Get a Healthy Scalp

A healthy scalp is perhaps the most important component of a healthy head of hair. An unhealthy scalp will cause your hair to thin and appear discolored or frail. Maintaining your scalp is complicated, requiring a variety of steps and sometimes personalized treatments. However, doing it right will go a long way toward maintaining your good looks as you age.


Maintaining a Healthy Diet for Your Scalp

  1. Get some protein. Protein is important for maintaining a healthy scalp and hair.[1] Try to eat proteins that have other important nutrients for scalp health, like, zinc, iron, and vitamin B. Good examples of these include beef, eggs, shrimp, bacon, pumpkin seeds, cottage cheese, and salmon.[2]
  2. Eat your vitamins. Vitamin A and C help circulate oxygen to the scalp. To include these nutrients in your diet you eat blueberries, carrots, sweet potatoes, spinach, walnuts, and bell peppers[3] All of these foods include several nutrients that are conducive to a healthy scalp. Better yet, supplement your diet with daily multivitamins.[1]
    • For vitamin C eat more bell peppers, blueberries, and dark leafy vegetables.
    • For vitamin A eat sweet potatoes, dark leafy vegetables, and carrots.
  3. Incorporate iron, zinc, and folic acid into your diet. Zinc will help keep hair on your head and dandruff of it. Folic acid will encourage cell renewal in your scalp. Iron helps prevent thinning and discoloration of your hair. Good sources of these nutrients include oysters, peas, lentils, and prunes.[4]
    • For additional iron eat more beef, chicken liver, oysters, clams, mussels, and sardines.[5]
    • For additional zinc eat more oysters, crab, lobster, meat, legumes, nuts, diary products, and fortified cereals.[6]
    • For additional folic acid eat more asparagus, broccoli, beans, lentils, avocado, okra, nuts, seeds, cauliflower, and carrots.[7]
  4. Cut down on sugar. Sugar consumption can aggravate a case of dandruff. Cut down on sodas, baked goods, and candy. Many processed foods also include a lot of sugar.[8]

Caring for Your Hair and Scalp Properly

  1. Brush your hair daily. Brushing your hair stimulates circulation and distributes oil throughout your head. If possible, brush with a natural bristle brush. Plastic bristles do not spread oils as effectively as those made from plant or boar fibers.[9]
  2. Wash your hair once every two or three days. Washing your hair more often than this will strip your hair of its natural oils. Washing less often will cause buildup to collect on the scalp and slow hair growth. If you have particularly oily hair, you can wash once a day with a gentle, sulfate-free shampoo.[9]
    • When you shampoo try to give yourself a scalp massage to clean off dead skin cells and encourage circulation. Spend a couple of minutes rubbing the shampoo into your scalp firmly.[10]
    • Everyone needs a different type of shampoo. Consult a hair stylist for recommendations about what might work for you.
  3. Condition the scalp. Conditioner can help moisturize your scalp. This is particularly important after you shampoo, because shampooing can dry your scalp out. Be sure to condition your scalp every time you wash and to massage the conditioner deep into the scalp.[9]
  4. Apply essential oils. Essential oils, like tea tree oils, should be massaged into your scalp before you go to bed and washed out when you wake up. If you perform this ritual once every two or three days, it will help stimulate hair growth.[9]
    • Essential oils can be too powerful to apply directly into the scalp. Make sure that you purchase a mixture that is already diluted.
    • Rub the mixture vigorously into the scalp as part of a scalp massage.
    • Different oils are said to have their own distinctive effects. Basil is said to promote hair growth and treat oily skin. Lavender is a treatment for itchiness and dandruff.[11]
  5. Use an exfoliating shampoo once a month.[9] Dead cells will steadily build up on your scalp, blocking hair growth. Over time, this can cause your hair to thin. For full, luxurious hair, you should purchase an exfoliating shampoo and take the time to scrub the dead skin away.[12]
  6. Get a scalp massage. Vigorously rubbing and applying pressure to your scalp can increase circulation, preventing hair loss. Performing a scalp massage with essential oils can provide even more benefits. You can try this procedure yourself or seek the assistance of a professional for greater benefit.[13]

Preventing Damage

  1. Protect against sunburn. Sunburn will actually cause the skin on your scalp to thin. Eventually, this damage will produce thinning of your hair as well. To protect your scalp from sun damage, wear a hat when you know that you will be at risk of sunburn.
    • It is a myth that wearing a hat will cause you to lose your hair. In fact, not wearing a hat in the sun can cause a snowballing problem, because as your scalp is damaged by the sun, your hair will thin, exposing your scalp to more sun damage.[1]
  2. Use hair care products responsibly. Products that hold your hair in place, like hair spray and gel, are difficult to remove with a simple washing. These chemicals can accumulate on your scalp, bothering the skin and hindering hair growth. If you use these products, you need to use a special clarifying shampoo once a month to clean out the buildup.[9]
  3. Be cautious if you feel a tingling when you color your hair. It is not usual for your scalp to tingle like this. If it does, that means your scalp is too dry. Talk to your hair stylist about what you feel. Wash your hair less frequently—or use more gentle shampoo--and apply hair oil to your scalp more frequently.[14]
  4. Clean out dandruff. If you have white flakes accumulating on your shoulders, you need to begin caring for your scalp with a special anti-dandruff shampoo. Look for shampoos that have anti-dandruff ingredients: coal tar, zinc pyrithione, salicylic acid, selenium, or ketoconazole. If the dandruff persists after several weeks of treatment, you should visit a doctor for a prescription shampoo.[15]

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Sources and Citations

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