Expert's Opinion

The Importance of a Healthy Scalp

By Philip Pelusi, Internationally recognized stylist and product artist | August 19, 2010

What do burdock, horsetail, red sage and sprouted soy have in common?

Protecting your scalp is critical if you wish to have "healthy" hair. This is imperative for everyone, men and women, young and old. Young people, especially, need UV protection because the scalp skin is subject to a lifetime of the damaging effects of our environment and especially from the sun. UV damage to the skin is cumulative and unrelenting. It has been identified as the major cause of the premature aging of the skin...and worse! For "Boomers" who have progressed through a lifetime of damage, especially as protection from UV damage has only recently become a "cause celeb" in connection with aging skin, those same effects on the scalp affect the appearance of their hair.

The vitality of our bodies diminishes as we age. This is a normal consequence of the aging process, but our skin, being a major part of the body's defenses, is subjected to a much greater level of stress. The scalp skin is subjected to the same or even more premature aging as the skin covering the body. But the telltale signs are different.

Aging of the scalp manifests itself not in wrinkles as with facial skin, but in its inability to maintain healthy follicles. The scalp's cell regeneration diminishes to the point that, as with the skin covering the rest of our bodies, it becomes thinner and loses its ability to retain moisture, and its ability to distribute nutrients to and detoxify the follicle.

Hair follicles diminish in number as we age. Both men and women experience a form of hair loss as they age. Men experience "Male Pattern Baldness" and women experience diffuse hair loss. Both are caused by the buildup of dehydrotestosterone or DHT within the follicle that is toxic to the follicle. As the follicles begin to die off, they produce fewer and thinner hairs, which at times may shrink by up to 10% in diameter. Hair is less voluminous and less able to hold a style. Look for products that contain organic herbs such as burdock, horsetail, red sage and sprouted soy as these all detoxify and exert a positive effect on the scalp health and strengthen hair. These ingredients are key in products such as my Tela Beauty Organics Volume Shampoo and Volume Conditioner.

As we age, we also lose the ability to manufacture melanin within the follicle. The hair loses its pigmentation and turns gray. Combined with the loss in body caused by the diminution of hair in number and diameter, hair appears drab and lifeless. The solution is to treat the hair with a color service that returns the hair to a more youthful and vital appearance. While a gentle ammonia-free color treatment is in order, even the best color products can damage our hair. Combined with the damaging effects of the environment on the hair and scalp, hair must be protected and reconditioned. Antioxidants play a key role. Look for organic ingredients like reishi mushroom, Chinese foxglove, ku shen, milk thistles and wolfberry. These contain some of nature’s most powerful antioxidants. When applied to the scalp and hair, they help to ward off the damaging effects of the free radicals from UV rays and our environment that are proven to degrade our hair and scalp, and enhance hair's ability to retain color, moisture and strength. Check out Tela Beauty Organics Color Guard Shampoo and Color Guard Conditioner for similar effects.

Although the focus is on the beauty of our hair, we also need to protect our scalps from the damaging UV rays of the sun. Many hair protectants contain UV absorbers, but these may not be sunscreens. Sunscreens are FDA regulated UV absorbers that specifically protect the skin and are based on SPF numbers that rate a product's ability to protect the skin from UV damage. While it is beyond the scope of this article to define the SPF system, it is generally accepted that the higher the number, the higher the level of protection and for "non-beach" products an SPF of 15 or higher is recommended. The SPF protection system covers both UVA and UVB portion of the Ultra Violet Spectrum of light and while UVB protects us against sunburn, it is UVA protection that guards against skin damage and cancers of all types including melanoma. Try Tela Beauty Organics Guardian SPF 18 for the scalp.

Dandruff and other debris such as sebum (scalp oils), dirt and product residues can build up on the scalp, causing other scalp problems. It is important to use products that can be easily removed by shampoo, as this will help prevent buildup in the first place. A clean scalp will also promote good cell turnover and promote a healthy environment for optimal hair growth. Just like anti-aging skin care, exfoliation of the scalp is important to remove dead skin cells from around the follicle and promote a healthy follicle.

In combination with an exfoliating pre-shampoo treatment, hair can appear more youthful and with great body if the scalp is stimulated by exfoliation with the aid of brushing with a soft, smooth-tipped natural bristle brush. Products containing organic sugar granules can be massaged into the scalp and brushed through the hair as, unlike other exfoliants, sugar granules will not damage hair but are strongly beneficial as sugars can bind moisture deeply within the hair shaft. Massage is a well known method of stimulating blood circulation and detoxification to create the optimal environment for a healthy scalp. Look for weightless scalp moisturizers and conditioners such as organic olive oil, organic shea butter and organic sunflower seed oil. An example of this usage is in Tela Beauty Organics Beach Hair.

About the author
Philip Pelusi is an internationally recognized stylist, photographer and product artist. Having gone from one salon to 13 locations as well as a magnificent industry centerpiece in New York City, Pelusi has created a philosophy, a product line, P2 by Philip Pelusi and systems for success.Philip created and trademarked, within the industry, the phrase “A Cut Above The Rest” to coincide with his creation of the registered Volumetric haircutting technique around which he built his empire.

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