Every -ologist that I have spoken to lately—derma and tricho—has the same message: You should treat your scalp as an extension of your skin. Because it, quite literally, is and should receive the same attention as you give your face. Why, then, does it often go neglected?
A couple of reasons. For one, it’s not the sexiest conversation topic, trichologist Anabel Kingsley says. True. You don’t go up to a person on the street and tell them how much you envy their well-kept scalp. Imagine?? Another is the “out of sight, out of mind” thing. “Your face is very visible, whereas your scalp is covered by hair, so people forget about it,” Kingsley says. As dermatologist and founder of LivSo, Dr. Shari Hicks-Graham explains, we’re usually focused on the cosmetic factor of the hair not so much what’s going on underneath it all. “We’re focused on the look and not necessarily why that look happens,” she tells us. “We’re basically trying to achieve whatever desired style we’re hoping for, without recognizing that its success comes from the health of the hair, and the health of the hair starts with a healthy scalp.”
It seems like, in the coming months, more and more women are becoming privy to this fact. More importantly, more and more brands are coming out with products that specifically target the scalp. The uptick might be due to people becoming cognizant of their overall health in general. Dr. Hicks-Graham thinks it also has to do with the oversaturation of the market. We have plenty of volumizing this and shampoos that promise bounciness and shine, but there’s room for other treatments. “I think, to vary the offering, [brands] have seen this as a potential opportunity area, and they’re hearing correctly from consumers that this is a need. This is an issue, and so I think they’re finally recognizing that this is what people want.”
It also might be what they need. A lot of the products coming out (more on those to come) are marketed for ladies with curly or coily hair. According to Dr. Hicks-Graham, she’s seen a big chunk of her patients with the ascribed hair who suffer from scalp wounds, hair loss, or extreme itchy scalp; or, in scientific talk, sebhorreic dermatitis. She says this might be due to the fact that most women with this hair type use products like cleansing conditioners or no-poos in place of shampoo. “Sometimes, conditioning cleansers may not be enough to rid the scalp of natural yeast that will grow, and then if people are using natural nut-based butters and things like that, it can allow for a nice moist warm environment for this yeast to grow and that dermatitis to become worse.”
Dove Hair Expert Dermatologist, Dr. Francesca Fusco, makes a good comparison when she explains: “If you had dry skin on your face, you wouldn’t get up every day and not wash it and just put a conditioner on it. Just think about that and the fact that the scalp is an extension of the skin on your face. You do need to wash your skin.”
Ahead, we highlight some of the new scalp-focused products on or coming to the market. On top of the treatments, Kingsley stresses that your diet also plays a factor in your scalp health. “If you’re prone to dandruff, things like full-fat dairy products—like cheese and cream—can make it worse, as can really spicy and sugary foods and even Champagne,” she says.
Read up more on dry scalp and dandruff here.