As a board-certified dermatologist educated and trained at world-class institutions, Dr. Dina D. Strachan has learned the importance of scalp care through her patients and personal experience. Dr. Strachan views the scalp as skin, not as an extension.
Many of her patients treated for hair loss and scalp problems were healthy people. But the real problem lied on an individual's hair care and grooming practices. We sat down with Dr. Strachan to get insights on scalp care and wanted to share them with you!
PHYTO PARIS: How is the scalp structured?
DS: The scalp is a specialized area of skin which is thicker, with greater blood flow, thicker hairs and more oil glands.
PHYTO PARIS: How is the environment impacting the scalp's health?
DS: In climates with more seasonal changes, people are more prone to develop seborrheic dermatitis or dandruff, which is a hypersensitivity to normal yeast on the skin.
PHYTO PARIS: How do you maintain a healthy scalp?
DS: Gentle care is key to maintaining scalp health. We need to shampoo frequently enough to remove dead skin cells and excess oil which contribute to inflammation and scalp damage without over drying the scalp, which can also set off the inflammatory cascade.
PHYTO PARIS: Which are the styling products you should use so that you don’t suffocate your scalp?
DS: Styling products that keep the hair hydrated and flexible, and that don’t build up and cause inflammation on the scalp are preferred. Although dry shampoo is popular, it is not recommended to use it more than once a week as product and skin cells can build up on the scalp.
PHYTO PARIS: What are your thoughts on co-wash?
DS: Co-wash is conditioner only washing. It is a technique first popularized by women with curly hair as their hair tends to get dry more easily from frequent shampooing. Co-wash is similar to what we call “gentle skin care” in dermatology which is using moisturizing cleansers (i.e. conditioning) rather than striping soapy cleansers to wash to skin, avoiding hot water which strips oil from the skin, and apply moisturizer shortly after a bath or shower to seal moisture into the skin. Although co-wash keeps the hair from drying out, it may not adequately cleanse the scalp and hair—resulting in inflammation.
PHYTO PARIS: How does the scalp and skin's aging process compare to each other?
DS: All skin ages. There is intrinsic aging (caused by internal factors) and extrinsic aging (caused by external factors, such as the sun). Unless one is bald, or has very thin hair, the scalp is usually protected from extrinsic aging factors such as ultraviolet light from the sun. Inflammation, however, accelerates scalp aging.
PHYTO PARIS: How can you prevent your scalp’s aging process?
DS: More and more we are finding out that inflammation contributes to extrinsic aging. Hair and scalp care which reduces inflammation
PHYTO PARIS: Why are skincare inspired ingredients such as Hyaluronic Acid, polyphenols and Acacia Collagen good for your scalp?
DS: Hyaluronic acid and acacia collagen are humectants that attract moisture, which keeps the scalp from becoming dry and inflamed. Polyphenols are antioxidants that remove free radicals, which can cause inflammation and damage to the scalp.
PHYTO PARIS: How to prevent and treat hair loss for men and women?
DS: One of the most important things to know before one can know how prevent and treat hair loss is to understand why the hair is falling out. There are many causes of hair loss. It can be that the hair is breaking because it is dry. It could be falling out by the roots because one has a genetic trait, such as in female pattern hair loss. Then there are a number of other causes such as nutritional issues, thyroid problems, medications, autoimmune conditions and more. Regardless of the cause, however, good hair and scalp care designed for your hair type is important.
PHYTO PARIS: How should you wash your hair when you experience hair thinning?
DS: How frequently to wash one’s hair depends in part on how oily one’s hair is and the texture of the hair. People with curly hair tend to have drier hair and should shampoo less often. In order to prevent dandruff and scalp inflammation one should shampoo at least weekly. Dry hair tends to break. People with oilier hair sometimes need to shampoo daily. Unless one’s hair is especially oily or dirty, it is not recommended to shampoo daily as this would likely dry the hair