It’s well-known that poor nutrition, hormone imbalances, stress, and traumatic events can all cause hair thinning. However, there’s one trigger for hair loss that’s often overlooked: scalp health. In fact, many experts feel that caring for the scalp should be a priority in the same way that caring for facial skin is—as an essential part of our daily routine. “Just like you need a skin care routine, you need a scalp care routine,” affirms New York dermatologist Ilyse Lefkowicz, MD. Unfortunately, the consequences of neglecting your scalp are much more severe than most of us would guess, with hair thinning, breakage and even loss topping the list.
“Because the scalp is the starting point by which your hair grows, the quality of your hair is a manifestation of the health of your scalp,” says Dr. Lefkowicz. “Any debris, oil, sebum and sweat on your head can prevent you from growing healthy hair.” Translation: Thick, strong hair will grow from a healthy, well-hydrated scalp. However, a dry, flakey scalp will produce poor quality hair strands that could leave you more likely to experience hair loss due to breakage.
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“If you have an unhealthy scalp with flaking, itchiness and dryness, there’s oxidative stress [on the scalp], which results in unhealthy hair emerging from the scalp,” clarifies Dr. Lefkowicz. These weaker hair strands growing from the scalp ultimately experience breakage, which can be the first step to hair loss. “When the scalp skin is under a high level of oxidative stress, the protein bonds can break and the lipid structure of the hair can be damaged, impacting the quality of growing hair as it matures within the follicle.”
Luckily, one of the best ways to ensure that hair grows strong and healthy lies in the drugstore. Dr. Lefkowicz recommends using a scalp protective product like Head & Shoulders Smooth & Silky Shampoo ($7) because it rejuvenates, detoxifies and moisturizes the hair and scalp, creating a healthier foundation for more resilient hair. And for an added boost, Greenwich, CT dermatologist Mitchell Ross, MD recommends using supplements to promote hair growth. “Several vitamin deficiencies can can cause hair loss. Biotin is a vitamin that can be taken as a supplement to help with hair and nail health.”
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