Some amount of natural oil is required to keep the scalp healthy and balanced. The function of the sebaceous glands is to maintain the scalp moisture by secreting an oily substance, called sebum. Sebum creates a thin oily film which is important in giving protection to the scalp against the external influences. Once the oily film is damaged, it fails to keep the natural moisture inside. Dry scalp skin is highly vulnerable to infections and external irritations.
The oily barrier on the scalp can become less effective as a result of damages caused by external agents. Harmful substances from the environment can penetrate through the damaged oily layer and cause scalp micro-inflammation. This can further lead to irritation of the scalp coupled with redness and itchiness.
The skin responds to irritation attempting to repair itself by producing more and more cells. Dead skin cells accumulate on the scalp and form flakes, which can clog the hair follicles and stop production of natural oils. This can result in increased dryness of the scalp. Small flakes of dry skin, then fall from the scalp and create an unsightly mess on the shoulders that are particularly obvious on dark clothing.
Image courtesy of nenetus at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Our list of suggested products is at the end of this post.
Causes of Dry and Itchy Scalp
There are several factors that can bring about dry scalp; however, the most basic reason behind it is the lack of natural lubrication. Here are the most common factors that can cause dry scalp conditions:
Inadequate Secretion of Sebum
The sebaceous glands are small oil-producing glands that are lined under the skin layer of the scalp. These microscopic exocrine glands produce an oily substance that lubricates the hair and scalp. Our scalp tends to get dry when Sebaceous glands don’t produce enough natural oil to keep the skin moist.
Lifestyle factors, such as smoking, malnutrition, or not drinking enough water may be responsible for dryness of the scalp. Healthy and balanced diet is important for the sebaceous glands to function effectively. Insufficient production of sebum can be a sign of zinc deficiency, vitamin B or fatty acids. In order to get enough of these important nutrients, you need to ensure that you eat fresh food more often than you eat processed food. Dehydration in the body can result in loss of large amounts of moisture from the skin layer which will contribute towards dryness of the scalp.
Changes in Temperature or Humidity
Changes in temperature and humidity can also have a considerable effect on the scalp and the body as a whole. During the cold season when the humidity drops, the moisture from the body and the scalp surface is absorbed into the atmosphere. Dry air from indoor heating in winter is another common cause of hair dryness. Prolonged sun exposure is also one of the things to avoid for a healthy scalp.
The dry scalp may also be caused by the type of water being used. Hard water contains calcium and magnesium ion that can react with detergents in hair shampoos and lessen their effectiveness. Hard water requires much more shampoo to clean your hair than soft water. This can cause the skin to become dry and may lead to irritation. Mineral elements gradually build up on the scalp and hair and may cause blocked hair follicles and hair thinning. Hard water also lowers the natural pH of water, making it more acidic.
Repeated chemical treatments and excessive use of hair products that contain harsh components can strip the natural oil from the scalp making it dry and sensitive. If the hair is continually washed with shampoos containing sulfates, it can destroy moisture in the hair and scalp and result in dryness. In such case, using mild moisturizing hair care product can help in restoring a dry scalp to its natural state and also in repairing the outer scalp layer.
Exposure to Excessive Heat
Washing the hair continuously with hot water or blow drying the hair on a regular basis can weaken and break down the protective lipids in your skin and cause the scalp to dry out. It makes no difference either you used a flat iron or a hair curler, they both have the same drying effects as using a blow dryer close to the head. You should avoid washing your hair more than necessary and stop the habit of overheating your hair during styling.
Dry Scalp and Oily hair
It may look like the two conditions negate each other; however, this is not an impossible situation. It is quite common to have a dry scalp and oily hair.
When the scalp is dry as a result of moisture loss, the sebaceous glands may try to compensate for the dryness by secreting more oil. The excess secreted oil can make your hair look greased, shortly after showering. This usually occurs in people that have a fine hair.
Due to itching and irritation that usually follows dry scalp, the affected individual may be tempted to constantly touch their hair and scalp unconsciously. This continuous touching will spread the excess secreted oil throughout the hair, giving it a greasy and flaky look.
If you notice that your hair feel greasy, this may be the result of the hair care product buildup. Most hair conditioning products contain silicones that give smoothing effect to the hair and make it shine temporarily. However, some types of silicones are not water-soluble and may build up in your hair over time, causing hair to look flat, greasy, or weighed down. Using a harsh shampoo with sulfates will remove silicone build up, but this can over dry your scalp. The cycle is endless…
Jojoba oil can regulate sebum production and can be of a great help to people with oily scalp and dry hair. This lightweight oil helps control overactive oil glands while keeping hair properly moisturized.
