Friday, March 4, 2011

OverShare: Dry Scalp... Ew.

Winter here is dragging... and although we live right on the Atlantic Ocean, so is the dry dry weather. This winter has been especially bad for... gasp... DRY SCALP. (ugh!).

It first became apparent I had a problem while getting my hair cut- I looked down and gasped at the small little winter wonderland on the cape. Awesome. Weirdly enough, the hairstylist recommended a dandruff shampoo.

Let's get one thing straight- dry scalp and dandruff are two different things. Dandruff is usually oily flakes that are being shed due to three possible reasons:

  1. Skin oil commonly referred to as sebum or sebaceous secretions[7]
  2. The metabolic by-products of skin micro-organisms (most specifically Malassezia yeasts)[8][9][10][11][12]
  3. Individual susceptibility (wiki)
Dry scalp, on the other hand, is your scalp being dry... like your skin. Since I don't have a chronic condition of flaking, they're not oily and I don't have psoriasis or eczema, AND I have had to use intense moisturizers on my face and body for the winter due to dry skin, it's easy to assume that I have dry scalp and not dandruff. Which makes sense, my scalp is covered with skin and if I'm moisturizing every other inch of my body due to dryness, why would my scalp be any different?
Atreyu guaring my moisturizing arsenal.

Of course, changing shampoos isn't really the best answer either. Shampoo is for your hair, and although some shampoos have extra "stuff" (i.e. chemicals) for your scalp, the main purpose is hair. My hair is actually dry-oily and adding an uber moisturizing shampoo or conditioner will simply make my hair oily and my scalp will remain dry. Yum.

What I needed is a moisturizer for my scalp. I searched around everywhere and found some people who use olive oil and... that's about it. Although really weird, I decided that oil in some manner would be the solution, but I had another obstacle: time. I really don't have enough time in the morning to massage oil in my scalp and leave it long enough to do anything before showering. Also, washing the oil away might also negate the moisturizing effects.

The only way would be an overnighter of oil. This means I really didn't want my hair to smell like olive oil all night (ew). My final solution? Five Seed's Lavender Moon Balm. Yep, the stuff smells amazing and the ingredients consist of nice and natural coconut oil, soothing lavender and vanilla. Perfect.

The result? It definitely helped! I haven't been consistent and should probably be doing this once a week until winter finally goes away (it's a bit embarrassing to come to bed with a "hi honey, like my oily, spiky, yummy smelling hair??"), but the few times have been a success. It has helped with the sensation of itching and my hair appears healthier and happier too.

Do you have any other suggestions that might help?

*******Beware of Dandruff Shampoo:
Most dandruff shampoos have icky toxic ingredients like coal tar- linked to cancer in miners, asphalt workers and chimney sweeps (plus the actual mining of the stuff is ridiculously bad for the environment). They also have zinc- which a Swedish study found that when they poured dandruff shampoo (3 millilitres) in a 1000 litre aquarium waited 24 hours and added fish, half the fish died within 4 days.... where do you think your dandruff shampoo goes after you rinse it out? (Ecoholic, 2006)

Also, strangely enough, most dandruff shampoos contain a scalp irritant- SLS (Sodium Laurel/laureth Sulphide).

Alternatives: cutting back on sugars and refined foods, taking antifungal oregano oil or washing with tea tree oil shampoos (or add a few drops in your regular shampoo). I've read that apple cider vinegar can really help too.


