Those "dandruff flakes" you've been worrying about might not be dandruff at all, but a common occurrence known as dry scalp. Sometimes, it can also be accompanied by oily hair which is an indicator that the natural balance of the scalp needs stabilising. As frustrating as it can be to try and fix these two hair problems at the same time, finding the right balance of moisture is simpler than you may think.
Here's what may be behind your dry scalp and oily hair, along with a holistic approach for bringing balance back to your scalp and hair as soon as possible.
First, Is Your Scalp Dry?
For any scalp condition, consult a doctor or dermatologist for a diagnosis. Your doctor may choose to treat dandruff with medicated dandruff shampoo or salicylic acid treatments to rid the scalp of the yeasts that cause dandruff. Another medical condition, seborrheic dermatitis, can cause itching of the scalp. Other causes of itchy scalp conditions could be parasitic infections such as head lice or fungal infections like ringworm which is treated by ointments with antifungal properties. If left untreated, extreme itching can damage follicles and even contribute to hair loss.
So, before you run to the pharmacy to pick up something for treating dandruff, consider this: your itching scalp may not be dandruff. Furthermore, most dandruff shampoos contain ingredients and sulphates that could worsen your dry scalp condition by stripping your hair of oils, which in turn can cause excessive sebum production and an oily scalp, creating a cycle of imbalance for your scalp and your hair.
Signs of Dry Scalp
When the scalp does not have enough moisture it can become dry, flaky, and itchy. You can treat a dry scalp skinq condition or a flaky scalp by cleansing the hair regularly with the right shampoo and by using a light moisturiser and regular scalp detox treatments.
An itchy scalp is the primary sign of a dry scalp but other signs include; a tight or dry feeling of the scalp, light but visible flakes – these are dead skin cells shedding due to increased dryness on the scalp, and mild scalp irritation
A dry scalp is caused by the normal sebum produced by the scalp's sebaceous glands being washed away too fully and frequently by using shampoos that are too harsh, too alkaline, stripping or drying. Like dry skin, your dry scalp can be soothed with the right care, and this begins by using the right hair care products.
Signs of Oily Hair
Oily hair has a greasy, shiny, and oily feel to it and may appear limp or dull and lifeless. Excessive oil from the scalp or heavy oils from hair products could cause oily hair, but also genetics play a role. Oily hair requires delicate cleansing to correct the oily overload without drying the scalp.
A healthy follicular environment produces the right amount of sebum to lubricate the scalp and hair – but some hair care products can throw off this natural balance. In short, if you have a dry scalp and greasy hair, then what you are currently doing to your hair is not working and it's time for a change.
Balancing a Dry Scalp and Oily Hair
VEGAMOUR spoke with Dr Cheryl Rosen with BowTiedLife. Rosen is a board-certified dermatologist with over 15 years of experience practising cosmetic dermatology. We asked how she advises her clients with dry scalp and oily hair and she shared her expertise based on her clinical research.
Rosen said that a dry scalp is often the result of "using products that are too harsh and strip the scalp of its natural oils, or it could be caused by an underlying condition such as psoriasis or eczema." She also advised that for oily hair, specifically, to "avoid using heavy products that will weigh down your hair and make it look even greasier."
VEGAMOUR agrees that using the right hair products will not only take excellent care of the hair and scalp but will also help maintain the perfect moisture balance for a healthy scalp and beautiful, healthy hair. Finding a balance of sebum production can help to resolve the itching and light flaking of a dry scalp without exacerbating the oily hair problem. The key word here is balance.
Your dry scalp and oily hair solutions are multifaceted: You'll want to see a dermatologist to rule out medical conditions, replace your current hair products, and begin shampooing your hair on a regular schedule to help encourage a natural balance of sebum produced on the scalp. You can also do a weekly rinse with cool water and white vinegar to clarify the hair strands if the oily issue is overwhelming the hair. You can discontinue the vinegar rinses once the hair and scalp are more balanced.
Switch Out Your Shampoo
Replace your old shampoo with a vegan option such as our GRO Revitalizing Shampoo, which is safe to use every day if needed. This shampoo is sulphate free (so it won't strip your scalp of precious moisture) and is formulated with vegan Karmatin™ protein rather than animal-based keratin proteins. It also has wild harvested marula, baobab and ximenia oils which help to nourish and moisturise the scalp without leaving behind pore-blocking residue.
Some environmental factors can also kick your sebum into overdrive – like hitting the gym more often and sweating a lot, or dry air that's pulling moisture from your hair and scalp.
Use the Right Moisturising Conditioner
Use a light-moisture conditioner that partners well with your shampoo, such as GRO Revitalizing Conditioner. This lightweight conditioner nourishes the hair strands with the same moisturisers you love from GRO Revitalizing shampoo: wild harvested marula oil, organic murumuru butter and ximenia oil to balance moisture throughout the strands without leaving an oily or greasy residue.
Detox the Scalp Weekly
To help balance your follicular ecosystem, the GRO Scalp Detoxifying Serum gently removes persistent buildup while locking in moisture to help prevent dry scalp and protect the scalp from pollutants. Not only that, but in this scalp treatment the evening primrose and red clover reduce the appearance of flakes.
When In Doubt, Balance Out Your Treatment
If you're experiencing both a dry scalp and oily hair at the same time, your scalp's ecosystem is off balance. A dry, flaky scalp could be caused by factors like dry conditions in your environment or overwashing your hair, but a flaky itchy scalp could also be a sign of dandruff or another scalp condition. Be sure to see a medical professional who can accurately diagnose what's going on, and treat your scalp with some TLC by incorporating gentle all-natural products into your routine.
Photo credit: Guillaume Bolduc/Unsplash