For many people, the winter season is a time for family, cozy fires, and warm feelings. But this festive season also brings something else with it — dry air.
If you live in a cooler climate, the winter season can cause seasonal dry skin. This lack of moisture and hydration can also cause a dry, itchy scalp, with constant flaking and irritation.
But there is good news. Here, we explore seven ways to prevent dry scalp during these cold weather months to help bring back a bit of joy this winter time — and better hair days.
Table of contents:
- What Is Dry Scalp?
- What Are the Signs of a Dry Scalp?
- Cracking of Skin on the Scalp
- Dry Scalp vs. Dandruff
- What Causes Dry Scalp During the Winter?
- How Can You Prevent Dry Scalp in the Wintertime?
- Extra Tips
What Is Dry Scalp?
There is a good chance that you’ve experienced having a dry scalp at some point in your life. Living with a dry scalp is a constant struggle for many people. For others, a dry scalp only comes around during certain times of the year. But what is a dry scalp exactly?
In short, a dry scalp is an absence of moisture on the scalp.
Your scalp, and your hair, are moisturized by natural oil glands. These sebaceous glands secrete a substance called sebum to help keep the hair and scalp hydrated.
While this oily substance helps keep hair healthy and skin hydrated, excess sebum buildup contributes to the appearance of greasy or oily hair and oily skin. Conversely, too little sebum can lead to dry hair and dry skin, which means a dry scalp.
What Are the Signs of a Dry Scalp?
Dry skin can happen anywhere on the body. However, a dry scalp tends to be much more aggravating. Let’s take a look at a few of the most common signs of a dry scalp.
One of the most common signs and symptoms of a dry scalp is excessive itchiness. We aren’t talking about a bit of itching throughout the day but more of a consistent and constant aggravation.
The scalp may also feel dry and rough to the touch. Excessive itching can lead to further irritation and dryness of the scalp.
Cracking of Skin on the Scalp
Furthermore, you may notice cracking on the skin from excess dryness. This is very similar to how lips can become dry and cracked, except this tends to be much more painful.
A flaky scalp is another tell-tale sign of a dry scalp — and dry skin in general. Since these flakes of dry skin tend to be loose, you may notice them while you itch your scalp. These flakes will usually be small and white.
Dry Scalp vs. Dandruff
The symptoms of dry scalp and dandruff often overlap, especially the presence of flakes. Dandruff represents one of the most common hair-related issues in the world. While these two issues share similarities, they’re considered two different conditions.
According to dermatologists, dandruff is a scalp condition that causes small, white flakes of dead skin cells on the scalp. It is considered a mild form of seborrheic dermatitis and is triggered by fungal growth called Malassezia.
If you have dandruff, you’ll need to discuss your condition with a dermatologist. While hair products intended for dry skin may provide relief from symptoms related to dry skin, they cannot effectively treat dandruff.
What Causes Dry Scalp During the Winter?
So, what’s the deal with a dry scalp in the wintertime? Well, the reason is quite simple. In many regions, the winter months bring cool, dry air. That means less humidity.
For many, the drier air of wintertime causes dry skin and a dry scalp. But winter alone can’t always be blamed. There are other causes for dry scalp.
Other Causes of Dry Scalp
According to the American Skin Association, dry skin (xerosis) can be caused by numerous factors besides the weather. Here are a few of the common causes of the dry scalp:
- Excess washing: Over-washing can strip your hair (and scalp) of the natural oils responsible for keeping the hair and scalp moist. Over time, too much washing can cause excess dryness in the scalp.
- Hair care habits: While hot water may feel good during winter months, it can actually disrupt your skin’s natural barrier and contribute to moisture loss. Also, constantly using the hair dryer on high heat can dry out the scalp quite easily.
- Harsh hair products: For some people, a dry scalp is caused by an allergic reaction (also called contact dermatitis) to hair products. This could include reactions to soaps, shampoos, dyes, or dry shampoos.
Skin conditions: Dry scalp can also be caused by certain skin conditions, such as eczema, scalp psoriasis, or tinea capitis (scalp ringworm). If you have a scalp condition, consult your dermatologist for professional medical advice since hair care products for the dry scalp cannot treat these issues.
How Can You Prevent Dry Scalp in the Wintertime?
Thankfully, the dry winter air isn’t the end of the world. Here we’ll take a look at some of the most helpful ways you can combat and prevent a dry scalp this wintertime.
Turn Down the Heat in the Shower
Wait a minute, turn down the heat — during wintertime? Don’t worry. You can keep the cozy fire. But, there are certain heats you definitely want to avoid if you’re looking to avoid a dry scalp during the cooler months.
