Award-winning hair stylist Anthony Nader shares his best tips to salvaging your itchy, dry scalp.
Hear me out: I don’t think there’s anything worse than having a dry scalp. Firstly, you manage to turn heads – but for all the wrong reasons. Hello, snowflakes/chicken salt/or whatever you want to call that blanket of white dots on the back of your black top.
And then you have to deal with the absolute discomfort of attempting to sleep with an itchy scalp, which to be frank is the definition of a nightmare.
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In an ideal world, we’d all have perfectly healthy and nourished scalps that were free from itch, dryness and inflammation 365 days of the year. But the reality is your scalp needs the same TLC that you give your skin. And winter is an especially prominent time for dry scalp to become a dilemma.
“At this time of year, everyone tends to experience a mild to moderate dry scalp,” celebrity hair stylist and owner of RAW, Anthony Nader, tells Body+Soul.
“As the weather zaps the moisture out of our hair, skin and scalp, this is when we need to take more prevention before it’s too late.”
But because life gets in the way, your hair becomes the last priority and before you know it you have winter dry scalp.
The difference between ‘dry scalp’ and ‘dandruff’…
But wait, you’re probably thinking ‘mate, isn’t this just dandruff?’
Well, there’s actually a difference between the two.
“I know it can be misleading to narrow down on what the excess of ‘flakes’ shedding on your classic black cashmere turtleneck means, so here’s a breakdown for you,” says Nader.
“Dandruff and dry scalp have the same symptoms, which are falling flakes and an itchy scalp but they are two different conditions.
“With a dry scalp, the skin gets irritated and then flakes off. Whereas with dandruff, the cause is too much oil so the excess oil then causes skin cells to build up and then shed.”
Washing your hair in winter…
Okay, so you’re actually one of those people who take extra good care of your hair and scalp by washing it regularly – and yet, you still have dry scalp. RIP.
But the truth is your need to clean (which is a great quality, tbh!) is doing your scalp more harm than good.
“I believe that the Australian culture still shampoo their hair or two times too many throughout the week,” Nader says.
The culprit here is shampoo.
“You’re actually doing your hair and scalp more damage by shampooing too regularly. You’re washing away the protective layer of natural sebum, and natural shine as well.”
Nader recommends washing your locks a maximum of twice a week.
“If you have blonde coloured hair and want to keep the brassiness under control, use your cosmetic shampoo and conditioner once a week so your blonde will appear clean and bright again.
“The second time you wash your hair, you should use a prescribed shampoo and conditioner to tackle what your strands are lacking.”
For instance, if you have…
Fine hair: use a shampoo and conditioner to give you that extra lift.
Oily hair: use a sensitive shampoo and conditioner to keep the flakiness at bay.
Dehydrated hair: use a shampoo and conditioner that’s packed with moisture.
Natural products to treat dry scalp…
While Nader recommends you book an appointment with a Naturopath to “get down to the nitty gritty”, he also admits he’s a big fan of Jojoba Oil.
“The properties of this oil have some great all-rounders like eczema, psoriasis and just good old fashion moisturising.”
We recommend: Calming Jojoba ($39.95 at The Jojoba Company).
Top 5 tricks for saving your hair from winter dry scalp
If you’re a victim to winter dry scalp, you can stop stressing because Nader explains there are simple ways to both salvage and prevent your scalp from itchy woes…
1. Turn down the heat in the shower and go a few degrees cooler if you can
The cooler the temperature, the more your skin and hair will behave for you in these cooler months.
2. Check the ingredients
Use a moisturising shampoo and conditioner that’s super low in alcohol and sodium laureth sulfate. These two properties can case your scalp some grief if you’re not careful.
3. Lay low on styling products
Don’t be excessive with your styling products as this will in a way, coat your scalp and hair strands over time.
4. Treat yourself to a weekly moisture masque
A masque is higher in concentration with the moisture content compared to a regular conditioner, so always keep this in mind when you want more hydration for thirsty strands.
Brush, brush and brush again. It’s an oldie but a goodie.
Think of this as a massage for your scalp and it’s now sighing with relief and praising you for this wonderful moment. Ensure you’re using a 100 per cent boar bristle brush as this is gentler and will remove any knot easily.
We recommend: Mason Pearson Pure Boar Bristle ($165 at RAW).
Anthony Nader is a highly acclaimed, award-winning hair stylist and owner of famous RAW Anthony Nader in Surry hills, Sydney. Follow him on Instagram @anthony_nader and @rawanthonynader.