We all know people who seem able to throw anything at their hair – colour, fragrance, dyes, you name it – and it always looks healthy and on its best behaviour.
However, there are a growing number of regular shampoo users who are starting to question just what it is they are putting on their hair. It is estimated that around 28% of the population has a negative reaction to haircare products, ranging from rashes, itchiness, a flaky scalp or worse. Scalp sensitivity, when your head feels itchy or irritated, is a real issue for many. It is thought there are several factors that contribute to this discomfort, including pollution and stress, but just as frequently it is the result of a reaction to chemical-laden products, those that include ingredients such as alcohol, colour and fragrance, and harsh cleansing agents.
How do I deal with a sensitive scalp?
To effectively treat your scalp, a good, regular haircare routine is important. If you frequently suffer from scalp itchiness, go right back to basics and take a look at the shampoo you use. Is it chemical heavy? Those with sensitive scalps should be looking to minimise harsh ingredients and fragrance-laden products. Ingredients to avoid include sulfates, parabens and fragrance - unless the scent is from a natural essential oil, in which case that will be stated. Shampoos with the surfactants (cleansing agents) sodium laureth sulphate or sodium lauryl sulphate will work up a super lather, but they are extremely drying for the scalp. A hypoallergenic shampoo will protect your scalp in much the same way hypoallergenic skin products protect your complexion, cleansing it without irritating.
What does hypoallergenic really mean?
If you look it up for a dictionary definition, hypoallergenic is used to describe a product that is ‘unlikely to cause an allergic reaction’. When it comes to hypoallergenic shampoos, you should look for a product that will clean hair - those with sensitive scalps often find they react to the foaming agents used to cleanse hair - without causing any untoward reaction.
What is a hypoallergenic shampoo?
This is a type of shampoo that has essentially been stripped back, removing the most common harmful, or potentially reactive, ingredients. As with most things, there is an element of trial and error involved in finding a shampoo that works best for you if you do suffer from a reaction to regular hair care products. Hypoallergenic shampoos should be colour and fragrance free at the very least. Some are quite simply fragrance free, so it is worth checking the label to make sure there aren’t any foaming agents, parabens, or even herbs or botanicals you may react to.
How often should I wash my hair with a hypoallergenic shampoo?
Be guided by your hair type and if the shampoo states it is for daily use, then it is fine to use on a daily basis if required. Concentrate on applying shampoo to the roots of your hair and don’t rub it in vigorously all over, rather lightly massage it in and simply let it rinse through to the ends of hair, to avoid drying them out too much. Treating your scalp kindly and gently, and finding the right shampoo should help to keep things under control.