It’s amazing how I can spend hours poring over the ingredients in my face serum. Will it exfoliate? Will it make help with acne? Will it solve global warming? (Kidding.) However, when it comes to my shampoo, I’ll use whatever is on hand. Perhaps I’ll take a quick glance to see if it’s sulfate-free, but that’s about the extent of my ingredient research when it comes to hair care products. Sound familiar?
The skinification trend is here to show all of us that the products you put on your hair and scalp are just as important as the rest of your beauty routine. Hair skinification refers to a focus on ingredients that you’ve usually associated with your skincare products, but they’re now in your hair care.
“The skinification of hair is really just a focus on good scalp health,” says William Gaunitz, WTS, certified trichologist and founder of the Gaunitz Trichology Method. After all, a healthy scalp means healthy hair. “As a trichologist, I’ve often told my clients who are concerned about hair loss that I don’t care about your hair, I care about your scalp. The skin on your scalp could be considered even more important than the skin on your face, because of the 100,000+ follicles growing from the area that produces hair,” he says. “Skinification is long overdue.”
Just like the skin on your face and body, your scalp needs a balanced pH to feel its best and it deserves the same regular, if not daily, attention. “Treating the scalp with skincare-based ingredients will support a healthy scalp microbiome,” says Gaunitz. This evolution of skinification means that hair formulas are more advanced and sophisticated than they’ve ever been. Mainly you’ll find these ingredients in products like scalp serums, hair treatments and oils that sit on your scalp or hair longer (so they penetrate better), but they’re certainly starting to pop up in your wash-and-rinse products, too.
Some of those star skinifying ingredients show up in the hair care scene? Gaunitz dives in:
- Salicylic acid: This beta-hydroxy acid (BHA) ingredient is known for its acne-fighting properties by dissolving excess oil and exfoliating dead skin cells. It can help with a dry, itchy scalp that could be one of the causes of dandruff or psoriasis.
- Glycolic acid: This alpha hydroxy acid (AHA) maintains the strength of your hair by encouraging cell turnover and clarifying any residue from the scalp.
- Tea tree oil: “This is an antiseptic and nourishing to the scalp when diluted more than 50%,” he says. You can dilute it with almond oil or water to help with issues like dandruff.
- Hyaluronic acid: “This is used for hydration, improves collagen production, and decreases inflammation topically on the skin and scalp.” If you have brittle or dry hair, hyaluronic acid can moisturize dehydrated hair — making it stronger.
- Zinc: “This mineral will topically reduce inflammation and redness as well as assist in balancing the skin and scalp microbiome.” A zinc deficiency can prohibit hair growth and prevents the oil glands in your scalp from performing correctly.
- Castor oil: “It detoxifies your skin, it works as an antiseptic, and it also hydrates your scalp,” he says. While it treats your scalp, it’s also known for leaving your hair shiny and frizz-free.
Just like your skincare products, you want to think about your scalp and hair type, plus your goals. “If somebody has a very dry irritated scalp you need to make sure that you’re using the appropriate product to rehydrate and exfoliate that scalp. For example, if you use something like a jojoba oil traditionally used for the skin on your scalp in that situation, you could create a fungal flare-up that would result in more itching, flaking, and irritation,” says Gaunitz. Especially when you’re starting active ingredients, you’ll also want to consider doing a patch test with your hair products like you would with a new skincare routine to make sure you don’t have a negative reaction.
Remember that even though skinification could be a game-changer for your hair routine, great scalp care is all about a holistic approach. When addressing skinification for scalp issues like dry scalp and dandruff, it is always recommended to think about how diet and lifestyles play a role. Hydration from within is always important. “And make sure that your vitamin D3 levels, zinc levels, and ferritin levels are at optimal levels in the blood from nutritional means to support a healthy scalp. Having the appropriate nutritional levels in the blood will protect your scalp against numerous scalp conditions including hair loss,” says Ganutiz.