For some reason, our scalps never seem to get the attention they deserve until something goes wrong. Take dandruff, for example — which is caused by an overgrowth of yeast — and the itching and flaking associated with it. As soon as those symptoms appear, that’s all we can think about. In fact, according to a recent survey by the British Skin Foundation in conjunction with dandruff shampoo maker Head & Shoulders, a third of people avoid social situations due to uncontrolled dandruff.
Kevin Mancuso, Nexxus New York Salon Care global hair creative director and certified trichologist (a specialist in hair and scalp care) has some practical advice for keeping your hair and scalp healthy so you can feel more confident in any situation.
Spend More Time Shampooing
Sorry to the blowout bar addicts who can go days without a wash, but if your scalp flakes, the first thing you want to do is wash more frequently to exfoliate scales. In mild cases, find a formula meant to maintain a balanced scalp while also keeping hair clean, like Clear Complete Care Anti-Dandruff Shampoo.”More advanced cases of dandruff need DHS Zinc Shampoo,” says Mancuso. “This formulation contains a higher level of zinc that works great to get the problem under control.”
Not only is it important to spend additional time sudsing up to treat dandruff, but it’s also essential to prevent it. “[It] varies, as scalp conditions are unique case by case,” says Mancuso. “But any style that isn’t washed on a regular basis, such as extensions, braids, dreads, or wearing wigs often — especially without cleansing the scalp — can cause dandruff,” says Mancuso.
Practice Yoga or Pilates
Add dandruff to that long list of ailments we can blame on stress. According to the American Academy of Dermatology, being in a negative mental space can worsen skin conditions, including those that appear on the scalp.Enlist exercise, a proven stress-buster, to keep calm. It’ll have a dramatic effect on your mood — and your dandruff.
Tweak Your Diet
Eating well-balanced meals won’t just help whittle your waistline: The practice can also work wonders for keeping your head and hair healthy.”Reduce bad fats in your diet, particularly chocolate and dairy,” says Mancuso of the foods that can cause more oil production, exacerbating dandruff. And add in foods with vitamin B (a deficiency can actually cause dandruff), as well as foods containing good oils, such as green vegetables, protein, and grains.
Switch to Transparent Formulas
“For the mildest dandruff conditions, I prescribe switching from a pearlized formula to a clear formula,” says Mancuso. “As an example, a client using Nexxus Oil Infinite would switch to Nexxus Hydra-Light.”
Why? Pearl or opaque formulas typically indicate a rich, moisturizing makeup (aside from the medicated versions), while clear formulas have the deep-cleaning agents ready to do battle against dandruff symptoms without leaving deposit behind.
Consider Your Environment
While dandruff can be the result of a dry scalp, steamy climates can also cause a cranky hairline. “Heat and humidity cause perspiration and oil production, so hair requires more frequent washing,” says Mancuso.On the flip side, winters and drier climates cause dehydration, so using scalp masks like an olive oil mask can resolve a simple dry scalp issue.
Massage Your Scalp
You probably know how much good a massage can do for your body; your scalp can benefit from the same kind of TLC if it’s plagued with dandruff.Apply natural oils like coconut, almond, or jojoba with a dropper or hair color applicator directly to the scalp and lightly massage the oils into your head, says Mancuso. The soothing treatment will help break up flakes and soothe your scalp. Just be sure not to scratch your head or rub too hard.
Get a Blood Test
In some cases, dandruff could be the sign of an underlying issue like a vitamin deficiency or problem with the immune system, according to the Mayo Clinic. Dandruff-like flaking can also be related to scalp psoriasis.”If the condition doesn’t resolve or worsens, see a trichologist or a dermatologist for a clear diagnosis of the condition,” says Mancuso. Having a doctor check your blood for abnormalities can help you figure out what’s causing the dandruff in the first place.