I’ve had psoriasis since I was about nine years old.
(Psoriasis is an autoimmune condition that shows itself as an overproduction of skin cells that appear as lumpy, itchy scaly clumps. It’s not curable, just controlable)
My dad has had it pretty much forever.
Mine arrived post parentals’ divorce. I was a kid who internalised everything so, given its heredity tendencies, I guess it was bound to manifest its ugly scaly self on me at some time.
When it first appeared, it took up residence in the usual suspect places – elbows, knees and scalp.
I can’t remember when it kindly upped camp and shifted off my elbows and knees but I was grateful it did. Kids tease and this just gave them another thing to have a go at me about.
The scalp stuff? Yep, that’s been my lifelong “frenemy” which I haven’t wanted to keep close but it’s stuck around anyway.
As a kid I was dragged around every skin specialist in Brisbane’s Wickham Terrace. The only upshot of this was that I got a day off school every six months. It didn’t improve my psoriasis but it did improve my resolve to mostly just let it be (I do have steriod lotion and cream that I have on hand if it gets out of control but not for use as a regular treatment).
See, the idea of applying a sticky cream to my scalp through my thick head of hair was just not appealing. I still have nightmares about my well-meaning Nan taking to my scalp as a child with baby oil and a fine-toothed comb to try and remove it.
Mostly no-one knows I have it now – except my hairdresser – and anyone who sees me wearing a black top or dress. Even then they probably just think I have dandruff. Alas no, what you may see is just lovely little bits of my scalp. Icky.
I’m also a somewhat vain person. That’s no secret.
I’m a six-weekly hair salon cut and colour girl because I want my hair to look ok. That’s some annual investment in my natural blonde locks I can tell you.
So, when it comes to scalp vs hair colour, I’m going to opt for colour protection every time (I have INOA hair colour applied which irritates my scalp way less than traditional hair colouring methods).
Thankfully, I’ve found three hair products for psoriasis that won’t strip your hair colour but will keep your scalp on the happy side of a potential flare up.
One of these I’ve been using for a couple of years now; one I tried and was surprised with the result; the other I was using but had to stop as there wasn’t a conditioner to go with.
None take the psoriasis away completely but all work to generally keep things calm and in check in the scalp department. They may help you if you too have a dodgy scalp like mine.
1. Pantene Nature Fusion Shampoo and Conditioner ($7.99 each): I haven’t used these for a while but remember being taken by surprise that the formula DIDN’T react with my scalp. So, if budget’s a consideration for you, this might be a good starting point. Available at Priceline, supermarkets and pharmacies.
2. O&M Original Detox Shampoo and Conditioner ($29.95 each): I could have kissed the lovely people at O&M when these products came on my radar. The shampoo is so incredibly soothing and minty fresh (also great for people who swim a lot in chlorine and need to regularly treat their hair) and the conditioner leaves your hair beautifully healthy. Love that you can get a travel size in the shampoo. Pretty please if you’re reading this O&M, could you do a travel size in the conditioner too? Available at Adore Beauty and salons.
3. Kerastase Sensidote Dermo-Calm Shampoo ($38, not pictured), masque* ($60) and serum* ($44.50): I’ve been using the Kerastase shampoo on and off for years but most recently more off than on because it didn’t have a complementary conditioner. The result being that any good that the shampoo did to my scalp was rendered useless by the conditioner. Now, that’s all changed and these three products are my scalp’s new friends. I start with two washes using the shampoo, then apply the masque, which acts as the conditioner, towel dry my hair and then add droplets of the serum to the scalp. It’s a triple-whammy of scalp calming and it’s resulted in my scalp being the best it’s been in a very long time. Available at salons.
Many people over the years have suggested opting for “natural” or chemical-free hair products as a solution to my scalp issues. This may work for you but I can tell you it’s not made one bit of difference to me. If anything, the result has been the opposite with some major flare ups occurring after even one use.
I have an unproven, non-scientific theory about this. If you indulge the psoriasis and improve the quality of its natural habitat, spoil it if you like, then it creates an even more ideal breeding and multiplying ground for those dastardly skin cells.
Do you have a sensitive scalp? Or psoriasis? What works for you?
PS. It’s National Good Hair Day tomorrow. If you’re thinking of upgrading your hair styling appliance, you can trade your old styler and get $40 off selected ghd stylers at a ghd approved salon (call 1300 880 209 or visit www.ghdhair.com/au) and if you’re needing to stock up on haircare product, why not shop at ry.com.au? Ten percent of haircare sales will be donated to the Look Good … Feel Better Program for cancer patients.
PPS. The Queen of National Good Hair Day (well, she’s not officially but in my eyes she is!) - Christina Butcher from Hair Romance – has a paperback book coming out in November: Braids, Buns and Twists (featuring 80 style tutorials). You can pre-order it here.
* Marked products were sent to me for editorial consideration