Why & How You Should Be Exfoliating Your Scalp
Why & How You Should Be Exfoliating Your Scalp

Why & How You Should Be Exfoliating Your Scalp

Scalp health is a hot topic these days – and rightly so, seeing as the length and look of your hair depend on it. To ensure you give your scalp the care and attention it deserves, we asked two trichologists to explain what you should be doing and why…
By Rebecca Hull

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Remember Your Scalp Is Still Skin

“We know what it takes to leave our faces looking and feeling fresh, nourished and healthy. Our scalps are no different, yet they’re often neglected. Adding a simple scalp scrub to your routine can change all that. Like the skin on your face, your scalp benefits from gentle weekly exfoliation. Exfoliating masks help to remove dead skin cells and flakes, and can improve the overall health of your scalp. Over time, regular use will reduce and calm conditions such as dryness, dandruff, excessive oiliness or irritation.” Anabel Kingsley, consultant trichologist & Philip Kingsley brand president

Understand Its Importance

“The scalp, put simply, is the root of all hair health. It also ages six times faster than anywhere else, so it’s important to treat it with lots of care. In my opinion, prioritising scalp health is the first step to getting the rest of your hair to thrive. Whether you’re looking to strengthen strands, reduce fallout or treat conditions like psoriasis and dandruff, you need to start with your scalp. Taking care of it and prioritising a proper routine will give you a head start and ensure you maintain the right results. It’s also the answer to accelerating better hair growth.” Helen Reavey, founder of Act+Acre & celebrity hairstylist

Use An Exfoliator Weekly

“How often you apply a scrub depends on the condition of your scalp, but once a week is a good rule of thumb. If your scalp is flaky or itchy, or you have a sore or dehydrated scalp, use a targeted scalp mask twice a week until symptoms clear up. Otherwise, once weekly is enough. In terms of how to use a mask, apply it in one-inch partings from ear to ear. Massage the mask into your scalp for a couple of minutes, using firm yet gentle pressure. Roughly rubbing your scalp can irritate it and you may also end up tangling or breaking strands. Read the directions to check how long to leave your mask on for – generally, this is around ten to 20 minutes.” – Anabel

“A chemical exfoliant is a great addition to your hair routine. It may sound intense, but our Act+Acre Scalp Renew is ideal as it uses just 0.15% salicylic acid to exfoliate and remove build-up, while calming any scalp irritation. Yes, it improves the health of your scalp, but it also improves the efficacy of any shampoos and conditioners you use afterwards as they can penetrate the shaft better.” – Helen


Find The Right Formula

“Finding the right formula for your scalp is key. If you don’t have specific concerns, any exfoliating mask will work – just avoid sulfates and silicones which can clog follicles and strip your scalp of good bacteria. If you suffer with soreness and dryness, try hydrating scalp masks instead. Look for ones that contain ingredients like aloe vera and olive oil, as these will moisturise the scalp while getting rid of any build-up. If you suffer with flakiness and itchiness, anti-fungal ingredients are key, including salicylic and lactic acid. Green tea extract is also useful for keeping flakes at bay.” – Anabel

Be Careful Not To Overdo It

“If your scalp is on the drier side, it’s possible to over-exfoliate, so go carefully. In this instance, I’d recommend exfoliating on a bi-weekly basis. Look for formulas that contain hydrating ingredients, like fruit extracts, to rebalance the microbiome on your scalp. Additionally, if you’re struggling with ongoing dryness and irritation, try adding a hydrating serum to your routine. There are plenty out there that will hydrate your scalp and balance the skin barrier. You can also use nutrient-rich shampoos to bolster the hydration within your scalp.” – Helen

THE SCALP, IS THE ROOT OF ALL HAIR HEALTH. It also ages six times faster than anywhere else, so it’s important to treat it with lots of care.

Follow A Routine Like This

“Once a week, pre-shower, use a gentle exfoliating treatment on dry hair to break down oil and remove product build-up. Then, once you’re in the shower, cleanse with a sulfate-free and synthetic-free shampoo – use this all over your scalp, starting at the base of your neck towards your hairline. Once rinsed out, repeat the process again. The first wash removes build-up, the second works specifically on the scalp. After you’ve done this, condition the hair with a moisture-rich conditioner that boosts hydration, or use a mask that’s full of protein to boost shine. If you want to accelerate hair growth, I recommend using a dermaroller on a freshly washed scalp. The needles create micro-channels on the scalp to stimulate blood flow to the hair follicle and release growth factors. Finish off with a hair serum if needed.” – Helen

Pay Attention To Other Aspects Too

“Maintaining a healthy scalp doesn’t start or stop with the products you use. You need to have a balanced diet and increase your water intake. Diet and water are so important for healthy hair growth. Eat foods rich in protein, selenium and biotin. If you’re going to use supplements, look for ones that contain vitamins rich in plant extracts and amino acids. Likewise, it’s worth increasing your collagen intake as this supports better elastin both in the skin and hair.” – Helen

Finally, Don’t Neglect Self-Massage

“Add a scalp massage to your routine. You can do this with your fingers and knuckles or a dedicated brush. Just as facial massage is good for stimulating skin and blood flow, your scalp can reap the same benefits.” – Helen

For more hair advice & tips, follow @HelenReavey & @Anabel_Kingsley on Instagram.


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