We love hair. We think about our hair all the time. In fact, you probably woke up this morning and said to yourself, “self, what are we going to do with our hair today?”

In the midst of our daily excitement toward achieving flawless hair, we sometimes forget about taking care of an integral factor in achieving healthy locks: our scalp

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All of us can attest to dealing with scalp issues and not knowing exactly how to go about managing them. And with the holidays coming up, the likings of Shirley Caesar’s beans, greens, potatoes, tomatoes, ham, lamb…you name it, are sure to pop up on the dinner table. So, keeping your diet in mind is imperative, too! 

Keep reading for my expert solutions to three of the most common scalp woes. 

DRY SCALP: As a professional hairstylist, this is the number one concern that I hear from my clients.  Especially, as we move into the winter months, frigid outside temperatures and overheated indoor temps can cause havoc on our hair and scalp! So, how do we combat against the dryness?

The simple answer is daily moisturizing. Yes, I said daily!  I know this can be seen as a lot, but I am always very clear with clients that their hair needs to be handled with intention. Healthy hair and scalp doesn’t happen by accident; you must be as committed to your hair as you are with your teeth!

Daily moisturizing of the scalp includes an essential oil and quick scalp massage. For a minute a day, take your desired oil and with your finger tips, gently massage the oils through out your head, being sure to concentrate on areas that you notice the most dryness. This daily habit will help with locking in moisture on your head! An added bonus of a massage is that a scalp massage increases blood circulation to your scalp and promotes hair growth!

DRY SCALP  DIET: If you are noticing a dry, flaky scalp,  it is probably an indication that you are not eating enough fatty acids which are vital for locking in moisture in your skin and hair! Be sure to incorporate foods such as  salmon, avocado, nuts, spinach  and more!

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OILY SCALP: Oily/greasy scalp tends to be a huge concern for my beauties with fine textured hair! Women with oily scalps express frustration around limp, lifeless hair and feeling the need to wash/condition it once or twice a week.  

My advice to regulate scalp conditions on an oily scalp is to use a clarifying shampoo or a shampoo with some tea tree oil in it and be sure to only put conditioner on your hair not your scalp!

MAJOR KEY ALERT: Only put conditioner on your hair strands and not the scalp. Why? Because conditioners can be heavy and can cause the hair to  be oily and weighed down faster.  

One more thing: invest in a great dry shampoo! I used to think that dry shampoo was only for our vanilla sisters, but honey boo boo, dry shampoo has saved me on many occasions! When your hair gets oily and you don’t have the time to shampoo, use some dry shampoo on your roots and experience a the fresh look of freshly washed hair in seconds. Thank me later!

OILY SCALP DIET: I’ve learned over time that some women experience oily scalp due to their diet, which causes overactive sebaceous glands (glands that produce and secrete oil). To help regulate the sebaceous glands , incorporate foods rich in B vitamins such as  beans, meat, vegetables, fish and poultry and reduce your intake of sugar. 

SENSITIVE/ TENDER SCALP: Let’s face it: a lot of us will be two stepping into the holidays and the new year with a protective style! I love seeing friends and clients rocking some box braids, or a good weave during the winter, but sometimes, protective styles can lead to sensitivity/tenderness of the scalp. First, I would suggest that if you are experiencing scalp sensitivity to use natural/organic shampoos and products. Most products have a ton of chemicals and fragrances that can cause irritations of the scalp. By using organic products, you can help alleviate some scalp irritation by knowing exactly what ingredients are touching your scalp.

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PREVENTION OF THE TENSION: I say this all the time!  You must prevent the tension! Too much tension can cause undue stress on our scalp and hair! When your hair is braided too tightly or your bun is pulled by back too tightly, the tension can cause your scalp to because sensitive and tender.  Request that your stylist not braid you hair too tightly, especially around the perimeter of your hair where your hair and scalp tends to be the most fragile!

CHOOSE QUALITY HAIR: Whether it’s a weave or box braids or any other style that you incorporate additional hair, be sure to select quality hair that won’t irritate your scalp. If you feel a” hot” sensation on your scalp and you continuously have to scratch in between braids or tracks, chances are the hair is irritating your scalp. Don’t compromise your scalp health for a sale or a quick style!

SENSITIVITY/ TENDER DIET: Water, Water, Water! This diet tip can go hand in hand with all beauty needs, but water in particular can aid in scalp health because water helps and flush out toxins in the body faster! Drink up!

Last Word of Advice: If you are noticing severe scalp irritations or abnormal scarring or bleeding on your scalp, please visit a dermatologist and seek further assistance!

Bukky is a hairstylist in New York City and runs a non-profit organization. Follow her at @bukks or @haironpurpose.