The Best Dry Scalp Treatment Regimen for Healthier Hair

11 months ago 104
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Photographed by Craig McDean, Vogue, September 2014

In the age of second- and third-day hair, it's easy to get by with the help of dry shampoo, a blast of texturizing spray, or an in-a-pinch topknot. However, the cumulative buildup of natural oils and styling products can cause the scalp—an often overlooked zone—to run into issues like itching and flaking. "Scalp is skin, and every once in a while it requires a detox," says Francesca Fusco, M.D., of Wexler Dermatology in Manhattan, who explains that regular exfoliation “enables the hair follicles to be healthier." And that's welcome news for anyone gaming for good hair days, especially with the cooler months upon us, which tend to be when seasonal dryness, as well as increased hair loss, tends to rear its ugly head.

"The human hair cycle likes to maintain a fixed ratio of the number of hairs that are growing, resting, and falling out," explains dermatologist Amy E. Rose, M.D.. "In the summer, hair tends to be thicker to protect the scalp from the sun. However, when fall rolls around, you begin to shed more hair. It will come back, but I always tell patients that if you want to optimize hair growth, you've got to nourish the scalp, as well as be mindful of what you're putting on it."

Where to start? Fusco recommends beginning your dry scalp treatment regimen with a weekly incorporating scrub. Her DIY recipe involves simply adding a teaspoon of sugar or coarse salt to shampoo, and then massaging it into the scalp (the fine particles dissolve with water, leaving no residue behind). But if you don't have time for her homespun solution, Le Labo's heavenly, basil scented scrub uses black sea salt and menthol to clear away dirt and cool scalps down from hot tools and hot weather alike. Fusco is also a fan of frequent cleansing—working the shampoo from root to tip—with help from a gentle formula like Dove's ultra-moisturizing Pure Daily Care or a more targeted elixir like Paul Mitchell's Tea Tree Special Shampoo, which will leave hair feeling refreshingly clean with an extra anti-dandruff boost courtesy of hair follicle de-clogging tea tree oil and tingly, anti-inflammatory peppermint.

Taking TLC a step further, Briogeos Scalp Treatment calls on a blend of charcoal and witch hazel to help regulate and restore your scalp’s pH balance, while Rahua's new leave-in Founder's Blend Scalp & Hair Treatment has recalibrated its omega-9 rich Rahua oil harvested to calm the scalp and strengthen hair roots—with that woodsy aroma of Palo Santo to boot. And then there's Living Proof's Restore Dry Scalp Treatment. This can be massaged into the scalp in the morning or at night, and is infused with hyaluronic acid to hydrate while its cutting-edge Vitamin-B3-based complex rebalances the microbiome for both instant and long-lasting relief. The bottom line? Smart skin care doesn't stop at the face.

Here, 10 dry scalp treatments that will up your hair regimen.

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