Scalp care for health and happiness
Tending to the needs of our scalp is one of the most overlooked parts of every person's beauty regimen. Often forgotten under the hair, maintaining a healthy scalp environment is indeed essential for all manner of different reasons, from your skin’s hygiene to your hair’s shine. The sebaceous glands that are dotted across your scalp release the oils that are necessary to keep your skin soft, smooth and moisturized. However, as anyone with greasy hair knows, when these glands are overactive this can prove to be a nuisance.
The type of skin you have, your lifestyle, and the climate you live in can all have an effect on your skin’s condition. Finding the right healthy scalp treatment for you is therefore a personal undertaking, and needs to meet your specific requirements. There are, however, a few common areas of scalp care that are applicable for all people.
Diet & foods for a healthy scalp
So much of our skin health is related directly to the food we eat. Without the right nutrients and vitamins, our skin cells cannot function optimally. The following are three of the best vitamins to ensure your scalp is getting all the help it needs and how you can work them into your diet.
Vitamin A: This vitamin is the lifeblood of any good skincare for good reason: it supports the production of sebum. Without enough vitamin A in your diet, you might experience dryness, thinning and even hair loss. It is, however, important to remember that vitamin A can be dangerous in high quantities, so try to include foods rich in it naturally into your diet, and skip any kind of supplements.
- Some of the best foods for vitamin A: Pumpkins, sweet potato, carrots, milk, eggs, cod liver oil
Vitamin C: Vitamin C is instrumental in the production of collagen, which forms a large part of the hair structure. It also helps the body to absorb important minerals, like iron, which then go on to help with hair health and growth.
- Some of the best sources of Vitamin C: Citrus fruits, such as oranges and grapefruit, pineapple, broccoli and green peppers
B Vitamins: There are 8 essential B vitamins in total, and all play an active role in our health although biotin is the most important for scalp care. Helping deliver oxygen to cells and to promote growth, making sure you work all of the B vitamins into your diet is essential.
- Some of the best sources of B vitamins: B vitamins are found liberally in most foods, so rarely have to be supplemented. This is not the case for B12, however, which only occurs in significant quantities in animal products, so vegetarians and vegans may want to make a point of adding fortified foods or supplements to their normal meals.
Exfoliating scalp care
Exfoliation is an important process for skin across our bodies. The exfoliating process helps to gently remove the buildup of dead skin cells, dirt, hair products and oils, thereby allowing new cells to be exposed to the air. You probably already follow an exfoliating regimen on other parts of your body –why not for your scalp as well!
For anyone with an already-healthy scalp, exfoliating just once a week is recommended. This will be enough to lift any residual dirt and let the skin breathe, while those experiencing dandruff may need to do this a little more frequently. If you are suffering from a skin condition such as psoriasis, it is not recommended that you pursue any serious exfoliation as this may exacerbate the problem.
How to exfoliate:
- Start by gently combing and teasing the scalp with a soft edged comb. This will help to lift the upper layers of skin and dirt from the surface of the scalp and make it easier to clean away.
- Apply an exfoliating treatment specifically designed for the head or a scalp care shampoo, and put this onto dry hair using smooth circular hand movements. Leave in for 5-10 minutes.
- In the shower, use a light cleanser to remove the treatment, and proceed with your usual regimen.
Massage and moisten
Buildup and dryness are the great nemeses of a healthy scalp. Consequently, it's important to prevent them occurring – prevention is always easier in the long run than a reaction. Massage is proven to not only help stop skin buildup, but also to improve the blood flow to the skin cells on the scalp. This brings oxygen and nutrients to help skin cells thrive while removing impurities swiftly, all ultimately resulting in better hair growth and health.
Giving yourself a 5-minute head massage just a few times a week can have a marked effect on your scalp health. Use the tips of your fingers rather than the nail edge for more a smoother sensation and to run less of a risk of breaking the skin.