Is it really important to take special care of your scalp? You may have noticed a growing number of hair products—from brands like Clear, Aveda, and L’Oreal—that are geared towards just that, and it’s more than a clever marketing ploy. “The bedrock of your hair is the follicle, it effects everything,” Elizabeth Cunnane Phillips says, a trichologist at the Philip Kingsley Clinic in New York. Phillips, who has worked with celebrities like Cate Blanchett, Kate Winslet, and Renee Zellweger, has been preaching about the importance of scalp health for over two decades. “It’s not a new idea!” she says. “But the industry is starting to pick up on the importance of it.” Which means it’s the perfect time to talk scalp health basics. It turns out that spending a few extra minutes tending to your scalp can give you better locks both immediately, and over time.
“The first thing I tell people to do is massage their scalp when they wash their hair,” Phillips says. A few minutes will stimulate your scalp and help with circulation, which is important for hair growth and volume. Don’t waste your money on a fancy head massager, Phillips says, the balls of your fingers do the best job. Try Aveda’s Invati Shampoo ($27) or Clear’s Moisturizing Shampoo ($4), both of which target the scalp.
Avoid brushing your scalp, if possible, which can be rough on your skin. Detangle your hair with the balls of your fingers or a widetooth comb, Phillips says. “You should treat you scalp with the same care you give to your face,” she says.
Oily locks? Proper scalp care can help control oil, allowing you to go longer between shampoos (Phillips recommends lathering up a few times a week). “Washing your hair too often can exacerbate problems,” Phillips says. Instead, she recommends applying a toner to damp hair. Try Philip Kingsley’s Scalp Toner ($29), then dry and style hair as usual.
The tip with the most immediate results? A clarifying shampoo! “When you thoroughly cleanse the scalp, you’ll get immediate lift and volume,” Phillips says. We like Bumble and bumble’s Sunday Shampoo ($23) and Neutrogena’s Anti-Residue Shampoo ($6).
Just like your face, exfoliating your scalp is very important. “While scalp health shouldn’t be seasonal, the lack of moisture in the winter means you can benefit more from treatments,” Phillips says. She recommends you gently exfoliate with Philip Kingsley’s Scalp Mask ($6) once a week for a month if your skin is dry, then taper off. If you notice zits or bumps, apply every two weeks. (If you don’t have a problem, use monthly.)