With so many great products out there, it can be easy (and very tempting) to do all of these things with your hair on a regular basis. But while we all love our shampoos/conditioners/masks/treatments/styling products/dry shampoos, overdoing certain formulas can have some not-so-big consequences for your hair’s overall health and appearance.
As any stylist will tell you, your hair is only as healthy as your scalp. And if your scalp can’t “breathe” properly – meaning it’s covered in follicle-clogging product buildup – you’ll almost certainly see the effects on your strands in the form of dryness, dullness, breakage and overall blah-looking hair.
To allay these concerns, cosmetic chemist Javon Ford recommends giving your scalp a “reset” — or deep, clarifying cleanse — to help get things moving again. “It’s always good to reset the hair and scalp from time to time,” he says. Keep scrolling to learn what you need to know about the process.
This article originally appeared on wellandgood.com
#1: You use a lot of styling products
“If you’re someone who doesn’t use a lot of products, then your scalp is probably fine,” says Ivy Lee, MD, a board-certified dermatologist in Pasadena, California. “But if someone uses a lot of products — for example, oil-based or dimethicone-based shine shampoos, and then also a dry shampoo and conditioner, and then a leave-in conditioner with added styling products — they probably need to think about reducing the residue or upping their hair care regimen.” simplify.”
#2: Your shampoo contains styling agents
If you regularly use shampoos that do more than cleanse — like formulas that smooth, thicken, shine, or condition — your scalp may not get as clean as you think. According to cosmetic chemist Joseph Cincotta, PhD, these shampoos contain ingredients that are “engineered” to stay on the hair after rinsing, like gums and silicones, which can be bad for your hair if not rinsed out properly.
“These ingredients, like silicones, conditioning gums, and conditioning polymers, are large molecules and have a positive charge,” says Dr. Cincotta, chief chemist at Colorwow. “And hair has an inherent negative charge, so the positive charge is attracted to the hair and not completely rinsed out at the end of the shampoo… Those materials that are engineered to leave behind don’t just stay on your hair to make it.” shinier, to de-frizz, to thicken, whatever effect you’re after, but they also cling to the skin.”
When these films are left on the scalp and never removed, your scalp can become angry. Worst-case scenario: “You can get itchy breakouts on your scalp that can eventually become infected if you scratch them, and then the follicles could become infected and you could start losing hair,” says Dr. Cincotta.
#3: You get conditioner on your scalp
While shampoo is for your scalp and hair, conditioner is strictly for your strands.
“That’s because conditioners are actually very irritating to the skin,” says Dr. Cincotta. “People don’t know, but conditioners contain quats, or cationic, positively charged molecules that are more irritating than the shampoo ingredients. If you leave conditioner on your scalp, you’re going to get irritation.”
The same goes for cleansing conditioners like co-washes, lo-poos, and no-poos. Although they’re meant to “cleanse,” you can’t wash your hair with conditioner. Instead, use these in-between shampoos when you want to refresh your hair without shampooing it all the way (e.g. if your hair is super sweaty but you shampooed just yesterday).
“Regardless of what you use, conditioners are supposed to build up, that’s how they work,” says Ford. “They’re like the fabric softeners of the hair care world. Fabric softeners, if not used sparingly, will damage your dryer. If you just keep building up conditioner and don’t have a shampoo that removes the conditioner, it will weigh down the hair. It might clog some pores.”
#4: How to give yourself a scalp reset
A proper scalp reset starts with a simple, no-styling shampoo, says Dr. Cincotta that helps give your hair the deep cleansing it needs. He suggests incorporating a product like Color Wow Color Security Shampoo ($24), which is designed to leave no residue. Then you can use styling ingredients in your care step or styling products, or use your regular (styling) shampoo for a second lather.
#5: Color Wow color protection shampoo
#6: Olaplex No. 4C Bond Maintenance Clarifying Shampoo
You can use a clarifying shampoo like the Olaplex No. 4C Bond Maintenance Clarifying Shampoo ($30) to get rid of buildup.
And in the long run, do your best to keep your conditioner and styling products off your scalp. This can be really difficult if you have short or heavily coiled hair, or if you use a lot of spray products, but be careful and resist the urge to massage these products into your scalp.