What Does A Healthy Scalp Look Like? Causes, care tips, and more!

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When it comes to your hair, it can be pretty easy to determine whether or not it’s getting the care it deserves, but what does a healthy scalp look like?

Getting to the bottom of this question will not only help prevent common scalp problems like dryness, itchiness, and dandruff, but can also help improve the overall health and look of your hair!

So here, we will reveal what to look for, including some tips and tricks for achieving a healthier looking scalp. We will also be going over the causes of common scalp problems so you can implement better practices for your skin and hair.

How Do I Know If My Scalp Is Healthy?

So what exactly should you look for when determining the health of your scalp? Below are a few things you can check yourself when at home.

Check For Shedding

If you are finding dry flakes on either your clothes or hair then this can often be a clear that your scalp is too dry, or that you have dandruff. Brushing your hair when its dry or simply shaking it can often cause these flakes to fall from your scalp.

A healthy scalp will look hydrated and will stay intact, therefore not resulting in shedding or flaking.

Look At The Condition Of Your Hair

Your scalp and hair have more of a connection than you may think! The hair follicles which sit within the dermis layer of your skin provide essential nutrients and hydration to the cells that make up your hair structure.

If your hair has a healthy glow, feels smooth and hydrated, then this is a good indication that your scalp is getting the nutrients it needs to support healthy hair.

Signs of excessive hair loss, dry or dead-looking hair can be clear signs of a scalp that is lacking the nutrients it hair needs to thrive and look its best.

Your Scalp PH Levels

The pH levels are the measurement of acidity in acidic or basic water. The measurable range is between 0 to 14, with 0 being less acidic and 14 being more acidic. A pH of 7 is considered neutral.

According to wikiHow, a pH balance of 4.5 to 5.5 is best for preventing fungi and bacteria from growing on your scalp. This is the same level as the natural oils that are produced on your scalp. A healthy pH balance also helps keep your cuticles closed and healthy which may also slow down hair fall.

There are two ways you can measure your skin’s pH levels. The first option is by visiting a dermatologist who can test the skin for you. The second way is by purchasing your own pH skin tester.

What Does A White Scalp Mean?

A white scalp is typically a good sign that your scalp is healthy. As long as there are no flakes and the skin is not dry, a white scalp often indicated that there is no irritation.

Because your scalp is mostly covered by layers of hair, it is not exposed to direct sunlight like the rest of your body. Therefore, your scalp is less likely to tan, thus remaining pale in color.

A scalp can also become more white as a person ages. This is because the body’s skin cells begin to die off slowly due to a lack of nutritional absorption. 

What Causes A Scalp To Look Unhealthy?

Ever wondered what actually results in an unhealthy looking scalp? Below, we listed some common causes.

Poor Diet

Profile of charming woman eating white donut, junk food

One cause of an unhealthy scalp is a lack of sufficient dietary nutrition. Your skin depends on vitamins and minerals to fight bacteria and reconstruct damaged cells caused by pollutants that are often found in hair products or in the surrounding environment. 

Key nutrients to supporting a healthy scalp include; vitamin A, Vitamin C, Vitamin E, Iron, Omega- 3 fatty acids, and zinc. Taking a good quality hair supplement can also be a great way to give your skin the nutrition it needs without second-guessing whether or not you are meeting your daily requirements. 

Poor Choice Of Hair Products

Two shampoo bottles and ginger hair

One of the most common reasons why someone’s scalp can look unhealthy is due to hair products that contain harsh chemicals, or simply don’t agree with your skin. 

Shampoos and hair enhancers containing parabens and sulfates can cause dryness, itchiness, and irritation. These types of chemicals can also cause damage to your hair follicles which in return causes both your scalp and hair to look unhealthy.

Overuse Of Hair Products

Multiple hair care products in a basket

Even switching over to more natural products can cause your scalp to look unhealthy. 

Overapplication of hair products such as shampoos, conditioners, oils and hair sprays can clog your pores and limit the amount of natural oil production in your scalp. These natural oils are responsible for keeping your scalp lubricated while supporting the overall health of your scalp and hair.


