Whether you have waves, locs, or natural curls, chances are you also have something else: dry hair or scalp. In fact, at least 2 out of every 5 men suffer from some form of irritation at the scalp level. We get it, you want to know what to do (and fast!) to relieve the itch and eliminate the dandruff flaking that's cramping your style.
To help uncover a bit more, we caught up with trichologist and owner of her namesake salon, Penny James, who shares her expert advice on dealing with those annoying flakes.
According to James, the most common culprits of dandruff include lack of sebum of the scalp, change in weather, harsh cleansers, and hair texture. “[All of these] can make the hair seem brittle, plus tightly coiled is prone to dryness and needs to be kept hydrated.” In short, moisture is the name of the game, but if you're currently washing your hair with harsh chemicals (and skipping conditioner) you’re already in trouble.
Most textured hair tends to be less oily, which is why using harsh cleansers lead to dryness. The more you wash, without replenishing moisture, the easier it will be for that dryness and itch to transform into flakes. “It’s very important to cleanse the scalp with a pH balanced shampoo 7, this helps maintain the skin’s natural pH-level which is around a 5,” she explains.
And this isn't a problem that more grease can fix. The key is to penetrate and moisturize to the root, not just add products that lay on top of the follicle. Remember: shiny hair does not equate to healthy, moisturized hair.
You can approach dry scalp with a step-by-step sequence and we've built that into our Frederick Benjamin Regimen. So what is the regimen?
We started with shampoo, infusing it with natural oils from spearmint, clove, and nettle to replenish moisture as it works to cleanse the hair. According to James, “all of these oils are very therapeutic and have a calming effect on the scalp.” She personally is a fan of avocado, jojoba, sunflower, and lavender oils as well. “They are really beneficial to help soothe the scalp and nourish the hair.”
James also recommends washing your hair no more than 3 times per week — it gives your scalp a chance to produce its own natural oils and maintain moisture levels. Avoiding cleansers (and products in general) that include sulfates, parabens, and alcohols are your best bet.
Step two is the conditioner. Most guys don't spend the extra one (or two minutes) to allow conditioners to set in. Instead, they opt to wash their hair and then load up on grease to set their style. But that's missing a key component in the total hair care routine. You should condition every time you wash, and even co-wash (using only conditioner) on the non-shampoo days.
The extra 60 seconds are absolutely worth it, especially when you feel the tingling sensation of natural spearmint oil as it cools and re-invigorates the scalp. Just be sure to rinse with cool water to help seal in moisture.
“My recommendation for anyone with a dry scalp is to apply a scalp treatment at least twice a week to really help keep the scalp healthy and supple,” adds James.
Finally, step three. Post-shower moisturizer is important, especially in the colder weather. As your hair goes from chilly temps outside to heat at the office or in the car, the changes in environment usually causes the hair to dry. That's why following up with our best selling daily hydrator is essential, adding one more layer of defense to protect your hair from the elements.
The Final WordWith The Regimen in place, you'll start to see a marked improvement in the quality of your hair, making it easier to manage and style, and of course reduce itching and flakes.
“When you have a dry scalp, keep an eye out to make sure you’re not developing scaling or other dandruff like conditions,” adds James. “This is an indicator that the pH is off. [You should also] make sure to maintain a healthy diet and reduce stress as much as possible.”