Itchy scalp and natural hair, what is the relationship? Can you imagine the frustration and confusion when you go natural for healthy hair and scalp, adopting better practices and following them to the letter only to find yourself with a perennially itchy scalp? This is happening to many naturals, and if a constant cry for help on multiple forums is anything to go by, it’s clear this is a terrible experience that not many recommended products seem to help.
What is causing your itchy scalp, really? Generally speaking conditions such as sabhorrearic dermatitis, dry scalp, and allergic reactions to certain products or ingredients can cause itching on the scalp.
One cause of itchy scalp that we commonly overlook, yet directly related to the natural hair lifestyle is product build up. Product build-up on your hair and scalp is a film of residue left behind by hair products. This layer will soon irritate your scalp. Product build-up does not mean you are not washing your hair either because even with a wash, there is residue, thin and barely noticeable. Over time it accumulates and irritates your skin, hence the itchy scalp.
Your first impulse to alleviate itchy scalp might be to wash your hair multiple times. However, the relief might be short lived because most regimens do not stop at washing. There is conditioning, deep conditioning, leave-ins, oils, sealing cream and more!
Additionally, the wash products themselves could be leaving residue, especially co-washes, sulphate-free shampoos and conditioners. And so could any anti-itch serum, spray, butter or oil you may have recommended for the problem. All these just contribute more to build-up.
What should you do?
The solution is not stop co-washing entirely, but rather to once in a while grab a good sulphate shampoo and give your hair a good clarifying wash as a preemptive strike against product build-up.
If you suddenly feel an itching coming on, and have established it is not allergic reaction or medical condition, then do washes with a sulphate shampoo. Wash till your hair is squeaky clean, when foam and water have no trace of dirt and see if you feel some relief from the itching on your scalp. There are also shampoos branded clarifying shampoos on the market for this very purpose.
Granted sulphate shampoos may mean more detangling as they are harsher on the hair. But it is only once in a while and you can take some precautions like prepoo before shampooing and deep condition immediately after. I cannot claim to have had severe itching, but occasionally, I find myself scratching my scalp and a sulphate shampoo wash later, the itch goes away. Then I revert to my co-wash and sulphate free shampoos till next time.