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Having problems with itchy, dry, or flaky scalp? Maybe you have dandruff and a dry scalp all at once? All these problems are pointing toward a sensitive scalp that requires special care.
Have you noticed your scalp feeling itchy, dry, or flaky? Maybe you have dandruff but at the same time, the scalp is dry. You cannot figure out what to use because products for oily hair increase your sensitivity but products for dry skin make it oily.
Believe me, I have been there. Only a few years ago, I realized I have a sensitive scalp.
I always had normal or combination skin on my face. I knew it was sensitive. But it never occurred to me that my scalp is quite the same. I have combination skin on my scalp and it is sensitive.
Later I read in multiple sources that the skin on your face is almost a 99 percent match to the skin on your scalp.
What can cause a sensitive scalp: my experience
That's when I started to analyze my hair care routine and understood what are the problem causes:
The blow dryer: on maximum heat settings causes a burning feeling on my scalp
The scalp scrub: using it often can cause irritation
The hair color: not every hair color is good for my scalp - sometimes I may experience more dryness or itchiness
Too mild cleansing: the use of sulfate-free cleansing conditioners is not enough: the scalp gets itchy from buildup and is not properly cleansed
The visit to the doctor: the dermatologist and trichologist proved that it is not a medical issue but my reactive skin
Medication and central heating: I can get the feeling of a dry scalp from medication or from central heat/the beanies (especially, during winter)
So, it is quite hard for me to find the right balance.
But with time I developed some basic rules that helped my sensitive scalp stay in place:
Washing the hair twice a week (that way I do not over or under-wash my scalp)
Switching the shampoo from time to time according to the needs of the hair and scalp (from deeper cleansing to mild sulfate-free versions)
Shampoo vs scalp treatment. If I use a deep cleansing shampoo I always follow it with a nourishing scalp mask. So the next time I use a mild sulfate-free shampoo and put a scalp conditioner only for 1 minute
Let the hair air dry from time to time or blow dry it on a minimum heat setting
The scalp peeling with AHA is better that the scalp scrub
Use a hairbrush with soft bristles: it does not scratch nor irritate the scalp
Using scalp toners with salicylic acid in summer after washing the hair: this component is quite exfoliating you only need it in the hot humid climate or if you have an oily scalp
Make notes about the performance of the products and hair routine in the Hey, hair app: you can track what worked best for your scalp and what to avoid
Scalp vs lengths
It is very tricky to find products that are suitable both for your scalp and lengths. If you are growing out the hair this should not be a compromise.
I want to share with you some of the techniques that help keep the scalp clean and the lengths moisturized:
Find two shampoos that suit your scalp: one should have a stronger cleansing base (sulfate shampoo) and the other mild (sulfate-free shampoo/cleansing conditioner)
When you are shampooing with the more cleansing shampoo always use a pre-poo method: apply any conditioner or a mild hair mask to the lengths of your hair and keep it on for 2 to 15 minutes
When using a peeling on your hair make sure also to use a pre-poo method: the tiny scrub particles can scratch the hair lengths and damage them, but the conditioner or a mask will form a protective layer on top of your hair
Never use peeling after the coloring service or prior to the deep cleansing shampoo: too much exfoliation is bad for your sensitive scalp (make at least a week's break)
The use of a calming hair gel prior to washing can help you reduce the irritation (I tried to use oil on the scalp but it does not wash out completely)
Use multi-masking to benefit both the scalp and the lengths: apply a silicon-free scalp mask on the roots and follow with a nourishing mask on the ends
Let’s talk about the products. There are a few that I have been loving for a long time.
Kerastase Specifique Bain Riche Dermo-Calm Shampoo
Vichy Dercos Ultra Soothing shampoo: dry hair
Loreal Sensi Balance Shampoo (probably will be replaced by the newer version Scalp Advanced Anti-discomfort version)
All three of them are mild on the scalp and have good cleansing and calming abilities. I would suggest using them after coloring services and in combination with more cleansing ones (if needed).
Scalp masks and conditioner
Orising Coconut Mask (more natural option, silicone free)
Rated Green Cold Press Avocado Nourishing Scalp Pack
Mediceuticals Vitatin Conditioner
Kerastase Specifique Mask Hydra Apaisant
All of these have good soothing abilities. The masks give you more moisture and conditioner is a good-to-go everyday option.
Dsd de Luxe 1.3 peeling
Sim Sensitive System 4 Oil Cure Scalp Treatment O
Both options are mild yet effective on the scalp. You should leave them on for 10-15 minutes and then wash them off with your ordinary shampoo.
Scalp creams and serums
Dsd de Luxe 4.5 Keratin Treatment Serum
Sim Sensitive Moisture Scalp Lotion M
Sim Sensitive 4 Bio Botanical Serum
The Dsd de Luxe 4.5 is applied after washing and is a leave-in soothing product. Sim Sensitive could be applied as a pre-wash scalp-protecting product and as a leave-in scalp lotion.
The Bio Botanical Serum is a watery serum with anti-fungal and scalp-stimulating ingredients and helps with hair loss or dandruff.
The new Kerastase Symbiose and Loreal Professional Scalp Advanced line.
The new Loreal Scalp Advanced contains different products that are formulated for deregulated scalps. It is approved by dermatologists.
The main ingredients are Niacinamide, AHA, Clay, and Piroctone Olamine.
You choose between anti-discomfort, anti-oiliness, and anti-dandruff products. For me, they all speak to the sensitive scalp and solve different problems.
The new Kerastase Symbiose range offers a wide range of products for the sensitive scalp with a tendency to dandruff or oily skin type. It regulates cellular renewal speed and deeply hydrates to replenish fiber. After 7 weeks of use, you should see good results.
Treating your sensitive scalp with the right products and techniques is important. With time you will learn what products work for you and develop a hair routine.
I hope some of my tips and tricks helped you.
Ask any questions down below in the comments.