Take Care Of Your Scalp, Too

As much as you do your face – because it is all skin too, even if it’s covered by your hair. So it needs to be kept clean, hydrated and treated with care.

Portrait of Tammy Strobel

As much as you do your face – because it is all skin too, even if it’s covered by your hair. So it needs to be kept clean, hydrated and treated with care.

We tend to fixate on our hair. Taming frizz, colouring, perming, cutting… the list goes on. But here’s why  you shouldn’t neglect the scalp: It’s where the hair roots are embedded. And the scalp, says Dr Chuah Sai Yee, consultant at the National Skin Centre, needs sufficient nutrients for new hair shaft to grow. A healthy scalp, then, equals healthy hair.

The scalp actually needs more TLC than your face. The dirt and pollution that clog the pores on your face also clog the ones on your scalp, leading to flaking and itching. If ignored, this can result in dermatitis, an inflammatory condition, says Leonica Kei, founder and principal trichologist at Leonica K Trichology.

In fact, Kate Lim, senior educator at L’Oreal Kerastase, says that even without congestion, the scalp already has a tendency to age six times faster than your face. And that’s when you’ll see hair thinning and hair loss. Here’s what you need to do for a healthy scalp.

1. Keep it scrupulously clean

A tip from Kei: “Choose a shampoo according to your scalp condition, like how you’d choose a cleanser according to your skin type.” Hair type isn’t important here: It’s simply fibre – and dead tissue – whereas your scalp is living skin.

A normal scalp is one that does not react adversely to shampoos; an oily scalp needs to be washed daily or it becomes smelly and/or the hair becomes flat; a sensitive scalp is itchy and/or flaky; and the last type is a dandruffprone scalp.

2. Massage it every day

This lets nutrients in, says Takeyoshi Kaku, president of Japan Gateway Co. Ltd, which owns Japanese haircare brand Reveur Fraicheur. “Use gentle circular motions to boost blood circulation,” he says.

To learn how to do daily scalp massage at home, go to our digital edition.

3. Keep an eye out for active ingredients

Botanical oils, for example, when used in a high-enough concentration, can make a difference, says Kaku. Reveur Fraicheur says its scalp series ($22.90 each for the shampoo and conditioner) has 1,000 times more botanical and essential oils than other brands, to nourish the scalp and strengthen its skin barrier. The ingredients include freshly distilled ylangylang, plumeria, and davana.

4. Use a scalp mask

A scalp mask is not a hair mask. Hair masks are to give hair a healthy sheen, whereas scalp masks are meant to strengthen the scalp.

Lim says the anti-ageing scalp masks from L’Oreal Kerastase focus on deepcleansing and have hydrating and purifying properties. “They are more lightweight than hair masks, so they’re easy to apply and wash off,” she says. Evenly coat and massage the scalp (not the hair ends) with product, leave it on for 15-20min, then wash off thoroughly. Use two to three times a week.

5. Get a monthly scalp treatment

“The humidity in Singapore can make sebaceous glands are more active, so in-salon treatments are good for taking out any last traces of pollution build-up,” Lim says. That’s seconded by Kei and Dr Eileen Lee, operations director of Drhair.

At Leonica K Trichology, the Deep Cleansing Scalp Treatment ($450) helps remove sebaceous buildup, calm sensitised nerves and cleanse the scalp. And Drhair’s Anti-hairloss treatment ($420) maintains scalp health with peptides. Dr Lee says: “It keeps the scalp clean, and helps hair grow more healthily. We’ve seen customers return after weeks with a restored crowning glory.” – CT