Dandruff is defined as the shedding of dead scalp skin cells exceed normal cell normal flaking. A small amount of flaking is common most of which is invisible to the naked eye and is washed away when we wash our hair. However, with dandruff, the skin cell turnover is unusually rapid (up to 8-10 times faster) and visible due to the cells clumping with oil before they shed. In addition, when the shedding is accompanied by redness and irritation it is more likely to be dandruff.
Triggers to an outbreak of dandruff include exposure to extreme hot and cold (hot showers in winter) but the underlying cause is the result of a combination of factors including the overgrowth of skin microorganisms known as Malassezia globsa, a fungus that is normally present on the skin surface of the scalp. Malassezia interacts with components in sebum creating and inflammatory response in the scalp of susceptible persons which results in excessive shedding of the top layer of the skin.
Extremes in temperature such as hot showers in cold weather may trigger an attack. Dandruff may also be the result of an allergic reaction to chemical hair products such as styling products, shampoos and hair oils.
The other common cause of redness and flaking of the scalp is seborrhoeic dermatitis, however this condition is not usually confined to the scalp alone and will commonly be occurs in the eyebrows and around the folds of the nose in addition to the scalp. This was not so for Claire and so strengthens the identification of dandruff in her case.
So to the treatment and management of dandruff. What you read next may surprise many of you…I recommended Claire go and get a commercial anti-dandruff shampoo containing either 1.5% selenium or 2% zinc. Yes the base of these products is full of synthetic ingredients but they are only used once, or twice at most and quickly break the cycle of inflammation and kill of the fungus overgrowth. In some cases with skin and scalp issues it is better to break a cycle quickly and then repair any damage and improve health to prevent reoccurrance. I think this is particularly so when the treatment is very effective and relatively harmless or short term.
In the meantime we worked to improve Claire’s diet and reduce her sugar intake, both of which are necessary to maintain a healthy scalp post-treatment. I also recommended Claire change her hair care products and she now uses natural “SLS-free” shampoo and conditioner, a gorgeous smelling hair oil which styles her hair at the same time as nourishing her scalp and a sugar-based hair spray for firmer hold when needed.
If you have had success with the treatment of dandruff I would love to hear what worked for you as well as any comments you may have about the treatment suggested above.
This is a great “how-to” post from Jodie of Bodecare Body Brushes….
Nothing balances my energy and brightens my mood faster or better than a good scalp massage. No matter how tired I am to start with, by the end of brushing and massaging my scalp I feel energized and refreshed.
The scalp, being an extremity is one of the hardest places for blood to flow. The increased blood flow helps to nourish the follicle. The scalp depends on blood flow to bring oxygen and nutrients to the hair follicles. Tension causes tightness in the scalp, which restricts blood flow and can cause hair loss. Scalp massage restores pliability and relieves tension, helping to create an ideal environment for new hair growth. Massaging the scalp also helps loosen and remove dead cells and excess sebum on the scalp, which can hinder new hair growth. Scalp massage helps to distribute the hairs natural oils to protect and condition the hair.
Scalp massage stimulates the circulation and awakens the nervous systems. It can assist to relieve muscle tension that keeps the head feeling tight. The muscles and nerves in the scalp are stimulated by rubbing, tapping, brushing and slapping. These percussion techniques restore circulation to your scalp and produce a lively tingling feeling that can definitely pull you out of the sleepy doldrums. Regular scalp massage can also increase the shine and health of hair. Try the following scalp massage technique for an energy lift.
How to Dry Massage Scalp:
Hope you are feeling re-energised again! The beauty of this treatment is you can do it any time of the day. Leave your hair brush at work in your desk, in your bag or in the car and you can quickly give your scalp a lovely massage and it will only look like you are brushing your hair.Twitter It!
