Why Your Curly Hair Routine Is Causing Your Scalp to Act Out… and How to Fix It

 You’re not imagining it, your curly hair routine can be causing your scalp to act out. Curly hair is more likely to experience dryness because of the structure of the hair follicles, resulting in a dry, flaky scalp. Other times, the way you treat your scalp can cause excess oil to build-up on your scalp and create dandruff. The ideal curly hair routine can change depending on your scalp type. Let's look at your curly hair routine. 

Your Hair Structure 

Curly hair is curly because of the shape of the cuticles on your head. When hair is straight, the follicles are symmetrical, while curly hair follicles are shaped in a ‘J’ like structure. The 'J' like structure makes it hard for your scalps' natural oils to work their way down the shaft of your curly hair, causing your hair to dry out. Well-known curly hair regimens can also encourage grease to get trapped in your scalp and cause dandruff or inflammation. 


Here are four ways to examine your curly hair routine for a healthy scalp.  


1. How often do you wash your hair? 

 We all know with curly hair, we tend to wash our hair less often. While this is a great way to let our curls settle, it can cause oil to accumulate on the scalp and natural yeast can proliferate. This may lead to dryness, scaling, or irritation. One way to combat this is to wash your hair weekly or bi-weekly, depending on your activity level. Routinely shampoo and conditioning your hair with a gentle, sulfate-free product can help keep your scalp clean. 


Other times, you can wash your hair too often. Washing your hair every day can be too often, depending on your hair type. While this may keep your curls looking their best, it can spell disaster for your scalp. Over-washing your hair can strip your hair of the many essential oils it needs to thrive. Some signs that you are overwashing your hair include too many split ends, lack of shine, and a dry scalp. 


2. Are your products too thick? 

The secret to getting curly hair at its best is moisture. Moisture can help tame an unruly mane and heal a dry scalp. Occasionally, thick products can be the enemy of a healthy scalp. Thick products can often trap yeast and oil onto the scalp and exasperate underlying issues. This can also happen if you layer on too many products that don’t agree with each other. This may cause build-up and eventually lead to a dry scalp. 


To avoid build-up, consider washing your hair routinely. You can also opt for a curl oil instead of a heavy pomade or gel. Light products can help keep your scalp hydrated while also styling your curl. 


3. Are you creating an environment for dandruff to breed? 

Dandruff is caused by a yeast-like fungus called Malassezia. It feeds off the oils on your scalp. The yeast thrives in warm, moist environments. Curly hair mantras such as plopping, sleeping on wet hair, or pulling your wet hair up can create an environment that allows yeast to thrive. The wet hair combined with the heat of your scalp can aggravate dandruff and seborrheic dermatitis. 


If you're experiencing problems with dandruff or seborrheic dermatitis, the go-to for luscious curls would be a diffuser. Switch up your routine by drying your hair with a microfibre towel and then diffuse until dry on a low-heat setting. 


 4. Are you exfoliating your scalp?

Our scalp is an extension of our skin. Just like our skin, our scalp can have dry skin. This can often be treated with moisture and light exfoliation. At the same time, sebum in our scalp can sometimes be a problem when it's allowed to build up and has been mixed with dirt, dead skin cells, and styling products. 


A regular scalp care regimen can go a long way to sustaining a healthy scalp. Products with anti-fungal and anti-inflammation properties can be useful for healing an inflamed scalp. A gentle exfoliation may also help remove excess sebum. Consider products that can help provide overall hydration to your scalp.