Heads up! You may need a scalp detox

Ditching certain habits for a new clean routine can help your hair grow full, shiny, and strong.

Portrait of Tammy Strobel

Ditching certain habits for a new clean routine can help your hair grow full, shiny, and strong.

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You've heard it hundreds of times! Extending time between shampoos (and making do with dry shampoo) preserves your colour, lets your scalp’s natural oils hydrate the hair, and minimises heat-styling damage. Problem is, what’s good for your hair isn’t necessarily good for your scalp, and an unhealthy scalp eventually affects the quality of new hair growth. “I’ve seen a steady uptick in patients who come in complaining of chronic scalp irritation, hair breakage, and shedding issues largely rooted in under-washing and overusing styling products,” says Dr Shereene Idriss, a dermatologist at Union Square Laser Dermatology in New York City. So how you do reconcile the needs of your hair with the care of your scalp? It’s not that hard. Start by following our regimen here.


“You wouldn’t go for days without washing your body, then sprinkle powder on your forearm and consider it clean,” says Dr Shani Francis, a medical director at Ashira Dermatology in Evanston, Illinois, who says calling dry shampoo shampoo is a misnomer. To keep your scalp healthy, you must treat it as you do your facial skin and remove impurities regularly – as in every three days at a minimum. “Styling products should not be left on your scalp for days and days,” Dr Francis says.

If they are, the scalp skin will become irritated, pre-existing conditions like psoriasis, eczema, and dandruff will flare up, and you will impede hair growth. David Adams, an Aveda colourist and owner of Fourteenjay Salon in New York City, describes it like this: “When you don’t shampoo regularly, product build-up becomes so dense, it blocks the opening of hair follicles, limiting the number of strands that can get out. This means a follicle that was once growing three or four strands may now sprout only one or two.”

FIRST AID Rene Furterer Complexe 5 Regenerating Plant Extract ($80.60, leading pharmacies) is a pre-shampoo treatment that provides a deep but gentle cleanse while Kerastase Specifique Bain Vital Dermo-Calm Cleansing Soothing Shampoo ($29.90, www.lazada.sg) is designed to treat oily and irritated scalps.


“Removing dead skin cells from the scalp improves the health of your epidermis, stimulates hair follicles, and promotes more robust hair growth,” Dr Idriss says. It also gets rid of stubborn sticky or oily product buildup that may not be completely broken down by shampoo or even a clarifying formula. “If your hair and scalp are in good condition, exfoliating once or twice a month is plenty,” David says. But if your scalp is flaky or itchy – or you’ve been going long stretches without shampooing – up the ante to weekly exfoliation for the first month.

As for shedding methods, the simplest one is to just “manually exfoliate the scalp skin using a brush with soft rubber tips,” says Temur Dzidziguri, a hairstylist with Sharon Dorram Color at Sally Hershberger Salon in New York. Massage the scalp with the bristles to loosen dead skin and grime, then step into the shower and shampoo it out. Another option: Add a teaspoon of sugar to a quarter-size drop of shampoo to make your own cleansing scrub.

FIRST AID The Aveda Pramasana Exfoliating Scalp Brush ($46) lifts away scalp build-up without tangling hair. L’Oreal Paris Ever fresh Micro-Exfoliating Scrub ($19.90, Guardian) and The Body Shop Fuji Green Tea Refreshingly Purifying Cleansing Hair Scrub ($29) provide a mild physical exfoliation to rid your scalp of dead skin cells.


“Just like the skin on the rest of your body, the scalp needs moisture to function efficiently,” Dr Francis says. But lubing up daily like you do on your face or hands is impractical and unnecessary. Hydrating once or twice a week should suffice, says Dr Idriss, who says you can simply massage a little conditioner into the scalp, post-shampoo, while you condition your hair. There are also easily absorbed leave-in scalp serums and tonics that can be applied right after shampooing to hydrate and rebalance the scalp.

FIRST AID Alterna Haircare Caviar Repair RX Lengthening Hair & Scalp Elixir (prices vary, www.amazon.com) and Sachajuan Scalp Treatment ($62, www.sephora.sg) nourish the scalp and provide it with extra moisture.


Shielding the scalp from UV rays whenever possible is key, says Dr Idriss, who adds that UV-related actinic keratosis damage to the scalp can cause hair loss – and lead to skin cancer. Consider using a powder sunscreen on areas where the scalp is exposed. If you are at the pool or beach, treat an oily sunscreen as a scalp protectant and styler. After spritzing it on, slick hair into a chignon.

