Hair & Makeup

Do you really need a scalp mask?

Well, it could be the answer to your best hair yet, says VICTORIA CRAWFORD


When was the last time you exfoliated your skin? It’s likely you’ve used a scrub or acid to achieve that super-soft smoothness within the past week, but what about your scalp?

Let’s be honest, for most of us the everyday hair-washing routine comprises a quick shampoo, lather and rinse before running some conditioner through the ends. Yet plenty of experts are urging us to up the ante and give our scalp some TLC.

Where skincare meets scalp care

Like your skin, your hair faces the same daily attacks from pollution and UV rays, as well as the effects of stressful schedules, on-the-go diets and a lack of sleep. “The scalp is just another area of our skin that needs to be looked after,” says Dr Sophie Shotter from Illuminate Skin & Wellness Clinic in London. “We all crave shiny, healthy, bouncy hair, but the importance of looking after our scalp to achieve this is often overlooked.”

Renowned hair stylist Michael van Clarke agrees: “A lot of people think washing their hair is enough to keep their scalp clean, but that 30-second shampoo at home may not have much of an impact on the build-up of sweat, oils, dead cells and styling products.” Unsurprisingly, van Clarke has developed a line of products specifically to exfoliate, cleanse and nourish your scalp.

And he’s not the only one. From cult brands Christophe Robin, Oribe and Sacha Juan to new kids on the block Briogeo and R+Co, you can now approach your scalp in the same way you treat your skin, with a three-step cleanse, exfoliate and nourish routine.

Finding your formula

“Hair grows its best from a healthy scalp, so anything you do to improve the condition of your scalp will benefit your hair,” explains trichologist Anabel Kingsley, who recommends using a gentle scrub to exfoliate the area once a week.

Those who battle with oiliness or are liberal with styling products will benefit most from a detoxifying scrub, such as Christophe Robin’s iconic Cleansing Purifying Scrub With Sea Salt or R+Co’s Crown Scalp Scrub, which has kaolin and salicylic acid to wash out excess oil and rebalance your scalp. To soothe flaky, itchy scalps, try teaming Philip Kingsley’s Flaky Itchy Scalp Toner for daily relief with the brand’s Stimulating Scalp Mask once a week to help slough away dead skin and soothe your scalp.

While most experts advocate the use of scalp masks, they also urge caution, as over-exfoliation can cause irritation. If you have a sensitive scalp or are wary of overdoing it, start by using Michael van Clarke’s Exfoliating Scalp Shampoo once or twice a week for super-gentle exfoliation.

Rehydrate and replenish

While exfoliating is one step, it’s also important to rebalance and nourish your scalp. With fall in full swing, it’s essential to counterbalance the effects of the wet, windy weather and central heating on your scalp with nourishing ingredients, especially if your hair is feeling a little dry in general. Julien Farel’s pre-shampoo treatment is packed full of hyaluronic acid and resveratrol and can be used from root to tip to revive your hair.

For those who want minimal fuss, Sisley’s Revitalising Fortifying Serum for Scalp is just like a traditional face serum, but for your scalp, and can be massaged into roots before you leave the house. The lightweight, vitamin-packed formula absorbs within seconds without weighing down even the finest of hair.

And, to help protect your hair from the elements, including pollution and UV damage, don’t forget to mist with Rita Hazan’s Lock + Block Protective Spray – your hair colorist will thank you for it.

The model featured in this story is not associated with NET-A-PORTER and does not endorse it or the products shown