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Understanding Hair and Scalp Types?

In this post we explore how to understand and care for, the typical range of hair and scalp types.

The sebaceous gland plays an important role in determining hair and scalp type. The production of sebum is a natural process that adds strength and lustre to the hair strand. However, diet, blood circulation, emotional distress and drugs and the aging process can all influence production. Hair products are designed specifically to compliment individual needs and work toward producing strong, healthy, naturally beautiful hair.

Hair types


Over-active sebaceous glands produce an excess quantity of sebum, which can make hair limp and lank. This may be due to hormonal changes, often evident during puberty or menopause. Many people have a naturally oily scalp, which can result in greasy hair. Fair hair is much finer than dark hair, hence is more susceptible to excess oil.

High quality shampoos cleanse without stripping the hair of essential moisture and nutrients.


Dry hair looks dull and lifeless and is also more susceptible to breakage. Dry hair can only be stretched 15% of its overall length before breaking, while healthy hair can be stretched up to twice this amount, more when wet! A common cause of dry hair is dehydration; water retention can measure between 4 and 13% of overall hair volume.

A change in lifestyle can make all the difference, and there are many products available to help nourish the cortex and smooth cuticles.

Normal Hair

Normal hair is shiny, supple and good looking and is the result of a well-balanced, healthy lifestyle, combined with good hair care using the right products.

Mixed Condition

Over-active sebaceous glands and poor scalp condition may create a glut of sebum; this can be absorbed back into the scalp, preventing essential oils from travelling the length of the hair strand. The scalp in this condition is a common cause of Pityriasis steatoides. Mixed condition hair types have dry, frizzy ends that are prone to breaking, with oily roots. In this scenario application techniques are very important when applying products to ensure the problem area is targeted.

Scalp types

Just like everyone has a unique identity, they also have a unique ecosystem on their head. Your type of scalp is determined by various factors like your genetics, your hair-care regimen, your nutrition, your lifestyle, your geographical location, and even possibly your line of work. And so when you face some scalp problems, it can feel like you’re the only one in pain. But almost half the population in the world suffers from some kind of scalp issue. The extent of the concern might vary, but there are similarities in the causes of your problems. We explore some of these types of scalps and the reasons that lead to them.

Normal Scalp

People with a normal scalp type are the envy of many. They have oil glands that produce oil at a normal rate – not too much, and not too little. As mentioned earlier, it is the result of a healthy lifestyle and a balanced diet. To take care of normal scalp, you must clean your hair with mild shampoo every 2 to 3 days. You won’t need to use moisturizing products because your hair is already shiny. You can also treat it to an all-natural hot oil treatment once a week to lock in the moisture. There is really nothing much that you should do to make your hair look beautiful, because it already is. Just maintain the healthy lifestyle that you practice so you can keep on flaunting long and shiny locks.

 Oily Scalp

Having an oily scalp is not very desirable because it can ruin your appearance no matter how long you blow dry your hair. The culprit behind this problem are overactive glands. A diet filled with grimy food can contribute to overstimulating the oil glands. As a result, they secrete more natural oils than necessary, and the excess tends to transform into dandruff on your hair pretty quickly. The best way to take care of an oily scalp is to clean it frequently. This will prevent dandruff build up and help you avoid hair loss. Choose a shampoo that is mild because it can keep your scalp clean and does not strip your hair of all the nutrients that it needs. Also, don’t choose moisturizing shampoos because they can add to the grime. Washing your hair with hot water also stimulates oil production, so wash it with cold water instead. Of course, you have to make an effort to change the unhealthy habits that contribute to your oily hair. Shift to a healthy diet and maintain a regular sleeping pattern to help you normalize your hormone production.

Dry Scalp

This is pretty simple to understand – a dry scalp is caused when your scalp dries out. Your scalp requires a certain amount of hydration to retain normal functioning. But when your skin’s moisture defences are damaged, it can lead to a sudden loss of moisture from your scalp. This can happen for various reasons, like sudden weather changes, stress, or contact dermatitis due to products. The usual suspect for a dry scalp is over-washing of your head. When you wash your hair too often, it can strip away the natural oils from your scalp. These oils are vital in preventing moisture loss, as they form a barrier to the external environment. This leads to your scalp drying out, with the appearance of dead skin cells in the form of flakes. It can also affect the hair, making it frizzy and dry, as it fails to get sufficient moisture to keep it looking healthy.

The best option on how to treat dry scalps is to apply moisturising products, like Argan oil or Aloe vera. These products can restore the moisture levels on your scalp and create a protective layer to prevent any reoccurrence. These also contain properties that can help in clearing the build-up that causes dandruff. If you’re unsure about these products, you can also try Aloe Veda's Herbal Conditiing Shampoo, that combines a shampoo and conditioner to help restore dry and frizzy hair.

