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How to Properly Moisturize Your Scalp

Chances are good that you have skin and hair care regimens that involve either moisturizing or conditioning…but what do you do for your scalp? Doesn’t the skin supporting your hair deserve some TLC too? When we heard about scalp moisturizers it was like we had forgotten our toothbrush for a weekend away—how did we overlook this key step? Healthy hair begins at the root via a healthy scalp, and moisturizing is a great way to treat this super sensitive area, but how can you tell if it’s right for you? To find out if you should be using a scalp moisturizer—and if so, how, and how often—we spoke to Founder and CEO of CURLS, Mahisha Dellinger and Elizabeth Cunnane-Phillips, Trichologist at Philip Kingsley.

Brown Haired Model Brushing hair scalp moisturizers
(via iStock)


Does Your Scalp Feel Tight?

Have you ever felt your scalp getting “tight”? This common feeling is not just from a headache or Ariana-esque pony, but is actually related to the lack of moisture in the scalp. As Mahisha tell us, “Anytime you feel that your scalp is tight, that means it is dry and in need of moisture.” However, she cautions not to just throw any old cream on top of your head. “You want to be careful not to over saturate the scalp with synthetic oils that will build up, clog the scalp and block out moisture,” she shares. As long as you’re using the right product, moisturizing the scalp is key to healthy hair. “Keeping the base fertile, clean and moisturized, where the ‘magic’ aka growth happens, is key to healthy hair,” she says.

Elizabeth seconds this, posing the question at the heart of the scalp care debate. “Consider all the processes and nourishing ingredients applied to our face, why not our scalp?” She continues, noting, “Think of the scalp as the bedrock for the follicles and consider the scalp the way you think of your face, after all, scalp is skin and an extension of our face.”

According to Elizabeth, the benefits of scalp care are two-fold. “Hair is influenced by many variables including the health of the scalp which is why at Philip Kingsley we are huge advocates for clean and hydrated scalps. Using products that add moisture to the skin are a super effective way to ensure that the scalp environment stays healthy and hydrated,” she tells us.

It doesn’t take much to really penetrate the scalp, just make sure it is clean (freshly washed is not a requirement) and accessible—“you don’t need a special tool or technique,” says Mahisha—which makes things even easier. Although you may feel like moisturizing may make hair greasy, if your scalp is thirsty (and you are mindful of products) you won’t emerge oily, only hydrated where you need to be.“The key to preventing greasy hair and scalp is to monitor what products you use on your scalp. Look for treatments formulated with natural oils that penetrate the hair shaft and won’t build up on the scalp,” she says. You don’t need much to work a scalp moisturizer into your routine. “Moisturize your scalp 3x a week, a thin coat is enough to do the trick,” Mahisha advises.

How to Apply Scalp Moisturizer

The best way to deliver your scalp moisturizer is through a massage. Not only is it guaranteed to relax you, this ensures you’re penetrating the skin properly and getting even coverage, not to mention stimulating the area. “Massage aids in increasing blood flow to the scalp thereby promoting circulation and stimulation to the area – all very helpful at promoting a healthy scalp and optimal hair growth,” Elizabeth councils.

To DIY scalp massage, start at the temples and gently–but firmly–massage the scalp in a circular motion using both hands. “Avoid friction and intense rubbing back and forth, as this has the potential to roughen the cuticle and be too irritating to the skin,” she cautions, emphasizing the need for a scalp moisturizer. Continue this motion through the hairline and move back towards the crown, before ending at the nape of your neck. According to Elizabeth we should repeat twice… gladly.

Shop Scalp Moisturizers

Philip Kingsley After-Sun Scalp Mask

Designed to soothe burnt scalps (hello, falling asleep in the sun) this calming moisturizer delivers long lasting hydration even on a normal day, keeping scalps healthy and hydrated year round. Elizabeth describes this go-to for scalp care, as “a summer or year round life saver, infused with ingredients like Chamomile extract and super hydrating Aloe Vera provide a perfect moisture balancing environment on the scalp.” She notes that, “a targeted scalp mask can, with the aid of a scalp massage, gently but thoroughly cleanse the scalp and lift any unwanted debris and scale.”

Philip Kingsley After Sun Scalp Mask Scalp Moisturizers
(via LookFantastic)

CURLS Blueberry & Mint Tea Scalp Treatment

Mahisha is happy to announce the brand’s new treatment has just launched today! As she explains, it is “formulated with certified organic coconut oil, corn mint and blueberry extract, this powerful serum moisturizes the scalp and encourages hair growth.”

Scalp Moisturizers
(via CURLS)

Aesop Rose Hair & Scalp Moisturizing Masque

This intensive treatment deeply conditions both hair and scalp, leaving dry strands and a flaky scalp hydrated and nourished.

Aesop Rose Hair and Scalp Moisturizers

(via Aesop)

Mizani Comfiderm Scalp Oil

This botanical blend soothes and moisturizes the scalp, keeping flaking at bay, while delivering essential nutrients and restoring much needed balance.

Mizani Comfiderm Scalp Moisturizers

(via Amazon)

MoroccanOil Dry Scalp Treatment

Argan oil and vitamin E treat stressed out scalps, leading to hair that shines.

Moroccanoil Dry Scalp Treatment Type of Scalp Moisturizers

(via Nordstrom)

Ahava PSO Scalp Cream Mask

Clinically and allergy tested, this Dead Sea mud and mineral based cream mask reduces scalp irritation while softening the hair.

Ahava Scalp Cream Mask Dead Sea Scalp Moisturizers

(via RedMart)

SoCozy Hush Sensitive Scalp Serum Balancing Treatment

Lightweight and non-greasy, this leave in serum calms by balancing pH and and lipids—all while strengthening hair follicles.

SoCozy Sensitive Scalp Serum Scalp Moisturizers

(via SoCozy)


Got an oily scalp? Click HERE for how to DIY dry shampoo.


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