Up until now, I haven’t addressed the scalp. This is an oversight, and if you’ve read the book by now, you’ve probably read about how the scalp and hair have different needs and thus need to be cared for as individual entities. There are some good tips that I’ve already addressed about massaging the scalp with conditioner in the shower, which both cleans and moisturizes it, but there’s more.
First, there’s the itchy scalp. It comes year-round, and is usually a result of product build-up and oily residue. When you’re no longer shampooing (at all, or as often) this will become more of an issue. When you’ve tried massaging with conditioner during your shower routine and you’re still feeling uncomfortably itchy, try an exfoliant. If you think about it, since the scalp is just skin like any other part of our body, of course it needs to be sloughed off every now and then. There are two ways that I’ve tried to do this, both from the book, and I completely recommend one and not the other.
The idea is to mix some brown sugar into your conditioner, and then massage as usual. The times that I’ve done this, I’ve felt like the grains of brown sugar dissolve into in the conditioner and don’t do a great job of exfoliating. However, I do feel less itchy and irritated afterwards, so I believe it is definitely doing its job. The proportions in this recipe are less stringent, just try about 4 tbsp of conditioner mixed with 2-4 tbsp brown sugar, depending on how much you have in your cupboard. Mix it up well, and bring into the shower to put on your finger tips and massage into every part of your scalp. Wash it out thoroughly afterwards, and continue with your shower routine as usual!
The other suggestion from the book is to use quinoa instead of brown sugar with the same proportions. If you’ve never eaten or cooked with this grain before, I’ll tell you that when cooked it bulks up to the size of about half a grain of rice. So, logically, when you’re using it a hot shower it probably also absorbs the water while you’re massaging it into your scalp, and then… goes down the drain. Yeah. I tried this anyway, just to see if it felt better on my scalp, and I’m pretty sure my boyfriend will be unpleasantly surprised next time he snakes the drain. All in all, the quinoa doesn’t retain its hardness, the main appeal of its exfoliating powers, and possibly clogs at-home plumbing. I’d say stick to the brown sugar, and try to keep it from getting too wet until you’re completely done rubbing into your scalp so it doesn’t melt. If you think of anything better to use, please comment!
Next–and even worse–is the painful scalp. I usually notice this when I haven’t washed my hair in a few days, when I’ve had it up all day, or if I’ve straightened it. This is usually due to dryness. Just as we put moisturizer on our hands when they’re dry, we need to do the same with our scalps. When we use an oil treatment we don’t focus too much on getting the oil on the scalp, but during certain times of the year when the heat is blasting and there’s low humidity, the scalp is more high-maintenance and can thrive with a little extra attention. I first tried this next method one evening while sitting on the couch with un-straightened hair that I had recently washed.
Squirt a pea-sized spot of conditioner onto your fingertips and carefully bypass your hair to get directly to your scalp. Massage it into the painful spot. Continue doing this until you’ve moisturized all of the painful spots. (Note: Do NOT overdo the conditioner, since your scalp only needs what it can absorb, otherwise your hair will just look dirty. This is not a good thing to do just before going out, it’s more of a before-bed or sitting-home-all-day kind of treatment.)
I recently did this while my hair was straight and thought I’d ruined it, but when I woke up the next morning the conditioner was completely absorbed, my hair looked less flat, and the pain was gone. Voila!
(Don’t) Whip It: A Cautionary Tale
Well ladies, winter is here. Harsh winds, low temps, and rough fabrics aren’t the only things that affect our precious locks each season… in fact, one of the clearest culprits is the artificial heat streaming through our homes and offices. It’s drying (just notice how you can’t breathe when you wake up each morning due to stuffiness) and abrasive, and it is doing the same thing to your hair that it is doing to your sinuses and skin. I’ve been dealing with a flakey, itchy scalp for months now, and nothing seems to cure it. I have been massaging with conditioner, doing weekly intensive oil treatments, and haven’t straightened it more than once or twice. What’s a girl to do?
I’ve been wanting to try this for a while now, so over the weekend I went out and bought some. My boyfriend cracked it open and used about a quarter of it on his dessert, claiming he thought I bought it for him (sorry, honey), but there was still plenty in there. I carried it into the bathroom and went to work in the shower, massaging it into my scalp as I do with conditioner. Then I used No-Poo to massage it out, and washed and styled my hair as usual.
After getting out of the shower I was cleaning dishes, and thought I smelled something really nasty, like dirty feet or unwashed underwear. I figured it was the garbage, but it wasn’t. Then I went into my bedroom and started folding my clothes to put them away, and smelled it again. I took off everything I was wearing for the sniff test, and it was all clean. I thought it might be the cats, but it wasn’t. In the middle of the night I woke up to a sound, and smelled it again. I figured it must be the laundry, but it wasn’t!
This morning I caught another whiff and put on some perfume to try to drown it out, whatever it was. I was showered, my clothes were clean, I must just be imagining it. This morning when I got to work I turned my head upside down for my usual curl ruffle, and as I put a hand near my face, I smelled it! I knew that I’d found the source! Then… I felt sick. It is coming from my scalp… all of the whipped cream must not have washed out!!! My scalp and hair smell like spoiled milk.
Unfortunately I don’t have any dry shampoo on me, and I’m headed to an intense cardio and then dance class after work tonight. I’ll scrub my scalp when I get home, but that’s about 11 hours from now. The good news is, my scalp isn’t flakey or itchy! I guess I’d suggest trying this, but only on a weekend, and be sure to use Low-Poo or the Lemon-Aid (lemon juice-conditioner mix) immediately afterward.
The things we do!