By Adam Hurly for GQ.
We can blame genetics for many things — a receding hairline, a crooked nose, crippling anxiety — but dandruff is not one of them. So what causes dandruff? The truth is that you do. Those flaky, embarrassing white flecks are caused by your grooming habits, not some predisposed genetic order (sorry, you can’t blame mom and dad for this particular problem). Which is actually good news, because it means dandruff is entirely preventable and treatable.
Here are a few habits you should avoid, if you want to keep your scalp and hair follicles healthy.
1. Shampooing Too Much, or Not Enough
Shampoo should not be used daily. Accept this fact, and you’ll solve many of your hair care and scalp problems. Shampoo’s function is to remove excess oil, grime, and product buildup. A simple rinse will remove most of these things, and the excess buildup should be washed away with shampoo every second or third day. Otherwise, you dry out the hair and the scalp by stripping away the oils that keep everything nourished and strong. At this point, your skin flakes and your hair wilts. No good.
However, if you don’t shampoo enough, all that grime and hair product will choke out the healthy skin cells and hair follicles. Next thing you know, you’ve got flaky skin and greasy hair. Also not good. It’s a delicate balance, this shampoo game.
2. Not Using Conditioner
A proactive shampoo, used twice a week, is one ongoing way to prevent and treat dandruff (find one with selenium sulfide or zinc pyrithione). One other solution is to condition your hair daily, regardless of how often you shampoo — and always after you shampoo. Conditioner adds vitamins and nutrients back to the hair and scalp, and prevents over-drying. It’s like a moisturizer for your scalp and hair, so stock up.
3. Skipping SPF
A lot of people forget that the skin on their scalp should be treated exactly like the skin on the rest of your body: It burns in the sun and peels easily, aggravating any preexisting dandruff conditions. If your hair is short, then you can apply sunscreen (or an SPF-packed moisturizer) directly onto your scalp without affect on your hair’s sheen. However, if you’ve got medium or long hair, sunscreen will make it greasy. Instead, pick up Sachajuan’s Hair in the Sun, which protects the scalp and hair from UV damage (while also acting as a light styling cream). Apply it after a shower for day-long coverage.
4. Ignoring Obvious Symptoms
If your dandruff is persistent, it might be the sign of a bigger problem, like a fungal infection or seborrheic dermatitis (a scaly, itchy skin condition). Don’t let these things persist; if the aforementioned shampoo treatments aren’t solving the problem, you should see a dermatologist immediately to get a high-grade prescription remedy.
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