Why You Need to Consider Changing Your Shampoo
Sulfates are strong detergents that can strip the scalp of its natural oils. Repeatedly washing hair with harsh shampoos can harm the protective oil barrier of the scalp. This can result in itchy, flaky skin and scalp and dry and brittle hair. Sulfate-free shampoos help keep the natural moisture of the scalp and don’t cause irritation and dryness. Gentle cleansers ensure retention of a thin oil layer on the scalp that is so important for its health.
Sulfate-free shampoos are hair- and scalp-friendlier than ordinary ones. They usually contain a higher level of nourishing botanical ingredients that support scalp health.
Sulfate-free shampoos don’t contain added chemicals to create a rich lather. Those mild, less foaming shampoos are still capable of washing off dirt and excess oil from hair. They do what they need to without harsh synthetic cleansers.
Read the Label
Before buying a shampoo, it is advisable to do some research to get more knowledge about what you are putting on your scalp and hair and what its effects on your hair and skin could be. Some shampoos that are labeled sulfate-free may still contain harsh preservatives, fragrance and other substances capable of causing irritation. Carefully read the ingredients listed on the label. Stay away from shampoos that contain Sodium Lauryl Sulfate/ Sodium Laureth Sulfate, Phthalates, Parabens, DEA, MEA, TEA, Urea, Propylene Glycol, Isopropyl Alcohol, and synthetic fragrances.
If your scalp is sensitive, you should use natural, organic shampoos that are not loaded with chemicals. Certified organic shampoos are formulated with nourishing oils and organic plant extracts. These shampoos hydrate and help soothe dry scalp for long-lasting relief and health. They do not alter the natural PH of the scalp and hair like most regular shampoos do.
Shampoos with natural ingredients such as Aloe Vera, Jojoba Oil, Lavender Oil, Orange Oil, Almond Oil, Bergamot Mint, Calendula Flower, and Green Tea extract are known to soothe the itchiness caused by a dry scalp. Shampoos that promote low pH balance on their labels help retain moisture which is important if you are experiencing dry scalp. Bellow is a list of several mild, sulfate-free natural shampoo formulas designed to help dry scalp and hair.
Shampoos for Dry Hair and Scalp
This shampoo is made with pure natural ingredients including Aloe Vera, Argan Oil, Jojoba Oil, Coconut Oil, and Vitamin E. These oils have a nourishing and moisturizing effect on the flaky scalp and dry hair. It is formulated without chemicals that can strip away the natural oils from your hair. This shampoo is gentle and safe for color-treated hair.
This all-natural hydrate shampoo is intended to help alleviate dry scalp symptoms. This product combines a dry scalp shampoo formula with a natural oil treatment to restore the moisture balance of the scalp and to relieve itching and flaking.
Gentle herbal ingredients will not expose your hair and skin to chemicals that can cause dryness and irritation. Lavender has mild antiseptic and pain-relieving properties. It calms scalp irritation, reduces inflammation, and inhibits infections. Carrot and Parsley Seed stimulate cell growth and regenerate skin tissues. Jojoba and Argan Oil moisturize, create volume, and provide scalp smoothness and hair luster. Naturally derived botanical keratin replenishes lost keratin, reduces frizz, and helps to restore damaged hair.
The formula is Sulfate, Paraben, Silicone, fragrance, and cruelty-free.
Beauty and the Bees Grass Roots Shampoo is a handmade solid hair shampoo bar, based on a traditional Australian herbal formula. This is a quite different approach than using traditional liquid shampoo and it usually takes a while to get used to. Some of the benefits associated with switching from the chemicals loaded commercial shampoos to a natural shampoo bar include faster growing and shiny hair, increased volume, reduced dandruff, and less frizzy hair.
This 100% natural shampoo bar is made from pure olive and castor oil, Leatherwood beeswax and honey, which effectively clean hair without drying it out. Antiseptic and calming potentials of lavender essential oil work to keep the scalp healthy. Vetiver is a grass popular in Ayurvedic medicine for its antiseptic, stimulant, and balancing properties.
Beauty and the Bees solid shampoo bar is especially useful for people with dry, irritated, itchy scalp, eczema, and psoriasis.
The scent can be described as earthy/woody and sweet.
You may also like: