Scalp health and curly hair? Trichologist Andrea Clark reveals all tips. - Sunshine Curls

Scalp health and curly hair? Trichologist Andrea Clark reveals all tips.

Problem scalps and curly hair - two enemies under one roof. I spoke to our in-house Trichologist Andrea Clark who reveals how to strike a balance.




Andrea has over 30 years’ experience in hairdressing and is a Certified Consultant Trichologist (IAT) specialising in hair-loss and scalp health. With experience working in Hong Kong’s top salons Glow Spa and The Mandarin Oriental, Andrea now provides in-person and online zoom consultations to clients around the world, regarding scalp health and hair loss from her home town in Melbourne, Australia.

What is a scalp trichologist and how do you differ from a dermatologist?

Trichologists are certified and trained hair and scalp specialists. They will delve deep into the possible underlying reasons for scalp issues and hair concerns in an hour-long consultation. A trichologist generally spends much longer with the client, asking lots of questions to examine the investigate the root cause of an issue alongside checking the scalp for signs and symptoms. Importantly, they offer a lot of reassurance and empathy as part of the consultation. With a holistic approach, before coming up with a plan, there needs to be an investigation. The ultimate goal is to find a cause of the problem and restore confidence along the way. Trichologists sit between a hair stylist and a medical professional, whilst working alongside both often.

What are your thoughts on the curly girl method (CGM) and scalp health? 

In strict cases, the Curly Girl Method discourages shampooing, and what needs to be remembered is that a cleansed scalp is a ‘happy’ one. If someone has a pre-existing scalp condition, the scalp will need to be cleansed more frequently to allow any scalp treatments and scalp toners to do their job effectively - there lies the challenge when it comes to also maintaining the curl.

If you don’t have a scalp issue and you are not experiencing one, try to remember that a clean scalp is a happy scalp, and eventually you will experience a build-up of skin, dirt, sweat, and external pollutants. Whether you are adopting the curly girl method or not, I personally would not recommend going beyond a week to cleanse the scalp.

Any skin on the body, and that includes the scalp, is healthier when it is cleansed properly. We wash our bodies every day, so we should treat the scalp in the same way. The only difference with the scalp is the presence of hair, but this does not diminish the fact that we need to prioritise cleaning the scalp in such a way that does not wreak havoc on the hair.



Help! I'm a curly struggling with hair loss and an itchy, flaky scalp. What should I do?

Consult a Dermatologist or Trichologist. It would also be helpful if you could find a trichologist like myself who is also a hairstylist and associated with the International Association of Trichologists, especially if you have curly hair as they will have a deeper understanding of how to strike a balance between hair health and scalp health. I have 30 years of experience in styling all hair types and have seen thousands of heads of hair and scalps. I also have wavy hair and a sensitive scalp so know lots of handy hints and products and the truths and myths surrounding hair loss.

Are there any common issues that have arisen as a result of the CGM?

Every person’s scalp or hair loss issue is individual. If you have a pre-existing condition, or if you develop one whilst adopting the Curly Girl Method, then you really need to be cleaning your scalp every day or every other day which may go against the strict CGM norms.

Ultimately, long-term scalp conditions are generally triggered by internal factors such as auto-immune, or genetics or they can be stress-triggered, so it may not be the CGM that would have caused it, however not cleansing the scalp can exacerbate these issues.

Trichologists can assist in finding the triggers and best anti-microbial toners or tonics to use in between washes, to relieve itchiness or inflammation. The dermatologist may also need to be seen if it gets to a point where more medicinal products need to be applied. This will act like a ‘band-aid’ until the underlying reason is understood. I work closely with functional medical practitioners and dieticians to identify the underlying cause and resolve the issue completely.



Lots of people with curly hair struggle to 'fix' their problem scalp while caring for their curls. How can we strike a balance?

Unless it is a reaction to a product (in which case my advice would be to stop using it!) or whether it's an overactive oil gland (caused by hormones), keeping inflammation in the body down is the key. Things to investigate would be your diet (is there too much sugar, dairy or processed foods?) alongside investigating your vitamin levels such as your zinc, vitamin B and vitamin D levels. Ensuring your diet and nutrition are well balanced will protect you and prevent scalp issues flaring up.


Are there ways to protect the hair when treating the scalp?

Yes. Choose your best and favourite hair mask and lather it thick all over the hair. Whilst that’s on, treat the scalp (using a scalp treatment prescribed by a trichologist, dermatologist or GP (usually these treatments contain salicylic acid, non-smelly tar, and/or soothing ingredients). Follow up this treatment with a regular scalp cleanse. The aim is that the mask acts as a protective barrier to your hair while you treat the scalp and while products used on the scalp are being rinsed out.

There are also some gentle shampoos I would recommend once I know the hair type and main issues that are presented, this will be delivered on a case-by-case basis as one size does not fit all.

What are the signs we should be concerned about hair loss?

We all shed hair daily, this is normal. Normal hair loss ranges between 50-100 strands of hair a day. If there are extreme amounts of hair in the shower drain, (remember: the less you wash/rinse, the more may be trapped within your mane after your hair has shed normally), this can give a false indication of how much hair is being lost. However, if your ponytail seems thinner, or if you notice tufts of hair that look like breakage (which can also be misconstrued as new growth), don’t self-diagnose; go see a professional that is experienced with hair loss to help solve the puzzle and find the root cause.


Do you have any product recommendations that are good for curly hair and scalp health?

Yes, below I have provided some recommendations, however, if you are seeking expert advice I recommend you to reach out so I can provide you with a prescribed product selection and regime suited to your hair and scalp needs.

Thayers Unscented Alcohol-Free Toner With Witch Hazel - If choosing another brand for witch hazel spray ensure it is alcohol-free and anti-microbial.

The below recommendations are to be applied directly to the scalp, and do not require rinsing or shampooing afterward. They also do not leave the scalp grazy. The liquid base evaporates, leaving the active ingredients there to do their job!

Philip Kingsley Flaky Itchy Scalp Toner 

Davines Naturaltech Calming Superactive

Davines Naturaltech Elevating Scalp Recovery Treatment


How are you able to help during an online consultation with regards to scalp and hair-loss related issues?

By being thorough with the consultation and bespoke. We also take a comprehensive pre-consultation questionnaire to get to know you, your concerns and goals to conduct a thorough examination. Similarly to an in-person session, 50 minutes of the consultation is investigative, dedicated to finding the underlying cause of your flare-ups before providing solutions. I delve into surrounding factors such as your medical history, lifestyle, diet, supplements that you take, and rest. n. If required, I also provide work closely with functional medical practitioners and dieticians local to you to help identify the cause of your issue, so even though the consultation is remote, it remains comprehensive, comfortable and effective and solving the underlying issue.

Would you like more help or to speak to Andrea? Email us here.

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