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Scalp Serum Benefits: How Using One Can Make Your Hair Stronger, Shinier and Thicker Fast

Discover the best ingredients that work best for your scalp and hair type

Serums — they’re not just for your skin. Or, rather, they’re not just for the skin on your face. Your scalp skin deserves just as much TLC as your complexion. And a scalp serum does just that by not only addressing your scalp, but also subsequently creating the optimal environment for healthy hair growth. Think of the scalp as soil and your hair as a plant; if the soil isn’t good, the plant is never going to grow. Once somewhat of a forgotten child in the beauty world, the scalp is now front and center, with more treatments (serums included) available than ever before. So, how do you determine what type of scalp serum is best for you? And what kind of scalp serum benefits can you expect from working one into your haircare regimen? We tapped top experts to answer those questions, and more ahead.

What is a scalp serum?

Scalp serum in a spa-like setting
kazmulka

“Just like face serums, scalp serums are concentrated treatments designed for either a specific issue or a combination of concerns related to the overall health of the scalp,” explains celebrity hairstylist and groomer Mia Santiago. Just as their complexion counterparts are very concentrated, with higher amounts of active ingredients to help target particular problems, so too are scalp serums (more specifics on those ingredients to come).

It’s also important to mention that scalp serums are more often than not water-based. This is beneficial because it means that they absorb better into the skin than oil-based treatments, which often have a tendency to sit and build-up on the scalp, notes trichologist Sophia Emmanuel, a V&Co. Beauty brand ambassador.

Scalp serum benefits

Woman using a scalp serum after learning about the scalp serum benefits
aquaArts studio

Broadly speaking, “a scalp serum can help maintain scalp health by reducing inflammation, normalizing the skin’s pH, exfoliating, and creating a healthy environment for hair growth,” explains Emmanuel. “If your scalp has excess dirt, sebum, product build-up, and dead skin cells, this can trigger inflammation, which can cause hair loss.” Specific, more targeted benefits will depend on the product you pick, but according to hairstylist Robin Emtage, founder of Silktáge, a few of the most common scalp serum benefits are:

  • Hydration: Scalp serums can provide an extra dose of moisture if your scalp is dry and/or flaky.
  • Oil-Balancing: Similarly, certain formulas can help regulate oil production, in turn helping to minimize the likelihood of issues such as dandruff.
  • Strengthening: Some serums can fortify hair follicles, reducing breakage and generally promoting stronger, thicker hair.
  • Soothing: Dealing with irritation and inflammation? Yep, a scalp serum can help combat those issues, too.

What to look for in a scalp serum

First and foremost, think about what – if any — issues you’re having with your scalp. “Choose a scalp serum that targets the problem you have,” says Emmanuel. These days, formulas are pretty clearly labeled, making it easy to tell exactly what their intended duties are. Some general ingredients to look for based on your specific concerns:

  • For flakes/dandruff: Emmanuel says opting for a formula that contains exfoliating salicylic acid and/or tea tree oil, which has antibacterial and anti-fungal properties, is a good idea
  • For irritation/itch: Chamomile is a great skin-soother to seek out.
  • For dryness: Look for moisturizing aloe vera.

What to avoid in a scalp serum

Emtage advises steering clear of sulfates and synthetic fragrances in particular. “These can both irritate the scalp and end up doing more harm than good,” she says. Emmanuel adds that it’s especially important to avoid both of these if your skin is sensitive to begin with.

You’ll want to consider the product packaging, too. Emtage notes that it can be very helpful to choose a serum that comes with a convenient applicator, such as a dropper or spray nozzle, which will make it easier to apply the product directly onto your scalp.


Learn more expert-backed hair care tips and tricks:

Heatless Beach Waves: 6 Easy Steps To Voluminous Hair Overnight

Hairstylists Share the 5 Easy Steps It Takes to Cut Your Own Bangs at Home

Trichologist Reveals the Top Hair Myths and What to Do Instead for a Thick, Healthy Head of Hair

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