Think of your scalp as the soil on a farm. Poor soil cannot yield healthy plants. Scalp care is essential because it contributes to the health and condition of the hair that grows from it. Scalp care also helps in preventing or managing scalp diseases. I spoke to a Trichologist once who said “many of my clients’ mild scalp issues are resolved when they start cleansing weekly”. That confirmed a suspicion I had and I hope many reflect on.
Some reasons for unhealthy/dirty scalp?
Not washing your hair regularly, or not cleansing it with the appropriate cleansers can lead to or exacerbate issues and diseases. These issues include thinner hair strands, folliculitis, dandruff and in extreme cases even hair loss!
Oils, butters, leave-in-conditioners, dust, and everyday pollution are some of the things that accumulate on the scalp. Even dead skin cells need to be washed off effectively. I cannot stress enough why healthy hair starts with frequent washing of the hair, whether that is weekly, every 10 days or at the most every two weeks for Afro-textured hair. However, please note that some people cannot last for every two weeks e.g if you have sensitive scalp, sweat a lot, exercise very regularly
What should I wash with?
Sulphate-free shampoos, Shampoos with Sulphate, Clarifying Shampoos, Chelating Shampoos, Clay!! Oh my gosh, I am so confused!! We know. But generally, you should have 3 types of cleansers: a sulphate-free Shampoo (or a clay), a clarifying shampoo and a Chelating shampoo. A clay should be regarded as a Sulphate-free shampoo. Many of us have at least three different types of cleansers for our skin, your scalp and hair require the same level of thought.
Your clays or sulphate-free shampoo are necessary for your weekly washes. They are mild. However, your scalp and hair need to be clarified with a clarifying shampoo at least once every three weeks or once a month, depending on how many products you use. If you don’t wash your hair weekly you really should be clarifying more frequently. Some people use gels, butters, and oils more frequently, so they should use a clarifying shampoo more frequently. Some people don’t even wash as regularly as every two weeks, if this is you, I will strongly suggest you use clarifying shampoos more frequently. I have moved away from a standard prescription of when to use a clarifying shampoo because it really depends on your needs and your lifestyle. And yes, some people only use a clarifying shampoo, depending on the context, this is not wrong. Let’s debate this in the comment section if you disagree!
If your clarifying shampoo is well-formulated, it will not leave your hair feeling excessively dry. What about a Chelating shampoo? Use that less frequently - mine is a guide - I use one 4 times a year at most - it is to get rid of hard minerals you find in water or swimming pools.
Are all scalp issues related to cleansing?
Absolutely not, much the same as Eczema has nothing to do with dirty skin, there are some scalp conditions that have nothing to do with not cleaning regularly or effectively. If you are certain you are cleansing regularly and effectively and you develop an issue then it's time to go and speak to your doctor, a trichologist or a dermatologist!