I had an interesting question in the hair course last month about exfoliating the scalp. I must admit I had to think about it for a second.
Exfoliation refers to lifting away dead skin cells and debris by either chemical or physical products.
So we have physical exfoliants like sugar, salt, or oatmeal. You literary mix any of these with some deep conditioner and massage it into your hair? The abrasions are said to help lift dead cells.
But here is the thing, Afro-textured hair ranges from loose curls to tight curls and everything in between. Particles from salt, sugar, and oatmeal can be a struggle to rinse out and can really embed into our unique curl pattern!.
Moreover, people often forget that massaging one’s own head requires a certain technique- while other ethnic groups may get away with digging their hands in their head and rolling and rolling, we have hair prone to tangles! your massaging may do more damage than intended.
What about chemical exfoliant!?
Chemical exfoliants contain active ingredients that work to exfoliate the scalp without the need for mechanical exfoliation, so no salt, sugar, or oats. So far so good. With chemical exfoliants, we are in the realms of salicylic acids, glycolic acids, and the likes. And If you know anything about skincare these are exciting ingredients that have delivered results for many. But stop. Let’s analyze this?. Is exfoliating suitable for all scalp or hair types?
Most of the chemical exfoliants contain active ingredients like betaine salicylate to break up dead skin cells and zinc, which helps reduce excess oil production. But hold up! We know that there is some research to show that black people produce less sebum than our Caucasian cousins, and indeed if you live in the West, the temperature makes it a less conducive environment for sebum production. Since sebum is responsible for keeping our scalp well conditioned and can ( albeit with some difficulty) travel down the length of our hair, to keep it nicely lubricated, why would we want to strip it more than is necessary with chemical exfoliants
I am Personally not convinced that exfoliants for the scalp are necessary. But I’m open to the evidence. While in theory, it sounds logical, I wonder if these products have been developed with black scalp and hair in mind?
I’m happy with a good clarifying or chelating shampoo ( if you don’t know what these are or when to use them You ought to consider joining the next hair course which starts in January). Sign up for the course. These shampoos are just fine and cleanse the scalp just fine. But if you have persistent issues with your scalp it’s perhaps time to see a specialist.