In addition to thickening shampoos and leave-in conditioners, the best scalp serums are key to healthy-looking hair. “A healthy scalp is the bedrock for really exceptional hair days,” says hairstylist Cyndia Harvey.
Like most unassuming but quietly hardworking parts of our bodies, we only pay attention to our scalp when it starts to misbehave. The problem is, there’s no ignoring it when things go off-kilter. “The same problems that occur with your skin can afflict your scalp,” explains Anabel Kingsley, consultant trichologist and brand president at Philip Kingsley. “Your scalp shouldn’t feel itchy, or be consistently sore or painful. Some people are more prone to scalp conditions than others but we are seeing a lot of flaking and sensitivity, excessive amounts of hair shedding and a reduction in the diameter of the hairs themselves.”
There are many factors that can contribute to poor scalp health. “Many people find their scalp becomes problematic during times of stress or when they eat certain foods,” says Kingsley. “For instance, eating full fat cheese and chocolate can trigger scalp flaking and pimples; much as it does with facial skin. Additionally, hormonal shifts just before and during menstruation can cause the scalp to become oilier than usual, and a bit itchy and pimply.” Other causes include medication, climate changes, product changes or changes to a hair care regimen.
Do scalp serums help?
Yes. Designed to nourish and repair the scalp, a scalp serum can be the difference between limp, lackluster locks and healthy looking hair. From promoting hair growth and replenishing moisture to minimizing the production of oil, which results in lank, greasy hair, not to mention soothing tension caused by heat and pollution, scalp serums can totally rejuvenate the scalp and hair, from root to tip.
How do I choose a scalp serum?
It depends on what you’re looking for, whether that’s to treat hair loss, hydrate a dry scalp, relieve itchiness or simply elevate your hair regimen for gorgeous glowing locks.
If you’re prone to an oily scalp, reach for serums that exfoliate the pores, clearing them of any unwanted sebum, dead cell and yeast build up. Here’s where your acids come in, in particular lactic, glycolic, and salicylic. If you want to stimulate hair growth, however, try a serum containing minoxidil or rosemary to help increase blood flow and activate the hair follicle. And if you want to treat a dry, flaky scalp, look for hydrating serums containing hyaluronic acid.
How often should you use serum on your scalp?
Again, it depends on what you’re using it for. Over exfoliation with harsh acids can contribute to dryness, while minoxidil should be used as directed. However, serums that help protect the hair from dryness and environmental aggressors should be fine to use most days, unless specified. If in doubt, always read the label.
This article was originally published on British Vogue.