Pat, pat, pat. Scratch, scratch. Lemme just stick that bobby pin right…there. You’ve been scratching your head trying to figure it out. Why is your scalp so dry? When the seasons change, our hair can, too. Drier air in winter and sweltering temps in summer can dry out your scalp. Each day, the skin on your head is making room for more new cells, causing the old cells to slough off and leave you with itchiness and flakes.
Although your hair might flake, don’t confuse a dry scalp and dandruff. Dandruff is caused by an overproduction in natural oil (sebum). It shows itself in white, oily flakes, ruining your favorite black tee. The root of dandruff is a fungus called malassezia. We’ve all got it, but some women are more affected than others. Hormones, stress, illness, and genes can play a factor in how malassezia affects your hair.
“African-American women don’t have dandruff because they don’t wash their hair,” says Dr. Jeaneen Chappell, a researcher and resident in dermatology at St. Louis University School of Medicine. “African-American hair is drier and doesn’t produce as much oil as other races.”
A dry scalp can be caused by eczema, dry weather, water temperature, and using products containing alcohol. A dry scalp means you aren’t producing enough sebum to keep your scalp moisturized.
With that in mind, you can combat dry scalp with these tips:
1. Change your diet.
Keep your skin and scalp moisturized by upping your water intake. Sugary foods and spices can irritate your scalp–limit these foods and see if there’s improvement. Alcohol and salt can play a role, too. Remember that everything is good in moderation. Lower your alcohol and salt intake, and increase your water intake. Keep a full glass of water with you at work at all times, and you will help your dry scalp.
2. Try oils.
Natural, anti-fungal, and anti-bacterial, diluted tea tree oil can soothe an itchy, dry scalp. Jojoba oil is similar to natural sebum, and can also help to hydrate your scalp and increase shine. Coconut oil, a household staple, can also be used to lightly moisturize your scalp. Try creating a cocktail of coconut and jojoba oil, then add a couple of drops of tea tree oil to the mix. Massage this onto your scalp. It will feel good and stimulate your scalp, which could help sebum production and lessen the dryness.
3. An apple a day keeps dry scalp away.
Apple cider vinegar helps to keep hair and scalp healthy and moisturized. Mix apple cider vinegar and water in a spray bottle to bring back hair’s pH level and shine. You can spray it directly onto your scalp and massage it in. Or, you can do an ACV rinse in the shower. It not only helps your dry scalp, but it leaves your hair feeling softer. Mix about a 1 to 1 ratio of ACV and water, and pour it directly onto your scalp. Distribute it through your hair with your fingers and let it sit for a couple of minutes. Then rinse it out with cool water.
What other tricks do you have for dry scalp?
Tiffani Greenway is the wife and mom behind MyMommyVents, a New York city parenting blog. Her tips have been seen on Yahoo Parenting, Mommy Noire, and Fit Pregnancy. Find more of Tiffani’s work at mymommyvents.com.