Is a Scalp Care Routine Actually Needed? This is What Specialists Say

I’ve been within the skincare business for over 30 years now, so I’ve positively seen my justifiable share of developments come and go. A few of them had advantage, however most of the time, they didn’t reside as much as the excitement and so they turned out to be simply one other passing fad.

The most recent development to come back about—which might be fueled a minimum of partly by social media—is all about scalp care. Skincare manufacturers are launching scalp-specific merchandise and persons are sharing their private scalp care routines on Instagram and Tik Tok. However is a scalp care routine actually essential? Is that this simply one other short-lived development or is there actual worth to this?

On this put up, I’ll share my ideas on this subject. I’ll additionally focus on frequent scalp points and reply often requested questions with the assistance of two superb consultants. The primary is board-certified dermatologist Dr. Laura Speck, and the second is NYC trichologist, hair well being skilled, and host of Hair Like Hers Podcast, Shab Reslan.

First, Is the Pores and skin on the Scalp Any Completely different From the Pores and skin on the Face?

From a physiological standpoint, the pores and skin on the scalp is thicker than the pores and skin on the remainder of the physique. It has a variety of blood vessels and capillaries that hook up with and provide hair follicles. It additionally has a variety of sebaceous glands. The truth is, it’s one of the closely populated sebaceous gland areas on the entire physique, which explains why most peoples’ hair will get significantly greasy after it’s not washed for some time.

Although scalp pores and skin is thicker than the pores and skin on different areas of the physique, it’s very delicate. Because of this, it might be extra liable to points than facial pores and skin. Take it from Reslan, who says, “because of the present nature of the surroundings and our way of life habits, our scalps require extra consideration than ever. Correct scalp care is usually ignored by many individuals because the focus is especially on the aesthetic of the hair itself. On account of an increase in hair thinning and hair loss points, the main focus is now shifting to the scalp and the significance of sustaining a wholesome scalp microbiome, particularly for girls. Because the scalp is an extension of our facial pores and skin, it equally has a pH degree, moisture ranges, and cells that profit from exfoliation and regeneration.” 

What Are A number of the Most Frequent Scalp Issues?


In accordance with Speck, one of the frequent considerations (and the difficulty she sees essentially the most in her personal sufferers) is dandruff. “The medical time period for that’s seborrheic dermatitis,” she says. “For adults, it sometimes begins within the late-20s and may ebb and move through the years.” 

Dandruff occurs when the pores and skin undergoes fast keratinization (that is when pores and skin cells reproduce too rapidly). As a result of they’re replicating so quick, they’re not capable of harden and grow to be flat and protecting. The outcome? The pores and skin isn’t tight and compressed, so it flakes off simply.

The reason for dandruff has been identified for over 50 years. It’s brought on by a fungus known as malassezia furfur. This fungus feeds on extra sebum on the scalp after which secretes free fatty acids and different byproducts. It’s these free fatty acids that inflame and compromise the pores and skin on the scalp. In different phrases, it’s not essentially the fungus itself, however its byproducts.

To deal with dandruff, antifungal brokers like selenium oxide and zinc pyrithione are used. These brokers assist cease the overgrowth of the dandruff-causing fungi. For extra extreme instances of dandruff, there are prescription choices as effectively. In case you suppose you’ve got dandruff, Speck says it’s best to use an anti-dandruff shampoo 2-3 occasions per week. “The secret’s, that you just need to therapeutic massage it by the scalp and let it sit for 2-5 minutes earlier than rinsing it out. Observe with the shampoo and conditioner of your selection for the size of your hair. If that isn’t chopping it, go to your dermatologist who can consider the reason for your flaking and provide you with a prescription if wanted.” 


Right here’s an attention-grabbing truth for you—many occasions, when persons are experiencing scalp flakiness, they’re not experiencing dandruff in any respect. As an alternative, they’re experiencing some kind of irritation, whether or not that’s some sort of dermatitis and even low-grade psoriasis. That’s why I all the time advocate consulting a dermatologist to get a prognosis. They’ve the educated eye and data required to find out the distinction between dandruff and dermatitis. And really, if you happen to attempt to deal with dermatitis or psoriatic pores and skin with dandruff shampoos, you would possibly make issues worse!