Young dehydrated woman feeling thirsty, drinking mineral water from glass

Hydration is your skins best friend. A lack of sufficient water in your body can cause your scalp to become dry and lose its elasticity. Not only does keeping hydrated help moisturize your skin, but it can reduce the buildup of dead skin cells that form on top of your scalp.


stressed woman,

Ever hear of stress causing hair loss? This is because your hormone levels can interfere with the microflora of the scalp, which is a bacteria that helps the body use the nutrients found on food to repair and restore cells.

Stress may often cause your scalp to become dry, itchy, and in some cases cause breakouts. 

Not Rinsing Well Enough!

Woman rinsing her hair

Not rinsing your shampoo or conditioner thoroughly enough when showering or taking a bath can also be a problem. 

If your hair is not rinsed well enough, your products can stay trapped between your hair follicles. This can cause excess dirt to get trapped, therefore causing bacteria to form deep within the hair follicles.

To avoid this problem, it is important that you massage your head thoroughly and rinse several times before finishing. 

What Is Good For Your Scalp? 5 Ways You Can Care More For Your Scalp And Hair!

Below, we listed 5 things you can start doing today for a healthier-looking scalp.

Change Your Shampoo

As mentioned earlier, staying away from hair products that contain harsh chemicals can help prevent dryness and irritation of the scalp.

Chemicals like sodium chloride, sulfates and parabens are commonly used to help clear out dirt and kill bacteria. However, these agents can cause damage to your skin, therefore doing more harm than good.

Switching over to a more natural shampoo can help relieve your scalp and keep it moisturized. You can check out our review of the best shampoo for dry scalp to help guide you in selecting the right product.

Try Massaging Your Scalp

Massaging your scalp has been a reliable practice in restoring the overall look of your scalp. In fact, studies have shown that massaging your scalp regularly can promote hair growth, as well as improving its thickness. 

So what does this mean for your scalp?

When you massage your scalp, you are forcing blood flow to the dermis layer under the skin, as well as the hair follicles. This causes more nutrients, oxygen, and white blood cells to reach your scalp, therefore resulting in a healthier and more optimal functioning skin structure.  

Scalp massages can be applied by a therapist or you can perform one yourself by simply running your fingers in circular motions along the top of your head. However, this can cause your fingers to become sore, which is why it’s worth investing in either a manual or electric scalp massager.

Drink More Water

We also mentioned earlier that staying hydrated will help keep your skin hydrated and regain its elasticity, but how much water should you drink?

Research shows that drinking at least 8 glasses of water a day can help rid your skin of toxins while keeping it hydrated. Consistency is key, as to how often you drink water is just as important as how much you drink.

Remember that your body is constantly becoming de-hydrated due to sweating and urinating, which is why it is important to keep replenishing throughout the day.

Change Your Diet

Eating more healthier whole foods such as fruits and vegetables will help your scalp get the nutrients it needs in order to fight toxins and stay hydrated.

Plant-based foods also contain phytonutrients which help fight free radicals that are harmful to your body. These natural chemicals can eliminate bacteria and fungi that can lead to dandruff.

Simply switching over to healthier eating can make a significant difference in the way your scalp looks and feels.

Consider Using Essential Oils

Essential oils are another great way of improving the look of your scalp. They can be used independently or together with existing hair products to help deliver more nutrients that are then absorbed by your scalp. 

Using essential oils can also help your skin stay hydrated by providing an additional layer of lubricant, which helps prevent flakiness, dryness, and itchiness.

Some great examples of essential oils you can find include:

  • coconut oil
  • tea-tree oil
  • Argan oil
  • cedarwood oil
  • lemongrass oil
  • thyme oil
    …and lavender oil.

If you don’t know where to start, then we recommend argan oil, as it has a low track record of causing negative side effects and does wonder for your hair. You can check out our reviewed list of best argan oils here.

Key Take-Aways

There are multiple reasons as to why your scalp may look and feel unhealthy.

Because everyone’s skin and lifestyle are different, it is important that you implement changes one at a time until you start noticing improvements.

Changing your diet and staying hydrated can be a good place to start. If you think you have those two boxes checked off, then you can consider changing the hair products you use as well as the amount of product you apply to your hair.

If all of the above fails, then taking a trip to a dermatologist or health care professional is recommended, as they can thoroughly assess your scalp to find the best solution for your problem.