I went to the store yesterday with wet hair. When commented upon, I replied that using a hair drier just made me look like a poodle. The other problem I have with using hair driers is that they make my hair even more dry than it normally is. Curly hair tends to be dry and mine is no exception so to counteract this tendency I use rich shampoos, minimise hair washing to twice a week and ensure I get heaps of good oils in my diet. Whether you have dry, normal or oily hair, there are some key ways you can look after your hair.
You are what you eat
We’ve heard it all before, but nutrition is key when it comes to healthy, shiny hair. Why? Because hair not only depends on a constant supply of blood and oxygen, but also nutrients, and a deficiency in these nutrients will show up on your skin, hair and nails. Brittle, dry or dull hair that easily breaks is therefore a tell-tale sign of poor nutrition. Eating protein three to five times a week will help maintain hair colour and texture, while keeping a close check on sugar levels will also help – high sugar consumption creates a higher demand for B group vitamins, which can also affect your locks. On top of this, an imbalance between good and bad fat consumption can either lead to an overly dry and flaky scalp and dry hair or excessive oil production. Correcting the imbalance will help to normalise the health of the scalp and the relative dryness or oiliness of the hair.
The type of surfactant in your shampoos may also be wrecking havoc with your locks – those containing sodium or ammonium lauryl sulphate contribute to irritated and dry scalp and hair issues. Softer surfactants such as decyl glucoside and coco glucoside or coco betaine are better choices.
Try to avoid conditioners and stying products containing added silica as this will build up on the hair shaft and create ‘artificially’ shiny and silky hair. These products also increase the need to wash hair, which in turn dries the hair out, creating a cycle of poor hair management and ultimately poor hair health.
Blow-drying or straightening your hair, if done excessively, can also cause damage, weakening the hair shaft. The less you dry and straighten, the better the hair condition will be. In conventional styling products synthetic plastics such as PVP (polyvinyl pyrrolidone polymer), acrylic copolymers, VA (vinyl acetate), polymer and acrylamide polymer are used as holding agents, all of which are synthetic petroleum-based plastics. While these may not be specifically damaging to your hair, they are not environmentally friendly and are easily absorbed through the scalp, contributing to the total toxic load your body has to deal with. Instead look for natural products containing beeswax or coconut oil and sugar biopolymer-based products instead of hair spray or mousse. The natural wax products will also help to keep the hair shaft moisturised.
Wash less often
Most people wash their hair too often, stripping back the protective oils from the scalp and hair. If your scalp is dry or itchy try waiting an extra day before washing, allowing the sebum to protect the scalp for longer. Washing twice weekly for normal to dry hair is a good benchmark – obviously oily hair needs to be washed more frequently.
If you have any great hair tips please let us know.
Out and about in Paddington recently I came across what was for me a completely new concept in hair – a colour-only salon. Curious, as I tend to be, I ventured in and it was what I didn’t see rather than what I did that was interesting. Instead of the traditional mirror facing cutting chairs, I was seated at a large table with a floral display. There wasn’t a mirror in sight…well not until later anyway. There were also no hair cutters. This salon is for colour only. Popping up around Brisbane, colour salons are ideal for women, and men, that want color specialists to determine the best hair colour for them.
My appointment followed standard hair salon lines with a few nice treats thrown in. I was treated to a relaxing shoulder massage and then had an in depth discussion about what particular shade of brown I wanted my hair. I was given wine, nuts and numerous magazines to read while waiting for my hair to dye. I didn’t have to look in one mirror during this entire 40 minute or so process and I didn’t miss it at all! At the end of the consultation, I was moved to a styling room (with mirrors) and had my “hair do” completed.
Initially I wondered how a colour only salon would survive with so many standard cutting and colour salons to compete with. However, as I drank my glass of wine, I contemplated the many people that would suit this very concept and I decided that I was one. With curly hair, I only need a cut every 12 or so weeks. However, colour is another matter and I make a regular visit every 6 weeks for a “top up”. I also remembered the numerous times I have asked for ash brown and emerged with magenta or chestnut hair which just accentuates the red tones in my skin and makes me look like Ronald McDonald. With the focus across all industries on specialization, there is definitely room for technicians that specialize in matching hair colour to skin and eye tone.
