What health secrets do our scalps and skin contain?

The skin on our scalps is some of the thinnest skin on our bodies. How it looks and feels can actually reveal a few things about our health, and knowing what to look for will help in achieving healthier skin, and in turn, healthier hair. As we leave summer in our rearview mirrors and embrace the seasonal shift into cold, damp weather and dry, hot indoor heaters, the skin on our heads can feel itchier, flakier and oilier all at once. Exploring why this happens and what can be done about it can detect or prevent more serious skin issues later on.

Those little white flakes…always at the first sign of fall!  This buildup of dead skin cells on the scalp creates an itchy and often obvious shedding onto our trendy fall fashions, our dark peacoats and *gulp* even the chairs we sit on.  Dust is made mostly of skin cells, and I am suggesting that dandruff is floating around pretending to be dust as well.  There are two kinds of dandruff, the flaky dry white stuff that comes out all day long, and the oily yellow stuff that coats our hair. The white version is less worrisome, but still annoying to deal with, and luckily, doesn’t need much to be remove from our lives. The causes of both include dry skin, oily skin, hair products, yeast fungus, and skin conditions.

The opposite of dry skin is hydrated skin, so drink that water! Olive oil, coconut oil, aloe vera or essential oils can be applied topically to help relieve the dryness and bacterial components of dandruff, as well as apple cider vinegar (ACV). Many people have used the ACV as a rinse after shampooing for shiny hair, just be aware that it may alter hair colour.  Reacting to hair products is common, so be sure to read labels thoroughly and use sound judgement when assessing how many chemicals are going on your scalp. Use the most natural products for the least amount of chemical reactions. Nutritionally speaking, a vitamin deficiency or gut flora overgrowth could also contribute to the scalp (and skin!) issues. Supplement with high quality Omega 3 oils or probiotics to help calm the skin down.

If the dandruff looks more like yellow, oilier flakes, it’s a skin disorder, and may require more medicated approaches. It can affect other oil rich parts of skin, including the eyebrows and sides of the nose. The trend of waiting longer between shampooing can aggregate the condition, so assess the scalp and proceed from there. Every 2-3 days at minimal is best for hair and scalp health staying in balance.

General thinning looks a lot different than alopecia, but some people might not know the difference. External stressors, including surgery, accidents, diets, medications and thyroid issues will usually prolong the resting phase of hair growth and increase the falling out phase after, resulting in what feels like out of control hair loss overall. Once the stressor is dealt with the hair resumes its normal phases of hair growth. Alopecia looks like localized hair loss to the point of bald patches, and is caused by auto immune disorders. It needs a health care professional to be dealt with.

Since stress is a big factor in these scalp issues, try to have things done that help relieve stress. A scalp massage by a hair professional feels amazing, and can even be provided in conjunction with scalp treatments to help with the less medical issues a scalp can have. Aveda carries a new line called Pramasana formulated specifically for scalp health. It consists of a scalp cleanser, a cooling scalp mask and a probiotic scalp treatment. I have found it helps to relieve anyone of itchy scalp instantly, the mask especially. Our salon offers Pramasana as an add-on service to a haircut, or as a stand-alone treatment.

As the outside weather gets colder and the inside air gets hotter, our scalps react more than usual, so try to start or continue with a healthy scalp routine through winter and into early spring. Summer brings relief in more than one way. If unsure about any of the scalp issues mentioned, feel free to chat to your hair care specialist about any concerns! We are always interested in helping to create a happy and healthy scalp.

Here’s to your health



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