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Tips on a Healthy, Clean Scalp - Natural Hair Care

If you suffer from an unhealthy scalp, then you already know that using the term 'Quest', is so fitting. Since I turned 30 well over 10 years ago and suffered from chemical buildup in my system, I dealt with how to achieve a healthy scalp.  The chronic itching, hair loss and then regrowth that would cause yet more itching, left me exhausted, and I do mean physically. The loss of sleep was so bad. It was a cycle that just kept going and I never thought that I'd see the depth of a sound sleep again. I think the best thing I did was open my mind to the thought that if I needed to make changes; changes in diet, changes in what I used on my body.  I also considered homeopathy and naturopathic methods. To understand a healthy scalp, you need to understand what makes an unhealthy one.

Signs of an Unhealthy Scalp

1) Itching and/or Burning
Skin covers the scalp and can become dry and irritated just like the skin on the rest of your body. Look into your shower and check the ingredients out in your shampoo and conditioner products. Consider the ingredients for your styling products. Chemical products can often strip the skin's nutrition which is made up of your sebaceous glands (sebum) and water. The scalp consists of skin cells. These cells are constantly replicating and shedding to produce new cells on the scalp, but many products use harsh chemical alcohols which can cause dryness, but on the other hand, some use mineral oil and this ingredient according to the cosmetic dictionary, can cause dry, chapped skin. Ingredients like sulfates can handicap the hair follicle. Medicated shampoo's for dandruff can sometimes cause more troubles as was my case. They just intensified my problems. When the natural shedding of the skin cells is slowed down or has become sluggish, then problems persist. 

2) Excess Oil and Oily Scalp
To much oil can be a symptom of an unhealthy scalp. This can result of a dysfunction of the sebaceous glands which produce sebum. Over production of sebum causes large oily flakes. Excessive washing or washing with products that strip the skin's sebum can cause flash oil production. So get rid of those chemical shampoos and start using a chemical free shampoo to allow your scalp to regulate it's own oils naturally. Often times someone with oily hair will have all the oil on top, while suffering from split ends, dry ends on the bottom. Using a boar bristle brush and spreading the sebaceous oils from root to tip can help with excess oil. Dry shampoo's are also coming around again, so you could also consider washing every other day or two, and using a dry powder shampoo in between.

3) Flaking and Dandruff
Who loves dandruff? Flaking and dandruff are another sign of an unhealthy scalp.  It is normal that the cells on the scalp replicate and turnover on a regular cycle, but when the cells replicate at an accelerated pace it causes these large flakes to sit on the scalp.  It can do this in two ways: The over production of sebum causes large oily flakes and the under production of sebum cause large dry flakes on the scalp. Redness, itching and other forms of inflammation will accompany flaking of the scalp. What are the results of this scalp condition? Hair will not grow long or strong on an inflamed scalp. It is important to properly identify scalp disorders so that the proper treatment can be used to alleviate the symptoms and bring the scalp back into balance. What are some factors that can cause this? Again, products we use on a daily basis. The scalp has a natural acidity or pH. This prevents fungi or bacteria in the hair and scalp from growing, and it keeps the cuticle closed and healthy. When the products we use are to alkaline, the cells begin to separate and shed causing flakes. Color processing, perms, bleaching, aggressive styling products, clarifying shampoo's used to much can all contribute to this.

4) Hormone Imbalance and Medicine
Sometimes we are using the right products with the most gentle ingredients. Sometimes our scalp issues can come right down to health issues from within working their way out. When I became chemically sensitive, I could not have known that my scalp would be effected.  The truth was I had caused a pH imbalance on the inside of my body, zenoestrogens were raging through my cells and sending messages of confusion to my body systems.  My body choose the scalp to purge unwanted junk out of my body. The lymph was sore, sluggish. Some of the side effects of medications can also cause excessive dryness, itching and loss of hair. Conditions like psoriasis can begin.  If you feel that this could be the cause of your troubles, consider diet, lifestyle, product change and detox.

Road to a Healthy Scalp
The road to a healthy scalp can take a long time for some. If it's due to chemical imbalance, hormone imbalance or medications, then it can take longer because your body has to go through a change and purge before it's better. So lets start with how to change your diet, lifestyle, products and incorporate detox.

1) Diet
Consider foods that are rich with essential fatty acids (omega fatty acids), flax seed, evening primrose oil. These are nature's lubricants and can even and balance what your body makes from inside.
Fat is every bit as important in your diet as are other nutrients. It's also necessary to keep your immune system working and keep a host of diseases or health troubles away from your body including your scalp.  How do you know your deficient? Consider if you have an unhealthy scalp but also suffer from allergies, high blood pressure, depression, or hyperactivity. These conditions have all been tied into lack of the right fat in ones diet. How can you get this in your diet? Fish containing fatty acids include salmon, sardines, herring, trout, tuna, and mackerel to name a few. Are there other foods you can eat that are high in fatty acids? Absolutely. Consider eating flax seeds which can be found in oil or in seed form; butternuts, walnuts, fresh basil, oregano spice, grape leaves, marjoram spice, walnut oil, broccoli, spinach, spearmint, wheat germ oil, soybeans, cauliflower.. The natural oils ingested will help lubricate the cells of the scalp and hair allowing for a healthier condition for hair to grow.

