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does limp, dry, thinning hair leave you scratching your head? Fight back with stimulating scalp tonics and nourishing oils

Save your scalp: does limp, dry, thinning hair leave you scratching your head? Fight back with stimulating scalp tonics and nourishing oils

Rebekah George

ONE OF THE MOST neglected parts of the body is the scalp. We shampoo, condition, and style our tresses constantly but pay little (if any) attention to the skin underneath.

The scalp is the foundation for lovely locks: It houses over 130,000 deeply rooted follicles, which keep hair strands shiny and healthy by distributing oils and nutrients from root to tip. “Poor diet and harsh shampoos affect the scalp and the overall look and condition of your hair,” says Philip Kingsley, a London-and New York City-based trichologist (hair and scalp expert).

Stress also causes the health of the scalp to take a turn for the worse. “The same way your face breaks out when you’re frazzled, the scalp reacts adversely, too,” says Pirkko Vaisanen, scalp and hair repair director at the Paul Labrecque Salon & Spa in New York City. “Blood vessels constrict, limiting the amount of nutrients sent to the area and also to the hair follicles.” The result: a scalp that’s either too oily or too dry.

What can you do? Try the following ideas for a healthier scalp and head of hair.

Photography BY AMY NEUNSINGER

cleanse & exfoliate

EXFOLIATION IS IMPORTANT to remove dead skin cells not only from your face, but also from your scalp. “Styling-product buildup, sebum, and pollutants stick to the dead patches, causing hair to look limp, and can slow down hair growth or even cause premature hair loss,” says Philip B., creator of the Philip B. Botanicals hair-care line. The solution: At least once a week, use a shampoo designed to remove product buildup on the scalp, increase circulation, and clear the skin surface so healthier hair can grow through.

1. Nioxin Smoothing Actives Moisturizing Scalp Therapy ($10; nioxin.com), with white tea extract and coenzyme Q10, helps balance out estrogen levels to maintain normal hair growth.

2. Jason Dandruff Relief Shampoo ($10; jasonnatural.com) is loaded with naturally antiseptic tea tree oil, which combats bacteria that can irritate the scalp.

3. Aveda Scalp Benefits Shampoo ($12; aveda.com) is an emollient tonic made with sage, burdock root, and echinacea–herbs that are known to moisturize and soothe the scalp.

4. Lamas Chinese Herb Stimulating Shampoo ($19; lamasbeauty.com) is infused with more than 50 Chinese herbs that have been used for centuries to stimulate and strengthen the scalp and hair.

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nourish & hydrate

WHATEVER THE CONDITION of the scalp, essential oils help nourish it and improve hair’s strength and appearance. “Think of oils as food for the hair. which work the same way a moisturizer does for your skin.” Philip B. suggests. Massage them vigorously into the scalp with your fingertips for at least five minutes a few times a week, then brush through to the ends. Finish with a cool rinse, or leave the oil in for an extra dose of moisture.

1. Philip B. Rejuvenating Oil ($29; philipb.com) hydrates hair and scalp with ingredients like extra virgin olive oil, sesame oil, and sweet almond oil.

2. John Masters Organics Deep Scalp Follicle Treatment & Volumizer for Thinning Hair ($21; johnmasters.com) is a leave-in treatment that improves the condition of the papilla (hair root enclosure) with a mix of organic herbs, antioxidants, and essential fatty acids.

3. Weieda Rosemary Hair Oil ($10; usa.weleda.com) contains clover blossom, burdock root, and lots of rosemary–an ingredient traditionally used to stimulate actively growing hair cells–to help prevent premature hair loss.

4. Phyto Phytopolleine Botanical Scalp Stimulant ($28; 800-55-PHYTO), made with rosemary, eucalyptus, and sage, helps prevent sebum from clogging follicles, which can hinder the growth of healthy new strands.

5. Rene Furterer Complexe 5 ($36; renefurterer.com) is blended with lavender essential oil to help stimulate circulation to the scalp.

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