All ‘sensitive scalps’ are not the same. Some of us suffer with itchy, flaky, dry scalps. Whilst others react to ingredients like plant oils, with acne style spots along the hairline, or where shampoo and conditioner wash onto skin on the shoulders, décolleté and neck. The delicate petals are truly sensitive, responding to ingredients with flushed skin, sore spots and tenderness. What we do know is that by understanding your scalp and taking it into consideration, you may be able to moderate its response to the world.
Here are 6 tips to try, to help with your sensitive scalp.
1. Introduce one product at a time.
In the search for a solution, many of us make drastic changes to the products we use and our regimes. Which can make it difficult to tell exactly which product and/or ingredients you’re having a negative experience with and should avoid. If you have scalp challenges, only ever introduce one new product at a time. That way you’ll know for certain what isn’t agreeing with your scalp and may even be able to identify which ingredient is objectionable.
2. Patch test.
If your negative response is extreme or just frankly unpleasant, you may want to consider patch testing a new product before using it all over your scalp. The inside of your wrist or just behind your ear are the recommended spots to apply a small amount of product. Any redness, irritation or reaction here will let you know you need to avoid that product.
3. Say goodbye to sulfates.
Sulfates are widely used across personal care products from toothpaste to body creams to shampoos and body washes where they power the bubble. For normal skin and scalp, they may represent no issue beyond over-cleansing and stripping. But many sensitive skins find they react. At Noughty, we never formulate with SLS or SLES because of sensitivity and over stripping.
4. Soothing actives ingredients.
Look for ingredients that actively battle your body’s histamine response – like the skin-soothing oat extract in Care Taker, packed with avenanthramides shown to reduce redness and help calm inflammation and irritation.
5. Plant oils.
Plant oils can be perfect for itchy, flaky dry scalps. They work with the scalp’s natural barrier oils to trap moisture in the top layers of the skin and reduce trans-epidermal water loss. Because it’s packed with moisturizing plant oils, but with only a tiny bit of surfactant, 1 Hit Wonder can be transformative for this scalp type.
However, if you’ve got a reactive scalp and skin, you may find that some or all plant oils cause you to breakout. The solution? Try plant oil-free shampoo and conditioner like Pumped Up. Apply treatment and stylers to the mid-lengths and ends of hair nowhere near your scalp (and only after you’re dressed).
6. Rinse, rinse, rinse.
Product residue, especially shampoo that hasn’t been rinsed out fully, can create sensitivity, itchiness, flaky scalp and reaction. Make sure you’re using all your products properly before you start eliminating them. Patch testing can help identify whether it’s the product or how you’re using it.