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Why You Should Care About Scalp Health

Person combing hair for scalp health
The last few years have brought about an increased focus on scalp health, partially due to the fact that so many people have had more time at home for self-care. Once people became aware of the role scalp care plays in healthy hair, a boom of products followed. In fact, so many options flooded the market it can be confusing to figure out what you actually need. Scalp care is an important part of having healthy, gorgeous hair. However, it can be confusing to figure out what products you actually need. Our goal at TO112 is to remove the guesswork and make it easy to incorporate scalp care into your everyday routine with products that nourish both the hair and the scalp.
Scalp health is an increasingly popular beauty buzzword, and for good reason. The health of your hair depends on the skin that covers your head. With stress and pollution levels on the rise, it's hardly surprising that many people are troubled by scalp issues. Many scalp problems are at the root (pun intended) of hair concerns.

Signs Of An Unhealthy Scalp 

If your scalp is unhealthy, it may be dry and flaky, itchy or have excessive build-up. The hair may break easily or fall out, or the texture of your hair may change.
Dryness and flaking: If your scalp feels flaky and dry, that could mean that it's not getting enough moisture. Dryness can be caused by a number of factors including overuse of products as well as environmental factors such as heaters or air conditioning. To combat this issue, use an ultra-hydrating shampoo that is rich in antioxidants to cleanse while maintaining the natural oils of the scalp. Our TO112 Shampoo For Dry Hair & Dry Scalps is specifically formulated for this with a blend of shea butter, tamanu oil and camellia extracts to calm and rehydrate the scalp and hair while delivering a superior glossy clean free from follicle blockage. 
Itching: Scalp itch can be caused by a number of things including dandruff, eczema or psoriasis. It could also be due to an allergy to something like shampoo ingredients — for example if they contain any preservatives like parabens which can cause allergic reactions for some. If your scalp is itchy and you notice that there are irritants in the ingredients of any hair products you are using then this may be why your scalp is itching. This why all of our TO112 formulations are free of harmful ingredients like sodium lauryl sulfate, sulfates of any kind, diethanolamine and parabens, among others. You may also have dry skin on your scalp which can cause itching, if you notice dryness elsewhere this could be the case — we recommend TO112 Shampoo for Dry Hair & Dry Scalps. The skin on your scalp is the same as the skin on your body, and itching is sometime caused by an overal sensitivity or it could be a byproduct of an irritation elsewhere in your health cycle. If you’ve got sensitive skin we recommend trying the TO112 Biotin Shampoo for delicate scalps and damaged hair. It is nutrient and antioxidant rich with soothers to prime the scalp for optimal growth. If none of these things apply to you then a visit to the doctor may be advisable as there could be something else causing the problem.
Hair loss: Hair loss is a sign of bad scalp health because it’s a sign that your scalp is no longer able to support the hair follicle properly. A healthy scalp is one that produces enough oil and protein to keep your hair healthy, but when you have scalp issues, like inflammation, dandruff or psoriasis, the problem isn’t with your hair follicles—it’s with the skin cells in your scalp. It's important to note, however, that not all hair loss is caused by the same thing. In some cases, it could be a result of nutrient deficiencies, medication or stress so take a 360 approach to assessing your hair loss concerns. I could be something as simple as dry skin or an allergic reaction to a shampoo or chemical process you're using. We have formulated our TO112 Biotin Shampoo for delicate scalps and damaged hair to support growth at the follicle and reduce inflammation at the scalp for optimal growth, this shampoo is packed with growth factors and the one to reach for no matter the cause of hair loss!
Dandruff: Dandruff is usually caused by a build-up of dead skin cells on the scalp which then causes itching. It can also be due to a fungal infection or seborrheic dermatitis which is an inflammatory condition in some cases. To treat dandruff, it’s important to understand the underlying cause. If you have seborrheic dermatitis, a doctor can prescribe medication that works on the fungus or stops inflammation. Our team has experience this first hand and sings the praises of the doctors that found the anti-inflammatory solution and the TO112 Biotin Shampoo for delicate scalps and damaged hair. I know we’re harping on it, but really, it’s worth trying! 
Excessive oil and build up: Oily roots and waxy product build up put a lot of stress on the scalp. Think of the hair follicles of the scalp like the pores on your face, if they are over washed, left unwashed, improperly hydrated or left with caked on makeup or products they will get blocked or inflamed. Blocked pores on your face lead to pimples and rashes, on the scalp that leads to stress and damage to the hair follicles which can lead to excessive hair loss. If you use dry shampoos you need to be sure to deep clean the scalp on wash day. Really get in in there and massage away. Consider a TO112 Shampoo Brush with soft silicone bristles to get in there and do the extra massage work while protecting the hair strands from breakage. If you suffer from oily roots and build up try washing your hair more frequently and using a shampoo that is formulated to address these these concerns like TO112 Shampoo For Fine Hair & Oily Scalps. It’s important to be using the right shampoo for your scalp needs and not go too long between washing.If you’re not sure you’re using the right shampoo to meet your needs, take our prescriptive hair quiz here.

