In the beauty world, buzzwords get thrown around all the time — and then mass panic (typically) ensues.
Whether it's an ingredient, technique, or new technology, everyone wants to know what it is, how it works, what it's in, whether or not it's "bad" for you, or if it's all just a marketing gimmick. And the word "detox" is definitely one buzzword that fits the bill.
While the term can be used in a few different contexts, we're going to be focusing on detoxing the scalp today. And sure, the phrase may sound like a pile of BS at first, but dermatologists agree that it's actually quite beneficial for hair health.
"I have always understood that healthy hair starts with a healthy and clean scalp and this is something that I educate my patients on regularly," says Dr. Caroline Robinson, founder of Tone Dermatology in Chicago. "The term 'detox' is used in other contexts such as nutrition and skin care to refer to purging bad habits and shifting to more healthier choices and behaviors. With regard to scalp care, the choices are simple and not necessarily new. Regularly cleansing the scalp with a shampoo that cleans the scalp without compromising your hair type is essential."
Read on to find out more.
What Exactly Is Scalp Detoxing?
Well, it's not a diet for your roots or anything, but detoxing the area does help to pull debris from the scalp to create a healthy environment for hair growth.
"Scalp detoxing is similar to exfoliating the skin," explains Dr. Corey L. Hartman, founder of Skin Wellness Dermatology in Birmingham, AL. "It involves applying cleansing ingredients to the scalp to draw out impurities and restore shine and luster to hair."
Typically, using a clarifying shampoo can do the trick. However, if you have super thick hair, make sure to also use a scalp brush. This tool will not only massage your roots as you wash, but it will also make sure that the product is getting down to where it needs to be.
What Are the Pros and Cons of Scalp Detoxing?
Good news: there are mostly pros.
Dr. Hartman shares that regular scalp detoxing leads to shinier, healthy hair with more effective growth. However, like with anything else, overdoing it can pose its fair share of issues. Oh, and if you have a pre-existing scalp condition, tread lightly.
"The main risk with the current 'detox' options available are that they may be too harsh on the hair creating excess dryness and even breakage," explains Dr. Robinson. "If you have a scalp condition such as seborrheic dermatitis, psoriasis, eczema, or even hair loss, it's essential to talk to your dermatologist before integrating these into your hair care routine."
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Who Should Be Scalp Detoxing?
According to Dr Hartman, everyone can and should do a scalp detox. "Particularly during the spring and summer when the scalp is coated in residue like sunscreen, salt water, and chlorine," he adds.
Dr. Robinson says it's especially helpful for those with textured hair.
"Sebum, the natural oil produced by her scalp, can have a difficult time coating the hair and as a result can collect on the scalp," she notes. "Added to this we are often using multiple products to style our hair between washes. For curly hair types, it is important to have a consistent and regular wash routine weekly at minimum."
How Will I Know When It’s Time to Detox My Scalp?
"Signs and symptoms of buildup may be a clue to the need for a deeper scalp cleansing," says Dr. Robinson. "These can include itching and invisible build up on the scalp."
Dr. Hartman adds that if your hair is looking kind of blah, you're noticing that growth has been stunted or your scalp is feeling "weighed down," it's time for a good wash.
However, Dr. Robinson points out that these symptoms should be monitored, in case they're signs of a larger issue. "Flaking and excessive itching may not necessarily be a sign that a deeper scalp cleansing is needed, and could be a sign of a scalp condition that requires evaluation by a dermatologist."
When the comes to how often you should detox your scalp, Dr. Hartman says those with textured hair should stick to once a month.
What Are Some Good Scalp Detoxing Products?
Glad you asked! You'll want to look for products that boast ingredients like activated charcoal, salicylic acid, and antibacterial oils, according to Dr. Hartman.
We're fans of Kérastase's Energizing Scrub as well as Briogeo's Scalp Revival Charcoal + Coconut Oil Micro-exfoliating Scalp Scrub Shampoo. Oh, and Virtue's ColorKick De-Brassing Shampoo for anyone worried about color protection.
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