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How to treat a sensitive scalp

From the shampoo you use to the way you style your hair, here are five steps for avoiding scalp irritations.

How to treat a sensitive scalp

1. Using the right shampoo

If you have a sensitive scalp, your first priority when it comes to choosing a shampoo is one that's
suitable for sensitive skin and hypoallergenic. Avoid sulfates, which can not only irritate the scalp, but which also strip your hair of its natural oils. You should also know that shampoos created for sensitive scalps are available for different hair types, so don't just choose the first one you see!

2. Wash + rinse your hair right

Rubbing shampoo into your hair can quickly cause breakage and irritation. Instead, gently massage your shampoo into your scalp. Likewise when it comes to rinsing. To ensure an effective rinse that doesn't damage your hair, use your hands to softly squeeze out the shampoo from the roots to the tip, and run your hands down your hair until the product has been removed.

3. How to dry your hair

Ideally, hair is at its happiest when left to air-dry. However, this isn't possible for most people (going to work, cold weather etc.). Use a cotton tee-shirt to absorb excess water, then switch your blow-dryer to a low heat setting and dry in a downwards direction, with the nozzle at least 5cm away from the roots to avoid scalp irritation.

4. Styling hair with a sensitive scalp

You might be washing it right, but if you have a habit of styling your hair, you may be left with a sensitive scalp regardless. Backcombing can also be harmful to the scalp and hair, and so is best avoided where possible. When it comes to using styling products, less is more. A buildup of mousse, gel or spray can result in crunchy, unhappy hair and irritated skin.

When it comes to styling, make sure to opt for a brush with natural bristles, which is gentler on the hair fibre and scalp. If you color your hair, you might find that using products without ammonia will help you avoid any itchiness or irritation after.

5. Accessories to avoid

If you have a sensitive scalp, be careful what accessories your wear. Hats, even in winter, can be your worst enemy, as they do not let the scalp breathe, and coarse fabrics can cause itching. If you're unsure about whether you might have an intolerance to a certain material, we recommend getting a test. Bobby pins and sharp clips are also a no-no, as they will poke at your scalp throughout the day and risk aggravating pre-existing sensitivity.

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