Scalp care is the root (pun intended) of healthy hair. The scalp is more than just the place where your hair grows—it’s an extension of the skin on your face and body. The same way that you cleanse, moisturize, and exfoliate the rest of your skin should apply to your scalp. The health of your hair depends on it.
For curly hair types, scalp care can determine how bouncy, hydrated, or dry your coils are. What’s more, it can soothe nagging issues like dry itchy scalp. In the same way that you curate a proper skincare lineup for your face and body, you’ll need a proper scalp care routine as well. Ahead, find out why scalp care is critical for your curls. Plus, how and what you’ll need to achieve an optimal healthy scalp.

Why Is Scalp Care Important?

The scalp is a complex part of your skin. It’s not only home to thousands of hair follicles your strands grow from, it ages and experiences changes in the same way that your facial and body skin does. For this reason, it’s important to care for the scalp with just as much diligence. Like your face, the scalp can get dry, flaky, oily, and even develop pimples. And much like the rest of your skin, your scalp needs will change both seasonally and over time.

Improper care of your scalp can affect your hair health on both a small and large scale. Conditions like dandruff or excess oil buildup can interfere with your style, and more importantly, can lead to bigger, more permanent scalp issues like hair loss. On a day-to-day level, things can get uncomfortable. Itchy scalp, hair breakage, and soreness are all potential issues that can result from not giving your scalp the regular care and attention it needs. On a surface level, improper scalp care can leave your curls looking limp, lackluster, and dry.

How Do You Take Care Of Your Scalp?

The way that you take care of your scalp depends on several factors—and truthfully, there is no one-size-fits-all formula for it. There are, however, several regular steps you can take both during your wash day and daily as a starting point. Keep in mind that you will most likely need to tweak your scalp care routine to account for things like weather changes and lifestyle activities. For example, your vacation scalp regimen may require a few additional natural hair products and steps than your daily routine. But before getting into the extras, let’s nail down a core scalp care routine.

Figure out your scalp type. In the same way that you can identify your skin type—whether that’s oily, combination, or dry—you should try to determine what the skin is like under your hair. You should be able to tell from factors like how it reacts to products. Does an oil-based product turn your hair into a slick mess? If so, you’re most likely oily. Or, do you constantly notice flakes when wearing darker clothes or experience constant itching? These are both signs of dry scalp. Once you’ve determined your scalp type, you can hone in on exactly which products you’ll need and how often you should use them.

Moisturize. No matter what your scalp type, every head of hair needs moisture. There are many different types of scalp moisturizers. Look for scalp conditioners that are laced with ingredients like glycerin. These will help your scalp attract and seal in moisture. Every scalp needs some level of moisture applied to it daily. This can be done with a few spritzes of the Monoi Repairing Leave-In Conditioner or something heavier like the Mimosa Hair Honey. Test out a few different options to see which your scalp takes to.

You can also get much-needed moisture at the wash phase from a sulfate-free scalp shampoo like the Coco Creme Sulfate-Free Shampoo. This will clear away dirt and grime from the scalp without stripping away the necessary natural oils. Beyond the shower, keep your scalp hydrated with reapplications of the Monoi Repair + Protect Multi-Styling Milk.

Oil. Hair oils come in different viscosities, which is ideal since scalp needs vary so drastically. This type of natural hair product can work two-fold. Lightweight hair oils are absorbed into the scalp to hydrate from within, and a heavier scalp oil works to seal moisture in, while simultaneously soothing dry scalp and itchiness. Oil as often as you need to, but be sure to properly cleanse on your wash days so that the oil doesn’t build up over time. This can clog your hair follicles and cause dandruff or other scalp issues.

Exfoliate. The scalp develops dead skin buildup in the same way that the skin on your face does. There’s also product buildup. If you have curly hair, chances are you have a pretty robust roster of products, including the aforementioned oils. To achieve a healthy scalp, it’s best to slough away both dead skin and leftover products before you go in with your scalp shampoo and conditioner. Look to do this step each wash day before you hop in the shower.

Deep treat. When you think of a deep conditioning treatment, you’re most likely focused on the hair itself. While this is its primary purpose, the scalp can benefit from the extra moisturizing ingredients of deep treatments as well. Think of a scalp treatment as the specialty step. You may not need to do one every time you wash, but consider adding the Coco Creme Curl Quenching Deep Moisture Mask to your regimen once a month—or whenever you experience an itchy scalp or need to balance out excess oils.

Steam. Another step that can go hand-in-hand with a deep conditioning treatment is adding steam. This will help open up the hair cuticle so that your moisturizing products absorb better. Once a month steam sessions should suffice.

Make seasonal adjustments. Pick your hair care products based on the shifting needs of the skin up top. For example, you may swap your regular skincare routine between seasons to suit environmental changes, so you should do the same for your scalp care routine. If you’re wearing braids or a protective style where your scalp may be exposed, add hair sunscreen to your regimen as well to prevent sunburn.

How Often Should You Practice Scalp Care?

Having a healthy scalp requires daily practice. Sure, you may not be incorporating every single step mentioned above every day, but for optimal scalp health, you will need to at the very least moisturize daily. This can be done using moisturizing butter like the Healthy Hair Butter, or try misting hair regularly with a scalp spray. If you want to add hair oil to your day-to-day lineup, you may be wondering: How often should you oil your scalp? This is a matter of trial and error. Your facial skin may be able to withstand regular use of oil, but the skin on your scalp may not. Test out daily use of hair oil for one week and see how your hair reacts.

Looking for other ways to care for your curls? Check out this primer on How To Wash Curly Hair & How Often.

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