A dry scalp often leads to itching and dandruff which can be both uncomfortable and embarrassing. Moisturizing the scalp helps say goodbye to irritation, itchiness and flaking for good.
Just like any other part of the body, the skin on the scalp needs moisture to remain healthy. Unlike other parts of the body where you can just slap on some lotion or skin cream, moisturizing the scalp can be more difficult.
The key to good hair begins where the hair starts; the scalp. If your scalp is unhealthy, so too will the strands of hair be. The key to good-looking hair and a healthy scalp is to find the right treatment for you which moisturizes the scalp without leaving your hair greasy.
How Easy Is Scalp Care?
While most of us recognize the importance of keeping our skin healthy and moisturized, one area we often forget is our scalp. For most people a head of hair covers the scalp making it difficult to see. Unless you’ve suffered from a particularly dry scalp or an irritating and embarrassing dandruff problem, you probably won’t have given a second thought to the condition of your scalp.
A dry scalp and too much oil from hair styling products are major factors in contributing to dandruff. Simply using a dandruff shampoo is only half of the battle, you also need to condition and hydrate your scalp to promote a healthy environment for hair growth and fewer skin complaints.
Although it can be more complex than moisturizing skin on other parts of the body, there are many products available which make moisturizing the scalp easy to fit into your body care regime. You could also try some of the many natural DIY treatments that target the scalp or even just drinking more water will ensure the body has adequate amounts to send to your scalp and hydrate from within.
What Causes Scalp Dryness?
There are many factors that can cause a dry scalp from using the wrong shampoo to simply not drinking enough water. Recognizing the cause of your dry scalp can help you treat the problem and lock moisture in for a healthy dandruff-free scalp. It’ll also cut down on the temptation to scratch your head causing friction damage to your hair and possible hair loss or secondary infection of the scalp.
Less Oil or Sebum Production on Your Scalp
Genetics, hormonal imbalances, and chronic skin diseases like psoriasis and certain medications affect the amount of sebum, natural oils, that the scalp produces. When your scalp has insufficient sebum, moisture is lost or evaporates at a much quicker rate than when oil levels are optimal. Oils form a protective barrier on the scalp which locks in moisture and other nutrients essential for a healthy scalp.
Shampoos and Other Hair Styling Products
Harsh chemicals found in many hair products can strip your scalp of natural oils and moisture leaving it feeling dry. Fragrances or colors used in hair products potentially lead to an itchy dry scalp. It’s not just chemicals either, many natural ingredients have astringent qualities that may take too much moisture from the scalp if used too often.
Dandruff shampoos contain active ingredients that fight the fungus know to cause dandruff but also can be an irritant or drying agent of the scalp. Once dandruff has been eliminated, it’s advisable to change to a milder shampoo for the health of your scalp.
Product Residue, Dead Skin Cells and Dirt Build Up
Skin on the body and scalp is constantly evolving and sheds away dead skin cells as the new cells grow. If left on the scalp, along with dirt and residue of styling products they pile up on the scalp causing itchiness, dryness and flaking of the scalp.
Severe scalp dryness can also be put down to changes in the weather. Winter months tend to have less humidity in the air leading to skin dryness and high temperatures in the summer make the body, in particular the skin and scalp, prone to dehydration. Windy conditions also cause a drying out of the scalp.
Nutrition plays an important part in your hair and scalp health too and missing vitamins or minerals could be causing your dry scalp. Scalp moisturizing treatments often replenish the missing nutrients topically through the skin.
How to Add the Moisture Back to Your Scalp
Whatever the reason your scalp is dry, there are many ways you can moisturize it. Changing the shampoo you use or cutting down on the number of products you use on your hair can be a good first step. Oils used to treat the scalp are another good source of moisture and there are many scalp-targeting specific products available over the counter.
Using Scalp Oils to Moisturize Your Scalp
The solution to a dry scalp doesn’t always live in a shampoo or conditioner bottle. Scalp oils are very effective at moisturizing the scalp and work better than many other moisturizing products in most cases. When the body doesn’t produce enough natural sebum as it should, scalp oils can make up for this deficit and keep the scalp lubricated to protect it from drying out.
