1. Identify Your Scalps Issues
The weather, your diet, stress, and environmental factors can all be the culprit for an irritated, uncomfortable scalp. If you notice that italong with the rest of your bodygets drier during the colder months (here are our remedies for chapped winter skin), try switching to a shampoo that specifically targets irritation like Briogeo Scalp Revival Charcoal + Coconut Oil Micro-Exfoliating Shampoo, which removes product buildup, soothes and hydrates, and balances your scalp's pH. Something else to consider is your diet, and the potential for a food intolerance. If youve noticed youve been eating more sugar, processed carbs, or dairy than usual, and your scalp is irritated, try to scale back as these can be a contributing factor to your scalps health, says James.
2. Shampoo Regularly
Before you skip the suds (and reach for dry shampoo...we know it's tempting!), remember that its important to regularly rid your scalp of dirt and debris that build up over time. Product buildup, dirt, and excess oil sitting on your scalp can clog hair follicles, causing them to become inflamed, says James. To avoid an angry scalp, James suggests shampooing a minimum of 4 times per week. James also stresses the importance of thoroughly cleansing. Its necessary to really work the shampoo into your scalp to ensure youre removing all the debris and grime, says James. But don't think we forgot about conditioner. James believes that conditioning is essential for keeping your hair hydrated, but to avoid applying it directly to the scalp as it can clog the follicle, causing irritation.
3. Be Ingredient Aware
Choosing a shampoo with the right ingredients is essential when it comes to your scalps health. Your scalps pH falls between 4.5 and 5.5, and some shampoos on the market are filled with sulfates, alcohols, and parabens, which strip the scalp of its natural oils, causing it to become dry and flaky, says James. Long story short, avoid those formulaslook for products that say sulfate- or paraben-free on the bottleand opt for ones that have ingredients that are good for your scalp. While you want to pick products that are targeted to your specific hair type and texture, there are some universal ingredients James recommends looking out for: amino acids for their strengthening properties, and rosemary and peppermint, which help to invigorate the scalp and promote blood flow, leading to hair growth. If youre plagued with dandruffflaky scales that fall from your scalp onto your clothesJames suggests trying a shampoo with salicylic acid. You want to pick a formula that contains a small amount of salicylic acid, which helps to dissolve flakes and alleviate itchiness and irritation, says James. Try Oribe Serene Scalp Anti-Dandruff Shampoo, which contains salicylic acid along with hydrating ingredients to soothe an angry scalp.
4. Switch Up Your Shampoo and Conditioner Often
You make it a point to regularly purge your makeup and skincare products once theyve expired, right? (If not, you totally should.) Well, the same goes for your shampoo and conditioner. James suggests switching your shampoo and conditioner every six months to a year to avoid using expired products on your scalpwhich can lead to irritation or rashes.
5. Use a Pre-Shampoo Treatment
Just like you make a habit of treating your face (by exfoliating, masking, or using a serum), you should also be doing the same for your scalp. Taking extra care to focus on the health of your scalp outside of your regular shampoo/condition routine will help to remove product buildup, flakes, and other grime that lingers and is hard to wash away. James suggests trying scalp treatments that have chemical exfoliants. We love using amika Reset Pink Charcoal Scalp Cleansing Oil, Bumble and bumble. Scalp Detox, or R+Co ACID WASH ACV Cleansing Rinse as a pre-shampoo treatment, which use pink clay, micellar water, and apple cider vinegar to remove pesky buildup and promote a healthy scalp before you even get into the shower.
For some serious scalp care, try a targeted treatment to further assist in boosting your scalps health. If it's feeling irritated, reach for a soothing serum like exfoliating agent-packed Oribe Serene Scalp Soothing Leave-On Treatment or Klorane SOS Serum with Peony featuring menthol and peony extracts to calm and provide long-term comfort. To invigorate your scalp, opt for Briogeo Scalp Revival Charcoal + Tea Tree Scalp Treatment, which is packed with detoxifying ingredients like witch hazel, binchotan charcoal, bacteria-fighting tea tree oil, and peppermint and spearmint oils to soothe and boost blood flow.