It’s time to show our poor, neglected scalps some TLC and protect them from stress and pollution with the new wave of scalpcare products.
Name any area of exposed skin and there is a slew of beauty products targeted at it. We dutifully apply serum and SPF, and dry brush and jade-roller away at our skin (at least, when we remember to). But the newest body part in the skincare spotlight is one that may have (until now) escaped your attention: the scalp.
Lurking beneath your hair is a unique ecosystem working tirelessly to promote hair growth and regulate oil production, but when was the last time you gave your scalp a second thought beyond an absent-minded massage mid-shampoo? Modern-day issues such as increasing pollution and the rise in skin conditions like psoriasis and eczema mean our scalps are more antagonised than ever, and worthy of the same attention we give our face. In fact, Cult Beauty has seen searches for ‘scalp’ increase by 196% in the last year alone.
We’re also starting to understand the connection between scalp and hair health. “With the heightened awareness in overall health and wellbeing, people are now taking more notice of their scalp and valuing its vital role in hair health,” explains Anabel Kingsley, trichologist at Philip Kingsley. “Dirt, pollution, dead skin and sebum can easily build up, making hair dull over time and potentially leading to irritation on the skin.” Her advice? If possible, a daily scalp cleanse to keep it free of irritants. “Many people think they have dandruff, but it’s actually dead skin cells sitting on the scalp, not washed away frequently enough.”
If you’ve noticed a few flakes or spotted some redness on your scalp, now is the time to take action, and if a cleanse is your starting point, what else should be on your scalpcare to-do list? “Masks, exfoliants and serums can also effectively tackle a myriad of issues, from oiliness to dandruff,” says trichologist Stephanie Sey.
The new targeted scalpcare products mirror the steps of a skincare regime – from serum to SPF, mask to massage tool – and they are powered by the same ingredients you’d expect from the most powerful skincare formulas. But, unlike the super- coarse, super-abrasive scalp scrubs of the past, they do the job without upsetting the delicate scalp skin.
Thankfully you don’t need to implement a laborious 12-step regime either – the key is to only address obvious problems to avoid overloading a sensitive area.
Here, Stylist selects the most effective products to soothe and revive stressed scalps.
Where’s your head at?
Whatever your scalp is suffering from, we’ve found the formula to fix it
THE CLEANSER: Aveda Pramasana Purifying Scalp Cleanser, £24.50
With salicylic acid and seaweed extract to regulate oil production, lactobacillus to bolster the skin’s protective barrier and pollution-blocking tamanu oil, this cleanser provides a rigorously deep clean for greasy or product-laden scalps. Use it every time you wash your hair on a wet or dry scalp, rinse out and follow with your usual shampoo.
THE EXFOLIATOR: London Labs AHA Peel & Scalp Mask Duo, £29
While scrubs may feel amazing, coarse formulas can aggravate sensitive scalps. Opt instead for a chemical exfoliant like this glycolic peel, which will gently break down dead skin. The formula uses prickly pear oil to minimise irritation and can be used every couple of weeks, applied to a towel-dried scalp. For an intensive treatment leave the mask on overnight, rinsing hair before washing it.
THE SPF: Colorescience Sunforgettable Total Protection Brush-On Shield with SPF 50, £46.50
“Usually a full head of hair provides enough sun protection, but if yours is thin, braided or parted, or you’re travelling in very hot temperatures, a hat or SPF is needed,” advises Sey. This brush-on powder formula comes in five shades and works on both face and scalp to protect against blue light and pollution, as well as both UVA and UVB rays.
THE SERUM: Living Proof Restore Dry Scalp Treatment, £25
“Leaving any old product on the scalp can block follicles and help [the fungi] malassezia flourish, but targeted solutions can really aid troubled scalps,” says Sey. Ideal for itchy scalps, this formula combines vitamin B3, hyaluronic acid and niacinamide to rebalance an irritated scalp’s delicate ecosystem. After washing your hair, apply directly to the scalp in sections and massage it in.
THE MASSAGE TOOL: Briogeo Scalp Revival Stimulating Therapy Massager, £13.50
“Although not essential, scalp massage can boost blood circulation, bringing nutrients to hair follicles for healthy growth,” says Sey. Massage a nourishing hair oil in small circular motions into the scalp pre-wash, or use with shampoo for a deep clean.
THE MASK: Philip Kingsley Exfoliating Scalp Mask, £19
“Weekly use of an exfoliating mask helps lift dead skin and product build-up, especially if you wash your hair less often than every three days,” advises Kingsley. With BHA and zinc, this treatment should be applied onto damp hair then rinsed well before following with shampoo and conditioner. Containing aloe vera and cooling menthol, it also calms the skin – ideal for a scalp that is subject to lots of heat styling.
Main image: Getty