Oils stay on the scalp much longer than moisturizing creams or lotions do and offer a long-lasting moisture treatment for the scalp. Some scalp oils have mixtures of essential oils, antioxidants and glycerin to help protect and improve the health of your hair. Many essential oils also have natural antifungal or anti-inflammatory properties that attack any fungi or bacteria which may be contributing to your scalp dryness or dandruff problem.
Jojoba oil is commonly used to moisturize the scalp and is found in many natural conditioners. Jojoba oil helps remove dandruff from the hair while cleansing the scalp and leaves a layer of oil on the hair to keep it moisturized. Similar to human sebum, jojoba oil comprises the same wax monoesters as found in natural sebum and acts as a substitute with the same benefits for the scalp.
Other popular oils for moisturizing the scalp include cod liver oil, coconut oil and argan oil. You should be careful to choose an oil that won’t feed the Malassezia fungus that causes dandruff if you’re prone to persistent dandruff problems. Using an astringent like tea tree oil or chamomile infused into a scalp-friendly formula after treating the scalp with oil will prevent your hair from looking or feeling greasy.
The following Youtube clip shows how you can use peppermint essential oil to moisturize a dry scalp:
Change Your Shampoo to a Moisturizing Formula
Many of today’s leading shampoos contain chemicals, artificial fragrances, coloring agents and preservatives that strip oils from the scalp and hair. Sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS), widely used in shampoos and conditioners, is an inexpensive detergent and surfactant that adds lather to the wash. Sodium lauryl sulfate strips moisture and oils from the hair causing dry scalp and dandruff-like symptoms. Always try to choose a shampoo that’s sulfate free if you suffer from a dry scalp or related problems.
Shampoos used to treat psoriasis or eczema are also formulated to moisturize the scalp and can be used as part of an effective scalp-moisturizing routine. Natural shampoos containing Aloe vera, almond oils or shea butter also effectively moisturize the scalp while adding nutrients to the hair.
Wash Your Hair Less Often
Keeping the scalp and hair clean is essential to a healthy scalp but it could be one of the dryness causes too. Not just chemicals or ingredients in the shampoo but the water you use can lead to scalp dryness. If the water is too hot it’ll destroy skin lipids that effectively moisturize the scalp and hardened water can have the same effect too. Soap scum from hard water can clog the pores causing the scalps to feel dry, itchy and irritated.
If moisturizing shampoos, conditioners or oils don’t seem to have worked for your scalp dryness there are many specialized hair care treatments available that specifically target the skin and the scalp. These can range from exfoliating facials for the scalp which flush away dead skin cells and other build ups which contribute to the dryness, to anti-ageing serums that aim to boost cell renewal and oil production that often slow down with age.
Natural DIY Scalp Moisturizing Treatments
Moisturizing your scalp doesn’t necessarily mean you have to spend a small fortune on specialized creams and potions. There are many natural botanicals probably already in your house that you can use or are easily available from your local store. Ingredients like shea butter or Aloe vera both have superb moisturizing properties that can be used to effectively add moisture to your scalp. Let’s look at just two of the ways you can moisturize your scalp at home with a DIY treatment.
Avocado for Dry Scalp
Avocados are naturally abundant in minerals, vitamins and oils which help to treat a dry scalp problem. Combined with honey and olive oil, this mixture acts as an anti-inflammatory and antiviral treatment for a dry scalp.
- Mash a ripe avocado and then mix with 1 teaspoon of honey and 2 tablespoons of olive oil to act as a carrier oil.
- Apply to dry hair and your scalp then cover with a shower cap and leave for 30 minutes.
- Wash your hair afterwards with a mild shampoo and rinse with warm water for a moisturized itch-free scalp.
Aloe Vera For Dry Scalp
You can use the cooling, moisturizing and cleansing properties of Aloe vera to soothe a dry scalp.
- Extract Aloe vera gel from an Aloe leaf then blend to an even consistency before mixing with an essential oil like tea tree oil or coconut oil before applying to your scalp and along your hair strands.
- After leaving on for 20 minutes, rinse the mixture off with lukewarm water.
The Aloe vera will effectively moisturize your scalp and you could even just rub the rind of Aloe vera on the scalp for the many nutrients it contains.
Next time you feel an itching or flaking sensation on your head, don’t immediately reach for the dandruff shampoo. By using a moisturizer on your scalp you can banish the dryness and irritation promoting both a healthy scalp and better looking hair. You moisturize your skin and face regularly, so why not your scalp too?