I’m of Korean descent. Growing up, I watched my mom apply her multi-step skincare routine with essence, toners, serums, and creams. It’s time-intensive, but it paid off for my mom – she had a youthful glow even her 40s. People often thought my mom could pass as my sister!
Even if you’re not that diligent in your skincare routine, chances are that you’re doing some form of skincare to help protect your face.
For those who are skincare conscious, do you give as much attention to your scalp as you do your face and body?
As we age, both external and internal factors can cause our hair strands to thin and weaken over time. Most women experience some sort of hair loss as a result of, well, just getting older.
My hair thinning has made me realize I need to extend my skincare routine to my hair, especially as hair follicles become more fragile.
Here’s my 10 step hair routine that I’ve found work for me so far!
1. Wash hair with gentle shampoo and conditioner
I’ve been testing shampoos and conditioners that are free of parabens, silicones, and sulfates. So far, I’ve liked brands Mother Dirt and ACURE (their Vivacious Volume product) so I use one of these when I jump in the shower as my first wash.
With these gentle shampoos, I don’t necessarily need to use conditioner. They’re formulated without sulfates and therefore don’t strip your hair of all its natural oils and moisture. However, since ACURE’s conditioner is so gentle (and less pricey compared to other gentle haircare brands!), I use the conditioner a few times a week.
I usually leave it at that for my hair in the shower, but occasionally, I add in a couple of additional steps to help slow my hair loss.
2. Use a scalp detox/deep cleaning treatment (once a week)
Using gentle shampoos have its benefits, but the buildup of oils, dry shampoos, and powders can accumulate over time and clog your hair follicles.
I’m currently testing the Christophe Robin Cleansing Purifying Scrub with Sea Salt. While I’m honestly not a huge fan of it (I like their Cleansing Volumizing Paste, which is part of my holy grail volumizing routine, a lot more), it does the job.
It’s also pretty pricey at around $50 USD, but a little goes a looong way. This baby will probably last me a year!
I use this “scalp detox” about once a week before I proceed to my next step below; you can, of course, use your preferred deep cleaning product!
3. Apply DHT blocking treatment (once a week)
Now that my scalp is squeaky clean and my pores have gotten a gentle steam bath from the warm water in the shower as well, I apply DHT blocking shampoo and conditioner.
For this step, I’m currently using Zenagen shampoo and conditioner (gifted), which uses saw palmetto as its key DHT blocking ingredient. In my previous article on hair loss, DHT is widely accepted as the main contributor for hair loss, amongst both men and women.
I started using this a few months ago but had used Nioxin for years and years before this product. When I was using this product, I had always thought the formula worked to block DHT. However, according to The Dermatologist, they wrote that:
“This product is a cleanser scalp therapy and scalp serum. It contains niocidin, which inhibits demodex-produced lipase.2 However, there has never been any study that implicates demodex lipase in hair loss or that shows that hair will benefit from getting rid of mites or their lipase.3 Nioxin is based upon bionutrient actives and protectives.
The primary methodology of these agents is to clean the scalp of DHT and to provide chemically enhanced hair with moisture/vitamin nourishment. Primarily available in salons, the product can now be found in other retail outlets. “
In other words, Nioxin seems to clean DHT that is currently sitting on your scalp but doesn’t necessarily work to actively block it.
On the other hand, Saw Palmetto as a DHT blocking ingredient may not have a lot of research backing it up yet, but there are some early studies that it can reduce DHT levels by 32% in men. I’m up for at least trying it!
I let this baby this for about 5 minutes to allow it to penetrate my scalp and do its thing. During this time, I do some self-care and reflection while I give myself a relaxing scalp massage. See my article on the benefits of scalp massages!
4. Gently dry hair
Finally, I’m out of the shower! To dry my hair, I use a microfiber cloth.
Using a microfiber cloth can reduce friction and pull against your hair, which can stress already weakened strands when they are wet. I’m currently using the Aquis Rapid Dry Hair Turban (gifted), which claims to cut drying time by 50% due to a “proprietary wicking fabric called Aquitex”.
“The turban prevents Hygral Fatigue—the stretching and swelling of wet hair that makes it vulnerable to frizz, split-ends and damage. The hair you’re left with is stronger and smoother before you even begin to style.” (sourced from aquis.com)
While I think it’s good, I do think it’s pretty pricey for a towel that’s just meant for your hair ($30 USD). If you’re looking for other more affordable options, there are similar ones on Amazon (examples here and here).
5. Use low level light therapy
I try to use my Capillus cap every day, but because I sometimes have a memory of a hamster (no offense towards hamsters), I really end up using it about 3-4 times a week. Directions say to use it every day though. See my review on low level light therapy here!
6. Apply hair treatments
This step is a little misleading because I noted it as “one step,” but I use multiple products here – apologies in advance if I tricked ya hehe.
After I use my cap, I apply some toners and treatments to help calm and balance my scalp as well as encourage hair growth.
Rose Water Spray: I’ve used this and this so far and gently massage it into my scalp. I recommend using bottles that have rosewater only (no added ingredients, especially no alcohol) because I find that it’s less irritating on my scalp.
I use rosewater essentially as a scalp toner. The ingredient naturally acts as a mild astringent that helps reduce oiliness and dandruff. It has anti-inflammatory properties, which combat symptoms from DHT overproduction that cause hair loss.
Finally, I love the smell of rosewater! When I use it both morning and night, it’s calming and helps reset my mood to positively start and end the day.
Reverie CAKE Restorative Scalp Tonic: Scalp tonics have actually been used for a long time as a natural way to promote glossiness and hair growth. They were more common in the US in the 1950s and 60s, but fell out of favor when new styling products such as mousses and waves become popular.
In the last decade, they’ve become more present in mainstream culture and more brands have launched cleaner ingredient and more gentle tonics. I’ve been really liking my CAKE tonic, which has apple stem cells that have shown to help increase the anagen stage within the hair cycle (growth stage).
LUSH ROOTS mask (once a week): During the days that I’m not doing a scalp detox and using DHT blocking treatments, I treat myself with this hair mask. I’ve honestly had a hard time finding a hair mask that doesn’t weigh down my fine locks. Usually, hair masks leave my hair feeling weighed down and oily, but I’ve been loving everything about ROOTS!
It’s infused with peppermint and spearmint oils, which makes your scalp feel tingly and stimulates hair follicles. Extra virgin olive oil and honey condition the hair to make it shine when I rinse it out and my locks feel soft and bouncy!
7. Protect with SPF
When I’m not wearing hair pieces and leave the house, I always make sure to do this crucial last step – apply SPF!
Especially for fine-haired ladies, scalp burn is a real thing! This can be detrimental not only to your scalp but can scar your hair follicles as well with repeated damage.
I’ve been using COOLA Organic Scalp & Hair Mist (SPF 30) this summer and have been loving how lightweight it feels. Make sure to spray this about 6 inches away, focusing on your hair part as well as thinning areas.
And that’s it! It seems like a lot of steps, but not all of them are done every day. Your hair follicles and scalp will thank you for taking good care of them!
Some items in this article have been gifted, but not sponsored. I was not paid to write this article and/or required to mention these products. They’re genuinely products I like!