While many men are concerned with the appearance of their hair, scalp health is often overlooked. Most guys do not realize that a great head of hair begins with a well-nourished scalp. Feeding the scalp provides the right foundation for great hair, and when the scalp is not properly cared for, it can impact how hair looks.
Clear Scalp & Hair Therapy expert Dr. Francesca Fusco, a leading New York City dermatologist who specializes in scalp and hair care, reveals what men need to know to keep their scalps in top shape.
Be kind to your scalp: Scalp is skin and can be sensitive to aggressive scrubbing, so treat it the same as the skin on the rest of the body. “You wouldn’t use your finger nails when washing your body, nor should you when shampooing your hair,” says Fusco. “Instead, gently massage the scalp with the balls of your fingertips for about 30 seconds to stimulate your scalp. Never use a brush or comb with metal teeth as this can also damage your scalp.”
Select the right shampoo: What’s right for a woman’s hair might not be right for a man’s. Guys should be looking for a shampoo or 2 in 1 that is specifically formulated to meet their individual needs. According to Unilever research, dandruff ranks ahead of any other skin condition, affecting nearly 30 million men. Scalp disorders and dandruff, however, are not only about discomfort. Flakes can also be a major source of embarrassment. In fact, research conducted by KRC for Unilever found that 80 percent of dandruff sufferers feel more social if they know their dandruff is under control and three in 10 dandruff sufferers admit that visible flakes would make them cancel plans for a night out. “Look for a formula that’s specifically designed for men,” says Fusco. “Try a product like Clear Men Scalp Therapy Complete Care 2 in 1 – it feeds scalp and stops dandruff at the source for 100 percent dandruff protection, ensuring there are no visible flakes with regular use. It contains a combination of natural ingredients like ginseng, tea tree and natural mint and it smells great, too.”
Watch the weather: Applying sunscreen to the face and body should be standard practice before enjoying outdoor activities, but many men forget how vulnerable the scalp is. Extensive sun exposure, whether on the golf course or the ski slopes, can cause damaging scalp burns that lead to dryness and flaking. “It’s important to think of the scalp as an extension of your face. The skin on your scalp is highly susceptible to UV rays,” says Fusco. When spending time in the sun, especially between the peak hours of 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., Dr. Fusco recommends dispensing sunscreen on a cotton swab and dabbing along the part and hairline. If you know you’ll forget to reapply throughout the day, rely on a hat to protect yourself from harmful rays.
Hit the showers: In today’s busy world, squeezing in time at the gym is often a challenge. To cut corners, it can be tempting to rinse using just water instead of shampooing hair after a workout. “For the health of your scalp, this time-saver is not worth it,” says Fusco. “It’s important to shampoo after any strenuous workout because inadequate hair hygiene can lead to scalp buildup of oil and skin cells. A clean, well-nourished scalp is a happy scalp.”
Take a holistic approach: In addition to external factors like sun exposure and excessive hair brushing, the scalp can be influenced by internal factors such as diet and stress, according to Unilever research. When caring for overall health, it is important to take diet and lifestyle into account, and the scalp is no different. “Healthy hair can be an overall sign of good health. I recommend eating foods that are known to be anti-inflammatory, like antioxidant rich fruits, including blueberries and vegetables. Foods high in omega-3 fatty acids, like salmon, have a beneficial effect on your skin and scalp,” says Fusco.
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