What Causes An Unhealthy Scalp?

Skin Conditions: If you have conditions such as psoriasis and eczema then this may be affecting your scalp too. When you have a skin condition such as eczema or psoriasis, it's important to keep your scalp clean and free from irritation. The best way to do this is by using gentle products that don't contain harsh chemicals like sulfates. All TO112 products and formulated to meet the EU standards, which are the strictest in the world. They are also labeled according to EU regulations that demand brands call out harsh chemicals or suspected irritants. If you have easily activated inflammatory response, look at the labels of what you’re using and consider a switch. If you're not sure if your scalp is irritated or not, it's best to consult a doctor. They can diagnose whether there's a problem with your skin and tell you what to do next.
Excessive build-up: If there's too much oil buildup on top of your head, this can lead to acne as well as dandruff or psoriasis issues because the excess oil will clog up pores. This type of problem can be solved by using a clarifying shampoo at least once every few weeks to remove all traces of dirt and grime from your scalp so that fresh oxygen can reach those follicles. Using the right products: If you're using the wrong type of hair products then this can lead to skin irritations and breakouts. For example, if you use a leave-in conditioner on your scalp then it may be clogging up pores and causing acne. If you have a problem with acne on your scalp then it's best to cleanse the hair regularly with a shampoo that doesn't contain any harsh chemicals such as Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS). The most common cause of scalp acne is when sebaceous glands are clogged by dirt and oil, if you are prone to oily hair we recommend TO112 Shampoo For Fine Hair & Oily Scalps. 
Chemicals: Some of the most common chemicals found in hair and scalp care products, ingredients such as all sulfates and particular non-water soluble silicones, can cause irritation to your scalp. Formaldehyde which is a chemical commonly used in keratin treatments can be detrimental to scalp health and are also known to potentially cause breast cancer, hormone disruption and itching. Phthalates are chemicals that are used as a plasticizer and can be found in hair care products and fragrances. They have been linked to health problems such as birth defects, early onset of puberty and infertility. Parabens are preservatives that are commonly found in many beauty products including shampoos which have been linked to breast cancer and some studies suggest that they may even act as hormone disruptors. We’ve made a commitment to never use any known harmful ingredients in our TO112 formulations which you can learn more about here. 
Diet and Nutrient Deficiencies: A well-balanced diet rich with fruits and vegetables is important for overall health, and research shows that it can also affect your scalp health. Certain foods encourage the growth of dandruff-causing yeast on your scalp, so limiting those foods and eating more high-fiber foods as well as biotin, zinc, and healthy fats can ward off an unhealthy scalp. Believe it or not, a high-fiber diet helps with dandruff because it keeps your digestive system running smoothly. If you have an unhealthy or sluggish digestive tract, then your body may not be able to absorb the nutrients and vitamins it needs. A healthy digestive system also means that food wastes are eliminated efficiently, which reduces the amount of yeast on your scalp. Vitamins and minerals are essential to a healthy scalp and hair growth. Consider diet adjustments or supplements to prioritize things like Biotin which is an essential building block of hair, Vitamin C is an important antioxidant for the body and helps reduce inflammation. Vitamin B12 supports healthy cell division, which is essential for normal hair growth. Iron deficiency can contribute to hair loss and iron-rich foods like red meat, eggs, spinach and broccoli are key sources of this mineral.
Tight Hairstyles: Tight hairstyles, such as tight buns and braids, can cause traction alopecia. This is a condition in which hair loss occurs because of constant tension on the scalp. Traction alopecia is most common in women with long hair. It can occur if the hair is pulled back too tightly over an extended period of time. The most common areas affected are the temples and front of the scalp, although there can be a general thinning of the hair. The only way to prevent traction alopecia is to avoid pulling back your hair tightly. Tight braids and ponytails should be avoided as well as tight, high ponytails. If you have long hair that tends to fall forward over your face, consider wearing it down or in an updo with a lower knot.
Stress: Stress is a huge factor in the health of your scalp and hair. Cortisol, a stress hormone, has been shown to negatively impact scalp health and can lead to dryness and dandruff. When there's too much stress in your life, it can prevent blood from flowing freely to those areas—and when blood doesn't flow freely, hair won't grow as fast or as thickly. That means that even if you're doing everything right with your diet and exercise routine (which are very important for keeping your hair healthy), if there's too much stress in your life then it could still be preventing you from getting the results that you want. It can also lead to more serious issues such as alopecia areata, a condition in which your body attacks its own hair follicles and causes them to fall out.
Hormonal imbalances: Hormone imbalance can cause all kinds of problems with the hair follicle, which is the part of your scalp that grows new hair. This is why hormonal changes like puberty, pregnancy, and menopause can lead to increased hair shedding or thinning and even change the shape of the follicle so straight hair becomes curly or vice versa. And if your hormone levels are too high or too low for long enough, they can even lead to permanent hair loss.
So how do hormones affect scalp health? Well, when your body produces too much estrogen (or too little testosterone), it starts producing too many sebum glands in your skin. These glands produce oil called sebum which helps protect and moisturize your scalp and hair shafts. But if there's too much sebum produced by these glands, then it starts clogging up the follicles on your scalp—which causes them to shrink temporarily or even permanently! This leads to an increase in dandruff and other skin irritations that make it harder for healthy hair to thrive.

