Dealing with Scalp Issues when Going No Shampoo

by Kate on May 11, 2012

in Hair Care, Health, Natural Beauty, No Shampoo Method, Simple Living

As I’ve been transitioning more and more into my no shampoo routine,I’ve had to deal with some scalp issues. I’ve only ever had dandruff and itchy scalp a few times in my life (all when going on or off Accutane) but now I find that I’m more prone to it if I’m not careful. Unfortunately dandruff has not been my worst problem. The main problem I’ve dealt with is scalp acne. Ouch ouch ouch! Seriously is there any kind of acne more painful? Plus it’s actually really bad for hair growth (if that’s your goal). Once your follicle is clogged up it’s preventing growth of the hair and the inflammation can spread to surrounding follicles causing those hairs not to grow. Yikes! So what to do?:

1. Massage Firmly While Rinsing The cause of scalp pimples and dandruff is often build-up.  If you’re using conditioner washes or rinses of any kind (baking soda or vinegar) be sure to massage your scalp as you rinse. Massage firmly and try to cover every centimeter of your scalp. Often times we end up massaging the hair onto the scalp but the conditioner/rinses stay trapped beneath and you’re left with buildup. If you have ever had acne–just imagine what washing your face with conditioner would likely do.

2. Wash your Face AFTER Conditioning Use your regular cleanser and be sure to focus around the hairline where the conditioner is most likely to have dripped down from your hair. Not a cleanser user? Awesome–my goal is to be like you. In that case, I highly suggest not using the conditioner only method of washing your hair. Conditioner just builds up too easily and it really does need to be removed with a gentle cleanser. Which leads me to my next suggestion…

3. Switch to a Tea Tree Oil Conditioner For a while I was doing this and it was insanely perfect for me. The Tea Tree Oil kept my scalp clear and my hair just felt cleaner than it had. That said, the Giovanni Tea Tree Triple Treat Conditioner I was using is just a bit too expensive for my liking. Honestly though it’s not that expensive and if I hadn’t been able to stop my scalp acne with the method below, I would have continued this.

3. Use Natural Shampoo Where Breakouts Occur My scalp acne was happening only at the hairline (which tends to produce the most oil anyway). So I started using a bit of my natural shampoo (Aubrey Organics Honeysuckle Rose) just around the hairline AFTER doing my conditioner only washes. Completely fixed the problem for me. That said, if your scalp acne is more severe or popping up all over your scalp, you may need to go to the next step…

3. As a Last Resort, “Clarify” If you’ve been following the conditioner-only method then you’ve hopefully been using a silicone free, paraben free, protein free conditioner. That should prevent you from needing a true clarifying shampoo. That said, if you have baby fine hair like mine, while you’re transitioning, the conditioner may still build up and sometimes you’ve just got to break down and do an all over shampoo. If you aren’t sure if all the products you’ve been using are CO-wash safe, then perhaps go ahead and do a true clarifying shampoo (Giovanni Tea Tree Triple Treat or Trader Joe’s Tea Tree shampoo works great and its much more natural than, say Pantene)

And since I’m not sure I’ve ever gone in depth about the conditioner only method, here’s the method, summarized:

  • The conditioner should be silicone free, paraben free, protein free: cheap brands like Suave and VO5 work best
  • Add water to the conditioner to make it thin and help it lather.
  • Spread a large amount around all over the hair from scalp to ends. Massage into scalp. Let sit 5 minutes or more.
  • Rinse out while thoroughly massaging. The rinse should take at least 5 minutes.
  • Gradually space out these conditioner only washes (meaning don’t wash on the off days or wet with water only). This helps your scalp gradually learn to produce less oil.
  • My goal is to eventually need no products on my hair and use water only to wash my hair. But some people don’t take it that far. The choice is yours!

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*In the spirit of full disclosure, links to products in this post may be affiliate links, which means that I may receive a commission if you decide to purchase any of the products I recommend. Know that I only recommend products that I have used and love myself.

*I am not a doctor, a nurse, or any kind of health practitioner. I’m just a gal with a pretty keen intuitive sense, great research abilities, and curiosity that is easily peaked. Please understand that my advice is really just another opinion and it’s for you (and your doctor) to decide the best course for your health and well-being.

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