Do you have a dry scalp? Have you ever avoided wearing a black top because you were worried about white flakes showing on your shoulders? Ever scratched your scalp until it bled? Have you ever worried about loosing more hair then seemed normal?
Your not alone. About 50% of the population have suffered from scalp problems at some stage in their life. For some people it’s a bout of flaky scalp during stressful times, for others it’s a life-long battle. But what about if you could stack the odds in your favour and make the right choices so dandruff and scalp problems were a thing of the past?
I’ve put together a comprehensive guide to beating your scalp problems using natural solutions available to anyone. Individually these solutions might just be the thing you need to soothe your scalp, but together they’re a powerhouse of ideas that will heal your scalp.
Do you ever wonder what’s going on when your best friend raves about a new shampoo that she swears fixed her dandruff, but when you try it your hair feels like straw and your scalp is worse than ever?
The funny thing is, most mainstream anti-dandruff shampoos are supposed to work for EVERYONE.
While most articles recommend daily washing with an anti-dandruff shampoo, I found that this only made my sensitive scalp worse, kind of like an arms race between my dandruff and the stronger and stronger medicated shampoos I was using.
Medicated shampoos will contain any number of the following chemicals (some of which might work for you, and some of which really won’t):
• Pyrithione zinc (an anti-fungal drug)
• Selenium-sulfide (which can change your hair colour)
• Ketoconazole (an anti fungal drug)
• Salicylic acid (which removes the top layer of skin before it can flake, but also dries some people’s scalp and makes the flaking worse)
• Coal tar (which can change the colour of your hair)
Did you know that if you have dyed, permed or chemically straightened hair you shouldn’t even be using any of the commercial anti-dandruff shampoos?
Here are some other safe treatment ideas that are infinitely better than medicated shampoos:
The essential oils of plants and flowers have always been a remedy that humans and animal have turned to. When used properly there are few side effects and it’s safe for the long term.
There’s plenty of information and recipes out there if you’d like to mix your own aromatherapy treatment blend. Here are a few suggestions to get you started…
For your Oily Scalp
To 1 tablespoon of Sweet Almond Oil add
2 drops Tea Tree Oil
2 drops Lemon Oil
2 drops Lavender Oil
For your Dry Scalp
To 1 tablespoon of Jojoba Oil add
2 drops Geranium Oil
2 drops Thyme Oil
2 drops Rosemary Oil
For your Sensitive Scalp
To 1 tablespoon of Jojoba Oil add
2 drops Lemon Balm Oil
2 drops Ylang Ylang Oil
2 drops Rose Oil
Massage the perfect blend into your scalp and leave it for 30 minutes or overnight.
Quick Tip: When you’re ready to wash, apply the shampoo before you wet your hair. That way the shampoo can emulsify with the oils and unlock them from your hair, so they rinse away easily.
Of course If you don’t want to go to the bother and expense of making your own oil blend you can use one of Naturalmente’s Scalp Therapy shampoos.
They’ve already been formulated for your unique scalp type using organic essential oils in the right doses, and they’re safe for all the family.
A scalp massage (with or without essential oils) can also be a great way to help your scalp heal. You can do it to yourself or, even better, find someone to do it for you!
1. Massaging the whole head
Use a circular movement.
Start above the hair line and use a circular motion to rub all over the scalp. Start at the front and move towards the back of your head. Then start at the back and move towards the front.
This massage allows the oils to be easily absorbed, stimulating circulation and toxin purification.
2. Comb movements on the head
Using your hands as a comb and run your fingers through the hair.
This relaxes and distributes the oil evenly through the hair.
3. Skin drainage
Using a firm pressure push your fingers from the front to the back of your scalp as if you were smoothing water from your hair and scalp.
This allows deep skin stimulation and reactivates skin circulation which supports hair re-growth, eliminates toxins, and stimulates the whole body – re-equilibrating energy.
4. Traction of the hair roots
Gently tug the hair until you feel a small pull at the roots.
Performed in a gentle manner this eliminates tension and oxygenates the skin.
5. Discharging static energy
Finally, run your hands down your hair and off the ends to conclude the total energy rebalance.
Another tip is to always use warm water to wash your hair, not hot. If you already have a dry scalp, hot water will dry it out even more. If you have an oily scalp, hot water will encourage oil production, and if you have a sensitive scalp the heat will make it flare up.
What's causing your scalp problems?
This might actually be the key to solving your dandruff and scalp problems once and for all. Knowing what’s causing the problem in the first place means a short cut to to solving it. So which one are you?
