3 Telltale Signs You Should Use A Scalp Serum + What To Look For
Year after year, the beauty industry leans more into the "skinification of hair," which calls for treating the hair and scalp with the same level of care as the face. You know, exfoliants, masks, oils, and so on.
Scalp serums make up a large part of this shift, with new, buzzy formulas popping up practically every month. But still, it's not always clear if they are entirely necessary. To come, three signs you may want to consider a scalp serum (plus a few products to try):
General or localized thinning
First up, we have hair thinning. "Thinning hair is usually the result of a process called miniaturization, where the diameter of the hair shaft decreases in size," explains stylist and certified trichologist Shan Christen.
Either way, thinning can be a sign your scalp needs extra care, specifically with a serum focused on hair growth—here's a list of our favorites for this benefit.
Dryness or flakes
There are two types of flakes you might see on the scalp: dryness and dandruff, the latter of which calls for targeted shampoos for treatment.
Technically, dandruff is seborrheic dermatitis, a form of eczema, that's caused by a yeast called Malassezia furfur, board-certified dermatologist Raechele Cochran Gathers, M.D., tells us about the condition. These flares tend to happen for a multitude of reasons (read all about 'em here), but the most common triggers tend to be a change in weather—both cold and humid temperatures—as well as stress.
With a dry scalp, you may see symptoms such as tight skin, itchiness, flakes, ashiness, or redness—some of which overlap with dandruff.
Congestion around the roots
Finally, we have congestion. You may have heard this word used in the context of skin, but it certainly happens to the scalp as well. A congested scalp is generally packed with buildup from hair products, natural oils, and even dead skin.
When you peek at your roots in the mirror (and yes, you'll have to get up close), you may see little skin visible under the buildup between strands. Or you can massage your scalp with your fingers and see if any buildup appears broken up afterward.
Most of the time, you should use these formulas before you wash your hair. And as a best practice, consider following up with a hydrating scalp serum (just like you'd always moisturize your face after an exfoliating treatment).
It's a good idea to treat your scalp more like skin and less like hair, which includes using scalp serums when necessary. If you notice hair thinning, dryness, or product buildup, you may want the help of a mighty scalp serum. For more scalp care tips, head over to this guide.
Hannah Frye is the Assistant Beauty & Health Editor at mindbodygreen. She has a B.S. in journalism and a minor in women’s, gender, and queer studies from California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo. Hannah has written across lifestyle sections including skin care, women’s health, mental health, sustainability, social media trends, and more. She previously interned for Almost 30, a top-rated health and wellness podcast. In her current role, Hannah reports on the latest beauty trends and innovations, women’s health research, brain health news, and plenty more.