So once complete, I made a follow up appointment and now I visit the colour salon every 6 weeks or so and see my regular hairdresser for a cut only every 12 weeks. And I am spectacularly happy with the colour of my hair! To experience this for yourself visit Micolor in Paddington for your very own colour consultation. (Tell Leah & Megan I sent you!)
Of course, another big trend is environmental consciousness. There is a growing awareness of the importance of ecologically sustainable products and all industries are “greening up”. However, expectations still remain high for the best in technological development and performance…and in the hair industry a natural henna dye just doesn’t cut it!
Finding the balance between environmental responsibility and modern technology is the challenge, and there are a growing number of haircare
brands that are meeting this challenge by creating products that address both. Ranges such as Eko Organica, Nature’s Symphony, H2 Colour, Organic Hair Systems and Essensity Care Collection are proving that they are not only viable alternatives from an environmental perspective but that they also provide the high level of performance that we all want.
Natural hair colours which are free from ammonia, fragrance, silicones, paraffin, mineral oils, parabens and formaldehyde-derivates used only be available in home DYI kits. I spent too many years with multi-coloured hair and hair dye stains on my bathroom sink to go there again. Fortunately now you can experience professional hair colour ranges in salons so you can have the best of both, great colour done by a professional and be pampered at the same time. Naturally Organic Hair Salons in Toombul uses Organic Hair Systems again with no ammonia, no parabens or sodium laurel sulphate. They see their salon as a viable alternative for those with sensitive scalps and skin. Micolor in Paddington uses the Essensity range. Krop Hair in Norman Park also uses ammonia free hair colours.
Have you had any unique salon moments, disasters or glamour moments? Tell us about your hair care experiences and the brands you love.Twitter It!
We wash, style and blow-dry in order to tame our often un-ruly tendrils. Yet some of the everyday hair care practices we use are actually doing more damage than good. This article takes a look at the issues we face in our efforts to achieve well groomed, shiny and healthy hair.
The average human head has about 100 000 hair follicles and from each one emerges a shaft of hair. Nourished by blood vessels the follicles produce new keratin cells promoting the constant growth of new hair. The inner layer or medulla,
which is protected by the outer keratin cells, contains pigment cells (for colour), fat granules and oxygen. Separate glands run alongside the follicle producing sebum, a natural hair and scalp conditioner. Straight, shiny hair is the result of sebum produced by the glands easily travelling the length of the hair shaft. By contrast, curly hair will often look and feel dry because the sebum has a more difficult time getting from the base of the hair shaft to the tip.
The overall health of the hair depends on numerous factors however nutritional status is key. There are no topically applied hair products that can compensate for poor nutrition. Hair cannot repair itself because it is already dead tissue. However, you can grow healthier hair from the “inside-out”. Healthy hair depends on a constant supply of blood, oxygen and nutrients to grow and maintain the look and feel. Any deficiency in key hair nutrients will show up in our skin, hair and nails first, before affecting our internal organs. Therefore, brittle, dry, dull hair that easily breaks may actually be a signifier to check your general nutritional status.
Hair is predominately made up from protein so a deficiency can result in changes to the colour and texture resulting in brittle, weak and thinning hair. Eating protein 3-5 week will help maintain your levels. If you have had a protein deficiency you will notice hair returning to healthy condition within 12 weeks of correcting the deficiency, as the new hairs grow through.
In addition diets high in sugar and animal fats may contribute to poor hair health. An imbalance between good and bad fat consumption can either lead to an overly dry and flaky scalp and dry hair or excessive oil production. Correcting the imbalance will help to normalise the health of the scalp and the relative dryness or oiliness of the hair. High sugar consumption creates a higher demand for B group vitamins, which can also affect hair health. Reducing highly processed and sugar rich foods will not only help hair health, it will also improve general health.
