5 Practices to Soothe Scalp Irritation
Dealing with an irritated scalp can feel like an endless cycle, marked by bouts of redness, flaking and an itchy scalp. While the causes of irritated scalp conditions can include hormonal fluctuations, autoimmune conditions, hot showers, harsh chemicals, product-build and nutritional deficiencies (to name just a few), there are a few lifestyle practices you can adopt to begin soothing your scalp irritation.
1. Avoid Harsh Chemicals
One of the main causes of an itchy or irritated scalp is the use of chemical-laden hair products, including products containing sulphates and silicones. Products formulated with these harsh ingredients only provide a ‘quick-fix’ and short term texture improvements to the hair, however, over time they irritate the scalp and weaken the hair growth environment.
Although sulphates are used to create the foamy lather we are familiar with in many shampoos and shower gels, they actually strip the scalp of its natural oils and contribute towards dryness, itchiness and flakes on the scalp.
Silicones create an impenetrable, glossy barrier around the hair that only masks the true condition of the strands. Using products formulated with silicones causes an accumulation of build-up and residue, which ultimately prevents moisture from penetrating the hair and scalp, leading to itchiness and irritation.
MONPURE’s products are completely free from any sulphates or silicones. Swap out your products containing harsh chemicals for some gentle, yet high-performance alternatives. The Shampoo + Conditioner duo is formulated with a pioneering ingredient called vegan silk peptides, an incredible alternative to silicones - which are plastic sealants rather than permeable proteins. They create a breathable, protective barrier on the hair and scalp, protecting them against external aggressors such as pollution, sea or chlorinated water, irritants and bacterial adhesion.
Learn more about the wonders of vegan silk peptides here.
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2. Turn Down the Temperature
Turning down the temperature of your showers is an easy way to begin soothing your scalp irritation. Heat strips the scalp of its protective lipids, and can also break the protein bonds which make up the hair’s outer cuticle. Hot showers also cause a spike in the body’s inflammatory response: its mast cell levels. Mast cells are involved in hypersensitivity, inflammatory and allergic reactions in the body. These cells release a chemical called histamine that causes swelling and itching on the scalp skin.
Hot water also dries out the scalp, leading to itching, flaking, excess sebum production and congested follicles. Easing up the shower temperature and enjoying lukewarm water is one failsafe way to alleviate unwanted scalp irritation.
3. Introduce Exfoliation
Did you know that exfoliating the scalp is just as important as exfoliating the skin? The scalp is a delicate microbiome and incubator that requires balance and nourishment.
Exfoliating the scalp skin is one of the cornerstones of scalp health. Neglecting to exfoliate the scalp and go beyond shampoo can lead to clogged follicles, as well as itchy and flaky skin. Exfoliation removes dead skin cells, build-up and flakes from the surface of the scalp.
A gentle scalp scrub, like MONPURE’s Clarifying Scalp Scrub, works to simultaneously hydrate and moisturise dry, itchy skin, while also buffing away flakes and dead skin cells without irritation. Additionally, exfoliation maintains and rebalances the scalp’s microbiome, which is essential for mitigating against inflammation and soothing irritation. A healthy scalp microbiome requires a symbiosis of healthy bacteria and yeast, but can go awry when thrown off balance.
4. Decode your Diet
Did you know that certain foods are considered inflammatory and tend to exacerbate inflammation on a cellular level? A few examples of inflammatory food include sugar-rich foods, refined carbohydrates, artificial trans fats, processed meats and excessive alcohol consumption. Removing or minimising the consumption of inflammatory foods can help minimise scalp inflammation, and it is an integral step in reducing damage to your scalp and hair.
Instead, soothe your scalp irritation from within and introduce anti-inflammatory foods. These foods deliver essential nutrients to the scalp and follicles to keep them healthy and maintain overall balance on the scalp. A few anti-inflammatory foods to consider…
Salmon is rich in long-chain omega 3 fatty acids that help reduce inflammation on the scalp and boost overall cell health.
Introducing legumes such as lentils and kidney beans delivers ample protein and nutrients to the scalp that alleviate inflammation. Legumes are rich in zinc, iron and biotin, all of which are essential in cultivating a healthy scalp microbiome and hair grown environment.
Berries contain antioxidants called anthocyanins that hold powerful anti-inflammatory effects. Research has shown that people who consume berries every day have higher immune system functioning and lower levels of inflammatory markers.
Avocados are packed with magnesium, fibre, potassium and healthy fats. Avocado has also been linked to reduced inflammation in newly forming skin cells.
5. Opt for Anti-Inflammatory Ingredients
An essential step for healing an itchy or irritated scalp is opting for certain anti-inflammatory hero ingredients that deliver your scalp everything it needs to stay calm, hydrated and healthy and combat any future flare-ups. Discover MONPURE’s anti-inflammatory heroes…
Rich in polysaccharides, aloe vera is famed for its anti-inflammatory and hydrating properties. The succulent plant has a long history of medicinal uses, dating back as far as ancient Egypt.
Aloe vera is an antipruritic - a substance that relieves itching. Essentially, aloe vera’s polysaccharides inhibit the effects of enzymes called cyclo-oxygenase (COX) enzymes. COX enzymes release chemicals called prostaglandins that are involved in the production of inflammation and pain in sites of damage or irritation. Therefore, lower levels of prostaglandins equates to reduced scalp irritation.
A study conducted in the Journal of Alimentary Pharmacology & Therapeutics found that aloe vera inhibited the production of prostaglandins by 30%.
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Pro Vitamin B5
Also known as a pantothenic acid, this deeply penetrating moisturising agent is perfect for dry, flaky and irritated scalps. It promotes skin cell regeneration, wound healing and works as a hydrating anti-inflammatory for aggravated scalps.
Research demonstrates that when Pro Vitamin B5 is applied topically, it penetrates deep into the lower layers of the scalp-skin, providing long-lasting moisture.
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Brimming with essential fatty acids and Vitamin E renowned for their moisturising and antioxidant properties, argan oil regulates moisture on the scalp and regenerates the surface of the skin.
A study conducted by the Indian Journal of Dermatology found that Vitamin E reduced symptoms of itchiness, redness and inflammation. It also discovered that the strong combination of antioxidants and Vitamin E found within argan oil can be used to help accelerate wound healing.
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Witch Hazel Water
As a natural astringent and anti-inflammatory, witch hazel water tightens pores, sloughs away excess sebum and regulates its production. This powerful plant extract is widely celebrated for its ability to ease inflammation and calm sensitive skin.
Witch hazel has been shown to suppress a process called erythema, a reddening of the skin, by 27%.
A study from the Journal of Skin Pharmacology and Applied Skin Physiology found that witch hazel effectively reduced inflammation and can be used in the treatment of conditions such as scalp acne, psoriasis or eczema.
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This root extract holds moisturising, soothing, protectant and anti-irritant properties that are perfect for soothing an inflamed and irritated scalp. As an emollient and astringent, it accelerates wound healing, as well as cleanses and softens the scalp.
A study investigating the effectiveness of allantoin found that it led to boosted skin hydration and a reduction in erythema (A.K.A skin reddening). The study concluded that allantoin is an effective ingredient in the treatment of skin irritation.
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