Let's talk scalp care. What does your everyday haircare routine look like? For many it's a quick shampoo and rinse, a dollop of conditioner et fin. Beauty product sales figures, though, now suggest that the tide is turning. Haircare buys like serums, toners, oils, masks and even scrubs are becoming ever more popular and the reason? A heightened interest in hair health and scalp care.
Now, more than ever, our scalps are in the spotlight. A new generation of sophisticated products specifically formulated to treat the skin on our heads have hit the market, and consumers are buying them. Take Head & Shoulders, for example. The brand's latest release - their Derma X Pro range - is made with well-known skincare ingredients including aloe, vitamin E and hyaluronic acid. Each product is made to help reinforce your scalp's natural skin barrier and improve moisture retention. Shop the Head & Shoulders Derma X Pro range here.
Cult Beauty has seen sales of scalp treatments increase by a staggering 421% year on year. ‘Consumers understand that the skin on their head doesn’t stop at the hairline,’ says Alexia Inge, co-founder of Cult Beauty, ‘we are all "skintellectuals" now, but we’re looking to become expert "trichologistas" too!’
Consumers understand that the skin on their head doesn’t stop at the hairline
Enter the ‘skinification’ of haircare. Brands like The Inkey List, Drunk Elephant, Grow Gorgeous and Dr Barbara Sturm have all expanded their remit to include scalp-savvy staples. ‘My haircare line is really all about the scalp, and that’s a direct extension of the same skin-first philosophy that has resonated so well with my customer,’ says Tiffany Masterson, founder of Drunk Elephant. ‘The focus of the haircare industry seemed to be centred on making hair smoother, shinier and nicely scented. But the thing is – hair is dead. You can make it appear healthy, but you can’t actually make it healthy, except for down at the root.’
Why Is It Important To Treat Your Scalp?
'Your scalp is the bedrock of your hair follicles,’ adds Anabel Kingsley, consultant trichologist and brand president at Philip Kingsley. ‘If you think of each hair as a flower, and your scalp as the soil supporting it, it makes complete sense to nourish and care for your scalp.’ And this applies to every scalp – whether it’s dry, irritated, or generally happy. The scalp is an extension of our skin. ‘It sweats, secretes sebum and sheds dead skin cells,’ says Anabel. ‘It also faces daily attacks from our environment and lifestyle so can easily become unbalanced.’
SHOP: The Best Scalp-Friendly Products To Buy Now
SHOP NOW: Best Scalp Hair Products
1. Head & Shoulders DERMAXPRO Scalp Balm, £9.99
Best treatment for dry, flaky, irritated scalps...A balmy, rinse-off treatment that soothes and hydrates the scalp for less flakes with one application. Consider it a warm, cashmere hug for your scalp.
2. Vita Coco Scalp Scrub, £12.99
Best exfoliator for irritated scalps...Tiny particles of coconut and walnut shell naturally buff away dead skin and stimulate blood flow without being too abrasive, and the high concentration of coconut and guava act as an anti-inflammatory to go gently on stressed out skin.
3. The Inkey List Salicylic Acid Exfoliating Scalp Treatment, £11.99
Best exfoliator for oily scalps... This swiftly unclogs congested pores and eliminates grime with 2% salicylic acid.
4. Kérastase Soothing Scrub, £43
Best exfoliator for dry scalps... Kérastase's Soothing Scrub boasts a lightweight gel texture that should be massaged into a damp scalp to remove product build-up while hydrating the skin with jojoba and sweet orange peel.
5. Drunk Elephant T.L.C. Happi Scalp Scrub, £30
Best exfoliator for flaking/itchy scalps... Supercharged with AHA and BHAs, this exfoliator dissolves dead skin cells, while marula and passionfruit oils soothe.
6. L’Oréal Professionel Pure Resource Shampoo, £13.40
Best shampoo for oily scalps... This shampoo lifts away residue and stubborn styling products with purifying citramine and nourishing vitamin E.
7. Gallinée Soothing Cleansing Cream, £23
Best shampoo for combination scalps...This cream meets shampoo is a rich anti-dandruff cleanser that supports the scalp microbiome for happier skin with less shedding.
8. Oribe Serene Scalp Balancing Shampoo, £45.50
Best shampoo for flaking/itchy scalps... Oribe's chic shampoo is formulated with salicylic acid to prevent dandruff and soothe itchiness while orange and lemon extract maintain moisture.
