A trichologist shares the secrets to avoiding flakes on your shoulder this season.

14 01 scalp treatmetns hair winter tips care

Cool winter temperatures can make our skin dry and flaky, but there's one part of your body you likely don't think gets affected –your scalp.

Trichologist Nadine Wong from Alabaster Wellness Clinic (alabasterwellness.com) in Ajax, says dense winter air and hot indoor temperatures cause the cells on the scalp to become more constricted, causing it to appear dry and flaky. The constriction of the cells means products can become trapped between them and harden causing flakes. "Many times when you see dandruff it’s the buildup of product that has been trapped between the cells," says Wong.

Here, she offers seven tips on how to protect your scalp:

1. A healthy scalp begins in the bedroom.

Getting adequate sleep is crucial for the production of moist, healthy cells. Using a humidifier in your bedroom to equalize the moisture in the atmosphere can help ensure cells replenish with moisture, reducing flakiness.

2. Avoid overheating hair.

Hairdryers, straightening irons and even washing hair in hot water can contribute to a dry scalp. "Anytime you fry anything in nature it changes its structure and as a result of that you have a manifestation of flaking," says Wong. Give hair a day off from the dryer and turn the shower dial down from scalding. A cool rinse after hair washing also helps close the pores of the scalp and the cuticle layer of the hair, giving locks more shine.

3. Stay hydrated.

In addition to increasing water consumption, Wong recommends eating a diet rich in deep greens and fresh fruits with high water content. "If you're depleted in [water] your cells will be dry and that dryness will manifest itself in flaking," says Wong.

4. Decrease sodium and alcohol.

Sodium and alcohol draw water out of the body. Since we don't get a lot of moisture from the atmosphere in the winter, retaining hydration through our diet becomes even more crucial to maintain a healthy scalp.

5. Get a scalp massage.

Stimulating blood flow to the scalp, whether through a hand massage or a massage apparatus, brings nourishment into the cells of the scalp and can help to reduce flakiness.

6. Choose the right hair oils.

While oils can add moisture to the scalp, Wong warns to choose the right ones. "The best kind of oils are ones that penetrate into the body such as grape seed oil, olive oil or jojoba oil," says Wong. Oils that sit on the scalp can become trapped in the cells of the hair follicles, creating buildup and increasing flaking.

7. Choose the right shampoo.

Wong recommends choosing hair care products that are paraben and sulphate free. Parabens cause buildup and sulfate strips the hair of its natural oils. She also recommends checking shampoo for its pH level. Shampoos and conditioners with a pH close to the average pH of hair (between 4.5 and 5) will protect the hair and help reduce dryness.