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At some point a few years back, I realised I didn't have dandruff (the result of a fungal overgrowth), I actually had a dry, irritated scalp. So, I overhauled my approach to treating it and ditched the harsh anti-dandruff shampoos. This is what works for me now...
The night before 'wash day' (I personally wash my hair twice a week), I apply the Ordinary's 100% Plant-Derived Hemi-Squalane | £4.40. This is an ultra-light oil that doesn't leave my hair greasy after use, and I use this as an overnight pre-wash treatment because squalane is a plant-based but skin-similar replenishing oil. Essentially, it's topping up the natural lipid level of the skin and our scalp is skin. This helps to counteract dryness by restoring the oil levels of the scalp. Obviously most people don't want to walk around with an oily scalp, so rinsing it out the next day once it's worked its magic is the most practical route.
The following day, prior to getting underneath the shower head, I will alternate between two products. The first is the Innersense Hair Renew Pre-Wash Scalp Treatment* | £36 | which is like a light milky serum. It's formulated with magnesium oil and zinc gluconate to help clarify the scalp and moisturising plant oils, along with hyaluronic acid (a water magnet), rice protein for further moisturisation and anti-inflammatory extracts. It's a really gentle, hydrating way to clear the scalp in 5 minutes. The other treatment I use is exfoliating: the Inkey List's Salicylic Acid Scalp Treatment | £14.99. I personally prefer this to other exfoliants on my scalp and it's much better for my dry, sensitive scalp than a scrub. It's just a water-light formula that should be applied directly to the scalp. Salicylic acid is an oil-soluble exfoliating acid, meaning it can get into the follicle and clear out dead skin cells and debris. I'm on about my 10th bottle of this stuff and I'll continue to repurchase it, because I've not had that need to wash my hair 3-4 times a week since I started using this to get rid of flakiness. It's worked so well for me and although I've tried other products, I do always return to this.
After my pre-shampoo treatment of choice for that day has worked its magic, I wash my hair as normal. I believe this is my 4th bottle of each product in this duo and, again, it's something that works for me and I'll continue to use (even with the price tag!) The Monpure Silk Protein Shampoo + Conditioner Set | £72 | is essentially skincare for your scalp. The shampoo only lathers very gently with coconut-derived surfactants that won't strip your hair and scalp. Plus it contains nourishing argan and castor oils, vegan silk peptides, clarifying apple cider vinegar and soothing, hydrating aloe and panthenol. The conditioner is light, with a lotion-y quality, and I actually apply a little to my scalp, as well as to my lengths and ends, and let it work its magic for a few minutes before rinsing. It contains the same ingredients as the conditioner, plus some slightly richer nourishment like meadowfoam seed oil, added hydration with the glycerin in here and Vitamin E, as a fat-soluble antioxidant. I almost never get flakiness these days, and I notice such a difference when I'm away from home and I don't have these two with me!
Finally, after washing (and in-between washes if I'm getting irritation), I use the Ordinary's Natural Moisturising Factors + HA for Scalp | £12.60. This comes out light a water-milk serum that should be applied directly to the scalp to top up this skin's natural stores of hyaluronic acid, lactic acid, sodium PCA and more. Zinc can additionally be really soothing on angry, dry skin. This doesn't leave a residue in my hair and really helps if you suffer from visible flakes in the hair. I also love how instantly it calms any irritation if my scalp isn't happy!
How do you take care of your scalp?