One other attention-grabbing truth in regards to the scalp is that the pores and skin doesn’t change very a lot with age, other than pores and skin thickness and dryness. In one research, researchers discovered that scalp thickness elevated, and the flexibility of the pores and skin to remain hydrated decreased with age. Which means transepidermal water loss, and subsequent pores and skin dryness and dehydration, are more likely to improve with age.

On this occasion, hydrating scalp merchandise would possibly come in useful. You’ll be able to strive utilizing merchandise that comprise humectants. These are components that assist the pores and skin protect and retain moisture. They’re helpful for dehydrated pores and skin, particularly if you happen to’re shampooing too typically and stripping your pores and skin of moisture (however extra on that in a bit).

What Type of Scalp Care Merchandise Are Out There, and Are They Needed?

Whereas there’s no scarcity of scalp care merchandise that declare to handle nearly each problem and concern, I consider they are often boiled down to 3 most important classes. There are scalp serums, scalp oils, and scalp exfoliators (or scalp scrubs). Let’s do a deep dive into every kind of product and focus on whether or not or not they’ll present any actual profit for the pores and skin on the scalp!

Scalp Serums

Similar to face serums, scalp serums are marketed as focused therapies to enhance the state of the pores and skin (and hair). Whereas it is a comparatively new product class, I feel they are often useful in case you have dry pores and skin and so they comprise the precise components. Once more, search for humectants. These will assist replenish moisture and maintain your scalp hydrated.

You may as well search for scalp serums which might be labeled as “microbiome-friendly” or one thing to that impact. We’re simply starting to study in regards to the significance of the microbiome, however what we do know is that it’s essential to maintain it balanced. I  would additionally search for scalp serums with components that assist cut back or regulate oil since that may assist maintain dandruff-causing fungi in examine.

Scalp Serums and Hair Loss

Some scalp serums declare to scale back or reverse hair loss, however I’m not bought on that. The truth is, I’d warning towards utilizing any of those in your at-home scalp care routine. That’s as a result of there are lots of causes for hair loss, and customarily talking, a scalp serum gained’t tackle the basis causes. That’s except it accommodates an ingredient known as minoxidil, which is the one authorised ingredient in the US and Canada to assist regrow hair. If something, most of them are in all probability serving to to scale back breakage, which may be helpful, however they gained’t essentially goal hair loss immediately.

“If you might be experiencing hair loss or signs corresponding to an itchy or flaky scalp, see a dermatologist to have them diagnose the trigger,” Speck says. “They may information you thru what routine could be most helpful for you.” 

Scalp Oils

Scalp oils are simply that—plant oils used to nourish, moisturize, or deal with the scalp in a roundabout way. Personally, I feel scalp oils may be helpful since they moisturize the hair and stop breakage as new hair enters the expansion cycle. This may be particularly useful for individuals who have curly, coily, and textured hair because it reduces breakage and retains fragile hair lubricated.

Scalp oils are additionally helpful for anybody who has a dry scalp or is experiencing transepidermal water loss. They’ll present a barrier between the pores and skin and the air and assist cut back flaking and irritancy. Nevertheless, similar to while you’re coping with the pores and skin in your face, you would want to hydrate your scalp first after which put oil on afterward. (Ensure you know the distinction between dry and dehydrated pores and skin.)

Once more, if you happen to’re liable to dandruff or have every other scalp situation, I wouldn’t advocate utilizing oils. In case you do, it may imbalance your microbiome even additional, exacerbating the difficulty. I’d additionally keep away from scalp oils if you happen to’re liable to scalp odor. They may doubtlessly make it worse.

Scalp Exfoliants

Exfoliating merchandise are a well-liked a part of many at-home scalp care routines. The thought is that the pores and skin on the scalp requires common exfoliation, similar to the remainder of the pores and skin. Like all different exfoliants, they are often cut up into two classes—bodily and chemical.

Bodily Exfoliants

The preferred scalp exfoliants appear to be salt or sugar-based scrubs. I’m not an enormous fan of those for a few causes. The primary is that it’s tough for these tiny particles to get previous strands of hair. The truth is, a lot of them by no means make it to the scalp in any respect. So, they’ll’t roll throughout the pores and skin and slough away lifeless cells like they’re presupposed to.

