one. A 185-degree maximum heat temperature setting ensures hair experiences no damage while drying and styling. As both tools apply heat directly to the scalp as well as hair strands, they’re a worthwhile option to consider if you heat-style regularly and have concerns for the health of your scalp.

Scalp-friendly stylers, shampoos and treatments

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