1. Style
Send to a Friend via Email
You can opt-out at any time. Please refer to our privacy policy for contact information.

Is Your Scalp to Blame for Your Bad Hair Days?

Get to the Root of Your Hair Issues

By

You can't exactly expect a tree to grow in the sand. Expecting your hair to be lush and beautiful on an ill kept scalp is about as effective. We learn to nourish our skin and hair, but we often miss the mark on a healthy scalp; the consequences of which could very well be the cause of your hair's bad behavior or loss of hair altogether. If you've experienced thinning hair, itchy or tight scalp, styles that go limp, lack of shine, absence of body, or weak tresses you may be able to find solution by changing the way you treat your scalp.

1. You May Not be Using the Right Shampoo/Conditioner

One of the coolest hair products I've ever tried - nioxin
Macnetize.com/Flickr
If your hair is thinning, lacking body, void of shine, or your scalp is irritated a shampoo and conditioner that is scalp nourishing is the first step in turning your problems around. Natural ingredients like vitamin B5, aloe vera, and oils such as sunflower oil, avocado oil, and Moroccan oil are both gentle and nourishing to the scalp. Many lines of shampoo and conditioner are especially formulated to provide therapy to your scalp such as Nioxin, Neutrogena T/Gel, and Clear Scalp and Hair Therapy. Many people find that limp, lusterless, and thinning hair can be dramatically improved by switching to a scalp therapy shampoo and conditioner system. Look for words like healing, nourishing, and anything referring to a healthy scalp when you're browsing labels. Remember to give your new shampoo and conditioner six to eight weeks to notice dramatic improvements.

2. Learn to Properly Shampoo Your Hair

Photo by B2M Productions/Getty Images
Removing excess oil and hair products from your scalp can clear the way to a better hair day. Getting rid of the gunk frees up your follicles to grow and produce your best hair. Proper shampooing techniques aren't rocket science, but we often forget to take the time for a scalp massage, one of the first steps in a proper shampoo. While it may seem elementary, check out these tips to refresh your shampooing skills.

3. Your Scalp Needs Conditioned

Photo by Noel Hendrickson/Getty Images
Many stylists will suggest to skip the conditioner directly on your scalp for better volume and to keep your hair from going limp or becoming greasy from over conditioning. I agree, but that doesn't mean that you should completely skip the conditioner on the scalp all the time. I often tell my clients to start the conditioning process by applying conditioner to your ends, and work the remaining product into your scalp. It's usually not conditioning the scalp that causes problems. The biggest problem people have with conditioner is not rinsing it well, which can cause your hair to feel greasy, oily and limp. Rinse conditioner for a minimum of 30 seconds, and try a conditioner with eucalyptus or peppermint for a refreshing scalp treatment that locks in essential moisture, but helps keep oil production under control.

4. Invest in a Great Brush

Photo Courtesy of Price Grabber

Regular hair brushing is a great way to stimulate your scalp, move the oils from your scalp through your hair, and keep your hair tangle free. How long have you had the brush that you use everyday? Where did you get it? I don't think many of us can answer those questions. I know one of the brushes I still have was purchased for all of a few dollars, is made of hard plastic, and followed me out the door of my parents house after high school. It's not really doing anyone any favors. Invest in a nice, natural boar bristle brush or a brush with a boar bristles incorporated. They aren't cheap, but they will last for years, and you'll thank me for the improvement in your hair's condition. Here are a few to check out:

5. The Heat is On

Photo by Juan Silva/Getty Images

I know I sound like a record on repeat, but the heat from your hair appliances are not hair or scalp friendly. Think about it. Many of us are guilty of having the hair dryer on to full blast heat inches from your scalp for five to ten minutes everyday. Would you do the same to your face. You likely wouldn't consider it. I know time is of the essence, but turning down the heat and moving the hair dryer away from your scalp can mean a world of difference when it comes to thinning or damaged hair. Let your hair air dry naturally for as long as you can. Have some coffee, apply your makeup, check your email, or eat breakfast before you get the hair dryer out. Then when you do, try a lower heat setting. You'll reduce frizz and improve the health of your scalp.

As if the heat from the hair dryer wasn't enough, after drying many of us get the flat iron or curling iron out. With temperatures exceeding 300 degrees, it's easy to imagine that repeated use could cause your hair to break from heat damage. Broken, damaged hair can feel thin, dry, and course. Try turning the heat down on your hot tools.

Better yet? Take a break from heat styling all together. Extend your shampoos or use your hair's natural air-dried texture from time to time.

6. DeGunk Your Tresses

If you read any of my advice on a regular basis, you'll repeatedly read something about removing product build up. Mousses, gels, dry shampoos, shine serums, volumizing sprays, hair sprays, defrizzing agents, heat protecting sprays, leave-in conditioners... you get the idea. The products we put on our hair are making their way to our scalps and, if your hair is having problems, it's likely causing pores and follicles to clog. Gummed up hair follicles just can't produce beautiful thick, healthy hair, if any hair at all. Your product build up could be the cause to your thinning and troubled hair. A regular deep cleansing/clarifying treatment is a must for all hair types. Here are a few recommendations to try:

7. Protect Your Scalp from the Sun

Photo by Mark Scoggins/Getty Images
When your scalp is repeatedly exposed to the UV rays of the sun, it doesn't take long for damage to take place. Regular UV protection is an absolute must, especially if your hair is thin, thinning, or otherwise irritated. Pay special attention to a defined part, or your hair line if it is receding. Try these tips for protecting your hair from the sun.

8. You Are What You Eat

Your hair, quite literally, is highly effected by the food you eat, the vitamins you ingest, and the medications you take. If your hair is in a rut, it may be time to put your hair on a healthy diet or try vitamins that are specifically formulated to promote healthy scalp and hair.

9. Seek Medical Advice

Most of the time, scalp issues can be easily fixed with the tips above or with a little advice from your hair stylist, but there are times when limp thinning hair or a dry, itchy, flaky scalp can be the cause of bigger medical concerns. Thyroid issues, hormone imbalances, and a variety of skin conditions (like psoriasis) can lead to symptoms that may be causing your had hair days. When you've exhausted your options, talk to your doctor about your hair concerns and ask for a blood panel if you haven't had one done in recent months to rule out any underlying medical conditions.

©2014 About.com. All rights reserved.