Learning how to take care of your scalp is one of the most underrated ways to grow long natural hair.
When it comes down to curly hair growth, it seems like all the natural hair gurus have got it covered – the importance of deep conditioning, protecting your ends, using the right products. The list goes on.
But why do we seem to neglect the place where the hair actually grows from?
Learning how to take care of your scalp is just as important as the health of our ends, given it’s where the strands grow from. A healthy scalp means healthy hair.
Ready to find out the best ways to take care of your scalp? Let’s dive in!
How Do I Know If My Scalp is Unhealthy?
Figuring out how to take care of your scalp is 100% worth the effort.
Your scalp is the birthplace of your natural hair. It supports the hair follicles, houses the hair shaft and contains sebum (your body’s natural oils). Having a clean, balanced and aired scalp is the first step in growing out natural hair.
You know you have an unhealthy scalp when you experience:
- Dandruff (too much bacteria/yeast on the scalp that causes the flakiness),
- Scalp tenderness, and
- Excessive oiliness or dryness.
These scalp conditions can be generally fixed with a few changes in your natural hair routine (unless they are medical conditions, in which you should consult with your dermatologist).
Here’s how to take care of your scalp, the easy way:
Avoid Harmful Ingredients
Some of the worst ingredients for natural hair are found in scalp-specific products. These include products such as shampoos, cleansing conditioners, and scalp oils/hair serums.
These products are ridden with ingredients that cause skin irritation and dermatitis, a skin condition that causes itchy, red scalp. And remember: the scalp is also skin.
Generally speaking, avoid using natural hair products that use mineral oil/petroleum in the first ten ingredients. Use products that use plant-based oils/ingredients, like olive oil, jojoba oil, shea butter and aloe vera.
Hot Oil Massages
Oil massages are the most effective way to promote scalp health because they stimulate blood flow.
Certain oils, such as JBCO, are fortified with nutrients that promote accelerated blood circulation. Coupled with gentle, circular massages with the pads of your fingernails, this can wake up slow and inactive follicles.
Knowing what the best oils for natural hair are isn’t 100% intuitive. But in a nutshell, natural hair is sensitive and fragile, so you should be using plant-based oils rather mineral oils because mineral oils result in product buildup and provide no real benefit to natural hair.
Even if you do not have an oil readily available, give your scalp a gentle dry massage. By doing this, you are using the natural oils on your scalp (called sebum) as a lubricant. This also helps to de-clog pores and loosen built-up, hardened dirt.
First things first: shampoo (or some sort of clarifying product) is CRITICAL for a healthy scalp. If you’re wondering how to take care of your scalp, this is an important step!
Your wash day routine is break or make for your scalp. In essence, you should be using a moisturizing shampoo (the Mielle Pomegranate and Honey Moisturizing Shampoo is a great example).
Some naturals prefer the co-wash method, in which you rely on conditioner to cleanse the hair. However, conditioners only have a minimal amount of cleansing agents in the formula and won’t give your scalp the deep clean it needs.
We suggest using a shampoo weekly (biweekly for Type 4 naturals), and co-wash in between. Be sure to follow this up with a hydrating deep conditioner!
Exercise and Maintain a Well-Balanced Diet
Yes, you’re tired of hearing this one. Doesn’t mean it’s any less true!
You are what you eat and that goes for your hair too. Think about it like this: your body’s top priority is ensuring that all the nutrients you consume in a day go to the most vital parts. Whatever is left goes to your hair and nails. If you’re not eating right, your scalp and hair are not getting the proper nutrients to grow. Thus, you are downplaying your scalp health.
Drinking enough water, eating a balanced diet and exercising ensures your scalp is getting the right nutrients to actively grow out new hair. Your body will thank you!
Essential oils are great for trying to grow your hair or to combat an itchy scalp and encourage scalp health. Did you know that itchy scalps, for the most part, are precursors to hair loss? If you have dandruff or a dry scalp, essential oils are a great way to battle this.
The best essential oils for your scalp include lavender oil, peppermint oil and tea tree oil. These three essential oils not only stimulate inactive follicles, but they are anti-bacterial, which helps in fighting all those nasties living in your scalp!
Please note that you should only use a few drops of these oils in a carrier oil (which are the ones we are more familiar with, such as JBCO or olive oil), as essential oils are too concentrated for stand-alone use.
Exfoliate Your Scalp
Remember: your scalp is also your skin. And sometimes it just needs a good ol’ fashioned exfoliation!
Massages are a type of physical exfoliation, so make sure you use the pads of the fingers (rather than your nails) to remove dirt off your scalp.
If you want to take it up a notch, make sure your hair is 100% detangled and mix 2 parts olive oil, 1 part sugar and massage this into your scalp. Only do this if you don’t have a sensitive scalp!
The Bottom Line
If your hair is like a plant, that means your scalp is like the soil. By using the right products, avoiding harmful ingredients, and hydrating it properly with the right oils, you’re ensuring that your scalp is in peak condition to support your natural hair.