Scalp care is an emerging field in hair care, and we muse why did it take the industry so long to catch up. The logic is self-evident: in order to grow healthy hair you need to tend to the very foundation of it – the place where it would grow from – your scalp. In many cases, such as chemically treated hair or a recovery from illness, scalp treatments become a non-negotiable cornerstone for healthy hair growth.
The beauty of scalp care as it’s one of the crucial steps for caring for your mane, it gets close to the root of your hair growth issues. Correct scalp treatments would often avoid application to hair length and only be applied to the roots.
Because scalp is skin, it has a different composition of cells than that of your hair lengths. Skin is made up of 90% keratinocytes, while hair lengths are made up of keratin, which is one of the final product that can be made by keratinocyte cells. (Keratinocyte cells makes other types of proteins other than keratin but we focus on the two of them for now). As a result this cellular-level difference will dictate different needs by your scalp – than those by the hair that has already grown.
Scalp treatments and scalp care is an excellent way to unwind from a stressful week – this might involve hair oiling, application of serum, scalp massage, derma rolling and fuelling your hair follicles for healthy hair growth.
Reasons to adopt scalp care routine and treatments:
Hair growth and scalp care
It might sound self-evident but growing hair starts from the roots – therefore scalp care is paramount to growing healthy hair. Any treatment that focuses on drawing and improving blood flow to scalp will benefit your hair growth.
Dandruff is one of the reasons why scalp care should become part of your hair health routine. Dandruff is a condition that causes scalp to flake although the reasons for that can vary. Keeping your scalp clean with gentle surfactants can help manage dandruff, however frequent shampooing can exacerbate or worsen the condition. Dandruff is often a symptom of seborrheic dermatitis, fungal infection or psoriasis.
Itchy, flaky and sensitive scalp
Irritated and sensitive scalp can be another reason why you should turn towards scalp care. Because shampoos can contain ingredients that worsen your condition, unless you really don’t wash your scalp frequently – using additional soothing ingredients, certain oils in your scalp routine should become a step in your hair care ritual.
Growing healthy hair
While hair growth may not be one of your goals, having “healthy” hair might be. Much like a dry, desolate and nutrient-poor soil cannot grow a healthy plant – an unbalanced, irritated scalp cannot grow healthy hair. And more to that, scalp that isn’t nourished from within – through nutrition and supplementation that supports your body from within – healthy hair becomes an uphill battle and an impossible feat.
Let’s take a look at some of the newer as well as older ingredients and treatments for your scalp.
Hair and scalp oiling
Applying certain oils on your scalp can help with dry and flaky scalp – as they help rebuild the lipid barrier around your hair follicles. The needs of your scalp will differ based on the climate you live in and your hair health goals. For example, if hair growth is the primary goal for your scalp treatment, applying an overnight castor oil mixed with of peppermint or rosemary essential oils (in the 1:20 ratio of essential oil to castor oil) will help promote blood flow to scalp. Tea tree oil is famous for helping treat mild cases of dandruff and fungal infection in scalp. You can mix it with a carrier oil or add a few drops to your shampoo.
Hyaluronic acid may help temporarily hydrate your scalp
Hyaluronic acid, also known as hyaluronan, is a clear, gooey substance that is naturally produced by your body in the extracellular matrix, is a three-dimensional network consisting of extracellular macromolecules and minerals, collagen being one of them. The largest amounts of it are found in your skin, connective tissue and eyes. Its main function is to retain water to keep your tissues well lubricated and moist. Hyaluronic Acid is a humectant, which means like a magnet, it draws water from the environment as well as from deep within the skin.
When applied to hair lengths, hyaluronic acid will attract more moisture to your strands which will temporarily make them appear more plump and moisturised, though that moisture wouldn’t actually penetrate your hair shaft, so this excess moisture will be washed off with your shampoo.
When applied as a scalp treatment, hyaluronic acid acts in the same way: it attracts moisture to the scalp – which may result (again, temporarily) in extra volume. Having said that, some studies refer to hyaluronic acid’s role in angiogenesis – in other words – formation of blood vessels which is crucial in wound healing. As blood flow is the cornerstone of hair growth, you can consider having a hyaluronic acid treatment as a way to prompt extra blood supply to your hair follicles.
Niacinamide does not play a big role in hair care
Niacinamide, also called nicotinamide, is a form of vitamin B-3, an essential nutrient. Its prominent role is in treatment of melasma – an excess production of melanocytes in skin and pore reduction abilities. Although relevant in facial skin care to help achieve a more youthful appearance, niacinamide appears to be less relevant in scalp care.
People suffering from scalp psoriasis should not be using niacinamide due to its potential role in keratinocyte proliferation – meaning that it makes the skin cell multiply, which people suffering from scalp psoriasis actually suffer from. (Psoriasis is excess multiplication of skin cells that tends to cause dry, flaky, red and itchy scalp).
