Maintaining your mop starts at the scalp. By nurturing the area where strands are born, you can help ensure they stay full, strong, and healthy. Sadly, we'll say upfront that it won't prevent you from one day losing your hair — that's determined by genetics — but keeping your scalp in good shape means your mane will look as good as possible.
Giving your scalp the attention it needs and deserves just means incorporating a few occasional extra steps into your usual wash-and-go routine, and cutting out bad behaviors like smothering it in waxy, follicle-clogging styling products. To get to the root of it (pun intended), we reached out to Phyto trichologist Christyn Nawrot who provided the five rules for saving your scalp—and in turn, your hair.
You probably (okay, maybe not, but you should) use a face scrub every so often, since it helps clear away dead skin cells, thus keeping your skin smooth and preventing blemishes. Exfoliating your scalp has a similar effect but instead of taking a grainy substance to it, you simply need to brush your hair everyday to get the job done. “Using a natural bristle brush removes flakes and stimulates blood flow,” says Nawrot.
As a bonus, it redistributes oil so hair looks shiny and healthy overall, not greasy and spotty.
It sounds strange to knead your own scalp, but trust us: the effects are worth the weirdness. Do it in private, or ask your significant other to do the work for you and promise to reciprocate. Put a few drops of scalp oil like Otter Wax Sandalwood Hair Tonic in your hands and work it through. "Giving yourself a scalp massage once or twice a week relieves tension to allow for better circulation and promotes healthy hair growth,” says Nawrot.
Once a week, swap your regular shampoo for a heavy-duty clarifying one. “Hairs act like antennas for dust, grime and other stuff floating around in the air,” says Nawrot, and by washing with a deep cleaning formula like Phyto Phytoneutre shampoo, you can help shed all that along with residual product build-up.
To keep your hair from drying out, though, be sure to finish with conditioner to work some moisture back in. Just make sure it's lightweight and scalp-friendly, like Portland General Store's, so that you don't leave behind a buildup underneath your hair. Bonus points for anything containing essential oils like sage, cypress or tea tree, which help purify and soothe.
Surely you’ve heard that you are what you eat. And just like sticking to a balanced diet helps maintain healthy skin and body, ingesting certain vitamins and minerals can give hair a boost, too. Specifically, taking a supplement of Complex B Vitamins and Biotin does good things to your scalp, and, in case you haven’t been paying attention, your hair in turn.
When it comes time to styling your hair, steer clear of heavier, follicle-clogging pastes and pomades, which can leave a waxy build-up on the scalp. We like Fellow Barber Styling Cream, but there's a whole host of hair product types that you can try out. Water-based formulas are a safe bet.
Another necessary step, especially heading into summer: Shielding your scalp from the sun. Prevent a potentially permanently damaging burn (UV rays affect the skin on your head the same as they do on your face) by wearing a hat or rubbing on some sunscreen through your hair if it's especially short and thin.