Your scalp is always a bit oily no matter how much you wash it.
Your special kind of scalp problems stem from having an over-production of oil – so it leads to things like yellow flakes that stick to your head and hair, over sweating, hair loss, plus greasy feeling and looking hair.
Men are slightly more likely to have this type of scalp problem and dandruff because they have larger oil glands on their scalp.
Your scalp is often itchy, flaky and patchy.
Your scalp problems could be caused by a dry scalp or dandruff (which have very similar symptoms but may not be the same thing). The classic white flakes of dandruff can be a symptom that your scalp needs hydrating or it could be caused by something else.
If you have dry skin on other parts of your body, or suffer from other skin conditions like psoriasis or eczema, you’re more likely to have a dry scalp.
This can be the hardest type of scalp to identify. Because the symptoms are similar to to the other scalp types it can be hard to know if that’s your scalp type.
But if you’re scalp is often red, hot and inflamed as well as flaky and itchy, and every thing you’ve tried has only made it worse, then you might have a sensitive scalp.
Once you know your scalp type
Scalp problems can be made worse by stress, diet, hereditary factors and lifestyle factors. While that list might make you think improving your scalp problem is almost impossible, the good news is you can do something – and small improvements can give great results.
What Else Can You Do About It?
If you’re like me, the words *lifestyle factors* will make you cringe. Because changing habits can be one of the hardest things to do. But they can also be the difference between solving your scalp problems and spending thousands on anti-dandruff products that don’t work.
The key is to consider these changes an experiment. If you try something and it doesn’t make any difference you can go back. If things improve, keep doing it.
Sunshine (UV treatment)
Research shows that sunshine can do wonders for some type of scalps (particularly oily).
Just 10 minutes is enough to kill bacteria or fungus that might be causing the yellow, greasy flakes.
Sunshine is also great for improving your immune system and helping your body make vitamin D.
Obviously you need to be sensible and not over do it, but finding ways to get a bit more sunshine can kickstart the healing process.
And sunshine is free!
Nutritional experts think dandruff is often a sign your body is deficient in, or reacting to something.
Specifically, things that are known to cause dandruff include a deficiency in Omega 3 oils, Zinc and B6.
So here are some ideas on how to include more of these goodies in your everyday eating.
Omega 3 oils can be increased by eating more oily fish, walnuts, chia seeds & flax seeds, green leafy vegetables and brussel sprouts…might not have been your favourite when you were a kid, but try roasting them or cutting them in quarters and pan frying them.
Sardines on toast with lots of salt, black pepper and lemon juice is one of my favourite quick and easy breakfasts.
Zinc deficiency can also cause scalp problems. Try adding foods like oysters, dark chocolate, nuts, chickpeas, red kidney beans, red meat, cheddar cheese and pumpkin seeds to your diet.
Apparently half a dozen oysters have 500% of your recommended daily intake of zinc…seems like a good excuse to enjoy some oysters!
And dark chocolate…who even needs an excuse?
B6 is also a vitamin that’s been proven to help dandruff and scalp problems. Try including more potatoes, green capsicum, liver, turkey, hazelnuts and cashews, avocado, sunflower and sesame seeds in your diet.
One of the easiest ways is to add a handful of seeds and nuts to your morning porridge or muesli. What about a smashed avocado on some sourdough toast with a poached egg on top? All the fancy cafés are doing it…but who knew it was medicine for your damaged scalp!
And hopefully, with all these good things we’re adding to your diet, you won’t have quite as much room for the ones that are causing the problem.
The super-villain of the moment - sugar - is something else you need to watch out for. A diet high in sugar causes all sorts of problems, including dandruff and scalp problems. So, try to limit sugar to about 6 teaspoons a day.
An easy way to start is to cut sugar out of your drinks. So that rules out soft drinks and cordials. Then start reducing the amount you put in your tea or coffee. Cut back by a teaspoon at a time until you don’t need it any more. If you were drinking a can of Coke a day and having two teaspoons in your twice-daily coffees you’d already be better off by 13 teaspoons!!
Now, here are some recipes that will help you heal your scalp in a delicious way.
Jamie Oliver’s Oysters with Chilli, Ginger & Rice Wine Vinegar
½ thumb-sized piece peeled ginger
6 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
1 red chilli
a little fresh coriander
1 teaspoon sugar
freshly opened oysters
Finely grate ½ a thumb-sized piece of peeled ginger and mix with 6 tablespoons of rice wine vinegar, 1 finely chopped and deseeded red chilli and a little finely sliced fresh coriander. Stir in a teaspoon of sugar until dissolved. Serve in a dish with the oysters.
