Good healthy hair growth requires a good healthy scalp, but what is the scalp, how is it important for hair and scalp health, what does hygiene have to do with a healthy scalp and hair growth and appearance.
Your scalp is the foundation of healthy hair. It is like the soil in which flowers grow. Beautiful flowers grow in good soil, that is well watered, nutrient rich, regularly weeded, well aeriated and with a healthy ecosystem.
So looking after that ‘soil’ will affect the health, growth and appearance of your hair.
What is the scalp?
The skin on your scalp contains approx. 120,000 hair follicles on an adult head.
The hair follicle is made up of 20 different cell types, each with distinct functions. Importantly for hair health, it contains glands that excrete oil and other glands that excrete sweat.
Sebaceous glands are microscopic glands that secrete an oily or waxy matter, called sebum, to lubricate and waterproof the skin.
People produce different amounts of sebum at different times due many factors. That means the scalp and hair may become dry or greasy, or sometimes even a combination of the two.
When your body heats up due to weather, or exercise the apocrine gland secretes sweat. It appears on the skin surface and mixes with sebum.
Apocrine sweat is initially odourless. The sweat attains its characteristic odour upon being degraded by bacteria, which releases volatile odour molecules.
Why are these important for hair and scalp health?
Skin cells are some of the fastest reproducing cells in the body. Skin cell turnover is very high at around 28 days per cell. Dead skin can build up and trap bacteria within. When that skin is on the scalp and not cleared away that can cause dandruff.
When skin dwelling bad bacteria levels raise, the scalp can become infected. Issues such as hormonal changes, stress, illness or diet allow bacteria to multiply and this can lead to excessive shedding or infection.
A person’s lifestyle or exposure to toxins can also affect the health of the scalp. Chlorine used in swimming pools can affect not only hair quality, but the health of the scalp.
Hair products that are used to condition and style hair (especially ‘dry shampoos’) also build up on the scalp, block follicles and cause inflammation.
In summary, the hair follicle on your scalp is exposed to sweat, oil, dead skin, bacteria, and chemicals everyday. It’s critical then that where the hair exits the follicle is kept clear and clean.
In short, if you want good hair, these potential pathogens have to be removed.
As we’ve discussed above, looking after your hair means looking after your scalp, so it is essential to maintain a good standard of personal hygiene.
We all accept the argument about body hygiene. But scalp hygiene is just as crucial.
You wash your face, and body everyday because you see and feel and possible smell the ‘dirt’. But the scalp under your hair collects the same dirt, if not more.
The skin on your head does not have some magical self-cleaning powers.
Keeping your scalp clean, will result in healthy hair that is in good condition.
Washing and exfoliating the scalp can help prevent dandruff, and dandruff can create hair loss issues.