9. Grow Gorgeous Scalp Tonic, £24
Best toner for dry scalps...Reinvigorate the scalp with this energising tonic that uses multiminerals, micro algae and caffeine to help the scalp feel hydrated and stimulated. With so many 5* reviews, the results speak for themselves.
10. Dr. Hauschka Hair Tonic, £18
Best toner for oily scalps... Dr Hauschka's Tonic balances an excessively oily scalp with arnica and birch bark extract.
11. Philip Kingsley Scalp Toner For Flaky & Itchy Scalps, £22
Best toner for flaking/itchy scalp... Philip Kingsley Scalp Toner For Flaky & Itchy Scalps targets dandruff with an antimicrobial formula to reduce yeast and prevent itching.
12. Dr Barbara Sturm Scalp Serum, £80
Best treatment for dry scalps... A pre-bed scalp treatment that moisturises skin with hyaluronic acid while very gently resurfacing with papaya extracts.
13. Sunday Riley Clean Rinse Clarifying Scalp Serum, £42
Best treatment for normal scalps...A concentrated dose of glycolic and salicylic acid to gently exfoliate the surface of your scalp and dissolve excess sebum. Simply squeeze on and rinse off this vitamin enriched formula for a soothed, and smoother, finish.
14. The Body Shop Ginger Scalp Serum, £15
Best treatment for oily scalps... The Body Shop Ginger Scalp Serum regulates excess oil production with ginger essential oil, white willow and birch bark.
15. Christophe Robin Hydrating Shampoo with Aloe Vera, £26
Best shampoo for dry scalps...Christophe Robin's Hydrating Shampoo gently cleanses the scalp to remove daily dirt without stripping the follicles of essential oils.
How To Up The Scalp Care Ante
Step 1: Exfoliate
Regular, gentle massage and exfoliation is beneficial from top to toe. ‘For the scalp – flaking, redness and excess oil can be alleviated with regular exfoliation,’ says Tiffany. ‘It removes the top layer of dry, dead skin as well as product build-up for a smooth, fresh surface and barrier to the elements,’ says Ricardo Vila Nova, hair expert and trichologist. ‘It’s also a good way to empower the absorption of treatments and tonics that follow.’ Use a scrub once or twice weekly, before shampoo.
Step 2: Cleanse And Condition
Anabel recommends daily shampooing if you have a scalp condition, such as dandruff or seborrheic eczema. ‘It’s also important if you have fine hair, as this hair texture has more sebaceous glands and quickly becomes oily at the roots.’ For those of us with coarse, long or thick hair types – you can leave it a little longer before washing your hair but no more than three days between shampoos. ‘Doing so is likely to cause itching and flaking – and a flaky scalp can cause hair loss.’ Post-shampoo, apply your go-to conditioner before rinsing out.
Step 3: Toner
A toner (otherwise known as a leave-in treatment) might sound like a scalp care step too far, but according to the pros it’s an essential product to clean and clear the skin in between washes. ‘It’s a really good step in your routine to get an active product onto your scalp that you can leave on,’ says tricologist Lisa Caddy. ‘A toner will close the pores, reduce oil production and won’t leave your hair feeling sticky or tacky as they’re mainly water-based.’ What’s more, depending on the active ingredients in your chosen toner, you can soothe, exfoliate or stimulate the scalp.
Step 4: Treatment
‘Treatments are a huge support for the hair – making it stronger and healthier,’ says Ricardo. Anabel recommends extending that self-care Sunday skincare ritual to your hair and applying a weekly intensive scalp mask as well as a conditioning hair mask.
Step 5: SPF
And finally, the skincare step we would never forgo – sunscreen. ‘Your scalp can burn, peel and become really sore and sensitive from prolonged sun exposure,’ states Lisa, ‘particularly around the hair line and parting.’ Apply a sun-protective spray, like Clarins Sun Care Oil Mist SPF30, £22, that doubles up for hair and body, liberally, to lightly coat each strand. ‘On holiday, by the beach or pool, you get the best protection from using a water-resistant moisturising cream that contains UV filters,’ says Anabel. Try Philip Kingsley Swimcap Water Resistant Mask, £19, to protect from sun, sea, water and chlorine.