“The scalp is simply skin: it sweats, secretes sebum (oil) and sheds dead skin cells,” says Anabel Kingsley, a trichologist at Philip Kingsley. Eleanore Richardson, a trichologist at the Fulham Scalp and Hair Clinic in London, says shampoo is the first step to keeping the scalp healthy. She suggests shampooing more often if you use lots of hair products or have been sweating. Kingsley says: “Don’t leave more than three days between shampoos. Doing so is likely to cause itching and flaking, and a flaky scalp can cause hair loss.”
“If you notice your scalp is flaky, your first solution is to use a dandruff shampoo,” says David Felstead of the Hair and Scalp Clinic at Daniel Galvin Marylebone in London. He recommends looking for one that contains salicylic acid or zinc pyrithione, and says you should use it for at least a month. He advises shampooing twice, leaving the product in for two to three minutes the first time before rinsing. If using a specific shampoo doesn’t work, he recommends seeking expert advice.
Protect your scalp from the sun
“Scalps can easily get burnt in bright sunlight, especially if the hair is thinning or very fine,” says Dr Anjali Mahto, a consultant dermatologist at the Cadogan Clinic and author of The Skincare Bible. For those with thinning hair, it is advisable to apply sunscreen or wear a hat.
Go easy with the styling
“Tight styling, such as cornrows and single braids, while often claimed to be ‘protective’ and low maintenance, can cause severe hair breakage,” says Richardson. These styles are often left in for weeks at a time, which contributes to poor scalp health.” The constant tension on the hair follicles can even trigger alopecia.
Choose the right brush
Both Kingsley and Felstead warn against using brushes with metal prongs or bristles. A natural bristle brush or one with flexible, plastic prongs is far gentler on the scalp. Essentially, if the brush feels rough or uncomfortable on your scalp, it is no good, says Felstead. For those who need to take extra care, there are options such as the silicone Manta hairbrush, designed by the hairdresser Tim Binnington. Created for his wife when her hair was recovering after a life-threatening illness, it is designed to be as gentle on the hair as brushing it with your fingers, reducing tension on strands and skin.