2) Lifestyle
I found that as a child I was sensitive, so as an adult I had not changed. But I didn't take safety precautions when doing things. So I exposed myself to needless chemicals on a daily basis. Since my body's immune system was not as strong as it had been, I became susceptible to sickness. So when I found out about certain chemicals having negative effects on the health, I began to eliminate them. Cleaning products I had were substituted for baking soda, unscented items, dye free items and more. There are many great books out there. Making sure I have good ventilation helped too. It was amazing that cleaning up your house with healthier alternatives made an impact on my scalp, but it did. My lymph glands on my head that had been so swelled calmed down.  On a side note, I should also add that many women of color have tended to purchase wigs or do hair braiding or weaving as well as other forms of hair extensions. Sometimes these methods can cut circulation to the scalp and hair loss results. Over time it can be permanent thinning. Avoid aggressive methods or do not wear them for long periods of time without giving your scalp a break. My last bit of advice under this subject of lifestyle, is hair dyes. Hair dyes that are permanent chemical based all do compromise the system. One ingredient, PPD, can cause irritation and even send individuals to the hospital. It can cause a constant rash / itching. We offer low level PPD and PPD free here because I know that women are going to get their hair colored even though I warn them of the troubles. So I feel good to recommend what we do offer. But if your having scalp issues, consider how long you've colored your hair. What color is it? Could you be suffering from a skin allergy to a specific pigment? Try to consider all natural henna products. These were critical for helping me through my tough years. The healing and calming plants in the Logona formulas really helped me to get the rest back I needed. I'd sometimes sleep with it on my hair all night. Today I can use color dye once again, but I only use what I offer here at Natural Solutions. I also spread out my color process so I am not coloring monthly. I apply the suggestions that I've written about as well, and I have seen improvements. Let this give you hope!

3) Products
I've already mentioned above that there is a need to change products you use on your body. Products that work for the building up of the body rather than the tearing down.  Many women of color have long 'greased the scalp' but unfortunately heavy oils, greases and even mineral oil rich pomades used directly on the scalp can lead to scalp disorders and even worsen existing conditions. Instead of using these products for the scalp, think about only lubricating the ends and allow your scalp to breath. I often tell people that those heavy oils are like plastic wrap on the skin, suffocating it from oxygen, blood flow, sebum and water.  For regular cleansing I suggest a moisturizing shampoo, and only a couple times a month using a clarifying shampoo. I found out recently that one great way to clarify the scalp is to take an ounce of conditioner with a couple tablespoons of baking soda and water. Rub this through the hair and rinse out. It really takes build up out of the hair and helps the scalp to shed. We offer a couple great items here that I like to recommend. One is the Malibu Treatment packets. When conditioning the hair and scalp, consider how much protein your using daily. Too much protein on the hair can dry it out and cause it to feel brittle. They can also cause residue to build up especially if they are leave-in.  If I were to suggest a conditioning product, I'd have you consider the Morrocco Method Pearl Essence Creme Rinse to help balance oily and dry hair. For sluggish hair that needs blood flow stimulation, I'd suggest Organic Excellence Mint Shampoo and Conditioner products. Those do not over wash the hair and leave a natural balance of sebum without feeling dirty. It's stimulating too. Regarding stimulation, it's also a good recommendation to massage the scalp weekly. To help that, I recommend the Morrocco Method Euro Oil. It's a good price and allows for a gentle massage. You can even use it for other healthful things.  Since so many styling products do contain unhealthy oils, preservatives, alcohols, fragrances and dyes, I can safely recommend what we offer because I have used these items in my recovery for all so many years. You can check them out under our Hair Care category.

4) Detox
One vital thing I did to help my scalp heal from it's crisis was to try different types of detoxing methods directly on my scalp. I have to say that this is when I first found Morrocco Method. They helped me to understand that proper cleansing, proper purifying and proper detoxing of my hair and scalp was essential. I think that many people don't realize that they have seborrheic dermatitis. This is so common when due to chemicals disrupt the natural sebum production so that fungi and bacteria grow as I stated above. So detoxing had an immediate affect on my scalp. Chlorophyll was another way I purified my body. It cleans the blood and of course, this in turn helped circulation and sluggish lymph. I also recommend sweating toxins out. There are different methods you can use, but I just sat in a hot tub and sprinkled Morrocco Method Zen Detox in the bath water. I used their Diamond Crystal Mist Spray directly on my scalp whenever I needed it to calm down. The Tibetan Crystals really helped with skin inflammation. Rebounding is an exercise that leads to detoxing. By using a re-bounder, you can stimulate the lymph to let go much better. Products that I'd use besides these were clay products with bentonite clay. I even like using the Morrocco Method Earth Essence Shampoo as a hair mask because of it's detoxing benefits.  This drew out toxins and I even left it on overnight.

So far I have discussed causes of unhealthy hair and scalp and 3 main reasons for them. By far this just scrapes the surface. I will add further comments as time goes on whenever I see the need. I have also discussed 4 ways to improve the health and condition of the hair and scalp: diet, lifestyle, products and detox.  If you keep these suggestions in mind you will no doubt see an improvement in your hair and scalp. If you find something that has worked for you that I did not add, please feel free to email us at orders@bewellstaywell.com anytime.

Here's to a healthy hair and scalp!
Jennifer R