…and how to approach the conversation about your client’s scalp issues

Black and white portrait photo of woman with short hair

Anneliese Brander

Everyone loves beautiful hair. Short, long, curly, or straight. No matter the hairtype, it all comes back to the roots – and with roots comes scalp problems. Only treating the surface of the hair is cutting corners in the route to achieving beautiful and healthy hair. It will not last long.

You need to get to the root of the problem (pun intended).

But do not fear, dear hairstylist, because we have teamed up with Clinical Hair Specialist Anneliese Brander who will advise you on how to help your client getting strong and healthy hair. In the long run!

In this blogpost, you will get knowledge about the health of the scalp and advice on how to pave the way to beautiful hair. Also, Master Educators Lynell Dumont and Ruby Byrne will give you their take on how to approach the conversation about scalp issues with your client.

Updated: August 2022

The role of the scalp

The scalp is the place where the hair comes to life, gets nurtured, and grows. Every single hair follicle is rooted in a gland that surrounds it and provides natural fatty oils for it to function.

This is crucial for hair strands to thrive.

“If the scalp gets irritated, is dry or is exposed to bad hygiene, the hair follicles will not function naturally”, Anneliese explains, “to avoid hair follicles getting stifles, it is crucial that the glands are able to breathe. If the scalp is exposed to bacteria and harmful chemicals, it may result in diminished growth or even hair loss”.

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“If the scalp gets irritated, is dry or is exposed to bad hygiene, the hair follicles will not function naturally”


Signs of an unhealthy scalp

Scalp problems and scalp issues appear in many different ways, and it can be very difficult to determine what the actual problem is if you are not a skin or hair specialist.

The most common scalp issue Anneliese Brander meets in her clinic is fungal. It is a tiny bacterium that lives on all human beings. If you allow a fungal infection to thrive, it can become very uncomfortable.

“If your client has fungal, the scalp will appear red, and what looks like crushed oatmeal will be present around the hair follicles. Also, the client will often complain about itching, burning, or sore scalp”, she explains.

Another common condition is a dry scalp, but Anneliese Brander wants to remind us that what looks like a dry scalp not necessarily is so. It may as well be a sign of greasy hair.

And how is THAT possible? you might think, but the reason actually makes sense: dried fat gathering around the hair strand often looks similar to dry skin flakes.

“It is important not to mistake the one for the other, as it will lead to the wrong treatment and often make the condition worse”, she says.

Similar to the skin on the rest of the body, the scalp is exposed to a variety of conditions, which can derive from different sources. Health, genetics and proper nutrition are keywords in this equation, but external factors are also essential to the health of the scalp.

The problems: Lifestyle and haircare

According to Anneliese Brander, the health condition of the scalp is twofold.

It is both about how you treat the hair from the inside (lifestyle) and the outside (haircare).

In the following paragraphs we will break down what your client can do lifestyle-wise and haircare-wise in order to get a healthy scalp.

Lifestyle choices

Scalp issues derive from lifestyle choices.

Having a balanced diet with the right amount of vitamins and proteins is essential for healthy hair (we know, that is sometimes easier said than done), but daily stress and medical issues may also cause the scalp to act out.

“A balanced hormone system is key to healthy hair. Every time we make unhealthy choices in our daily life we challenge the hormone system, and the well being of the scalp. It happens when we eat junk food, sugar, smoke cigarettes, or experience daily stress”

She underlines: what is healthy for the body, is healthy for the hair. She recommends a variety of foods in your diet, which will improve scalp health.

… but what kind of foods does that? Luckily, Anneliese Brander ALSO has an answer for that (what a scalp-wizard she is, huh?)

NATULIQUE organic hair colours
NATULIQUE organic hair colours

Foods to help improve scalp health and improve scalp problems

  • Cold pressed natural oils: Olive oil, coconut oil, flax oil;

  • Nuts: Almonds, walnuts, peanuts etc.;

  • Proteins: Beans, lentils, chicken, salmon, eggs;

  • Dark green vegetables: Broccoli, avocado, spinach.

According to Anneliese Brander, it is all about balance and a healthy holistic approach to life. She also recommends eating organic to avoid pesticides, which are the ultimate kick-starter of an unbalanced hormone system.

Bad hair care routines

Scalp issues can also derive from bad hair care routines.

The health of the scalp does not only come from within: the way we treat our hair has a great impact on the well-being of the hair follicles.

For example, bad hair washing habits can cause scalp issues. If your client does not succeed in removing all of the shampoo after washing their hair, it can create a pellicle on the scalp causing it to not breathe properly.

Or – this one you definitely are familiar with –  if your client washes their hair in water that is too hot (guilty), it will create an environment where fungal thrives (let’s just take cold showers from now on…). Therefore, Anneliese Brander suggests you teaching your client on how to wash and rinse the hair correctly.

She also stresses the use of hair products:

“All products can cause scalp issues if not used correctly, but the most harmful products for the scalp are those containing too much soap, silicone, perfume, and harmful chemicals, which all contribute to an unhealthy environment”.


Our product recommendation

An effective scalp-product from NATULIQUE would be the Exfoliative Scalp and Skin Therapy.

It’s an organic, intensive scalp treatment, with vegan friendly Urea to effectively soothe, heal and protect dry, irritated and sensitive, itchy, scalps.

It is designed to combat dry and/or greasy dandruff, while relieving inflammation. Soothes itching from the very first application, and with regular use, effectively control persistent dandruff. It may be ideal to fight dermatitis or psoriasis.

How to approach clients with scalp problems?

As scalp problems can be due to either lifestyle choices or medical issues, it can sometimes be delicate to talk to a client about this topic. Both Lynell Dumont and Ruby Byrne recognize this situation, but they are confident about their responsibility as hairdressers to address the issue with the client.

“When it comes to talking with the clients about their hair, I always approach it with the mentality that as their hairdresser, I am to advise them and teach them about the issues they may face with hair and scalp”, Ruby says.

Lynell Dumont agrees and stresses that handling these types of situations is a part of becoming a confident and educated hairdresser.

“If the client doesn’t mention anything in the conversation, and I see something I am concerned about, I will gently speak to them about it. Asking direct but nurturing questions will always allow the client to feel comfortable”, she recommends.

NATULIQUE organic hair colours

Ruby explains how she approaches the conversation:

“If there are obvious symptoms of a dry and irritated scalp, I always ask if it is something they have always faced as a challenge, and advise on what things could help. If it is something new, I ask if they have changed anything drastically in the upcoming months, or if something in their lives could have affected their stress levels. I would then offer in-salon treatments, which could help the issue, and will always talk and advise them on what products they could take home”.

scalp problems course

Do you want to take your scalp services to the next level?

Scalp problems are more real than ever! If you want to take your knowledge to the next level, the NATULIQUE.academy is now offering the Scandivanian Scalp Treatment course hosted and taught by Kathy Lammon.

Learn more about the course