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What Retinol and AHAs Can Do for Your Scalp

Tuesday 06th February 24

hair health ,ingredient science ,scalp health
5+ min read

You may have heard about using retinol and alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs) for anti-aging and clearing up facial skin. But did you know these skin saviours also offer immense benefits for the scalp? Keep reading to learn how retinol and AHAs support healthy hair growth by unclogging hair follicles, regulating oil production, exfoliating dead skin cells, and improving absorption of hair-boosting ingredients.

What Does Retinol Do for the Scalp?

Retinol is a vitamin A derivative and powerful antioxidant that helps build healthy scalp tissue by enhancing new cell turnover. On the scalp, retinol acts as a chemical exfoliant that sloughs away dead skin cells, product buildup, dirt, and other debris to prevent clogged pores and optimize hair growth.

Retinol also regulates excess sebum (oil) production that can lead to limp, greasy hair. The retinol in the Follicle Boost Hair Density Serum contains a gentle retinoid called retinyl palmitate to clear scalp congestion and enable better absorption of hair-healthy ingredients like pumpkin seed extract.

Benefits of Retinol for Hair and Scalp Health

  • Unclogs hair follicles by exfoliating dead skin cells and debris
  • Regulates excess sebum production to reduce greasiness
  • Strengthens scalp and boosts collagen to support healthy hair growth
  • Enhances penetration of other hair-growth stimulating ingredients
  • Addresses hair loss and thinning caused by DHT buildup

How to Use Retinol on Your Scalp

When using retinol on your scalp, start with a low concentration like 0.5% to avoid irritation. The Follicle Boost Hair Density Serum contains a gentle 0.5% retinyl palmitate perfect for first-time retinol users. 

Apply serum or oils with retinol onto your scalp up to once daily, using the dropper or fingertips to distribute evenly. Make sure to wash hands afterwards. Monitor for redness, peeling, increased sensitivity before stepping up frequency. For optimal results, use alongside other exfoliating ingredients like alpha hydroxy acids.

See also: Can Retinol Cause Hair Growth?

What are AHAs and How Do They Benefit Hair?

AHAs like lactic acid are derived from plants like sugar cane to serve as chemical exfoliants that remove dead skin cells and stimulate new growth on the scalp’s surface. They gently dissolve the “glue” holding dull, flaky skin to reveal fresh layers below.

Regular AHA application improves circulation for better nutrient delivery to hair follicles. Removing debris also allows conditioners, masks, serums to absorb better. With both mechanical and chemical exfoliation effects, AHAs are ideal for combating buildup from heavy products.

The Nourish and Stimulate Scalp Mask uses lactic acid to decongest follicles on the surface and deeper skin layers. Used 1-2 times weekly, you'll see improved hair texture and growth within a few weeks.

Benefits of AHAs for Scalp and Hair Health

  • Exfoliate dead skin cells and product residue from scalp surface
  • Improve nutrient absorption and circulation to hair follicles
  • Regulate sebum production and dissolving debris to prevent clogged pores
  • Promote new cell turnover to support healthy hair growth
  • Combine with retinol to combat buildup without over-drying

What are BHAs?

In addition to alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs), another type of chemical exfoliant gaining popularity is beta hydroxy acids (BHAs). The main BHA used in skin and hair care products is salicylic acid.

Similar to AHAs, salicylic acid dissolves the "glue" between dead skin cells to clear away buildup and debris clogging hair follicles. However, BHAs are oil-soluble meaning they can penetrate deeper into pores and effectively target sebum and dirt trapped below the skin’s surface.

The Hydrate and Soothe Scalp Serum contains salicylic acid, which works to gently flush away excess sebum and purifies the scalp, creating an optimal environment for healthy hair growth. BHAs complement AHAs to enhance absorption of hair solutions.

How to Use Retinol and AHAs Together

Monpure’s products use only gentle, non-irritating forms of retinol and alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs) specifically designed for use together on a daily basis.

The Follicle Boost Hair Density Serum combines retinyl palmitate with lactic acid to deliver the scalp rejuvenation and hair growth benefits of both actives without irritation. The serum also contains soothing ingredients to further reduce chances of redness or dryness.

Since you use only a small amount of Follicle Boost Serum per application across your scalp, you should not experience increased irritation from retinol and lactic acid combined daily.

Common Retinol and AHA Mistakes

  • Using harsh retinoids like retin-A too frequently
  • Failing to adjust usage based on scalp sensitivity
  • Not applying SPF protection during daytime

How quickly will I see results?

Like with any skincare product, regular application is key. If you use our products continuously, you should start to see an improvement in the condition of your scalp and the quality of hair growth within a few weeks.

There have been plenty of studies in skin care but very few in scalp care. We have conducted our own user trials, which brought the following results:

After using our Follicle Boost Hair Density Serum containing retinyl palmitate:

  • 76% of people agreed that after continued use, their hair felt thicker
  • 74% of people agreed that after continued use, hair growth was boosted
  • 82.7% of people agreed that after continued use, it had a positive effect on the health and condition of their hair
  • 84% of people agreed that the product had a positive effect on the health and condition of their scalp

Frequently asked questions 

Can retinol cause hair growth?

Yes, by removing buildup clogging follicles and improving absorption of hair-healthy nutrients, retinol can boost hair density and growth over time.

How often should you use retinol?

Apply to scalp once daily unless irritation occurs.

Is retinol good for dry scalp?

Yes, by speeding cell turnover, retinol can help flaky buildup causing dry scalp slough off faster.

What is the difference between AHA and BHA for hair?

The main difference between alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs) and beta hydroxy acids (BHAs) comes down to how deeply they are able to exfoliate.

AHAs like lactic acid focus on the surface layer of dead skin cells and debris. They dissolve the bonds between the buildup and freshly growing skin. AHAs are water-soluble.

BHAs like salicylic acid can penetrate oil and pore-clogging sebum deeper in the follicle. The primary BHA, salicylic acid, is oil-soluble and ideal for targeting congestion below the scalp’s surface to enable hair to emerge.

Both AHAs and BHAs have benefits for rebooting scalp health and hair growth. AHAs clear away flakes, residue, and uneven texture, while BHAs purge trapped gunk several layers down.


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