In our latest installment of #SkinDeep, Dr. Annie Gonzalez clues us in on how we can take better care of our scalp.
Hair health, scalp, cabello
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As we age, our body changes and one thing we've noticed changes the most is our scalp.

While it may not be as dramatic as it will be later in life, the loss of shine, volume and even changes to our curl patterns have us wondering—why does this happen and what can we do to prevent it from being worse?

People Chica reached out to board-certified dermatologist Dr. Annie Gonzalez with our most burning questions about our scalp.

Hair, scalp, cabello
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How does scalp health affect hair growth?

Hair growth depends significantly on the health of your scalp because the root of the hair is found within the scalp, which is where it receives all the nourishment it needs in order to grow into healthy strands.

Inflammation, flaking, and other scalp-derived conditions can lead to rough, brittle [hair] that lacks shine and strength, and even hair loss. 

How is our scalp affected by the aging process?

Our scalp can be affected by aging in different ways. Hair miniaturization, where the hairs coming out of every follicle becomes thinner or miniaturized, and eventually loss of some of these follicles, can lead to overall thinning and loss of hair volume.

Dryness and brittleness can also be associated with [an] aging scalp, as the scalp produces less sebum secondary to changing hormonal levels and shrinkage of the scalp sebaceous glands, thereby decreasing the lubrication of the hair shafts.

With [an] aging of the scalp, many individuals also notice the hair going grey as less melanin is being produced in the follicles, leading to a loss of pigment. A lot of studies have shown scalp aging is also highly susceptible to stress and lifestyle patterns.  

Does the pH of our hair care products impact our scalp health?

Your hair has its very own pH range that directly correlates with its overall health. [A] healthy scalp has an optimal pH range of 4.5-5.5, pretty much like the rest of our skin.

Maintaining the scalp within this healthy pH range is essential for a healthy scalp microbiome, which keeps the overgrowth of unhealthy fungi and bacteria at bay (just like your gut!).

That's why it's so important to introduce our scalp and hair to products and procedures that keep this range balanced. Introducing [hair to] too high (>6) [of a pH or] too low (<4) of a pH [in] products can lead to hair damage that results in dryness, frizz, cuticle damage and hair breakage.

What measures can we take to promote a healthy scalp?

Using products within the recommended pH is key to [maintaining] a healthy microbiome and overall healthy hair. Make sure the products that you use, including the shampoos, are within the recommended range (4.5-5.5). Sometimes even water can be too alkaline, so [investing] in a water softener depending on where you live is something you can consider.

Another tip to [maintaining] a healthy scalp microbiome is controlling the overgrowth of yeast and fungi that can lead to inflammation and flaking. Pyrithione zinc is an ingredient that accomplishes this and it can be easily implemented through shampooing.

I personally like the Dove DermaCare Scalp collection because it contains pyrithione zinc and other nurturing hair ingredients within the right pH range for flake-free nourished hair. 

Woman washing hair
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Controlling inflammation and flaking is key for healthy hair, and pyrithione zinc as well as other ingredients like salicylic acid and sometimes topical corticosteroids may be needed.

Reduce the number of products you apply [to] your hair (e.g. dry shampoo, gels, balms, pomades), anything in excess is bad. Too many products especially with sulfates and silicones can leave your hair and scalp with tons of buildup, feeling and looking dry, and throw off your pH, contributing to a disrupted scalp microbiome and increasing inflammation.

For that build-up, you may consider a once-weekly, or bimonthly clarifying shampoo, like Dove Clarify and Hydrate Shampoo, which deeply cleanses and purifies oily, dull hair from roots to ends and effectively removes product build-up without stripping hair.