You show your face so much love on a daily basis—treating it to fancy lotions and potions, cleansing it with care—and every once in a while you may even pamper it with an indulgent facial. But what about your scalp?
“People often forget that there is skin underneath all of that hair,” says Michelle Blaisure, a trichologist (that is, a hair doc) and the director of education for Bosley Professional. “Because the skin acts as the soil for the living part of the hair follicle, a neglected scalp is the cause of many hair concerns,” she explains. The buildup of dead skin, product residue, and oil on your scalp can lead to several hair woes, including dandruff, lifelessness, the overproduction of oil, and inflammation of the follicle (which stunts growth).
The good news: Treating your scalp to a little extra TLC once a week can have a major payoff. Slip into your bathrobe and slippers, then follow this four-step plan for your healthiest hair yet.
Start with a pre-shampoo treatment that contains a blend of essential oils like sage, lemon, and rosemary to purify the scalp and ease inflammation. (Find them all in Phyto Phytopolléine Botanical Scalp Treatment, $38; sephora.com.) Apply throughout dry hair, focusing on your roots, until your entire scalp has been covered. Then wrap your hair in a towel or shower cap so your body heat activates the oil and let sit for 15 minutes, advises Phyto Universe stylist Marina Perkovic.
Arguably the best step, a good head rub can boost circulation, which promotes healthy hair growth by allowing more nutrients to flow to the follicle. Using medium to deep pressure and small, circular motions, work your fingers from your hairline to the nape of your neck and back. Repeat for 5 to 10 minutes. (Even better: Enlist the helping hands of your partner or a friend.)
To nix buildup, opt for a mild, sulfate-free shampoo that contains gentle exfoliating ingredients like salicylic acid. (Try Neutrogena T/Sal Scalp Build-Up Control Therapeutic Shampoo, $7; drugstore.com.) Using the tips of your fingers, lather the shampoo on your scalp and let sit for two minutes. Then rinse and repeat. “Unless you wash every day, doubling up is often necessary to thoroughly degunk the scalp,” Perkovic says.
“Just like your face, your scalp requires moisture,” says Blaisure. After you shampoo, apply a deep conditioning mask all over your hair from roots to ends. Look for a creamy formula with good-for-your-skin hydrators such as glycerin or hyaluronic acid, soothing ingredients (think willow bark extract or aloe), and strengthening proteins like wheat or keratin. (We like Kérastase Dermo-Calm Masque Sensidote, $33; amazon.com.) Leave in for a few minutes; rinse out with warm water.