Oily, dry, or balanced – just like our skin, our scalp has a type, too.
Enter your scalp microbiome. Similar to the ecosystem of microorganisms that live in and on your skin and dictate its behaviour, your scalp has its own habitat for microbes.
It’s these secret caretakers that protect you from infection, maintain healthy hair follicles, and stimulate hair growth.
While it’s yet to gain the same attention as some of its microbiome relatives (aka the gut), chances are you’ve already crossed paths with your scalp microbiome. Have you ever experienced dandruff, flakiness, overly oily roots, itchiness, or even hair loss?
If so, you’re not alone. Roughly 42% of people suffer from unhealthy scalps, often due to heat styling, tap water, pollution, stress, and diet.
WHAT IS THE SCALP MICROBIOME?
Just like your other microbiomes’, it’s an ecosystem of bacteria, fungi, and mites that work closely together to create a healthy equilibrium. This network protects the body from infection and cooperates with your immune system when issues occur.
The scalp and skin microbiomes are similar as they both exist on the surface. However, the microbiota of each drastically differs, with the scalp having a much lower bacterial diversity. Certain bacterial members like Cutibacterium acnes (the mischief behind acne), exist in both microbial communities though.
While Staphylococcus is another well-known bacterial genus of the skin microbiome, it also shows up in the scalp, along with the fungi Malassezia. Increased colonization of these two can exacerbate dandruff production.
This invisible world works in tandem with the skin barrier to shield you from harmful pathogens and nourishes the hair follicles to encourage growth. As while your hair is a dead protein, the follicle it comes from is living.
WHAT DISRUPTS MY SCALP MICROBIOME?
While the microbiome is a resilient network, it can be vulnerable to change. Both internal and external factors can disrupt it; from haircare products to hormones, heat styling to stress.
It’s still susceptible to UV exposure and pollution, which is often overlooked due to the protective coat of hair. Yet, protecting partings and exposed areas with SPF or a hat is still crucial. This can prevent damage to your scalp microbiome.
Just like the skin elsewhere on your body, it can also be susceptible to issues such as eczema and psoriasis too. It’s no different.
That’s why maintaining a healthy balance of microorganisms is key to healthy hair. Not will this help to avoid possible skin and hair issues, but it allows the scalp microbiome and skin barrier to get on with their main job of feeding the skin and follicles with health-boosting nutrients.
WHAT SHOULD I DO TO CARE FOR MY SCALP MICROBIOME?
Awareness of the scalp’s secret world is attracting interest. In recent years, Google searches for ‘scalp health’ have rocketed by 300% year-on-year. While the hashtag #scalpcare has clocked up 848 million views on Tiktok.
While hair-care continues to boom, a market dedicated to caring solely for the scalp is making waves. Think microbiome-friendly ingredients and bacteria-boosting biotics.
Habits adopted to care for your skin microbiome are just as valuable for your scalp, to re-balance and support a healthy microbe environment.
From including gentle cleansers to adding treatments that exfoliate and hydrate. Your routine should be tailored to suit your scalp type, determined by the unique composition of the microorganisms your scalp microbiome is home to.
HEALTHY HAIR STARTS WITH THE SCALP MICROBIOME
Understanding the residents of your scalp microbiome and deciphering the good microbes from the disruptive ones makes it easier to care for your scalp and hair.
Growth and diversity of your scalp microbiome residents can be aided by the help of certain ingredients and the use of pre-, pro-, and postbiotics.
Meet your skin microbiome and discover your unique skin type with our skin test. Order here.
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