The Scalp and Its Function part 1
Last week I mentioned in my story that I was starting all over and what I mean by that is, since beginning my IG account I’ve gained a lot more knowledge about hair, ingredients, products, etc. and want to update old posts. For those who are new to my page I want to give a brief history into how all this research I do came to fruition. The first post I ever researched was on the topic of Coconut Oil. After reading that post, my friend Anna (aka @agrace216) encouraged me to go forth with researching. She literally pulled the gift out of me. Little did she know that Research was my favorite class in college. About a month later, my hair suffered with hygral fatigue for the second time and I was tired of all the setbacks. There were no informative posts on Instagram so I was determined to know the why, how, where, and what about every aspect of hair. Thus, my page became mainly about research. I will be posting two new blogs weekly until I get tired, lol. After that, it'll be once a week.
Today I’m shedding light on the scalp, which by the way, aside from diet is extremely important. Many times we focus on healthy hair but an often overlooked factor is promoting scalp health and ultimately hair health. Hair health is simply not complete without learning and understanding the scalp structure and anatomy. Understanding the scalp is important to any hair growing endeavor. The scalp is the birthplace of hair, and if kept in proper condition, it will provide an optimal environment for the follicles to produce quality hair.
Research shows that a reduced nutritive blood flow to the hair follicles might be a significant event in the pathogenesis of early male pattern baldness. In patients with early male pattern baldness, subcutaneous blood flow was 2.6 times lower than the values found in the individuals with normal hair growth. (Per Klemp, Kurt Peters and Brigitte Hansted, Journal of Investigative Dermatology). Increasing blood circulation to the scalp may ensure that the hair follicle remains healthy, strong and stimulate hair follicles to enter into the hair growth phase (Anagen).
In order to grow hair that thrives, the scalp should remain clean, pH balanced, pliable and positively stimulated. Hair receives nutrients it needs to grow via the bloodstream. So it’s as simple as this, increase the supply of blood to your hair follicles and you increase the supply of nutrients to your hair. An increase in blood flow also prevents dandruff, psoriasis and other scalp problems that affect growing healthy strong hair. How can we increase scalp blood circulation? Through exercise and scalp massages.
When we exercise we sweat. Through sweat, toxins and waste, substances are flushed out from the skin pores. Likewise, when we sweat from our scalp, it helps to unclog the hair follicles, giving space for new growth. I mentioned previously that scalp massages via the inversion method is beneficial. For those who are yoga fans, you may find this interesting: Inversion postures like the yoga head stand (sirsasana), plow pose (halasana), downward facing dog stretch (adhomukha svanasana) and sun salutation (surya namaskar) are considered highly beneficial for healthy hair growth.
The bloodstream continuously transports oxygen and nutrients to the brain, skin and vital organs in the body and exercising plays a pivotal role in improving blood circulation. Each hair follicle has blood vessels that nourish it by supplying it with oxygen and nutrients. Increased circulation stimulates growth in hair follicles and regular exercise leads to better cell renewal. Exercise increases blood flow; the more the blood flows, the more nutrients and oxygen supplied, thus, improving hair growth.
Scalp Massages with Essential Oils
Here's something else that's fascinating; a medical trial has confirmed the effectiveness of scalp massages. In a 2016 study, a standardized scalp massage was administered to 9 people for 4 minutes day. After 24 weeks of this treatment, there was increased hair thickness after the initiation of the massage. In short, it showed that scalp massage has a positive effect on the expression of genes for hair growth and led to an increase in hair thickness! (Source: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4740347/).
Note: Hair regrowth requires follicles that are still active. If your follicles are damaged, it's best to see a specialist for alternative restoration or methods. Obviously don't neglect a nutritious diet because health starts from within.
The function of the cells in our hair follicles is to take in nutrients, produce proteins and eliminate waste. Here is what makes scalp massages more effective; physiological and nerve activity levels are raised so as you massage your scalp, the blood vessels rush blood faster through that area. And since the blood is carrying food your cells take in they're getting more in and in turn producing more protein.
You guys already know I'm all for scalp massages. I use @righteousrootsoils (www.righteousroots.net) approximately 3-5 days a week (it varies) and use the inversion method. As mentioned earlier under the exercise heading, inversion postures are beneficial to healthy hair growth. After I massage my scalp (around 4 minutes..sometimes less), I raise up very slowly. If you feel dizzy, light-headed, sleepy then move slowly out of the inverted position.
But, caution here! Improper use can cause other issues, especially if you already have a pre-existing condition like low to high blood pressure, glaucoma, pregnancy, hernia, ear infection, pink eye, swollen joints, overweight, if you're just unhealthy or if you've had a stroke. If you know you're not in the best of shape, this may not be worth the risk.
You can increase the pliability of and circulation to your scalp by gently massaging it daily. Essential oils enter your system through the olfactory system (inhalation) and/or through your skin and reach into the blood where they bind to receptors and change chemical composition. (Hay IC, Jamieson M and Ormerod AD: Archives of Detmatology).
The scalp is heavily vascularized, which means it has an intricate network of blood vessels moving and carrying nutrients throughout. The scalp differs from skin on the rest of your body in that, it has larger oil glands and produces more sebum (the body’s natural oil) (The Science of Hair Care. “Scalp Anatomy”. Emedicine).
The uppermost layer of the scalp called stratum corneum, is extremely important. In the deeper skin layers, water is housed and slowly migrate upwards to provide moisture and hydration to the stratum corneum. The next step for moisture in the skin is evaporating into the surrounding environment, which eventually leaves the skin feeling dry. This is why it’s very important to keep your body hydrated from within to fight scalp dryness.
If you’re dehydrated, your body will supply little moisture to the upper layers of skin. You will then have to rely on external moisturizing products to hydrate your scalp. (The Science of Hair Care. Dale Johnson, Hair and Hair Care. “Assessment of Skin Barrier Function Using Transepidermal Water Loss: Effect of Age,” Pharmaceutical Research).
FYI: When the scalp’s natural flaking process is disrupted and the moisture content of the scalp skin drops below approx. 10%, dandruff and other scalp irritation issues arise. Dandruff is simply the result of accelerated skin cell turnover at the upper scalp level. (“Some Observations on Dandruff,” Journal of the Society of Cosmetic Chemistry 20).
Stay tuned for part 2 tomorrow!