Dry Scalp Dry scalp is probably the most uncomfortable type there is. It looks dull, is characterized by brittle strands and a flaky scalp. It feels itchy and is very prone to hair fall. This can be caused by an unhealthy diet, where you take a very low amount of essential vitamins and minerals that can stimulate the production of oil. To take care of dry scalp, shampoo your hair at least once a week. Don’t do it very often because the shampoo can strip away all the moisture that your hair has. You can indulge in all natural hot oil treatments and deep conditioning products that can add a bit of life to your strands. Also, avoid using hot styling tools because these tend to dry up the scalp even more. Be very careful when you comb or untangle your hair. It is very breakable and you might end up with a lot of strands left on your comb

Combination Scalp

The combination scalp type is common among girls who have long hair. The oils do not reach the tips of the hair, so they tend to be dry. Taking care of this type is quite tricky because some people get confused whether they should use products for the oily type or the dry type. The best thing to do is to use products for the oily type. Shampoo your hair, then use a conditioner on the tips to replenish the moisture that was stripped away. Do this once every three days. Also, always check the tips of your hair because split ends can easily form. This is not very nice to look at, so have your hair trimmed when you notice them.

Itchy Scalp

The feeling of itchiness can ruin sleep for many people and is embarrassing in social situations as well. There could be various reasons for your itchy scalp – Lice, scalp ringworm, scalp psoriasis, allergic reaction to hair products, drying out of your scalp, eczema and even stress-induced. But the most frequently seen reason for an itchy scalp is a breakout of dandruff. Research shows itching is actually the most common and most uncomfortable side effect of dandruff. As your scalp becomes irritated, it starts to feel itchy. And of course, your immediate reaction is to scratch. But scratching can damage an already delicate scalp, leading to more irritation, so it becomes a vicious cycle.

If the reason for your itching is dandruff, an anti-dandruff shampoo is probably your best answer on how to treat itchy scalps. Use the Head and Shoulders Neem, that clears the dandruff causing germs and prevents dandruff from coming back. Or try a clarifying shampoo for oily scalps once in a while to clear any build-up. You could also try home remedies such as Tea Tree oil or Apple Cider Vinegar, but always be careful with the quantities.

Sensitive Scalp

The scalp is the third most common area for sensitive skin after the hands and face, meaning it can become red and irritated easily. It might be due to a sudden change in the temperature but could also be a sign of a deeper issue. Sensitive scalps can be caused by skin disorders like dermatitis, dandruff, infections like folliculitis, lice infestation, stress - anxiety, and even exposure to the sun.

It is important to check the symptoms in order to correctly identify what form of sensitive scalp you have. Burning, stinging, itching, rashes, flaking, scaling, hair loss – these are all symptoms to check. A recurring reason for sensitive scalp is contact dermatitis, which is a reaction to some form of hair and scalp product. If it is due to dandruff, the symptoms are generally itching, redness and oily flakes.

If you want to understand how to treat sensitive scalps, it is vital to understand the underlying issues. If it is contact dermatitis, stop any new products you might have introduced. For dandruff, use an anti-dandruff shampoo. In addition, there’s plenty you can do to calm your sensitive scalp, from simple things like turning the water temperature down in the shower to choosing a shampoo that’s designed to be gentle on sensitive skin. You can also look at applying diluted essential oils, which can help in healing your scalp pain. If you’re unsure, you should visit the doctor and get a correct diagnosis.

Flaky scalp

Flaking is one of the most familiar problems faced by people across the world. It is basically the shedding of dead skin cells from your scalp. This happens on a regular basis with everyone, but in quantities that are not visible to you or anybody else. We only notice it when there is an excessive amount of flakes.

This is usually caused by dandruff or by a dry scalp. Dandruff is associated with an oily skin, where the fungus Malassezia Globosa breaks down the oil into acids that are reactive to the body. If you’re unlucky to fall into the category of people who are sensitive to this acid, your scalp reacts by shedding white-yellow oily flakes of dead skin cells.

If the shedding is related to a dry scalp, the flakes are smaller and whiter in colour. They don’t clump together on your hair like it happens with dandruff flakes. A key distinction between dandruff flakes and dry scalp flakes is the oily texture that is associated with dandruff. There is a certain amount of flaking with scalp psoriasis, eczema and contact dermatitis as well. It is important to get a correct diagnosis from a dermatologist.

Some home remedies might be the answer on how to treat flaky scalps, like Aloe Vera. It can moisture a dry scalp and contains anti-fungal properties that also helps with dandruff. You could also use anti-dandruff shampoos like the Head and Shoulders 2 in 1 Cool Menthol, that restores dry hair and leaves you free of dandruff flakes.

How to identify you Scalp type?

Not everyone has the same type of scalp. Each one has different characteristics and demands a different hair care routine to be well-taken care of. Hence, it is important to determine what scalp type you belong to before you start experimenting on hair products and treatments. But, how exactly would you know what scalp type you have? The answer is simple – observe your hair and face in normal conditions for a few days and check the following:

Oily Scalp:
1. Oil or grease on your face is grimy & you have a shiny T-zone
2. Strands tend to stick together, even after a day of being shampooed
3. Strands feel grimy
Dry Scalp:
1. No oil on the T-zone
2. Strands don’t necessarily stick, but are thin, brittle, and hard to manage.
3. Strands feel rough and has split ends
Normal Scalp:
1. Strands don’t stick together, but will eventually do so after 3 or 4 days without
2. Strands feel smooth.
Combination Scalp:
1. Strands are oily near the roots and have dry ends.
2. Strands feel grimy near the end.

Take note, scalp conditions can change. Normal scalp is a sign of good well-being, while oily, dry, and combination scalp types may be caused by hormonal imbalances, unhealthy diets, and other bad lifestyle habits. To properly take care of your scalp, you have to take some time to observe your hair and understand your type. This will help you pick the right products to use and what ingredients they should contain.