Really great hair - healthy, strong, glossy strands - looks different on everyone. But one thing we can all agree on: healthy hair starts at the root. It takes a healthy scalp to grow healthy hair. This article examines all things scalp care because your scalp is skin too! And it often takes more abuse than any other skin on your body, from abrasive brushing and product buildup to dehydration and breakage from hot tools. Scalp health is often overlooked, but watch what happens when instead of treating your hair type, we start with your scalp needs.
Get To The Root Of It
Buildup - The most common scalp-related issues we see here at The Green Kiss are itching, flaking, and inflammation. This is often a result of product and oil buildup. Imagine what would happen to our face if we sprayed it with dry shampoo and styling products and didn't wash it off for days. Even the proper rinsing of your shampoo and conditioner can make a noticeable difference in dandruff control and scalp itch.
Irritating Ingredients - Flakes and irritation may be a reaction to a particular ingredient found in your styling products or shampoo and conditioner. One repeat rash offender is silicone. Even when applied only to the ends of your hair, molecularly heavy silicone travels up the strand, settling on and smothering your scalp. If your silicone product isn't water-soluble, it can be formidable to remove with regular washing. Worry not! NONE of our hair care products contain silicone. In fact, there is no silicone found in ANY product we carry. Zip! We're that serious about it! How come? Silicone is an ingredient banned from The Green Kiss for being highly reactive on many people. There are also concerns that it doesn't biodegrade once washed down our drains and into our eco-systems. Avoid any ingredients ending in "cone" when shopping, as they are all under the silicone umbrella. Dimethicone is a common ingredient found in makeup products like foundations and primers. It's the ingredient that makes conventional primers suspiciously smooth, in doing so, suffocating the skin. Common side effects include burning, stinging, redness, and irritation. No Bueno!
Environment - Harsh environmental elements can really fluster a sensitive scalp. The drier the air, the drier the hair! Dandruff worsens in winter months and improves with higher humidity during the summer. (The same can be said for our skin during dry, cold weather.) And while there isn't much you can do to change the forecast, running a humidifier during the winter can really help balance your scalp health. Another cause of environmental scalp irritation, depending on where you live, is air pollution. This can be counterbalanced with the regular use of a good purifying shampoo.
Skincare for the Scalp
In the world of clean beauty, haircare wasn't the first on the scene. What started with a carefully curated selection of natural skincare products was followed closely by an array of clean makeup with impressive staying power. But when safe, non-irritating shampoos and conditioners hit our shelves, they were met with feverish enthusiasm. Why was this? Well, by now, our savvy Green Kiss client knows the skin is not an impenetrable barrier. How much of each ingredient is absorbed through your skin? It's hard to know. But we do know the chemical absorption rate on your scalp is about four times greater than the absorption rate on, say, your forearm. So we like to err on the side of ... let's put clean ingredients on our skin and scalp to help reduce our chemical body burden. When switching to natural shampoos and conditioners, our clients found their ingredients, formulas, and lather effortlessly surpassed their conventional counterparts. Those struggling with an angry scalp often find the itching and flaking challenging to treat, and as these conditions persist, the health of our scalp gradually worsens, but we're in this together! Let's look at some clean and effective scalp care treatments to tackle flakes so you can pass the summer vibe check.
If you're noticing scalp sensitivity, now is a good time to examine the ingredients label on your shampoo bottles and hit the reset button. We don't have space here to slander all the nasty ingredients in traditional hair care (we're looking at you, SLS), so instead, we'll shine a light on our clean, high-performance, and perhaps most importantly, non-irritating shampoo and conditioner lineup.
For acute and inflammatory scalp conditions, we turn to 100% Pure Shampoo Burdock & Neem. Specifically formulated to promote a healthy scalp, this product will purify the scalp, unclog pores, stimulate circulation and help alleviate dryness, itching, and flaking. ProTip: suds up in the hands and work into the scalp, then down the length of the hair. Using your fingertips or a scalp brush, massage in circular motions to dislodge scalp dirt, help the follicles breathe, and improve moisture and hydration.
Looking for an alternative to plastic packaging? The High-End Hippie Soothe Shampoo Bar is a Canadian-made natural shampoo that has been formulated for inflammatory scalp conditions such as eczema and psoriasis. Bonus: it builds to a rich, buttery lather either in a foaming bag or applied directly to your scalp.
How Often Should I Wash My Hair?
Ah yes, the age-old question. We get asked this one a lot. Without wanting to spark debate and knowing what we know now about buildup on the scalp, we recommend daily or every other day washing with a shampoo that doesn't strip your hair of its moisture. We know many of you like to stretch your hair wash days, sometimes up to a week, wearing it as a badge of honour if you're a diehard dry shampoo user. But the proof is in the pudding. A flakey, itchy scalp is an imbalanced scalp and increasing your hair washing, or at the very least hair rinsing, will help balance your scalp health. If you can't live without a good natural dry shampoo, try only using it once or twice between washes to prevent buildup.
