7 Things You Should Be Doing for a Healthy Scalp

Healthy hair starts with a healthy scalp.

<p>Liudmila Chernetska/Getty Images</p>

Liudmila Chernetska/Getty Images

Have you perfected an elaborate skin care routine? Fleshed out hair care? Well, what about your scalp?

Scalp care is a category that often goes overlooked (even by self-care enthusiasts), but the reality is that the root of healthy—or unhealthy—hair starts with your scalp. By adding some scalp care to your beauty routine, you can expect a thicker, shinier, and all-around healthier head of hair. You can even prevent scalp conditions such as dandruff, psoriasis, and more.

Read on to learn everything a healthy scalp needs, from which shampoo to use to at-home treatments you can implement yourself.

Why Is a Healthy Scalp Important?

The foundation of healthy hair starts with the skin on your scalp. “Skin and hair are all built by amino acids, so they’re all going to work the same,” says Davey Matthew, celebrity hairstylist. Expect shiny, healthy, and strong hair with minimal breakage when you prioritize your scalp health. “It is important to take care of the scalp to treat and prevent many scalp conditions like dandruff, seborrheic dermatitis, psoriasis, tinea capitis (fungal infection), folliculitis (bacterial), among others,” explains Lauren Penzi, MD, board-certified dermatologist.

Matthew explains that hair consists of three different phases: growing, resting, and shedding. “If we're increasing the nourishment of our scalp and keeping our scalp really healthy, our hairs are going to live in the growing phase and resting phase longer than it will be in the shedding phase,” says Matthew. In order to promote thicker hair growth, it's crucial to nourish and treat your scalp so it can live in the growing and resting phase longer.

Scalp Care Tips

Consistent Hair Washing

When it comes to hair washing, there's not a one size fits all approach. This is unique to each person, so there can be a range in the products you use and how often you should shampoo your hair. “If you're just going to shampoo your hair once a week, you'll probably want to use something a little more clarifying. If you're doing it every day, you'd want to use something a little more gentle,” says Matthew.

As a general rule of thumb, keep up with your hygiene by washing your hair often to remove dirt, oil, and product buildup from your scalp. Dr. Penzi recommends washing your hair on a regular basis with a gentle shampoo that is well suited for your hair type. Make sure your shampoo is free of harsh chemicals or sulfates that can strip the natural oil in your scalp and hair.

How often should you wash your hair?

Dr. Penzi suggests readers wash their hair a minimum of one to two times per week, but some hair types may have to wash their hair daily. If you have dry hair, you can likely get away with washing your hair less often. However, make sure not to too many days between washing because the scalp can start to accumulate buildup. “This type of buildup can harbor yeast, fungus, bacteria, and lead to scalp dermatitis, and infections,” explains Dr. Penzi.

Related: Is It Bad to Wash Your Hair Every Day? Experts Weigh In

Scalp Exfoliation

We often hear about facial exfoliations, but it's important to give your scalp the same exfoliation care. Matthew recommends adding a scalp scrub to your hair care regimen to exfoliate and break down products on the scalp. Pro-tip: Avoid harsh chemicals in a scalp scrub and look for a scalp scrub with tea tree or rosemary oil. When there's a lot of product buildup from products such as dry shampoo, the scalp can't breathe and will experience adverse effects. He suggests adding a silicone scalp scrub tool to massage and exfoliate the scalp.

Dr. Penzi recommends using a scalp scrub to exfoliate the scalp and remove dead skin cells, excess oil, and buildup. “You can also do a diluted apple cider vinegar rinse to help remove buildup and restore the pH balance. Tea tree oil is also a nice option, as it has natural antifungal and antibacterial properties that can help reduce buildup and dandruff,” explains Dr. Penzi. She suggests adding a few drops of tea tree oil to your shampoo to reap the benefits.

Hair Oils

For ultimate scalp hydration, consider adding a hair oil to your routine. Scalp oils can be applied before or after shampooing to nourish the scalp. Use the dropper to apply the oil directly on the scalp in different sections. Massage the oil into your scalp with your fingers or a silicone scalp scrub tool. Matthew recommends peppermint, rosemary, tea tree, and castor oil because it has been used for many years to promote healthy hair. Miracle Growth Hair Oil by Sothis Pure Beauty ($43, includes vitamin E, rosemary, and more to strengthen the hair.

Related: Everything You Should Know About Scalp Oils for a Dry, Itchy Scalp

Clarifying Shampoo

Meet clarifying shampoos, the game changer for a spotless scalp. “To specifically remove product buildup, consider clarifying shampoos that are formulated to effectively remove product residue and impurities without stripping the scalp of its natural oils," explains Matthew.

He recommends investing in a clarifying shampoo because it can be beneficial for all hair types. Create a weekly ritual with a salon quality clarifying shampoo paired with a hair mask. Swap your usual conditioner for a hair mask when using a clarifying shampoo to moisturize your ends. Truffle Hair Mask ($30, is a great option for smooth, hydrated hair.

Scalp Massages

Recreate the luxurious hair salon massage at home and reap the scalp benefits. “Massaging your scalp daily helps bring blood flow to the scalp, which helps the follicles stay healthy,” says Gretchen Friese, Bosley MD trichologist. To do this on your own, use a silicone hair massaging tool and move along each part of your scalp in a circular motion. As an added bonus, this feel-good massage doubles as exfoliation for your scalp. If you're a frequent dry shampoo user, Matthew recommends adding a scalp massage to your daily routine to exfoliate the scalp. This silicone massager by Thicc Organics ($14.99, stimulates the scalp and provides a gentle exfoliation to the scalp.

The Right Shampoo

The possibilities are endless when it comes to shampoo options. From moisturizing shampoos to clarifying shampoos, there's a shampoo on the market for you. When shopping for shampoo types, Matthew looks for the product color and consistency to determine the shampoo type. “If a shampoo has a milky multi color, then it's going to be a lot more moisturizing, the more clear it is, traditionally it's going to be more clarifying,” says Matthew.

Scalp Sunscreen

Yes, even your scalp can get sunburnt. Friese suggests applying sunscreen to protect your scalp from harmful UV rays. “Sun damage and skin cancer are real, even on the scalp. I prefer spray sunscreens [because] the sprays are easier to apply to the scalp and are less oily than a lotion,” says Friese. She recommends Sun Bum Original SPF 50 Sunscreen Spray ($18.49, for an easy application and non-greasy feel on the scalp.

Related: Is Your Scalp Oily, Dry, or Balanced? Here's How to Know—and the Best Way to Take Care of Your Scalp Type

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