While internal factors affect hair health, external factors also have the potential to damage hair. If you have ever washed your hair with soap you would know that it tends to get tangled and knotty afterwards. The outer “scales” on the hair shaft stand up when in the presence of an alkali, such as soap and get caught up creating a tangled, messy “do”. The scales will lie down flat in the presence of an acid such as lemon juice or vinegar, which is why vinegar hair rinses were traditionally used after washing. While shampoos don’t create this effect they come with their own set of issues as they are stronger cleansers than soap and strip more of the natural oils from the scalp and hair, leaving it dry and in desperate need of moisture. This is where conditioners come in, their key functions to make the hair scales lie back down and coat the hair so that it feels smooth again.
In addition the type of surfactant used to clean hair in shampoos can be problematic with those such as sodium or ammonium lauryl sulphate contributing to irritated and dry scalp and hair issues. Softer surfactants such as decyl glucoside, coco glucoside or coco betaine are better choices for both hair and scalp health.
In general try to avoid conditioners and stying products with added silica as these will just build up on the hair shaft and create “artificially” shiny and silky hair. They will also increase the need to wash hair which in turn dries out hair again, creating a cycle of poor hair management and ultimately, poor hair health.
How often we wash hair is an individual choice however, most people tend to wash their hair too frequently, each time stripping back the protective oils from the scalp and hair. If your scalp is dry or itchy, try waiting one extra day before washing allowing the sebum to protect the scalp for a longer period. Twice weekly for normal to dry hair is a good benchmark. Obviously oily hair needs to be washed more frequently and often daily. Washing hair often entails blow-drying or straightening which if done excessively, damage the hair shaft. The less you dry & straighten, the better your hair condition will tend to be.
Hair styling agents can also impact on the health of the hair and more importantly your general health. In conventional styling products synthetic plastics such as PVP (polyvinyl pyrrolidone polymer), acrylic copolymers, VA (vinyl acetate)
polymer and acrylamide polymer are used as holding agents, all of which are synthetic petroleum based plastics. While these may not be specifically damaging to your hair, they are not environmentally friendly and in addition are easily absorbed through the scalp thereby contributing to the total toxic load your body has to deal with. Look instead for natural products such as beeswax or coconut oil based products for strong hold pastes or gels and sugar biopolymer based products from corn or vegetables instead of hair spray or mousse. The natural wax products will also help to keep the hair shaft moisturised. Generally styling products based on such ingredients are healthier for you and for the environment.
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I am on a hair care theme at the moment. And always when I bang on about hair care, I have to mention sodium laurel sulphate (SLS) so yes a bit more about how drying and irritating it is to your scalp however, in this video blog I also discuss the use of silica in conditioners. The cycle of hair washing is:
Well this is my story anyway! And I didn’t get the results with my hair that I wanted until I had been using a good natural shampoo & conditioner for at least a month. It can take time to really see results when moving away from SLS and silica. Regardless, do yourself a favor and ditch the sodium laurel sulphate.
In this video I talk more about the cycle with SLS and silica above and discuss the Nature’s Symphony range of hair care.Twitter It!
Hair styling products are a must for me. in the last newsletter I wrote about my Leo Sayer tendencies…maybe one day I will do a video showing before and after styling shots…on the other hand that is probably something no-one needs to see! Of one thing I am sure, I love that I can find a natural alternative to synthetic hair styling products. I this video blog I discuss two products, the Third Stone Botanicals Hair Wax I use and Nature’s Symphony Pure Lustre, a product Natarsha our center manager uses.
I would love to hear the products that you use, natural or not and the results you are after for your hair.Twitter It!
When it comes to shampoo it seems that bubbles are what counts. Why? Because the bubbles show that the shampoo is cleaning our hair effectively.
Bubbles are created when the surface tension of the water is broken by a surfactant and air is trapped within the film of the soap. Unfortunately while bubbles may represent clean hair, more bubbles aren’t necessarily better for our hair or scalp. Some of the surfactants used in shampoos have the potential for scalp and skin irritation and hair damage.