What is often thought to be a dry-scalp-only issue, dandruff can also be an oil (sebum) imbalance. To help balance oil production and keep your strands in tip-top shape, we recommend co-washing. Instead of using shampoo every time you wash your hair, alternate with co-washing by rinsing your scalp and roots thoroughly with water and slathering on a nourishing and rich conditioner to the ends. ProTip: give yourself an extra 10-second rinse - more than you typically would - product residue left to dry will irritate the scalp.
Josh Rosebrook Nourish Conditioner is an excellent choice for co-washing as it was specifically formulated to restore lustre and treat hair and scalp conditions. The formula also contains herbal infusions to stimulate scalp circulation and support and encourage strong hair growth, leaving hair healthy, full and shiny. If you're looking for a silky-smooth finish, 100% Pure Conditioner Burdock & Neem is formulated to soothe and treat your scalp to alleviate dryness, itching and flaking.
Ready to treat your scalp to a little TLC? Ohhh, are we loving Vault's Hair Revive Scalp Oil! This healing blend of natural oils moisturizes and relieves dry, itchy skin on the scalp. Using the fingertips of both hands, massage the oil directly into the scalp to help distribute the oils, increase circulation, and contribute to healthy hair growth. You can use it as a pre-shampoo treatment or an overnight scalp mask. Shampoo out (double wash is recommended) reveals a calmed scalp and glossy strands.
Support scalp health and stimulate hair growth with this Rosemary Grow Serum from 100% Pure. DYK, Rosemary is known to encourage both active and inactive hair follicles to grow, for visibly increased fullness? Step aside, Rapunzel!
We're also noticing a trend in our industry where popular skincare ingredients change lanes into haircare. One example of this is hyaluronic acid, which benefits not only the skin but also the hair and scalp. If you are experiencing scalp inflammation and a balancing shampoo and conditioner aren't quite cutting it, hyaluronic acid is a soothing step to add to your scalp-care routine. You've heard us say that hyaluronic acid can hold up to 1,000 times its weight in water. Meaning, this tough little molecule holds tons of water molecules onto the surface of your skin to keep it nice and hydrated, giving you that glazed donut, glowy skin. A potent HA serum can be applied directly to the scalp for similar benefits - restoring lost moisture in the hair and scalp by attracting and binding moisture to the skin - an excellent tool for repairing chronic dry and itchy scalps. Use it as a leave-in conditioner by applying from root to ends. Bonus: it's suitable for all hair types! Because hyaluronic acid is a hydrator, not a moisturizer, it’s helpful to combine it with an oil, like 100% Pure Organic Rosehip Oil, which is loaded with essential fatty acids to renew the hair follicle and encourage healthy, lustrous growth.
Brush - We know that hair follicles full of sebum or blocked by dead skin will impact your hair's ability to grow and thrive. Brushing regularly removes oil and dead skin buildup, but picking the right hairbrush can make a difference when you have a dry or irritated scalp. This massaging wooden hairbrush glides through tangles like a dream, and the soft bristles feel blissful on your scalp. Use it on dry hair or in the shower to massage in your conditioner for an extra dose of hair and scalp love!
Massage - Speaking of beauty care moving from face to scalp, the gua sha tool, popular among skincare experts for its ability to snatch and sculpt the face, is also an excellent tool for increasing blood flow and circulation to the scalp. In fact, regular scalp massages have been shown to increase hair thickness. (It also gives an oh-so-dreamy neck massage.)
If you're like me, a coastal grandmother at heart, you love a good visor. This means you're also well versed in the hairline sunburn. The top of your head is quite susceptible to a good scorching, so we recommend applying SPF directly to your part line for every hour you're in direct sun. Of course, like any other hair product, SPF will buildup on your scalp - so give your locks a double wash and deep conditioning treatment to avoid an itchy scalp flare-up. UV rays also sap moisture from your hair, leaving it brittle and prone to breakage. This can be corrected with a heat protectant like Josh Rosebrook's Serum Spray.
Go All Out For Going Out
Ideally, you aren't leaning too heavily on your heated hair tools as they are major players in hair damage and scalp irritation. That said, we know a girl needs to go all out sometimes! So, when it comes to styling, limit your hot tool time by air-drying until almost fully dry, then blow-drying to lock in a style, or air-dry and then curl. And please tell us you're using a heat protectant! These products are designed to smooth frizz, soften texture and protect your hair against damage during heat styling. Bonus: Josh's Serum Spray is lightweight enough to use directly on the scalp to reduce dryness, itching and flaking. ProTip: Hot showers count towards the damage heat can cause your hair. Limit your shower time, and finish with a shot of cold water, a hair care tip stylists swear by as it seals the hair cuticle and locks in the moisture from your conditioner.
Reach us here for a complimentary custom haircare routine built for your individual hair and scalp needs. Your hair will thank you for it!
Editor's Note: This article was updated on March 26, 2023, to bring you the most up-to-date information. It was originally published in June 2022.