Photo credit: jamieoliver.com
Dark Chocolate Nut Clusters
Mix together 1/4 cup of unsalted roasted nuts with a couple of squares of melted dark chocolate (easiest way to melt the chocolate: put in the microwave for 30 sec on medium).
Drop small clusters onto wax paper, baking paper or silicon baking mat. Put them in the fridge to set.
Photo credit: realsimple.com
Chia Crusted Salmon with Soy Bok Choy
1/4 cup Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons Sriracha chilli sauce
salt and freshly ground black pepper
Four skinless salmon fillets
1/3 cup black chia seeds
1/4 cup vegetable oil
4 baby bok choy, halved
3 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoons honey
Preheat the oven to 180C.
Mix together dijon, chilli sauce salt & pepper and rub over the salmon fillets.
Spread chia seeds on a plate and press one side of the salmon into seeds to coat.
Heat the oil in the heavy frypan over medium heat until hot. Sear salmon, seed side down, until seeds are set and form a crust (about 3 minutes).
Put the salmon seed side up on a baking tray and bake in the oven until just cooked through (about 6 - 8 minutes)
Wipe out the frypan and put the bok choy in with the soy sauce, honey and 1/4 cup water. Cover & simmer for about 8 minutes until tender. Uncover and cook for about 4 - 6 minutes or until the sauce reduces and forms a glaze.
photo credit: foodnetwork.com
8 glasses a day, 2 litres, divide your body weight by 0.024…there are lots of ways to work out how much water you’re supposed to drink each day.
To be honest, if you’re not already drinking that much, every extra glass of plain water is going to help. If you want to see bigger results add a bit more. You might be making more trips to the bathroom to begin with but your body will adjust pretty quickly.
Stress can weaken your body’s ability to look after itself. If you’re prone to scalp problems or dandruff you might find that it’s worse during times of stress.
Think of your body as a friend who needs your support during stressful times. Cook it healthy, fresh meals; make a time to do its favourite exercise; spend some quiet time with it; or treat it to a massage. Just like you would for a friend, give your body permission to have some time out. And organise to connect with people who fill your soul.
Even with the best intentions and improvements to your diet you might still need to supplement.
Swisse make a high-quality hair, skin & nails supplement (as a tablet or liquid) which I think is pretty good. And most of the other major vitamin brands such as Blackmores and Cenovis also offer a similar product.
Try taking one of these for a month or two and see what differences you notice.
Build your own scalp-healing support team
I’ve always been fascinated with the entourage celebrities have to help them live their lives…make-up artists, chefs, personal trainers, nannies, hair stylists, zen gurus…the list goes on.
But what if you could have your own entourage to help you heal your scalp?
The truth is you probably already do, you’re just not using their superpowers yet!
Perhaps the most obvious but underused resource is your hairdresser. A good hairdresser will be trained in the causes and treatment of scalp problems and they will probably be the best person to help you identify your scalp type if you’re not sure. And don’t feel embarrassed to ask for help.
Most hairdressers I’ve spoken to are just waiting to be asked and love helping their clients solve problems such as dandruff and oily scalps. They might be not be sure that you’d welcome their advice, so if they haven’t mentioned it you can say something like:
“I’ve been having trouble with a dry scalp. Have you got any advice for me?” Simple as that.
If you’ve used some of the advice from this mini course but are finding it hard to stick to, or you think there might be more going on than we’ve covered, a Naturopath can be a good person to have on your healthy scalp support team.
Naturopaths have been trained to use diet, herbal supplements and other methods to treat underlying health problems. Dandruff and scalp problems may be a symptom of other health problems. If you treat those, your scalp will heal as well.
Naturopaths are very in tune with organic and natural living and will look for the safest and best option for your situation.
If you’re very concerned about an underlying health condition or you know you have something that makes you susceptible to scalp problems (such as Parkinson's disease or auto-immune problems like Hashimoto’s disease) you need a GP on your healthy scalp team.
While GPs often recommend medicated shampoos as the treatment for scalp problems, they can also investigate further to put your mind at rest.
Beauty Boutique or Health Food Shop
The final person to have on your healthy scalp team is a good retailer! A good beauty boutique or health food shop should be constantly looking for the safest and most natural solutions for you.
They should know about the products they stock and which one would be the best for you. If you’d like help choosing the best products from Eviva Organics, feel free to send your questions to email@example.com