We use many surfactants in our daily life, soaps and detergents, cleaning compounds, shampoos and a host of personal hygiene products. This article will look at two commonly used surfactants used in shampoo namely Sodium Lauryl Sulphate, and Decyl Glucoside. Both serve the same function in removing oil and dirt from skin and hair and being the base on which the hair cleaning products are built. That is where the similarity ends.
Sodium Lauryl Sulphate other wise known as SLS and other Sulphates are the most commonly used ingredients in shampoo. They are cheap, easy to formulate and provide plenty of bubbles and foam that we expect and like. Unfortunately this synthetic surfactant is the cause of many of the hair, scalp and skin problems that occur.
A study of the Material Safety Data Sheet of SLS provides us information about the hazard status of this product. It is moderately toxic and its contact hazard is also moderate however the issue is repeated exposure, such as regular use of a shampoo or body wash, which can lead to skin issues such as dermatitis. It has been used in medicine as a standard, or as a scale, to measure skin irritancy in comparing other chemicals. The irritation occurs even at concentrations of 0.5%.
Originally from plant origin, the starting material for this surfactant is Lauric acid, which is a coconut oil fatty acid. While the starting material may be
natural (it also may be synthetic), during the conversion process to SLS, petrochemicals are added which means that the end product is nowhere near natural and may also retain contaminants such as 1,4, dioxane, a potential carcinogen. While the levels are minuscule, the potential for toxicity arises with repeated exposure.
From an environmental perspective, SLS is not biodegradable which may present wider issues for the ecology of our waterways.
In some soaps and shampoos the concentration of SLS may be as high as 30%. This is cause for alarm, considering the risk of dermatitis and skin irritation due to exposure at such high concentrations. In children this threat is enhanced due to the softer skin and it is advisable to look for SLS free products and products using mild surfactants.
In addition to the direct contact effects of SLS, many shampoos contain nitrate compounds. These compounds can react with SLS with the potential to form carcinogenic nitrates. Given the potential, however small for the creation of carcinogenic compounds, it is advisable to choose personal hygiene products that do not contain SLS.
Glycosides and poly glycosides, also called saponins are present in most
plants. Some of these saponins are toxic however there are many saponins which are safe for topical or medicinal applications and even for human consumption as food. A wide variety of species, their geographical distribution, their applications and use by mankind are documented. Soap Bark (Quillaya), Soap Nut, Yucca Plant, Soap Wort, Horse Chestnut, Bracken and Soap Lily are a few examples of soap plants, from different parts of the world
Decyl Glucoside is a surfactant derived from two natural products, decyl alcohol and glucose. Decyl alcohol (Deca means ten) is produced from Capric acid. Capric acid itself is a fatty acid with a ten member carbon chain and is a constituent fatty acid of coconut and Palm oils (Coconut sources are preferable as the palms are sustainable). Capric acid is present to the extent of around 7% and 4% in coconut and palm oils respectively. Glucose, the other ingredient is produced from corn, maize and other starch based products.
It is important to clarify that a natural starting material does not necessarily equal a natural ingredient at the end of the manufacturing process. As pointed out with SLS, the addition of synthetic or petrochemical ingredients during the process of manufacture can completely change the starting material. While decyl glucoside is similarly changed from it starting material during manufacture, it does not carry the same risks of contamination as SLS so the end material is a very mild nonionic surfactant produced from corn, maize and other starch based products. Decyl glucoside is classified as ether in chemical terminology. It is produced by reacting decyl alcohol with glucose in the presence of an acid. The product is then purified and extraneous ingredients and reactants removed. Purified decyl glucoside is a liquid, which dissolves in water in any proportion.
Due to its mild nature on skin and its bio degradability, it is used in
shampoos, hair creams, lotions and other personal hygiene products including baby products. Generally decyl glucoside is much more expensive and labour intensive to produce and described as “tricky” to formulate with. Many products use decyl glucoside as a primary or secondary surfactant. It is a good emulsifier and has excellent foaming and lather properties. For this reason, the lack of potential for irritation and the absence of potential carcinogicity, decyl glucoside is a better choice in personal care items than SLS.
