Scalp buildup is the accumulation of dirt on scalp and hair that is a mixture of sebaceous oil, hair products, environmental pollutants, skin cells, tobacco smoke, pollen etc. This scalp buildup results in a dull appearance of scalp and hair.
The Harmful Effects Of Scalp Buildup
The scalp buildup due to natural and environmental dirt can result in a wide variety of issues to the scalp. The scalp is covered by hair that creates a skin environment where microbes thrive and take nutrients from the products of scalp buildup. This enhances their effect on the underlying skin leading to scalp condition such as seborrheic dermatitis or dandruff, weakening of hair follicles and hair loss.
Ways That Can Help Removing Scalp Buildup
- Frequent hair washing:
The first and most important step to remove scalp build up is washing your hair frequently. This removes all the products that have build-up in your scalp and is making your scalp and hair look dull. The frequency of hair washing totally depends on your hair and skin type. If you have an oily skin type, it is recommended to wash your hair every day or on every alternate day. But if you have dry, damaged or color treated hair, it is advisable to wash your hair and scalp after three or five days.
- Use a good shampoo:
Removing scalp buildup effectively requires the use of a good shampoo. Many hair products stick to your hair to provide the desired effect like the frizz control products, heat protecting serums or hair straightening balms. This product buildup cannot be washed off with a sulphate-free shampoo. It requires the use of a clarifying shampoo which really removes the buildup. Wet your hair first and then apply the clarifying shampoo for a uniform lather formation and modest amount of product use.
But if you notice symptoms of irritation or itching on your scalp, it is best to consult your dermatologist timely who will prescribe you a medicated shampoo. A common cause of the scalp buildup is a commonly occurring fungus called malassezia furfur. This fungus builds up on the scalp and results in itching, irritation and redness and thus causes seborrheic dermatitis. You would then require a medicated shampoo that has anti-fungal properties to remove the scalp buildup.
- Exfoliate your scalp regularly:
Just as you exfoliate the skin of your face, it is also essential to regularly exfoliate your scalp to remove product buildup. You can opt for a scalp brush with gentle bristles to exfoliate your scalp physically before shampooing your hair. Depending upon the amount of scalp buildup, you can also go for chemical exfoliation twice a week. It is advisable to use glycolic acid or salicylic acid for chemical exfoliation of your scalp.
- Get a spa or scalp treatment:
A scalp treatment could be a good idea if you want to relax and let your scalp breathe. Some spas offer a three-step treatment which involves the use of vacuum to remove scalp build-up and debris from the skin pores, exfoliate the scalp and then hydrate it with nourishing solutions. This not only removes the scalp buildup but also imparts a shine to your hair, thus improving the overall look and texture of your hair and scalp.
- Change your hair products:
Some heat styling products and frizz control products that you use contain silicones. Silicones are substances that adhere to the hair strands and cause product buildup on the scalp. This makes your hair look dull and dirty. Moreover, the product buildup results in irritation and acne breakouts on the scalp. Another hair product that can cause problem is dry shampoo. The purpose of using dry shampoo is to extend the wash for a few days. Normally, your skin cells undergo a natural turnover but the dry shampoo prohibits this natural process by blocking the surface of the skin which sheds the skin cells.
Healthy Scalp Promotes Hair Growth
Many studies have shown that a clean and healthy balanced scalp is the key to healthy hair. A clean scalp promotes healthy hair growth by eliminating dead skin and other unwanted residues that can contribute to hair loss.
Cirino, E. (2019, September 11). What Causes Scalp Buildup and How Can I Treat It? Retrieved from Healthline: https://www.healthline.com/health/scalp-build-up
Fletcher, J. (2020, May 28). What to know about a buildup on the scalp. Retrieved from Medical News Today: https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/scalp-buildup
Rathi, P. D. (2015). Shampoo and Conditioners: What a Dermatologist Should Know? Indian J Dermatol, 248-254.
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Julia is a professional hairstylist that worked in different hair salons in the U.K and Australia. Julia has worked with some of the greatest hair care brands and attended many Hairstyling fairs in Europe and North America. Julia is here to share her tips and knowledge with you, to help you get that "dream hair" you want.