One tip is turning down the heat in the shower. As mentioned, while hot water can feel amazing during cold months, it can damage your skin over time.
Washing your hair and scalp with scalding water can contribute to a loss of moisture as it disrupts the skin’s protective barrier. Of course, that doesn’t mean you have to take freezing-cold showers — lukewarm water will do just fine.
Say No to the Hair Dryer
Yes, you read that right. During the winter months, moisture is already in short supply. So, blasting it with hot air can zap away what little moisture remains on the scalp. If you can avoid using a hair dryer, do so.
But we also know that taking a stroll in cold weather with wet hair is not the greatest of ideas. So, if you must use a hair dryer, avoid using a high heat setting. Opt for low heat or cool settings instead.
Try a Scalp Massage Before Washing
Before we get into some tips for shampooing with a dry scalp, there is some prep work to consider. One of the best ways to help mitigate and prevent a dry scalp is a scalp massage or scalp scrub.
Simply put, massaging your scalp can help remove excess build up of any dry, dead skin cells and hair products. Exfoliating can also help distribute natural hair oils throughout the scalp.
Make sure to choose your scalp accessories wisely, though. For a smooth, relaxing massage, choose a scalp massager with soft, thick bristles. The WOW Skin Science Scalp Massager Brush fits the bill.
Try a Hair Mask
Many people who suffer from a dry scalp find hair masks very beneficial. These feature oil treatments for your hair and scalp, helping to moisturize both. Hair masks act as deep conditioning treatments that nourish and rejuvenate hair follicles — and the scalp.
Choosing natural ingredients is key. For DIY moisturizing treatments, many people choose naturally hydrating ingredients, such as coconut or shea butter.
Thankfully, at WOW Skin Science, we have a few hair masks for those looking to bring moisture back to their hair and scalp during harsh winter months.
Here’s a simple routine to follow when it comes to using a hair mask:
- Shampoo, lather, and rinse your hair as normal.
- Instead of heat, pat your hair dry with a towel to absorb moisture.
- Apply a dollop of hair mask evenly from the tips to your ear through the ends of your strands.
- Leave the scalp treatment in your hair for roughly 10 to 15 minutes.
- Rinse out thoroughly with lukewarm water.
- Finish the treatment with a cold water rinse to seal the cuticles.
- Air dry if you’re able to prevent heat damage.
- Add Some Essential Oils
Adding essential oils to your hair care and skin care routine is another helpful tip when it comes to avoiding dry skin. For example, tea tree oil has been shown to be highly effective in soothing dry scalp.
Lavender is another potent herb that packs some calming properties. Lavender oil can help soothe an itchy scalp and help moisturize dry hair, as well as help restore some shine.
Jasmine oil is a natural emollient, which makes it particularly effective for locking in moisture for those suffering from a dry scalp. Simply add a few drops to a carrier oil of your choice and apply it to the scalp.
Use Apple Cider Vinegar
The benefits of apple cider vinegar can’t be overstated. It has been used in traditional medicine for centuries and boasts many great health benefits. One known benefit is its ability to help reduce the symptoms of dry scalp.
As a product of the fermentation process, apple cider vinegar can help soothe irritation and promote a healthy scalp microbiome. It can also help promote a healthy pH balance in your scalp as a clarifying agent.
So, those looking to combat the effects of a dry scalp may enjoy our WOW Apple Cider Vinegar Shampoo. It’s also free of harmful sulfates and parabens.
Keep the Scalp Moisturized
When it comes to a dry scalp during the wintertime, locking in all the moisture on the scalp is key. In terms of hair care, this can be done with moisturizing shampoos and conditioners, such as WOW’s Argan Oil Shampoo and Conditioner.
Aside from Moroccan argan oil, it also contains natural ingredients such as aloe vera, jojoba oil, and castor oil to help soothe and moisturize a dry scalp as well as combat itchiness, breakage, and even frizz.
Hair care products, oil treatments, and scalp treatments that provide proper hydration to the hair and scalp are essential during the winter months to help treat dry scalps. However, there are some other scalp care tips that may also be useful for those struggling with dryness.
- Take a look at your diet - Dietary deficiencies can actually contribute to a dry scalp. If able, focus on incorporating fatty acids (flaxseeds, salmon, etc.) into your diet. Also, focus on iron-rich foods and essential vitamins, such as vitamin A.
- Staying hydrated - Keeping your scalp hydrated is important, but keeping your entire body hydrated is a real help when it comes to dry skin. Make sure to drink plenty of water throughout the day to help give you and your skin enough healthy hydration.
Wintertime brings cool weather and warm feelings, but a dry, itchy scalp doesn’t have to be one of those feelings. Make sure to check out WOW for hair care products to fit your needs.
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