'Scalp facials' are trending at salons

There’s a new salon at Bergdorf Goodman that is focused not on your hair, but on your scalp.

“Women get facials, they get their manicure, they get their hair done and their whole body scrubbed,” says Jay Ree, a stylist at the John Barrett “head spa,” which opened at the Fifth Avenue department store this fall. “The only thing that’s missing is their scalp.”

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Scalp care is the new skin care. Beauty companies such as R+Co, IGK and Briogeo have recently launched scalp scrubs, shampoos or treatments. And an increasing number of NYC spas such as Pierre Michel Salon and Elizabeth Arden’s Red Door are increasingly adding scalp “facials” to their menus — which promise that scrubs and lengthy scalp massages for around $50 to $75 will reduce dirt, debris and gunk that clog your follicles. John Barrett’s treatment, which includes a scalp steam and a blowout, goes for $250.

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“I think before, people only thought they had a scalp problem if they had dandruff or psoriasis and were going to a dermatologist,” says the NYC-based Nancy Twine, founder of Briogeo, whose natural, scalp-revival shampoo is currently the top-selling shampoo on Sephora. “But now more people are realizing that scalp care is important.”

The hair follicle looks and acts very much like the pores on your face. Just as bacteria and dirt in the pores can cause acne and irritation, so, too, can it affect the hair follicle. “There’s just build-up from using products, especially if they’re silicon-based, and over time they start to build up bad bacteria that can cause inflammation and itchiness and even hair loss,” says Twine.

Ree says that New Yorkers have it particularly bad.

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“Pollution definitely plays a big part in scalp hygiene,” he says. Ree explains that at the head spa, the stylists take a picture of clients’ scalps using a magnifying lens — and the results are horrifying. “They’ll see a big buildup of mucus, usually on the bottom of the hair follicle, or the scalp is very oily, it’s cracked, it’s dry. It’s gross.”

Another potential culprit, says Twine: dry shampoo, which is applied directly to the scalp to help users go longer between washes, but can clog follicles in the process.

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Twine says that taking care of your scalp isn’t rocket science. She recommends washing one’s hair at least once a week and using a scalpcentric shampoo — one with essential oils, such as tea tree or peppermint, with anti-fungal properties and detoxifying ingredients such as clay or activated charcoal — once every one to two weeks. And the most important thing to do is use your fingers to rigorously massage your scalp every time you shampoo. “It really does help loosen the dirt and oil,” she says.

Ree says he thinks the new scalp shampoos and products will revolutionize the way we think about our hair and skin. “I’ve been doing this for 20 years, and I’ve never seen anything that can combat scalp buildup before,” he says. “It’s quite fascinating.”

This article originally appeared in the New York Post.