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Is Your Scalp Screwing with Your Hair?

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As a dermatologist who specializes in hair and scalp disorders, I find that women focus on getting beautiful-looking hair but often forget that the scalp is in large part responsible for it. Like most of the skin on our body, the scalp has oil glands and cell turnover. But the scalp is covered by hair, so if the scalp’s not healthy, it’s unlikely your hair will be, either.

These three things cause an irritated, angry scalp—stop using them, and follow these tips to revitalize your locks.

1. Chemical Treatments (like hair color and relaxers)
Dab Aquaphor ($6, at drugstores) onto inflamed areas up to twice a day, and avoid using styling products on your scalp while it’s healing.

2. DIY Concoctions
Rather than making a salad on your head (e.g., mayo, eggs), buy products with anti-inflammatories like quinoa, which—when professionally mixed—can nourish your scalp properly.

3. Fragrance
Reactions to scents are pretty rare, and hair companies do extensive testing to make sure they’re scalp-safe. But it can happen and is usually seen in those sensitive to all fragrances.

Dermatolgoist Amy McMichael is co-editor of Hair and Scalp Diseases: Medical, Surgical, and Cosmetic Treatments. For more common scalp conditions and how to treat them, check out the December 2014 issue of Women’s Health, available on newsstands now.

More from Women’s Health:
14 Head-Turning Celeb Hair Transformations from 2014
6 Tired Habits That Are Giving You Split Ends
40 Percent of People with Thinning Hair are Women

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