Scalp Care Guide and Benefits of a Good Scalp Care Routine

Scalp Care Guide and Benefits of a Good Scalp Care Routine

While most of us have a seven-plus-step skincare routine completely on lock at this point, we can guarantee there’s something missing… and it has nothing to do with the skin on your face. Yep, we’re talking about scalp care – the oft-overlooked yet incredibly important little sis of skincare, that when done right, is capable of totally transforming the health of your hair for the better. If luscious locks that scream ‘straight outta the salon’ are on your beauty vision board, the first step is a healthy scalp. After all: good scalp, good health, good hair. 

The good news? Our whole schtick is helping you to get the most out of your scalp and unlock your best hair yet. We’re skelp!, and we’re putting scalp care on the agenda, starting from the very beginning. Grab a snack and settle in – we’re covering the scalp’s role in hair health, different types of scalp and scalp conditions, and the foundations of good scalp care in this how-to guide to looking after your scalp. 

What does the scalp do?

From a purely visual perspective, the scalp and the rest of the skin on your face and body are pretty different, right?! Well, you might be surprised to learn that while there are anatomical differences between the two, they’re slight, rather than significant. What sets our scalp apart from, say, the skin on our forehead or cheeks, is the skin’s density, as well as its capacity to produce oil and grow long, thick hair. The scalp is made up of five layers of skin that can be as thick as 8mm, and is home to roughly 100,000 hair follicles plus a whole bunch of sebaceous (oil) glands. These differentiators make the scalp what it is – not just a place that sprouts hair, but also a first line of defence against infections and a protective barrier for the skull and brain from trauma.

When it comes to your hair health, your scalp can quite literally be the root of any problems you may be encountering. Dryness, excess oil production, flakes, redness, itchiness and more can contribute to less-than-ideal issues such as poor hair texture, dullness, slow hair growth, and hair loss. We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again – it pays to give your scalp a little TLC. 

Types of scalp: Dry vs oily 

Understanding what type of scalp you have is critical to addressing any noticeable scalp problems, and to getting or keeping your scalp health on track for happier hair. Just like the skin on your face, your ‘scalp type’ can fall into one of a few categories – dry, oily, normal, and combination. 

Which camp you fall into will depend on a number of factors, but particularly, how much sebum your scalp produces, and its pH levels. While the number 7 may be lucky for water, the ideal pH of the scalp is actually a slightly acidic 5.5. Any higher (neutral to alkaline) can prompt dryness, whereas any less (more acidic) has been found to go hand-in-hand with oiliness. 

scalps are crying out for moisture, as their many sebaceous glands either aren’t producing enough oil, or that oil is running as it works overtime to penetrate the hair follicle. This is why our hair dries out significantly towards the ends, and also why curly and thick hair types tend to be on the dry side – it takes more oomph from the sebaceous glands on the scalp to distribute their moisture evenly. Those with dry scalps often experience flakiness due to alkaline pH, although anything chronic or more severe is likely a sign of a scalp condition.

scalp types have the opposite problem – too much moisture, which can lead to that frustrating ‘oil slick’ look and feel. If you’ve ever washed your hair only to complain it felt greasy the next day, chances are you’ve got an oily scalp. This is usually due to overactive sebaceous glands, and while any hair type and density can experience an oily scalp, is often more noticeable on those with fine, straight hair. Oiliness can lead to the dreaded dandruff very easily, as the microbe that creates dandruff is triggered in the presence of too much sebum and a low pH level. 

scalp types are neither oily nor dry – these lucky ducks have well-balanced, hydrated scalps. At a happy 5.5 pH with just the right amount of sebum, scalp concerns are less likely to occur, leading to healthy, shiny and strong hair. 

combination scalps deal with both dryness and oiliness at the same time, which can usually be attributed to an overproduction of sebum that is not distributed or absorbed by the hair correctly. A combination scalp can be tricky to pinpoint, but is often characterised by dullness and poor hair texture caused by warring moisture levels. 

Types of scalp conditions

Many of us will experience a scalp condition at some point in our lives, whether we know it or not. Just like our skin, the scalp goes through phases as we age, encounter environmental stressors, try different products, and so on – and not all of these phases will be sunshine and rainbows! Here are a couple of common scalp conditions to be aware of.

    • Seborrheic dermatitis: A super common form of eczema that causes red, scaly, flaky or itchy patches on the scalp and other parts of the head, face and body. What sets it apart from most conditions is that the flakes are oily due to the overproduction of sebum. Seborrheic dermatitis is often triggered by changes in the weather or by stress, and can be treated using various topical medications. 

