You know that phase where your hair just keeps getting greasy and no matter how much you shampoo your hair, it still looks dead on the outside. In this article, we have gone in depth into how to unclog your hair follicles to release your hair strands into flaunting their natural texture.
What are hair follicles?
A hair follicle is an organ on the skin that is on the dermal layer. It is a combination of 20 different cell types which takes control of our hair growth. Neuropeptides, hormones, and immune cells come together to help the hair follicle in regulating the hair growth. The base of the hair follicle is called a “hair bulb” where living cells help in constructing the hair shaft.
The health of your hair follicles determines your hair growth and texture. If you don’t take proper care of your hair follicles, it can cause clogging due to the bacteria, sebum and dirt trapped in it. This can lead to a number of conditions such as hair thinning, lack of hair growth, pimples on the scalp, itchiness and other irritation which can have both long term as well as short term implication on your overall well being.
There are a number of reasons why your hair follicles aren’t as healthy as it should be. You could be intentionally or unintentionally doing things that might be harming your hair follicles and stopping healthy hair growth.
If you notice pimple-like bumps on your scalp that eventually turn out to be painful or irritating, it could be a sign that your hair follicles need some attention. Ignoring these signs could even lead to infection so it is important to give proper care in these situations.
What causes clogged hair follicles?
- Dead skin cells – Our skin cells are constantly dying and regenerating, even those on the scalp. But there is also a chance that this process is not taking place properly in your scalp. This could lead to accumulation of dead skin cells on your scalp which appear to be flaky white residues. These dead cells which accumulate on your scalp tend to clog your pores unless it is cleared using a proper scalp scaler or a shampoo.
- Product buildup – We use a number of products based on our hair types and other conditions. These products could be heat protectants which protect our hair from heat damage, Medicines that we apply for various conditions such as dandruff, dry and itchy scalp; Styling creams, gels, oils, hair mousse, treatments, conditioners etc. These could include waxy and sticky substances which tend to stick to our scalp for long periods.
All of these can lead to a buildup on our scalp and it is important to make sure that we remove any traces of these products after we shampoo it since it can irritate our scalp and block the follicles.
- Sweat – This is one of the main reasons for a clogged follicle among athletic people and those who work out. The scalp produces some amount of sweat along with sebum and dead skin cells. This can also lead to greasy and smelly hair. If you are especially prone to sweating, you have to take care to wash your hair in regular intervals so that this situation is avoided.
- Sebum – It is an oily waxy substance that is produced by your sebaceous gland to moisturise the surface of your skin. It is one of the natural oils produced by the scalp that plays a role in giving you moisturised and healthy hair.
If you have an oily scalp, your sebaceous glands likely produce more sebum than required. This is mainly caused by hormone imbalances so you can take medications that help regulate your hormone levels as well as avoid foods such that leads to hormone imbalance.
How to get rid of clogged hair follicles?
There are a lot of precautions that we can take to avoid clogged hair follicles. Natural remedies as well as small additions or changes in our everyday hair care routine and habits can go a long way in giving us healthy scalp.
If you notice painful bumps on your scalp or any kind of irritation, it’s time to delve deep into the situation to understand the causes and take proper remedies to get a healthy scalp. Make sure you research well before self-diagnosing yourself and starting medications because there are other conditions such as dandruff that you could mistake for a clogged hair follicle due to the flaky nature if it. Here are a few steps you can take to prevent or eliminate clogged follicles.
This is an important step that everyone should integrate into their everyday haircare routine. Although the scalp can exfoliate itself, it is very common to notice that this process doesn’t take place properly mainly due to changes in sebum levels caused by hormonal imbalances. It is also common for the dead skin cells to not shed properly. Hence our scalps could use a little bit of manual exfoliation, at least once a week, so we can make sure that it is free of any buildup.
This step is especially recommended for those with dandruff, dry skin and oily hair. You can either use a chemical exfoliator or a physical exfoliator to do this. However, you should be careful not to over-exfoliate your scalp and it is recommended to be done once a week, usually on wet hair.
