If you’re rigorous in your skin care, you probably know what type of skin you have. There are several distinct types, including oily, dry and combination—each of which has its own traits that need to be considered for appropriate care. There are products galore out there, specifically engineered for each skin type.
But, did you know your scalp also needs this same level of special attention when it comes to daily hair care? That’s right! You can’t just grab any old shampoo and conditioner combo off the shelf and suds up your hair. Just like with your facial skin care regimen, your scalp needs to be considered for its own unique traits, to ensure it’s being nourished properly.
Determining your scalp type
Figuring out your scalp type is generally easy if you know your skin type—the two are generally linked. Oily skin begets an oily scalp, just like dry skin contributes to a dry scalp. If you know your skin type, you’ve already got a jump on knowing what your scalp care needs are.
If you’re unfamiliar with your skin type, there are a few simple ways to diagnose your scalp type. First, don’t wash your hair for at least a day, to let it return to its natural condition. Then, observe your hair and scalp to discern their attributes. Here are a few of the factors to look for and what they generally contribute to your scalp:
- If your hair looks or feels greasy after just a day removed from washing it and the strands clump together, it’s the sign of an oily scalp. Your T-zone (brow line) will also likely be oily.
- If your hair is relatively dry, feels brittle or reacts to static after a day of being unwashed, you’ve likely got a dry scalp. Your hair will feel rough and your scalp may even begin to flake after just a day of not nourishing it.
- If your hair feels greasy or oily near the roots, but gets dry and rough at the ends, you’re probably dealing with a combination scalp.
- If your scalp feels perfectly normal and shows no sign of excessive dryness or grease, even 3-4 days after washing, you could have a normal scalp.
Within each type of scalp are varying degrees of severity. For example, you could have an extremely oily scalp, which can produce oily hair just a few hours after you shower. Likewise, an extremely dry scalp can result in severe dandruff or flakes even when properly hydrated. There’s a sliding scale to consider, even after you’ve identified your scalp type.
Caring for your unique scalp
Once you know what you’re dealing with, it’s easier to treat your scalp to properly nourish it. Here are a few tips to keep in mind as you’re trying to manage your scalp’s needs on a daily basis:
- Oily: It’s a good idea to cold-wash your hair. Hot water stimulates the oil glands of the skin, which can leave you feeling oily soon after a shower. It’s also a smart idea to use a mild shampoo and wash gently daily or every other day. Also, to really quell oil production, it’s a smart idea to adapt your diet to one that’s healthier—more leafy greens, fewer fatty foods.
- Dry: Shampoo infrequently if you’re dealing with a dry scalp! Too much shampoo can strip out what little oil you have, exacerbating the problem. Once or twice a week should be fine. Comb and untangle wet hair with care and be sure to use products with nourishing properties, such as tea tree oil. It’s also a good idea to avoid hot styling tools.
- Combination: The trickiest situation to deal with, combination scalp treatments are usually tailored to the individual. The best approach is to treat your scalp as you would an oily scalp (since that’s where the oil is concentrated) and be sure to moisturize the ends of your hair often. Essential vitamins and oils are also great products to consider.
- Normal: If you have a normal scalp, just keep doing what you’re doing! A normal scalp is the envy of most and needs to be shampooed only every 3-4 days. It’s also safe to style and use most products on, although avoiding high heat is generally advised.
If you’re stuck dealing with an extreme scalp condition, it’s also a good idea to meet with a professional stylist or even a dermatologist who can make suggestions based on your unique condition. Often, stylists have product or care recommendations that have helped others with your same scalp type.
Enjoy the results of a well-maintained scalp
Giving your scalp the proper care it deserves has beautiful results that feel as good as they look! You’ll have hair that’s healthier and stronger, a scalp that doesn’t experience itching or irritation and a new hair care regimen that works for you. Knowledge is power when it comes to your scalp and skin—get to know what type you have so you can care for it effectively!