It’s safe to say that most of us have undergone some sort of detox treatment at least once in our lives.
Detox regimens can differ wildly, with some requiring the constant consumption of some sort of green-colored smoothie in place of food for a predetermined amount of time, while others border on the brutal and extreme, such as a complete fast from food or non-water liquids for 24 hours.
Regardless of the chosen method, each of these routines share a singular goal: remove harmful, built-up toxins from the body and allow your body to reset and refresh itself.
Given that we ingest things such as processed foods, alcohol, smoke, and air pollution on daily basis, it makes sense that we would want to remove the toxic byproducts of these substances from our body to potentially improve our health.
The scientific consensus may vary on each of these treatments, but its hard to argue with the number of anecdotal reports regarding their efficacy. Detox practitioners rave about the results of a regular detox or cleanse, with noticeable effects being felt in the forms of improved health, enhanced energy, and mental clarity.
With all this in mind, what if we applied the same principals of a full-body detox, only to our hair and scalp? After all, we subject our hair to a gauntlet of treatments and procedures on a daily basis, whether in the form of hair products like hairspray, chemical treatments, or constant heat styling, not to mention the daily onslaught of chemicals and toxins from air pollution and radiation from the sun.
By putting our hair and scalp through a detox process, what if we could theoretically remove the toxins and stressors and allow for our hair and scalp to refresh themselves and recover to a more natural, healthy state? Read below for our how-to guide!
Signs You Need a Hair and Scalp Detox
Before you jump into a full-on hair detox, it’s important to remember that these are as-needed treatments and not something to do on a regular basis (i.e. daily or weekly). Detox treatments are designed to remove the hair and scalp of massive amounts of product build-up, dirt, oil, and toxins, and to do so effectively they are formulated to be extremely strong and clarifying. Because of this, when applied to normal, healthy hair, a detox may cause unnecessary dryness and irritation. However, if you suffer from any of the signs below, then a detox may be just what you need!
The tell-tale sign for anyone wondering if they need a detox is the noticeable presence of buildup in the hair, whether it be product buildup, oil, dirt, or flaking skin. Hair with excess buildup can feel greasy and rough, with a visible lack of luster and volume. Even worse, this buildup can make itself known in the form of flaking, which is made even more obvious when appearing on the shoulders of someone wearing a black or dark-colored shirt.
If you’ve noticed your hair is unexpectedly less thick and dense than it normally is, then you might need a good detox. When toxins and buildup accumulate on the scalp and at the base of the hair shaft, they can block parts of the hair follicle, preventing the hair strand from growing out fully. This impediment results in hair that is quite thin and weightless, and a detox is necessary to fully clear the hair follicles on the scalp and allow the hair to grow out normally.
Few things are more annoying than an itchy, burning scalp. Scalp irritations are incredibly common and can be caused by a wide variety of things including eczema, dermatitis, and fungal or bacterial infections. Aside from the frustrating physical symptoms, scalp problems can also cause a loss of hair growth, as the hair follicles become weakened and reduce their rate of hair production. With a full scalp detox, you can remove the toxins and microbes causing the specific ailment, which allows your scalp to fully heal and repair itself.
How to Detox
Once you’ve decided to embark on your detox journey, the next step is figuring out just how you want to do it. There are a wide variety of products and ingredients that can help detox the hair and scalp, so its important to find one that isn’t too harsh for your hair type or one that is strong and effective enough to meet your level of detox requirements.
The lightest, easiest form of a detox is the weekly or semi-weekly rinse of your hair and scalp with a clarifying shampoo. A good clarifying shampoo contains strong surfactants and detoxifying ingredients that can provide a more thorough cleanse than a normal, everyday shampoo, and are fantastic at removing product buildup for anyone that uses a large amount of hair styling products on a daily basis. Ingredients like apple cider vinegar and activated charcoal not only help to exfoliate the scalp and remove buildup and toxins, but they also help to normalize the pH of the hair and scalp for improved health.
For those with especially thick buildup on the scalp, a thorough exfoliating treatment may be necessary. While a clarifying shampoo is incredible at providing a gentle yet effective cleanse, some cases require a bit of manual exfoliation in order to fully remove whatever has accumulated on the scalp. Many scrubs include ingredients like sugar, sea salt, and coffee grounds to scrape off buildup while being as gentle on the skin as possible.
For the most intensive treatment possible, a detoxifying mask provides the hair with a full-strength cleanse for a prolonged period of time, allowing the detoxifying ingredients to effectively penetrate the hair and scalp to ensure long-lasting results. Like any hair mask, you’ll want to apply this to damp, freshly shampooed hair to ensure full absorption of the ingredients into the hair shaft. Ingredients such as the previously mentioned activated charcoal and apple cider are excellent additions, as are tea tree oil and coconut oil, two ingredients renowned for their antiseptic properties. Additionally, clays like bentonite and kaolin are fantastic at absorbing toxins, oils, and buildup from the hair and scalp. After about an hour or so, rinse the mask out and be sure to apply a nourishing conditioner.