Salicylic acid for scalp exfoliation
Salicylic Acid is an acid which naturally occurs in plants. It has direct activity as an anti-inflammatory agent. When applied to the skin, salicylic acid may work by helping the skin to shed dead cells from the top layer, by decreasing redness and swelling (inflammation).
In scalp care, salicylic acid can serve as a scalp exfoliator: a procedure which can help unblock hair follicles from dead skin and impurities thus potentially helping with hair growth. Although not directly involved in promoting blood flow to scalp, using a mild salicylic acid on scalp will help you rid of the dead skin cells at the roots of your hair.
Caffeine and hair growth
Although not exactly “new” caffeine-based scalp treatments play a role in being a common DHT-blocker that in a number of studies had shown elongation and enlargement of a hair follicle and stimulation of hair regrowth. Applied topically to scalp it enables direct delivery of the compound to your scalp to stimulate hair follicles to grow hair.
Generally speaking, caffeine-shampoos became very popular amongst hair loss community, however in order for caffeine to be effective, it needs to stay on your scalp for longer periods of time.
Scalp care and treatments are paramount for healthy hair, you can treat your hair lengths – but the real hair health emanates from the roots. You should consider adopting a scalp treatment at least twice a week to ensure your scalp stays balances and grows happy and healthy hair!
Who we are:
The Hair Fuel is an all-natural hair growth mask created by Laura Sagen, who embarked on her journey of hair regrowth as she lost a third of her hair after a horrific visit to a hairdresser as well as suffering from a life-long condition of PCOS (polycystic ovary syndrome) associated with androgenic hair thinning. Started off as tinkering in the kitchen, she developed the formulation rooted in science of scalp blood flow which she has used for years, before a light bulb moment to offer it to other people. This is what has become The Hair Fuel growth mask.
We work closely with our lab and manufacturers to ensure the highest quality product. But we know that a product alone is never enough – so we hold your hand throughout your own, unique hair growth journey. Our flagship product – The Hair Fuel mask – coupled with our advice, digital tools and on-going web / chat support are there to help you grow the best hair you can. It’s a big claim – but we’re unafraid to make it. Check out our starter bundles >>
Hyaluronic Acid in Inflammation and Tissue Regeneration, Wounds Journal, (1)
Ceramides and skin function (2)
Topical niacinamide reduces yellowing, wrinkling, red blotchiness, and hyperpigmented spots in aging facial skin, (3)
1. How can I stop my scalp from itching naturally?
Usually cooling of the skin leads to reduction in itchiness – therefore peppermint oil or camphor diluted in a carrier oil (e.g. sweet almond oil, grapeseed) applied to scalp can help sooth the itch. Note that it may not solve the problem which causes the itchiness, but it may help with the symptom itself.
2. Why does my scalp itch really bad?
Reasons for itchy scalp vary: from head lice, to fungal infections, to psoriasis. Some allergic reactions – that towards a hair dye or a shampoo can cause itchy scalp. It’s important to note frequency of your hair washing too – washing your hair too frequently may cause dry skin which can become itchy. And if you’re not washing it frequently enough – the build up of sweat and dust can also cause itchy scalp.
3. What is the best natural shampoo for an itchy scalp?
A silicone-free and SLS-free shampoo containing peppermint oil or tea tree oil (the latter can help fight mild fungal infection of the scalp) can help with itchy scalp. You can also add a few drops of these essential oils to your own favourite shampoo. Ensure that your shampoo doesn’t have SLS and other harsh sulfates. Product build up can lead to scalp irritation, too – and the best way to avoid it – is not use products containing silicones.
4. What is the best treatment for the scalp?
The best treatment for the scalp will depend on the issue at hand. A scalp massage can relax the muscles of the scalp also relieving you from tension and helping hair growth. Different ointments and creams can help with any skin conditions affecting your scalp. Various natural remedies, such as essential oils mixed with carrier oils can help soothe irritated scalp.
5. What does a scalp treatment do?
Depending on the goals of your scalp treatment, it can help hair growth, treat dandruff including fungal infections. Scalp is made up of skin, so it can get affected by conditions affecting other parts of your body: e.g. eczema, fungal infections, psoriasis etc.
6. How do you treat scalp problems?
Scalp problems vary by nature, so it is important to understand which is causing the issue. Since scalp is made up of skin, often special medicated washes, ointments and creams might be recommended to treat the issue. See a dermatologist or a trichologist to identify the root of your issue.
7. What is the best scalp treatment for hair growth?
The Hair fuel is the best scalp treatment for hair growth. It promotes blood flow to your hair follicles which feeds them with necessary oxygen and nutrients from the mask formulation as well as from your own body that you consume via supplements and healthy diet.
8. Does scalp treatment help hair growth?
Yes, scalp treatments are the only topical solution available to help hair growth. By focusing on the roots of your hair, you ensure that your hair follicles located in your scalp can grow healthy hair. Other solutions are internal and include supplements and lifestyle change (eg tackling stress, getting sufficient sleep, balanced diet).