Practices such as braiding tightly and itching your scalp can damage your scalp and retard your growth. When your scalp feels itchy, you should use the pad of your fingers to rub the infected area. Do NOT use your nails. Conditions such as dandruff and a dry scalp could also affect hair growth. For these, I recommend a medicated dandruff shampoo or shampoo with tea tree oil (such as Trader Joe's Tea Tree Shampoo) for the dandruff and an oil mix for dry scalp problems. I have an oil mix that I keep in an applicator bottle. The tip lets me easily apply it to my scalp. I mixed in jojoba oil, peppermint essential oil, olive oil, Mielle Organic's Mint Almond Oil ,and castor oil. Peppermint essential oil has been shown to increase hair growth (shown in this study), and jojoba oil matches the natural sebum that our scalp produce. Because jojoba oil is expensive and peppermint oil should not be used by itself, I mixed it with other oils that are also good for the scalp and that can lubricate it to prevent dryness. I make sure not to be heavy handed when I apply it to prevent my hair from becoming oily. I massage the oil into my scalp because it improves circulation and promotes hair growth.
Maintaining Scalp Health
In addition to using dandruff shampoos and scalp oils, there is the number one most important thing one should do to improve and maintain their scalp's health.
That's scalp exfoliation! Just as you should clarify or chelate your hair in order to rid your hair of build up that a regular shampoo does not clean, you should exfoliate your scalp to clean it more thoroughly than regular shampoo could.
This video talks about scalp exfoliation. As you can see, although the woman washed her hair regularly, it was not enough to thoroughly clean the scalp. The scalp had build up which could retard the woman's hair growth. The trichologist used a scalp exfoliator to remove the dead skin cells, excess sebum, and build up on the scalp.
Affects of Build Up, Excess Sebum, and Dead Skin Cells on the Scalp
Excess sebum could actually clog pores and harden inside the pores, which causes growth retardation and increased shedding. In the long term, this leads to hair loss and hair thinness (due to the excess of sebum, dead skin cells, etc, in the pores and follicles, the follicles will shrink and as a result the size of the hair strand will shrink, resulting in thin hair.)
Scalp exfoliation is great for people with dandruff and eczema. It will also help with scalp acne.
How to Exfoliate Your Scalp
Once a week before you shampoo your scalp (remember: you apply shampoo to your scalp, and not your actual hair).
What to use?
1.) Salicylic acid or fruit enzyme exfoliant: It softens dead skin cells and remove harden sebum that is trapped in the folicle, and it makes it easier for the shampoo to remove the dead skin. Because it softens the dead skin cells, it does not require any scrubbing. It also removes excess sebum on the hair folicle. It is very gentle and the first choice to exfoliate the scalp. Use before the shampoo. Recommended for those with braids, dreadlocks, or weave because it's it's easy to use if you have braids, dreadlocks, or weave.
Enzymes based exfoliatiors:
- Philip Kingsley Exfoliating Scalp Mask (what she used in the video)
- Alterna Caviar Exfoliating Scalp Facial
- Kiehls Deep Micro-Exfoliating Scalp Treatment
- Aveda Invati Exfoliating Shampoo
- Ouidad Mediterranean Bay Leaf Exfoliating Hair and Scalp Treatment
2.) Paddle Brush: Make sure none of the bristles are broken or missing, or it will scratch. She says think of it as a broom and the scalp is the floor. It is the broom sweeping away dirt from the floor. It will just remove excess dead skin but not excess sebum. Make sure to shampoo after. It is not to massage the scalp but to exfoliate. After you use it for 2-3 minutes, wash your hair afterwards. It is easy to use on relaxed or straight hair.
3.) Rhassoul and Bentonite clay: It has minerals that are good for the scalp. Will not remove excess sebum trapped in the hair follicle but it will remove excess oil on the scalp and the dead skin cells to a certain extent.
4.) Baking soda: she has not used this method yet but noted that people have tried it.
5.) Sugar or salt: not recommended for those with sensitive scalps. Can be very irritating for the scalp and not the best to try as an exfoliator. Sugar can create tiny wounds on the scalp, and she does not recommend it but it may work for you.
More scalp exfoliator recommendations can be found here and you can learn about the Scalp Invigorator, which Sunshyne from Hairlicious uses, here and get it 50% if you are interested in trying it out.
*Exfoliants that do not contain enzymes will rely on beads or coarse substances and scrubbing to remove dead skin. Therefore while you do not need to rub in the first suggestion, the other ones you would have to in order to exfoliate your scalp.*
**Do a patch test beforehand on a small area in case you have an allergic reaction**
It brings more oxygen to your scalp because your pores are open and free of excess sebum, build up, and dead skin cells.
You can learn more about scalp exfoliation and check out a homemade recipe by checking out Longing4Length's post here.
There is also a thread at the LongHairCareForum's site started by the trichologist who posted the video which you could read here.
Will you try scalp exfoliation?
Have you ever tried it?
What were your results?