Hair — we blow it dry, dye, bleach, iron, tease, braid, slather and powder it, all in the quest for the perfect 'do. But if you really want better hair, pay attention to your scalp, experts say.
“The scalp is skin,” says Dr. Jeanette Graf, a dermatologist in Great Neck who regularly treats patients who have seborrhea, psoriasis and scalp sensitivity. “It’s different than the skin on your face, obviously — it’s thicker, with a much bigger blood supply." Dry shampoo and other products collect in your hair follicles, which Graf says can deter hair from growing. A combination of gentle scalp cleansing and massage can, she says, can help get rid of the gunk.
And hair salons and spas are increasingly becoming hip to the needs of the noggin. At Tru Salon in St. James, where two scalp treatments ($35 each) are offered, co-owner Brian Duignan says, “The scalp is the basis for everything. It’s like the root of the tree. Without the foundation, you can’t have healthy hair.” After a hair and scalp analysis, treatments here include scalp steaming followed by nourishing products that include tea tree and peppermint oils. The grand finale: a shiatsu massage for the head, neck and shoulders to stimulate circulation.
At Spa Adriana in Huntington, a newer product line and treatment system by Aveda called Pramasana works to balance the skin's over- or underactive oil-secreting system and works to stimulate hair growth, says co-owner John Vater.
“The health of the scalp is of direct correlation to the thickness and health of the hair,” he says. Vater says product buildup such as dry shampoo and heavy oils (think coconut) can create “a greenhouse effect,” trapping natural oils under waxes and acrylics — and even some oral medications can block pores and circulation. Here, the four-step organic scalp treatment ($60) includes a heavy scalp exfoliation with a brush to loosen buildup followed by a purifying cleanser and concentrate before a massage.
Along with salon offerings, there are loads of over-the-counter scalp treatment products. There’s been a surge in sales of these at Aurum Rose, the clean-beauty boutique in Cold Spring Harbor, says owner Marissa Waller. “People are starting to understand that even if they have all the products for their hair, they’re not going to do anything if the scalp is not healthy,” she says.
One scalp-focused product — CAKE Restorative Scalp Tonic ($72) — has been a repeat sellout. It’s a fruit extract serum derived from a rare Swiss apple that her customers say helps their hair grow. Says Waller, “People try it once and come back and buy two or three.”