Wednesday, December 28

Dry Scalp? Causes & Treatments

Lack of moisture, harsh weather conditions or hair products laden with chemicals can cause a dry, itchy, and flaky scalp. An itchy, dry and/or flaky scalp usually means that it needs to breathe. Years of using products with chemicals can cause an allergic reaction.  In some cases a dry and flaking scalp can be due to other conditions such as dandruff, eczema or psoriasis. Dandruff is caused when skin cells flake off, which are most commonly oily and not dry. Eczema is when a heavy amount of dandruff is accompained with an intense itchy scalp. Psoriasis causes the scalp to flake with silvery flakes and become red and irriated.

Here are some simple changes you can make to your haircare routine.

Scalp cleansing. Using apple cider vinegar helps to detoxify your scalp, open up the pores and bring the ingredients to cure the scalp condition. Many market products that are made for itchy scalp have too many chemicals, many of which cause the problem in the first place. Cleanse your scalp once a week or as often as needed.

Shampooing. Frequent shampooing can strip the scalp of moisture from its natural oils especially in the winter when there is a lack of moisture in the air. Follow up by moisturizing the scalp and hair with a good hair butter or your favorite oil. Using too much shampoo makes it diffuclt to rinse it all out and if any is left behind it dries and flakes.

Hot oil treatments. Apply a warm oil (i.e. olive) to the scalp and gently rubbing it in with the pads of your fingers. Cover with a plastic cap and wrap with a towel and let sit for 30 mintues to an hour. Wash out with a gentle or sulfate free shampoo and lukewarm or cool water.

Gently massage your scalp. This increases blood flow to the scalp, which helps to clear any blocked pores. Massaging your scalp also helps to loosen any dead skin cells, making them eaiser to wash away. Try not to scratch as scratching can leave cuts on the skin which may lead to infection.

Use less heat. Too much heat (blow dryers and flat/curling irons) can irritate and dry out the scalp, making it even flakier. Washing your hair with hot water can also add to the problem. Instead it's best to use lukewarm or cool water and let your hair air dry instead of using a blow dryer. If you must use a blow dryer than put it on the cool setting.

Cover your head when the sun is out. In the summer it's best to wear a hat to prevent your scalp getting sunburned, which adds to dryness.

In addition to being a great astringent for the skin, apple cider vinegar (ACV) has been used for years to cleanse the hair and scalp of product buildup and environmental residue. It helps to control dandruff and prevent the scalp from becoming scaly or itchy.  When ACV is infused with aloe vera and herbs it can condition, soften the hair without stripping it and restore pH balance.  ACV clarifies and restores natural scalp balance while aloe vera restores your hair's natural pH balance.

ACV Cleanser
2 tablespoons Apple Cider Vinegar
1 cup Aloe Vera Juice
5 drops Lemon Essential Oil
5 drops Sweet Orange Essential Oil

Combine all ingredients in a bottle with an applicator tip. Apply cleanser to scalp and gently massage in with fingers. Wash out with a gentle or sulfate free shampoo with cool or lukewarm water.

Note: The base of aloe vera, lemon and sweet orange oil helps to nourish the hair shaft, leaving the hair soft.

Herbal ACV Cleanser
1/3 cup Apple Cider Vinegar
1 1/2 cup Aloe Vera Gel
1 teaspoon Nettle
1 teaspoon Calendula
1 teaspoon Rosemary
1 teaspoon Burdock Root
1 teaspoon Chamomile
1 teaspoon Horsetail
1 teaspoon Sage
1 teaspoon Oregano
1 teaspoon Licorice Root
1 teaspoon Willow Bark
5 to 10 drops Lemon Essential Oil
5 drops Lavender Essential Oil
5 drops Rosemary Essential Oil (optional)

Combine apple cider vinegar and herbs in a glass bowl and place over a pot of boiling water over medium heat (creating a double boiler) and let infuse anywhere from 15 to 30 minutes. Be sure to stir the mixture occasionally. After 15 minutes or so remove from heat, strain herbs through cheesecloth and mesh strainer and let stand until infusion is lukewarm. Add in aloe vera gel and essential oils. Use a whisk to break down clumps of aloe vera gel. Pour and store in a glass container, preferably an amber or colored glass bottle.

You can also combine the herbs, apple cider vinegar, aloe vera gel and essential oils in a large glass jar and let sit in a cool, dry place anywhere from a week to four weeks. Be sure to gently roll the jar one to two times a week.

When ready to use dilute 1-2 tablespoons of infused ACV to 1 cup of distilled water. Note: Dry or fresh herbs will give you the same results. You can use any essential oils you like.

Final note: You will want to use apple cider vinegar opposed to white vinegar because ACV is made from fermented apples while white vinegar is derived oxidized alcohol.  Be patient as these treatments can take up to six weeks before you start to see the results you want.

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