Scalp scalers are gentle chemical exfoliators that rose to fame after the popularity of Korean haircare routines. It is a replacement to harsh shampoos that may leave your scalp dry. It is followed by a milder shampoo that cleanses your scalp. They help in reducing dryness, itchiness and dandruff as well.
You can always try a physical exfoliator if you don’t wanna use the chemical exfoliators. They come in many forms and you can make your own at the comfort of your home using everyday household materials.
DIY exfoliating recipes that you can try at home:
- Himalayan pink salt – 1/2 cup
- Warm coconut oil
- Peppermint essential oil – 10 drops
Mix the pink salt and coconut oil in a bowl until you get the desired consistency. Add the peppermint essential oil (you can replace it with any essential oil of your choice). Leave it for around 30 minutes to 1 hour. Gently scrub on the damp scalp and follow up with a shampoo. Use once in two weeks.
- Coconut oil – 1 tbsp
- Sugar – 2 tbsp
- Apple cider vinegar – 1 tbsp
- Honey – 1 tsp
- Rosemary essential oil – 3 drops
Combine the coconut oil, sugar and apple cider vinegar and mix well to form a scrub consistency. Combine the essential oil and honey and blend into the scrub mixture with a fork.
- Aloe vera juice – 2 tbsp
- Sugar – 1 tbsp
Mix both the ingredients well and apply to damp scrub. Massage gently for 3 – 5 minutes and rinse off with plain water.
- Regular washing and detangling
If your follicles are prone to clogging, it is advised to wash your hair often as well as detangle it so that it leaves no room for product buildup. Wash your hair every 1 – 2 days in case of oily or greasy hair. There are a few changes or steps you can take to make sure that you are washing your hair efficiently:
- Use lukewarm water before shampooing since the warmth of the water can really open up your follicles and remove any kind of product or buildup.
- Massage your scalp using a scalp massaging tool or your fingers as this can help in cleaning your scalp and getting rid of any debris effectively.
- Apply conditioner, hair masks or treatments at the end of your hair since they tend to have a waxy consistency. This could attach itself to the scalp and may be difficult to wash off.
- Rinse your hair properly before shampooing so it can lather well and dissolve any kind of dirt or impurities. Also, make sure you dissolve your shampoo in water before you apply it so it spreads evenly.
Brushing and detangling your hair regularly can avoid any kind of build-up that may be present in your scalp. Be gentle and section up your hair before detangling so you don’t cause breakage. Use a suitable brush for your hair type so you can achieve the desired results.
- Improve your diet
Your diet has a major role to play in your hair growth. Your scalp becomes vulnerable to bacterial and fungal infections, greasiness and other conditions when you incorporate, sugary, oily, fatty food into your meals.
It is important to understand your nutritional needs and maintain a balanced diet so that your hair is benefited from it. Some of the most important types of food that is necessary for healthy hair and scalp are:
- Greens – Spinach and other dark leafy vegetables such as kale broccoli are rich in iron and magnesium content that is necessary for healthy hair cells. Lack of adequate greens in our diet can directly affect our hair follicles and cause hair loss.
- Proteins – eggs are rich in protein and biotin, the two most effective nutrients for healthy hair. Our hair follicles are made out of proteins hence it is highly efficient in tackling hair loss. It is important to incorporate meat or plant-based protein into your meals to achieve healthy hair and scalp.
- Vitamin C – Citrus fruits and berries are rich in Vitamin C which are strong antioxidants. These antioxidants absorb the iron content from our diet and also protects the hair follicles from external damages and irritants.
- Omega 3 fatty acids – These are beneficial fats that are abundantly found in certain types of fish such as Salmon, Sardine, Cod, Tuna etc. They are also abundant in certain types of nuts and seeds such as flaxseeds.
It helps in hair growth as well as reducing scalp inflammations. It also makes your hair shiny and lustrous.