It's the middle of October and winter is already approaching. Many of us will struggle with dryness during the colder months so it's important to treat your scalp and take preventative measures. Let's start by understanding the difference between dandruff and a dry scalp. Dry scalp is determined by small white flakes and the main reason stems from extreme dehydration. The lack of moisture can be due to over washing your hair, the temperature of the water, and poor shampoo and conditioner quality. Poor quality products will strip your scalp of the natural oils that are needed to keep hydrated. Hot water will further strip the natural oils from your scalp, especially if you wash your hair everyday. Try using a slightly cooler temperature when washing your hair, along with washing every other day to allow the skin to re-balance. If your hair gets oily quickly, using a dry shampoo at the roots will keep the hair from looking greasy. Dry Shampoo allows you to go every other day between washes and protect your skin.
Dandruff on the other hand, is far more embarrassing because we typically think it's caused from "lack of cleanliness". The cause usually stems from a biological imbalance of the scalp. You will notice larger flakes with more of a yellowish color and wax consistency rather than a white color. The scalp is undergoing a bacterial infection and becomes noticeably itchy and irritated. This can be brought on by several factors starting with hormone imbalance. Women receive excess oil production when their estrogen level drops, the excess oil triggers the growth of fungus which gives you dandruff. Hair care products with strong and toxic ingredients further play a role in dandruff. When you use products with these toxic ingredients the scalp's pH balance becomes compromised, allowing your scalp to be irritated and dehydrated. Another unknown factor may be that we have a nutrient deficiency of vitamin B12, vitamin E, and Zinc. Those of us who rarely consume these nutrients are more prone to dandruff than others. Add in stress, weather extremes and an increase in alcohol consumption and you have a variety of signs pointing to the cause of those terrible itchy flakes.
Dandruff can be prevented and treated if you take the right steps to a healthier lifestyle. Make sure to eat foods rich in Vitamin B12, Vitamin E and Zinc, regulate your alcohol and be sure to exercise to keep stress at bay. Avoid harsh hair products and choose a natural hair care route. I love using tea tree products (especially by Paul Mitchell) to soothe the scalp and calm the irritation. Tea tree oils have natural anti-fungal properties that are effective of treating dandruff. If you are ever unsure about the health of your scalp ask your hair stylist to check at your next appointment. They may be able offer you a service to treat your scalp or offer advice on the best products to be using at home.
If your scalp is in severe condition (severe itching/bleeding) then the stylist will recommend you seek out a medical professional for a diagnosis. Hopefully this clears up any questions or misconceptions about the conditions of dry scalp and dandruff. Don't ever be embarrassed to ask questions, especially in regards to the health of your hair and scalp. I love offering specialized winter treatments and providing my clients with the proper product lines for every season. With our colder months ahead, lets take action to keep our skin hydrated and our bodies healthy!