What causes an itchy scalp and how to soothe it

Most of us wouldn’t think twice about splashing out on a pricey anti-ageing cream to improve our complexions, but would we spend the same on scalp care?

The “skinc-hair” trend has seen the rise of deep cleansing and regenerating formulas to get the healthy hair and soothed scalps we all want. But if you’re wondering why you've got an itchy scalp in the first place – and exactly what products to use to stop it – we have the answers…

What does an unhealthy scalp look like?

You may notice sluggish hair growth, thinning locks, itchiness or flaking skin. “But what usually happens is people leave it until they notice their hair is really thin or they have bad dandruff, and THEN they go seek out help for the problem, instead of proactively looking after their scalps in the first place,” says Simone Thomas, trichologist at Simone Thomas Wellness.

What causes an itchy scalp?

Being run down and stressed, having thyroid problems or a bad diet, certain medication and environmental changes (such as changes in temperature) can all cause an unhealthy scalp. “Also cheap, silicone-heavy products that cause an excessive build-up of product and block hair follicles can be to blame for itchiness and sluggish hair growth,” Simone adds.

What kinds of products should I be using to soothe an itchy scalp?

Simone says you’ll benefit hugely from a haircare range that uses higher concentrations of natural scalp-friendly ingredients. These can include coconut oil, which contains a host of hair-stimulating vitamins, and CBD to calm and provide anti-inflammatory action.

“Like you cleanse, tone, moisturise and treat the skin on your face, you should do the same for your scalp. That involves washing with a good shampoo, hydrating with a nourishing conditioner, and giving yourself regular massages to get the blood flow going,” she says.

Shop our pick of scalp-friendly beauty buys

Mudmasky Hair Mask, Scalp Treatment & Miracle Shampoo, available in the Winter Wonderland OK! Beauty Box worth £140, for just £4.95 here

pH balanced and containing argan oil, calendula and Moroccan lava clay, this 3-in-1 haircare hero helps to clean and rejuvenate from root to tip – even soothing an itchy scalp. Massage in and leave on for just one minute for healthier hair.

It normally costs £21, but you'll find a full size tube, plus four other brilliant beauty products, inside the latest OK! Beauty Box. This month's has a Winter Winterland theme, and contains everything you need to soothe your skin, body and scalp this season.

The whole box is worth over £140, but new subscribers can buy it for just £4.95 here (usual monthly monthly price of £15) by using the code 67FIRSTBOX at the checkout.

The INKEY List Glycolic Acid Exfoliating Scalp Scrub, £12.99 here

This gentle glycolic formula promises to help slough away dead skin cells and product residue that can cause itching. Use the tube-shaped applicator to apply over your scalp, then give yourself a quick massage before rinsing out and shampooing as normal.

Cantu Thick Boar Paddle Brush, £8.99 here

The bristles on this are designed to reach the scalp and help stimulate circulation. Since better circulation means healthier hair growth, you’ll see the benefit from brushing with this over time.

Philip Kingsley Flaky/Itchy Scalp Anti-Dandruff Shampoo, from £12.50 here

Hairdresser Melissa Timperley, who owns the award-winning Melissa Timperley salon in Manchester, recommends this for all types of itchy scalp, not just dandruff. It contains antimicrobial ingredients to effectively tackle dry scalp concerns without stripping the hair.

For all the latest beauty trends, tips and launches, sign up to the OK! Daily Newsletter here.

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