Dija Ayodele founded Black Skin Directory in response to the widespread challenges facing black women in finding skin care experts. An Aesthetician herself, and so well aware of the unique skin care needs of women of colour, Dija created an invaluable repository of skin care professionals who have the requisite knowledge and expertise to meet those unique needs. We previously featured Dija on the Antidote Street Blog when she shared some key insights into Traction Alopecia and now as part of our Scalp Series she is giving us Seven Steps to a Healthy Scalp. Read on below!
THE IMPORTANCE OF SCALP CARE
Your scalp is just like the skin on the rest of your body, only with 100,000 hair follicles all densely packed together and slightly larger oil glands. It does an amazing job of housing and protecting the hair follicle and kept in the right condition it allows your hair to grow long and strong.
The function of your scalp is to protect against external threats and irritation, as well as to maintain and balance moisture and to excrete sebum to lubricate the hair shaft. The scalp also helps the body to remove toxins and waste by excreting sweat. However, we tend to spend so much time on the beautification of our hair, that we tend to neglect our scalp health, which is in fact the basis of strong healthy hair growth.
At Black Skin Directory, we’ve discovered that many scalp problems can be attributed directly to unhealthy practices, some of which we’re not even always aware of.
Practices such as inadequate cleansing, using incorrect products and harsh techniques store up problems that can lead to slow hair growth as well as irritation and congestion of the scalp. Overlooking the vitality of the scalp leaves you more prone to scalp dermatitis type complaints like Psoriasis and Eczema and even more commonly dandruff.
Our belief is that treating your scalp in the same gentle manner you treat your skin is the best way to preserve its health and integrity, giving you strong and beautiful hair well into the future. Give your scalp some TLC with these seven steps.
1. AVOID HEAVY PRODUCTS
Your scalp already has the ability to self-lubricate as it expels sebum from the follicles and pores. Using heavy based creams and waxes creates an occlusive layer of grease over the scalp, suffocating the pores and compromising its ability to excrete oil and sweat. Instead, opt for lightweight cream and gel-based moisturisers, and use these sparingly.
2. AVOID HARSH CHEMICALS
A thriving scalp is one that is pH balanced. Depending on your hair type this can range from pH 4.5 - 7. Conditions like Scalp Eczema sometimes also referred to as Seborrheic Dermatitis can be triggered after exposing the scalp to hard chemicals at extreme ends of the pH scale.
Additionally, just like the skin on the rest of your body, common ingredients like perfume, which is also found in hair care products can irritate, causing Scalp Eczema and Dandruff to form.
3. AVOID HEAT AND EXCESSIVE MANIPULATION
Direct heat from blow dryers and straightening irons can excessively dry the scalp, resulting in burns and injury which then lead to inflammation. Hairstyles that pull and tug your hair can also cause injury to the scalp, sometimes far down within the hair follicle unit.
Studies have shown that causing injury to the scalp can cause conditions like Psoriasis to flare up, especially if you are already so prone. This is in addition to permanently damaging the hair follicle, prematurely killing the hair.
4. CLEANSE THE SCALP
Using gentle, soap-free shampoos to cleanse the scalp of product buildup, sweat and sebum is essential. Allowing dirt and products to build up stops the scalp from exfoliating properly which leads to a buildup of dead skin cells on the scalps surface. When this is mixed with sebum, sweat and sticky hair products, this can lead to scalp irritation and unsightly Dandruff. In some circumstances bacteria can thrive leading to diseases of the scalp.
By the same token, over cleansing your scalp can cause unnecessary dryness, so you must establish a fine balance that works for your hair type.
5. SEEK ADVICE FROM QUALIFIED SKIN SPECIALISTS
The skin, including the scalp, is your largest organ performing the crucial function of keeping every other organ safe from external irritation. Just like you see the GP for a cough, you should see a trichologist or dermatologist promptly if you have a scalp concerns.
6. STIMULATE WITH MASSAGE
Massage is very helpful for increasing fresh blood flow to the surface of the skin and the same is true of the scalp. Fresh blood flow also increases the supply of nutrients to the scalp and hair, which in turn prevents Dandruff, Eczema, Psoriasis and other scalp conditions.
7. STAY HYDRATED
The scalp needs hydration. Without it, dehydration results and the supply of moisture to the upper layers of the scalp decreases.This affects the natural exfoliation process of the scalp, causing dry scales and flaking of the scalp.
Fundamentally, a healthy scalp will equal happy hair. So if you find that your hair is in a cycle of weakness, breakages and you’re constantly dusting flakes off your shoulders, check your scalp!