Winter and hair = dryness! And what about our scalp? We often focus all our energy on what our skin and hair looks like, but forget about our good ol’ noggin! Lucky for you, we’re here to help
In winter, when the air is dryer, you won’t feel the need to wash your hair as often, which means that your scalp will be the first to show signs of being unhappy. Product build-up, along with a sebum and pH imbalance, will cause certain conditions to flare up, such as dandruff, itchiness, dermatitis, psoriasis or just general dryness. It’s easy to confuse the one with the other, as they’re all likely to show up in the form of embarrassing white flakes and a red scalp. And with every scratch, it just seems to get worse! So it’s best to determine the cause of the insufferable itch before you reach for harsh treatments.
The Dreaded Dandruff
Dandruff, not to be confused with a dry scalp, happens when an overgrowth of skin cells occurs. Just like the skin on our body produces and sheds cells, so does our scalp, but when it produces these cells faster than they can be shed, it builds up and creates the flakes we know, and dread, as dandruff.
A number of factors can cause dandruff. One of them is genetics, which means that it’s not the weather that causes the dandruff. Unfortunately, these people are sensitive to the yeast that naturally lives on the scalp called Malassezia. This means your scalp will produce more skin cells than you need and will form dandruff flakes no matter what time of year it is.And to make matters slightly worse for people who have an oily scalp, Malassezia is lipophilic, which means that it absolutely loves oil and will thrive in those conditions.
On the bright side – and yes, there is a bright side – dandruff can be cleared up and kept relatively under control with something as simple as clarifying shampoo. Much like the skin on our face and body, we need active ingredients to accelerate cell turnover if we want smooth, healthy skin. So look for the same ingredients as you would in a toner, such as salicylic acid, zinc and tea tree. Keep in mind that dandruff does not mean you have a dry scalp, so avoid heavy formulas that could cause product build-up, such as butters, heavy masks or leave-in conditioners, and avoid applying styling products to the roots of your hair.But because winter is a time when we try to be as low-maintenance as possible, it’s important not to skip a thorough shampooing, as it helps to rinse away loose flakes and rid the scalp of build-up.
It could also be helpful to look at your diet and your lifestyle. Stress aggravates any inflammation, which causes flare-ups on all levels, including dandruff! And a diet rich with ‘comfort food’ such as spicy and sugary foods, and dairy also adds fuel to the inflammation flame.
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