FIRST AID Peter Thomas Roth Oily Problem Skin Instant Mineral SPF30 ($60, www.sephora.sg) can be dusted undetectably into hair. Phytoplage Protective Sun Veil ($35, www.lazada.sg) functions equally well for scalp protection, hair treatment, and styling.

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With testimonials from celebs like Madonna and Natalie Portman, barre workouts that make use of the ballet barre to combine balance with dynamic movements to strengthen and sculpt bodies are gaining more recognition worldwide. Expect to experience a workout like no other at Webarre where the techniques of ballet, yoga, pilates and strength training are combined in one class. Even better, you do not have to be a ballerina to attempt this workout. It is suitable for people across all fitness levels.

Priced at $40 for single drop-in classes. Visit www.webarre.com.
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Save time on exfoliation and let CNP Cosmetics’ Peeling Cream Mask work its magic while you sleep. This easy-to-use sleeping mask is a lifesaver for dull and rough complexions. Simply apply it before bedtime and its main ingredient polyhydroxy acid, a chemical exfoliant, will gently dissolve and remove dead skin cells overnight. The mask also forms a layer over your skin to retain moisture. The overall result? Smooth, radiant skin by the morning.

Priced at $42.80 for 80ml at www.cnpcosmetics.com.sg and Guardian stores.
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Here’s one brand that prides itself on producing shoes that are both stylish and comfortable: MBT. Its latest Malindi Recovery Sandals are no different. Their uniquely curved midsoles were designed to hug the arches of your feet for the best support. The soles are also made of MBT’s very own propriety cushioning material so your feet will never get sore. What’s more, the depth of the sandals cradles and supports your heels for maximum comfort.

Available at $109 at MBT in Paragon and Suntec City Mall. Visit www.mbt.com.
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At Orangetheory, technology meets fitness. Participants do high-intensity interval training workouts while tracking their progress in real-time using heart-rate monitors. All you need to do is make sure that you push yourself hard enough for an hour and your body will continue to torch fat for the next 36 hours.

You will be burning calories without even lifting a finger. With technologically advanced equipment and experienced coaches, the environment at Orangetheory is perfect for you to reach your fitness goals. Try it out in a complimentary class redeemable online or at the studio. 

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Pure Yoga’s latest outlet at Suntec City Mall spans over 1,022 sq m and houses four studios. Its weekly classes feature more than 20 yoga styles, including hot yoga and yoga wheel.

Whether you are a beginner or are at an advanced level, the yoga instructors will be able to cater to your abilities. To end your yoga session, freshen up under the rain showers in the spacious changing area. You can also curb post-workout hunger pangs at the food juice bar, which does healthy smoothies and snacks.

Register for classes at #01-501 Suntec City Mall North Atrium. Visit www.pure-yoga.com
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This night cream from Eversoft doubles as a sleeping mask to revitalise your skin overnight while the soothing scent of lavender essential oil ensures you get the beauty rest you need.

Also formulated with natural antioxidants, bamboo extract water and vitamins to deliver nutrients and moisture, the brightening and hydrating effects of Eversoft Skinz Hydra Nature Radiant Lullaby Pack (100ml) will leave your skin feeling fresh and supple.

Pay just $37.70 (UP $41.90) in the month of April at leading supermarkets or online at www.lazada.sg and www.qoo10.sg.
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The Skechers GOrun Ride is back with its seventh generation. Its Flight Gen cushioned midsole provides the optimal impact protection for your feet so that you feel stable and secure during runs.

Comfortable and lightweight, Skechers’ Gorun Ride 7 trainers are sure to make clocking in those kilometres even more effortless. What’s more, the pull tab feature makes putting on and removing your shoes more convenient. Plus, the seamlessly designed, breathable two-toned knit material keeps feet fresh and dry.

Priced at $139 at key Skechers concept stores. Visit www.skechers.com.sg
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True Fitness caters to both yogis and fitness junkies. With eight locations islandwide, you are bound to find one nearby whenever you need a quick workout. You can choose from yoga, spinning and even dance classes, or simply utilise the well facilitated gyms for a workout.

More good news: The cardiovascular training equipment comes with TV and iPod links to keep you entertained while you sweat it out. The spacious area for free weights and stretching also gives you the flexibility to vary your workouts. If you need help, personal training programmes can be tailored to your needs and abilities.

Enjoy a special price of $55 per month from now till June 30 this year when you present this snippet to the counter. Visit www.truefi tnesss.com.sg.