Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Scalp Issues And Hair Care Tips

I continue to get email questions regarding hair care and scalp issues.

Here are some tips.

1. If you have a serious scalp issue of any kind have it checked out by a qualified medical doctor, or dermatologist. Doing so is to eliminate or treat an underlying medical condition and determine whether your scalp condition requires medical treatment.

2. Do not use too much product to clean your hair and scalp. One lather with any cleansing product is usually sufficient to clean both.

3. Do not clarify your hair too often. Clarifying products, like baking soda at the right strength, or a commercial shampoo are strong cleansing products and can be harsh and drying if overused. While baking soda or sodium bicarbonate has been shown to have antibacterial properties, high concentrations of it used for cleansing skin or hair are very drying.

4. Sulfate-free shampoos can be strong cleansing products too. Avoid multiple cleansers in a shampoo if you want a milder one to use regularly. Read the label to see if it is formulated to deep clean, if there is only one cleanser.

5. Vegetable oils and butters (because of their fatty acids) may make scalp issues or conditions worse. See this blog postthis one, and this one.

6. Do wash your scalp and hair often enough with cleansing products like shampoo, soap or washing herbs, to remove bacteria that can cause scalp issues. "Often enough" is determined by your scalp's response to extended time not washing with any of them.

7. Vinegar is not a clarifying product, or a scalp or hair cleansing product substitute.

8. I was asked in an email if I thought ethnic hair needs to be treated differently, than the recommendations for hair care in this blog. The answer I gave was this. It is not about hair ethnicity. It is about the condition of the hair. A product that adds moisture or to be precise, helps keep moisture in the hair and by extension can affect the scalp, will do so for any type of hair.

The key questions are for how long and how does it affect the scalp and hair otherwise? Typical ethnic hair care products tend to be filled with ingredients that cause: build-up, the hair to be greasy and heavy, or all of that. See this blog postthis one and regarding build-up causing the appearance of dandruff, this one.

Update in response to email inquires about vegetable oil use on the scalp
1. While scalp issues are present, consider avoiding vegetable oils and butters in shampoos, conditioners, treatments, styling products and as grooming aids. The same applies to emu oil because of its saturated and unsaturated fatty acids and like vegetable oils, it can become rancid.

2. You can still use coconut and argan oils as a pre-treatment, once a month or so before conventional dyeing or lightening, or the use of natural henna, to assist dye uptake. See number 3. The oil(s) do not need to be left on the hair and scalp for too long. They are removed at the end of the processes by washing out the products used.

3. It is not a good idea to dye or lighten your hair, until you have fully recovered from a scalp condition flare-up. Conventional dyes and lightening products are not recommended on their labels, to be applied to broken or irritated skin. See all cautions and directions on the labels and paper inserts. Specific warnings are government regulated.

See Also
FDA, "Cosmetic Labeling and Label Claims", updated 2014
The International Academy of Cosmetic Dermatology, "PETROLATUM, GREASE, AND ACNE"
The International Academy of Cosmetic Dermatology, "WHAT IS COSMETIC DERMATOLOGY?"
The American Shea Butter Institute, "Frequently Asked Questions", 2013
This blog post
And this research study, 2013