7 Ways To Include Scalp Care Into Your Relaxed Hair Regimen

When it comes to hair care there are a lot of tips and information available about taking care of our relaxed hair strands. Caring for our hair is important but probably just as important, if not a bit more important, is taking care of our scalp.

The scalp is often neglected when healthy hair practices are talked about but it shouldn’t be because it impacts how our hair grows.

woman with hair parted showing her scalp
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Our scalps are important because they are an extension of our skin. They just have a lot of hair on them.

The scalp is where the majority of our hair grows from. There are thousands of hair follicles on the scalp and lots of oil glands producing oil to help condition the hair and scalp.

The main purpose of the scalp is not just to grow long and beautiful hair, but also to protect the skull from trauma and infection. So the scalp is kinda important.

Like the rest of your skin, the scalp needs to be cleaned, moisturized, and protected from environmental damage. A healthy scalp is essential for healthy hair growth. So it’s important to take care of your scalp because if you don’t it can get nasty, ugly, and downright dirty. Literally.

Not doing any scalp care can lead to a buildup of oil and dead skin cells both of which can clog hair follicles and impede hair growth. Additionally not caring for your scalp can cause it to dry out, and start itching, flaking, and scaling. And in some cases, abnormal hair shedding.

All of these symptoms are not only uncomfortable but also embarrassing because you can only hide them for so long before people start to notice.

So, how can you take care of your scalp and keep it healthy? Here are 7 tips:

1. Keep your scalp clean

This is probably the most basic, and easiest thing to do to keep your scalp healthy.

Regular shampooing is essential for removing oils and dirt from your scalp. Since every head is different there isn’t a set rule on how often you need to shampoo.

Some of the telltale signs you’ve started going too long between washes are there is a slight odor, hair is oily or really dry, and the hair starts to look weighed down.

I typically go about 7 days between washes, occasionally I may go up to 2 weeks.

When I shampoo my hair each week I make sure to also clean my scalp. In fact, I start by cleaning my scalp first. The type of shampoo I use is either a clarifying shampoo (ORS Creamy Aloe Shampoo) or a sulfate moisturizing shampoo (Joico Moisture Recovery Shampoo).

If I feel my scalp and hair are really dirty and have some buildup I’ll use the clarifying shampoo. A clarifying shampoo can help fully remove dirt, oil, and product buildup but it’s not something I would use often unless it’s on a really oily scalp.

Every other time that I wash my hair I use a moisturizing shampoo. Moisturizing shampoos and sulfate-free shampoos are well suited to use on scalps that tend to be on the dry side.

When I apply my shampoo I use an applicator bottle because I can use the slender tip to get the shampoo directly on my scalp.

2. Exfoliate your scalp

Just like exfoliating your face, exfoliating your scalp can help remove dead skin cells and improve circulation.

It can also remove buildup from products, sweat, and oils.

There are a few different ways that you can exfoliate your scalp. Some common ones can be easily done at home

There are textured scalp scrubs which are gentle scrubs that contain ingredients such as charcoal, sugar, or even sea salt. Those types of ingredients have a gritty type of texture which helps with loosening gunk from the scalp so it can be easily rinsed away.

There are scrubbing brushes and combs that can gently exfoliate the scalp.

I’ve used a scalp scrub with salt and really liked the clean but not stripped feeling it gave my scalp. You can check out some store-bought scalp scrubs in my LTK store.

If you want to get deep cleaning on your scalp the hair salon is the place to go. I’ve seen several hair stylists sharing the types of treatments they do on their client’s scalps to exfoliate, get rid of product build-up, and give their scalp an overall deep cleaning.

3. Protect your scalp from environmental damage

It’s easy to forget that the sun, wind, and other environmental elements can all cause damage to your scalp.

We make sure to protect our faces and the rest of our bodies by slathering on sunscreen before we hit the beach, pool, hiking trail, or even our front yard. But we don’t always remember to protect our scalps.

I’ve had friends who spent a lot of time outside in the sun during the summer and ended up with some painful sunburn on their scalps by the end of the day. So I’ve seen firsthand how important scalp protection can be.

Before you head outside protect your scalp from the sun and wind with a scarf, a hat, or even sunscreen.

4. Avoid tight hairstyles

Tight hairstyles refer to any style where the scalp is pulled or tugged. This typically refers to updos like buns, ponytails, and even popular protective styles like braids.

While most of these styles are great at giving your hair a break and keeping some or all of your hair covered, these styles can put a lot of pressure on the scalp and eventually lead to hair loss.

I’ve seen several posts from women in hair Facebook groups asking for help because the tight hairstyles they were wearing had caused their edges to thin or even completely disappear.

I’ve been known to rock a bun or ponytail quite often. But when I do I make sure to not pull my hair back tightly and to keep the style slightly loose so there isn’t a strain on my edges.

5. Incorporate more healthy foods into your diet

From what I’ve seen when looking into scalp health, doctors and nutritionists say a healthy diet can improve the overall health of your skin, including your scalp. Eating more fruits, vegetables, and lean protein can nourish the scalp helping to keep healthy.

Additionally staying hydrated by drinking water throughout the day or eating fruits and vegetables high in water content is beneficial for the scalp.

6. Avoid things that can irritate your scalp

This can be everything from hair products with ingredients that can cause you an allergic reaction, to synthetic hair for weaves and braids, to even home remedies.

When it comes to home remedies, I’ve come across several that not just influencers are recommending but also some respected lifestyle publications to help keep the scalp healthy.

Looking at these home remedies some of them seem fine but there are others that I just know would cause some irritation of my scalp and do the opposite of what I’d want them to do.

As a disclaimer probably a couple of years ago I probably would have included some of these home remedies in this list but my perspective on home hair products has changed over the last few years.

The home remedies that I would personally stay away from are
  • Putting a baking soda paste on the scalp. Baking soda is harsh and sometimes used to clean off tough stains. That’s not something I feel comfortable putting on my scalp.
  • Mashed bananas. On the surface, this doesn’t seem like it would irritate the scalp but I’m pretty sure I would end up with some mashed banana stuck in my hair. Knowing how my scalp has felt when a hair product hasn’t been fully rinsed off my hair and scalp I know this would cause some irritation.
  • Yogurt and egg mixture. Same as the mashed bananas it has a good potential for scalp irritation if accidentally left in the hair or on the scalp. Especially if I use heat on my hair.

7. See a dermatologist

I wanted to include this because sometimes there may be a scalp issue that can’t be solved at home.

If no matter what you do the itching, flaking, dryness, or abnormal shedding won’t stop, it's time to bring in a specialist who can diagnose the issue and provide some medication or remedy that can help.

When the scalp is healthy you can easily tell
  • The scalp doesn’t show any redness or irritation
  • There’s no scaling, dandruff, or buildup
  • It doesn’t feel tender
  • And there’s no odor