Over the past few years, there’s been an increasing focus on haircare. Almost every time I open Tiktok I’m greeted by people with luscious locks telling me how they overcame hair loss or lack of growth, and how I, too, can get better hair. Maybe it’s the algorithm at work, but they’ve found their target audience. Please, tell me more, I think as I scroll feverishly through my FYP.

It’s not that I have particularly bad hair. I just wouldn’t say it’s great. Prone to lack of volume and gentle frizz, I’ve tried my fair share of shampoos and conditioners that promise to thicken, nourish, add shine or even promote growth. Some have yielded better results than others, but none have totally satisfied. And lately, I’ve started to notice more hair loss than I expected. I mentioned it to a few friends and realised I wasn’t the only one suffering.

Prolonged sun exposure, overly dry air, stress and anxiety, sickness, hormones and age can all impact the state of our scalps and health of our hair. Temporary hair loss (telogen effluvium) has also been recognised as a common side-effect of long Covid. It typically occurs several weeks after stressful experiences, including episodes of serious illness, and lasts up to six months. But the course can be corrected.

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The scalp is our hair’s support system, according to Anabel Kingsley, consultant trichologist at haircare brand Philip Kingsley.

“A clean, balanced, healthy scalp is best able to support healthy hair growth and produce good quality, strong hairs,” she says. “Your scalp is skin and it benefits from similar care to the skin on your face. When you shampoo, your main focus should be your scalp – not your hair.”

While certain conditions, such as psoriasis and dandruff, might need medicated treatments (seek advice from a medical professional if you’re unsure what’s causing your scalp issues), the general approach to scalp care should echo your skincare routine. That means cleansing, exfoliating, toning, moisturising and treating.

Kingsley recommends a weekly pre-shampoo with a deep conditioning mask, such as the brand’s popular Elasticzer. “This will help strengthen strands while targeting different causes of breakage. A healthy hair will stretch a third of its length before breaking, whereas dry, damaged hair becomes brittle and snaps easily,” she says.

Your hair type, length, colour and grooming preferences (air dry versus hot tools) will dictate the exact products your hair and scalp need most, but creating a solid routine is the first step towards better hair.

Cleanse

It’s important to remove build-up of oils or products, such as dry shampoo or texture spray. Incorporate a detox shampoo into your routine once or twice per week as part of a “double cleansing” ritual. Be sure to focus on your scalp and roots, massaging the product into a lather for two to three minutes before rinsing, and even incorporating a stimulating brush into your clean.

Bread Beauty Supply Clear-Wash Clarifying Detox shampoo

$44 Bread Beauty Supply Clear-Wash Clarifying Detox shampoo

Ouai Detox Shampoo

$58 Ouai Detox Shampoo

Grown Alchemist Detox Shampoo 0.1

$46 Grown Alchemist Detox Shampoo 0.1

Exfoliate

Just like skincare, there are physical and chemical options for exfoliating your scalp. These help to control sebum production, which can cause an oily scalp and hairline, and ultimately reduce the amount you need to wash your hair. Add this step as a pre-shampoo treatment once per week.

Davines Solu sea salt scrub

$49.95 Davines Solu sea salt scrub

The Inkey List Glycolic Acid Exfoliating Scalp scrub

$26 The Inkey List Glycolic Acid Exfoliating Scalp scrub

Ceremonia Papaya Scalp scrub

$50 Ceremonia Papaya Scalp scrub

Tone or Serum

If you suffer from dandruff or an itchy scalp, a post-shower toner or serum can help soothe discomfort and address the cause of the problem. Look for products with ingredients like hyaluronic acid – something we know dry or dehydrated skin loves – or those that claim to offer calming properties.

Skelp The Healer serum

$23 Skelp The Healer serum

Kerastase Genesis Fortifying Anti Hairfall Serum

$92 Kerastase Genesis Fortifying Anti Hairfall Serum

The Ordinary Natural Moisturizing Factors + HA for Scalp

$24.40 The Ordinary Natural Moisturizing Factors + HA for Scalp

Ouai Scalp serum

$94 Ouai Scalp serum

Philip Kingley Flaky Itchy Scalp toner

$49.50 Philip Kingley Flaky Itchy Scalp toner

Moisturise

Conditioners, leave-in sprays and oils are the best way to add moisture. Your hair type will dictate which moisturiser to use, in the same way that people with sensitive, normal and oily skin use different products on their faces.

Skelp Protector conditioner

$33 Skelp Protector conditioner

Bread Beauty Supply Hair oil

$43 Bread Beauty Supply Hair oil

Christophe Robin Hydrating Leave in Mist with Aloe Vera

$50 Christophe Robin Hydrating Leave in Mist with Aloe Vera

Treat

Masks and treatments can offer a more intensive approach to moisturising and repairing the scalp. Some promise to help with bond repair and breakage, which is key for fostering regrowth after hair loss, while others lend a smooth, glossy finish to your hair.

Straand Halo Hydrator Calming Hydration Scalp mask

$32 Straand Halo Hydrator Calming Hydration Scalp mask

Bondi Boost Miracle hair mask

$40 Bondi Boost Miracle hair mask

JVN Complete Pre-Wash Scalp & Hair Treatment oil

$50 JVN Complete Pre-Wash Scalp & Hair Treatment oil

This story was originally published 25 January 2023 and has since been updated.

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