The second purpose is that each salt and sugar dissolve in water. This implies they’ll dissolve quickly on moist hair. Once more, this implies they may not slough away lifeless cells as successfully as some folks suppose.

Chemical Exfoliants

Not too long ago, although, there’s been a rise in chemical exfoliants for the scalp. Whereas I feel these may be helpful, they need to be used sparingly. In spite of everything, the scalp is a fragile space. You don’t need to over-exfoliate it or expose it to too many lively components. “Low concentrations of exfoliating acids are protected for the scalp and shouldn’t be used every day however as a substitute used as supplemental weekly therapies very like your facial exfoliant,” Reslan says. “The 2 hottest exfoliating acids and protected percentages for the scalp getting used at this time are salicylic (round 2%) and glycolic (round 7%).” 

In case you do use chemical exfoliants in your scalp, be sure you’re defending it from the solar. In case you’re not defending new, susceptible cells, you would incur injury. Over time, solar injury may result in an elevated propensity for irregular cells. I all the time advocate dusting an SPF-infused powder alongside your hairline, searching for shade, and sporting a hat while you’re exterior.

How Typically Ought to I Actually Be Utilizing Shampoo?

An enormous a part of any scalp care routine is shampooing. Nevertheless, with all of the speak of “coaching” your scalp and the “no-shampoo” motion, many individuals are confused about how often they need to be cleansing their hair and scalp.

In accordance with Speck, “the ultimate interval to scrub most hair varieties is each 2-3 days. Roughly often can result in over or underproduction of oil. That being mentioned, somebody with positive straight hair would err on the extra frequent facet (ex: each 2 days), whereas African American hair is extra fragile and needs to be washed solely as soon as each 1-2 weeks.” 

The Ultimate Shampooing Technique

The best way you shampoo additionally issues. In accordance with Reslan, “The most important mistake folks make when washing their hair is just not sufficiently cleaning the scalp and leaving product and/or sebum (pure oil) residue behind. This is the reason scalp care merchandise are important in sustaining a wholesome and balanced scalp surroundings that may develop wholesome and powerful hair with none interruptions or hindrances.”  

That’s why she recommends shampooing twice. “I like to recommend two shampoos each time you wash your hair,” she says. “It’s best to focus the shampoo in your roots and therapeutic massage gently in round motions to really assist take away build-up. I like to recommend solely operating the shampoo down your ends if you happen to use styling merchandise frequently.”

Reslan says folks typically overlook the nape of the neck and the perimeters of the top above the ears. That explains why it’s frequent to seek out flaking and irritation in these areas. “In case you shampoo your hair occasionally, it may be tougher to sufficiently cleanse your scalp because of the improve in product and sebum build-up,” she says. You actually must be your personal decide and make sure that everytime you’re washing your hair, you’re eradicating all of the build-up, and your hair isn’t left feeling waxy or trying greasy because it dries.” 

What’s the Verdict?

In my view, scalp care merchandise, and a scalp care routine, aren’t completely essential. And really, I’d argue that most individuals don’t must do a lot to care for his or her scalps, other than utilizing shampoo and conditioner. Nevertheless, if you happen to’re experiencing dryness otherwise you’re thinking about testing out this ever-expanding product class, go for it! There are a variety of attention-grabbing merchandise on the market, and it’s best to check them out if you happen to’re curious. On the finish of the day, in the event that they make a distinction for you, that’s nice!

As Reslan places it, “our scalp is an extension of our face and simply as distinctive for every particular person. Similar to we deal with the pores and skin on our face, our scalp deserves to be washed, exfoliated, nourished, and moisturized utilizing a topical.” 

In case you’re experiencing a diagnosable scalp concern, although, I like to recommend skipping the scalp care merchandise and consulting a health care provider. Even when it’s a situation that doesn’t require medicine, you’ll be able to relaxation assured realizing knowledgeable has checked it out. It’s all the time higher to be protected than sorry!

Subsequent, may hair conditioner be inflicting your again breakouts?

We will be happy to hear your thoughts

Leave a reply

Enable registration in settings - general
Compare items
  • Total (0)
Shopping cart