my hobbies include skin-care

Not Just for the Bald, These 6 Scalp Products Give Me a Healthy Head (and Hair)

Photo: Photograph by Hannah Whitaker; makeup by Robert Reyes at MAM-NYC; product images courtesy of the vendors

I have never had much interest in the scalp.

I have never seen it. It doesn’t bend. It makes no sound. For these reasons (and more), it is probably the only part of the body inherently antithetical to TLC. You really can’t make it look better unless you are bald and take it to the car wash, right?

Wrong.

There are treatments for the scalp beyond regular shampoo — ways to invigorate it, exfoliate it, scrub it, spray it, nourish it. And you don’t even need to have dandruff or other crusty deposits that make the human body essentially disgusting. What I know about scalp care came from my divine hairstylist, Leanna, who told me that treating your scalp is just as essential as treating any other part of the body. Among the things she taught me is that blood flow is critical to growing new hair from your follicles, and that dead skin and oil accumulation are two things that regularly threaten to block that blood flow.

I now use a variety of products to care for my scalp — which is not very expressive, so I can’t say I actually feel any rejuvenation. The process hasn’t yielded the type of transformation that calls for a ticker-tape parade, but in keeping my scalp both clean and well fed, I am seeing some improvement in my dreaded scalp acne. As with all skin care, the key is regular use: The more dedicated you are, the better the results.

Shampoos

Given how much I already loved Oribe’s Shampoo for Magnificent Volume, I built my scalp-care regimen around four of the brand’s products: two shampoos, a scrub, and a spray. For shampoos, I alternate between Magnificent Volume and Oribe’s Serene Scalp Anti-Dandruff Shampoo. Both are formulated with Oribe’s “signature complex” of ingredients including watermelon, lychee, and edelweiss flower extracts, but the Serene Scalp Shampoo also has sugarcane to hydrate and nourish both scalp and hair, a pinch of caffeine to help energize and rejuvenate, and the great catch-all of salicylic acid (which will soon replace table salt) to exfoliate. Importantly, dandruff is not a requirement.

In addition to the above, I use Goop’s G.Tox Himalayan Salt Scrub Shampoo once a week. I think of it as an exfoliant booster. It’s fun as hell to work it in, taking a healthy gob (I refuse to say goop) of the stuff and feeling all those salt crystals scrubbing the scalp and hair as they do their exfoliation thing. I like its rough texture, and feel deliciously clean afterwards — the ultimate in squeaky.

Scrub

This may be piling on, but I also use Oribe’s Serene Scalp Exfoliating Scrub on a weekly basis, applying it during a shower so the hair is wet. (I rub it in before shampooing.) The texture is soft compared to the Goop scrub-shampoo; it feels almost like an oil and is easy on the scalp. The ingredients — polymer beads, hydroxy and glycolic acids, flower extracts, peppermint oil, and malachite extract (derived from what’s said to be the sacred stone of Egypt) — all work to both nourish and hydrate, while protecting hair from color depletion and damage from the elements. A note: Don’t use this and the Goop stuff on the same day; make sure there is an interval of at least three days in between. The Oribe scrub does a better job of nourishing the scalp, while the Goop scrub-shampoo is better at removing dirt and dead skin.

Spray

I use this every day. Mist it into still-wet hair, then style. The spray not only feeds the scalp with ingredients like soothing peppermint oil and energizing witch hazel water, but also has stuff like pea sprout extract and Biotin to help thicken thinning hair. (An in-house study by Oribe claims that 86 percent of those surveyed had thicker hair after two months.) I’ve found that my hair also just looks better after using this to style it, because the spray gives it a firmer hold.

Serum

The final product in my scalp-care arsenal is Susanne Kaufmann Hair Elixir. Among the ingredients are wheat germ and a vitamin complex composed of vitamins A, C, and E. You apply the serum as needed and leave it on overnight. I like it so much I am using it daily as the last product in my nightly regimen. It is a nice coda to the evening, leaving the scalp revived instead of a creeping cesspool of oil by the time it hits the pillow. The Hair Elixir’s product description also promises that it will calm your scalp; I think it actually does, because while the rest of my body pulsates in terror at the thought of so much skin care and so little time, my scalp remains at peace.