How To Maintain A Healthy Scalp

It's easy to forget that the scalp is an extension of the skin on our face, and the same effort we put into our skin care routine should be given to our scalp.
Shampoo Daily: A healthy scalp starts with regular cleansing. Daily washing keeps your scalp's pH balance in check. When you wash your hair, you remove excess oil and dirt from your scalp, which helps to maintain a balanced pH level. If you don't wash your hair daily, your scalp will start producing more oil in order to compensate for the buildup of excess dirt and grime. This can lead to an overall increase in oil production, which can cause dandruff and other irritation. If your scalp is on the oilier side we recommend double cleansing; the first shampoo will rid your hair of any product or sebum build up and the second will cleanse your scalp.
Increase Bloodflow: For a healthy head of hair and happy scalp, one of the best things you can do on a daily basis is massage your scalp. This will increase blood circulation and deliver nutrients to hair follicles. An easy way to incorporate a scalp massage into your hair care routine is by using a TO112 Shampoo Brush, with soft silicone massage bristles it helps to stimulate blood flow and gently exfoliate the scalp to promote healthier hair growth.
Prescriptive Hair Care: Remember shampoo is for your scalp and conditioner is for your hair. Keep that in mind when choosing your hair care routine. It's important to use products specifically formulated for your scalp type because the product you put on your scalp is what keeps it healthy. If your scalp is dry, using a moisture rich shampoo like TO112 Shampoo For Dry Scalps & Hair to keep it from getting even drier. If your scalp is oily, using an oil-absorbing shampoo such as our TO112 Shampoo For Fine & Oily Scalps will keep it from getting even oilier. And if it's normal, using a balanced formula like TO112 Shampoo for Normal Hair & Balanced Scalps that doesn't exacerbate either side of the spectrum will help keep your scalp in its natural state. If you still aren't sure what type of shampoo you should be using check out our How To Choose The Right Shampoo blog
Avoid Certain Ingredients: Some ingredients that work for your hair can be detrimental when applied directly to the scalp, certain ingredients can block or suffocate the scalp from breathing. Avoid applying products that contain trimethicones (they make hair feel softer and more moisturized) to your scalp and instead apply them only to the mid-lengths and ends. Also avoid heavy hold sticky gels or mousses with a high alcohol content because they can cause extreme dryness to the scalp. Consider alcohol free mousse like the TO112 Curl Mousse.
Scalp health is an integral part of having healthy hair. Your scalp plays an important role in your hair's overall health and appearance, so it's important to take care of it whether or not you have dandruff or other scalp conditions. Managing your scalp health is just one component of getting the hair you love to live in.