    • Psoriasis: This immune system response is a chronic condition characterised by a patchy, very dry red or purple rash that may be scaly or itchy. Many things can cause psoriasis, including weather conditions, stress, infections, and medications. There are a number of treatment options available that must be prescribed by a medical professional. 

    • Folliculitis: Presenting as red, often pus-filled bumps on the skin on and around the scalp, folliculitis is – as the name may suggest – inflammation of the hair follicles. This is often due to irritation or as they become clogged by bacteria following an infection. Another highly treatable condition, folliculitis is addressed using either antibiotics or anti-inflammatories like steroids.  

    • Hair loss: One of the most debilitating scalp conditions there is, hair loss can be caused by a range of factors and co-existing scalp problems. It can run the gamut from mild hair breakage to serious conditions like alopecia where there is partial or complete hair loss. While hair growth can certainly be encouraged with the right suite of products, it’s important to treat the root of the problem and see a doctor to get a thorough assessment and diagnosis. 

While none of these scalp conditions can be wholly addressed by a good scalp care routine, having the right products in your line-up can certainly help bolster the effects of treatments prescribed by a doctor or dermatologist. 

What is product build-up, and how can it hurt the scalp and hair?

Regardless of your scalp type, one of the main aims of scalp care is to create a balanced, healthy foundation for your hair to grow at its very best – and a huge part of this is ensuring your scalp is clean and uninhibited by build-up that can clog follicles and glands. Along with the usual suspects – dirt, debris, and the general fallout of day-to-day living – our scalps can become crowded with build-up from the products we use, from shampoo and conditioner to styling creams, oils, dry shampoo, and more.

Not all products build up, but a whole bunch of common ingredients do, so most of us will deal with small to moderate amounts of product build-up between washes. But, what exactly are the consequences of this for the hair? Well, we hate to be the bearers of bad news, but there are quite a few (don’t worry, we’ve also got a fix up our sleeves). Product build-up has been found to lead to common hair and scalp conditions including dullness, disruption in pH (leading to dryness or oiliness), breakage, redness, flakes and dandruff, and even hair loss in severe cases. On the upside, product build-up is much simpler to treat compared to chronic scalp conditions, and can easily be addressed using the skelp! suite of products. 

Where to start with scalp care

Scalp care is quite the enigma – which is why it’s been so radically overlooked (well, until we came on the scene, that is). If you’re peering at the top of your head wondering, ‘where do I start?’, we’ve got you and your strands covered.

Every good scalp care routine consists of a few key players. Along with your shampoo and conditioner, your scalp care system should include something to inject a little moisture, and something to slough away dead skin cells and product-build-up.

skelp!’s line-up of all-star products starts with our innovative Head First Pre-Cleanser, designed to set you up for success by removing as much build-up as possible prior to shampooing. AHAs like lactic acid and glycolic acid gently exfoliate the scalp chemically rather than physically, which puts less stress on the hair and won’t exacerbate existing scalp conditions. If you’ve ever had dandruff, flakiness, or even just a sunburned scalp (we’ve all been there) then you may have wondered how to exfoliate the scalp – and we’re telling you, this is the optimal way to maintain both hair and scalp health.

After pre-cleansing, the next step is to shampoo with the skelp! Clean Sweep Shampoo, designed to give you that so fresh and so clean feeling. Formulated with DefenceScalp, a powerful rosebay extract that reduces flaking and controls sebum production, Clean Sweep is a soothing and hydrating precursor to your conditioner. The skelp! Protector Conditioner is packed full of nourishing, protective antioxidants to give your scalp the best possible shot at weathering day-to-day stressors from styling products and the environment.

The final tool in your scalp care arsenal is a healing, moisturising serum that will fortify the hair follicle over time. The skelp! The Healer Serum can be applied directly to the scalp after washing to protect, hydrate, and soothe all in one. Vitamin C keeps moisture levels high and fends off free radical damage, our signature DefenceScalp maintains a balanced scalp environment, and hydrolysed wheat protein trains the hair to become stronger, healthier, and more voluminous over time. 

Learn more about our go-to 4-step scalp care routine using skelp! 

Are scalp treatments safe? 

Because scalp care is only now having its day in the sun, many first-time skelp! users and curious haircare enthusiasts are wondering – is it safe? Simply put, yes! The right scalp care system won’t harm your hair or skin, but rather, has the potential to transform the health of your hair for the better. skelp! products are formulated with quality active ingredients – most of which can be found in well-known skincare favourites – and have been tested out on a range of hair and scalp types for safety and efficacy. And if you couldn’t guess, we passed with flying colours.

Just like skincare, scalp care is becoming non-negotiable. By tagging skelp!’s simple yet effective scalp care routine onto your existing beauty regimen, healthier hair is within close reach. Go on, tap into the head start you’ve been waiting for. 

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