Some of the characteristics of Decyl Glucoside are
Decyl glucoside is by no means the only alternative to SLS however it is more and more commonly seen in shampoo and other personal care items and when it comes to choosing what to use on a daily basis, the more you know about the ingredients, the better. It also creates lots of lovely bubbles so lather away!
Author: Maree Watson, hairdresser and creator of the Eko Organica range of hair care. Edited by Ananda Mahony, naturopath and skin specialist.Twitter It!
Following up from the previous blog on SLS, I thought I would mention some of the issues that customers come in with after routinely using commercial shampoo. And let me say for the record that many of the more expensive “salon” brands also use SLS even though it is basically a cheap, nasty ingredient. What it does do is produce bubbles, lots of lovely bubbles! As consumers we have been programmed to expect shampoo that foams – anything less and we think the product isn’t working. However, all a surfactant (see previous blog for explanation) needs to do is break the surface tension of the hair follicle and it will wash out all the dirt and oil. A soap based product is needed but it doesn’t have to foam at all!
So back to the issues I often see. Most often it is a dry scalp that builds up a scurf of dead skin cells. Sometimes the dead cells flake off making people think they have dandruff when in fact it is just that the scalp has been stripped of its protective oils. The opposite problem can also occur, a scalp that over-produces oil, creating greasy hair and sometimes blocked pores around the hairline. This happens because the skin, including the scalp has a great balancing mechanism – when stripped of naturally produced oil by a product like SLS, it responds by producing sebum and in some cases it goes a little bit over the top creating too much sebum resulting in greasy hair.
Increasingly I also see people that come in with a “sensitive scalp”. They find their scalp feels irritated, itchy or sensitive to touch after shampooing. In this case it is likely that the SLS has stripped back the scalps protective layer leaving it exposed to other irritating ingredients such as artificial fragrances. Usually, changing to a naturally scented or unscented shampoo with no SLS will clear this problem up. If your scalp is still sensitive or irritated at this stage, a natural scalp oil including calendula and jojoba oils will help to soothe and nourish the cells. Scalp oils can be applied the night before a morning hair wash so that they have a chance to work effectively. Or they can be left in for a few days if the hair doesn’t look too greasy.
The scalp responds quite quickly to products that don’t contain SLS. After about 4-6 weeks, the dry, itchy or oily scalp starts to rebalance and any scurf build up starts to clear. When I made the switch to natural SLS free hair care my scalp was fine after about 6 weeks however it took a little longer for my hair to become healthy again as it was dyed and very dry (as curly hair tends to be). I also stopped washing my hair so often and now only wash it once a week. GROSS you may say, but being dry anyway, my hair doesn’t build up grease and still looks and smells fine for that time. I also use natural wax based hair styling products that don’t build up grease in my hair.
In general I think that most people tend to wash their hair too frequently, each time stripping back the protective oils from the scalp and hair. I did a quick vox pop of the staff at Vitale to see how frequently they washed their hair. The average was twice a week. Natarsha (the office manager) told me that she tried to stop washing her hair altogether based on the fact that in Ayurveda, oils are used to strip out dirt and grime rather than shampoos. It went well for 6 weeks, and her hair was much more healthy in general. Then she cracked becauseit she missed the squeaky clean feeling so returned to washing it once a week. Liz, the beauty therapist washes hers twice a week but told me she uses an oil to style her hair which is why it is always so shiny.
Once or twice weekly for normal to dry hair is a good benchmark to go by. Obviously oily hair needs to be washed more often. Washing hair often entails blow-drying or straightening which if done excessively, damage the hair shaft. The less you dry & straighten, the better your hair condition will tend to be.
What hair stories are out there? Tell us your experiences.Twitter It!
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