  1. If your condition is dry scalp and not dandruff (see the causes you listed), why would "cutting back on sugars and refined foods, taking antifungal oregano oil" help? The oil seems like the best thing; I use a light body oil on my skin all winter, right after showering (before drying and then just pat dry). However, there is a shampoo by Max Green Organics, called "scalp rescue". You can find it on the internet. Here is some info (I do NOT sell this stuff but I use and love their products) "Mild, therapeutic shampoo for healthy scalps and shiny hair. Safe for color-treated hair. Stops flaky, itchy and irritated scalps while gently rebalancing the hair's Ph level.
    • 100% natural origin with no synthetic chemicals
    • Petrochemical-free, sodium lauryl/laureth sulfate-free, paraben-free, lanolin-free, cruelty-free
    • Approved by
    • Contains many certified organic ingredients
    Key Ingredients
    Scalp relief: tea tree, lemon tea tree, neem oil, solar sea salts, geranium and lavender

  2. Apple Cider Vinegar works wonders actually :)

    Also as an aside, I use jojoba oil overnight rather than olive oil. It works just as well (it's a perfect massage base oil) and smells a lot nicer than olive :)

  3. You might want to look at the quality of your water. I have VERY VERY VERY hard water and it leads to very very very dry scalp. I use olive oil treatments when necessary but the best thing I have done is use a filter on my shower head. Also a rinse with apple cider vinegar helps get rid of buildup and can help with actual dandruff and scalp issues.

    I am in constant battle with the very different needs of my hair and my scalp. It is quite complicated.

  4. Try going to bed with a layer of yogurt mixed with lemon juice! It is REALLY helping my skin but not the most "attractive". It tastes ok though! LOL

    Interestingly, my face and hands are really dry but the rest of me is ok. Although if I ever get dry scalp I will definitely try the moon balm!

  5. @Anon: thanks for the suggestions! :) I'll have to look into that shampoo.
    Also- I think maybe I wasn't as clear- but the antifungal stuff was under my little snipped *for* dandruff. :) In case a few readers actually did suffer from dandruff. :)

    @Rachel: YES jojoba would be way better. or maybe almond oil?

    @mudnessa- you're right... well except the dry scalp thing only happens in the winter- it was fine this summer. but having a filter wouldn't be a bad idea to look into. Andrew and I have talked about it before :)

    @Alli: lol, yep that would definitely take the cake- but i'm sure it does wonders!

  6. Wow - I'm so glad that works for you! And thanks so much for your kind words (as always). Really need to email you. Will soon.

  7. I get dry skin at my eyebrows primarily. Weird huh? I love the Five Seed 'herbwyfe balm' for these dry patches (and my hands, elbows, etc.)...

  8. Wow! Everyone has such great tips and info (plus we share similar dry areas) about this. We are getting a filter for our shower heads, too. My grandma used to use apple cider vinegar on our heads when we were little. She'd sit us down with some cotton balls plus the ACV and would almost scrub our scalps. I have the dry eyebrow thing going on, too. I never thought of trying AVC, or other oils to lub myself. LOL I'll look into all your suggestions, and just reading the words "moon balm" made me purr.

    Thanks, Lisa, and friends~

  9. Coconut oil. Once a week, overnight or Saturday morning, for an hour. Overnight works better though. Plain coconut oil would cost a lot less and is quite effective.

  10. Tea tree oil is toxic to cats. I have thought about using it on my hair but my cats like to get in the tub when I'm done my shower and I don't trust that there wouldn't be any residue left. I really can't tell if I just have dry scalp or dandruff anyway.

  11. I find coconut oil alone is really good for my hair and my scalp. Get virgin, organic, unrefined coconut oil in the organic section of superstore. It has a gazillion different uses and I absolutely love it! I use it as a moisturizer on my cuticles. Makes my nails and fingers and toes look great. I also use it as an eye makeup remover. Best ever, even compared to products with chemicals in them. And once every two weeks I massage a bunch of it into my scalp and through all of my hair. Wrap it up in a bun. I either do it at night after dinner and leave it to soak for a few hours and bath/shower before bed or put a shower cap on and leave it in over night. Because my hair is really fine I find sometimes the next day my hair is a little oily but you can use vinegar as a shampoo to get the oil out of your hair and then shampoo again with your regular shampoo.

    If you try it let me know what you think!

    Oh and you can use the coconut oil as an overall general moisturizer (it is known for helping with preventing/treating wrinkles around the eyes) and you can use it in your cooking!


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