Do your best to avoid hair care products with heavy fragrances, alcohol, sulfates, paraben preservatives, and harsh chemicals, Nicole Negbenebor, MD, a dermatologic surgeon and director of the Skin of Color Clinic at the University of Iowa Hospital in Iowa City, Iowa, tells SELF: “These ingredients can irritate the scalp and cause burning, dryness, and inflammation.”
Always use conditioner after washing, Dr. Oyerinde says: “A lot of the shampoos created specifically for dandruff or seborrheic dermatitis tend to be drying, so if you don’t condition afterward, you will have more brittle hair, which can lead to breakage and difficulty retaining length.” Try Head & Shoulders Royal Oils Moisture Renewal Conditioner or Exederm Eczema Care Daily Conditioner.
2. Don’t add extra hair oil.
“We create our own sebum, our own oil, that moisturizes the scalp,” Dr. Oyerinde says. So although you may love your jojoba and castor oil, it’s unnecessary. Dr. Oyerinde explains that they can actually feed the yeast responsible for seborrheic dermtitis and cause it to grow. This can worsen scalp acne.
Dr. Oyerinde suggests using a moisturizer that is water-based (and apply it to your hair strands and not your scalp). And don’t use too much: Dr. Negbenebor says a pea- to dime-size dollop for thin hair and a bit more for thick hair should be enough.
3. Use less styling products and hot instruments.
Reduce the amount of hair gel and spray you use. Too much product on your scalp may cause irritation. Be careful with high-temperature appliances. “Use styling tools with heat sparingly and, if you do, use them at lower temperatures,” Dr. Negbenebor says.
4. Watch out for braids, locs, and weaves.
Hairstyles that pull on the scalp, such as cornrows or crochet braids. They can also cause tension and damage to your hair follicles.
When it comes to weaves and extensions, “ask your stylist to avoid placing [them] too close to the scalp to reduce irritation,” Dr. Negbenebor says. And make sure they’re not super tight.
Dr. Oyerinde suggests that if your hair is in locs you should avoid retwisting it too much to reduce the tension on your head. “Try things like using a gel to tie down as opposed to retwisting every time you feel like your edges are not as laid as you would want them to be,” Dr. Oyerinde says. Make sure that you or your loctician are not palm-rolling or interlocking the hair too tightly.