Premature Scalp Ageing Could Be Why Your Locks Are Dull, Here’s How To Fix It

Ilona Marchetta

Sustainability & Home Editor

Jun 06, 2023

Once upon a time in the fickle land of beauty, the only bit of attention the skin north of one’s face received was a massage from a hairdresser during a regular 6 weekly trim.

How times have changed.

Today, ‘exfoliator’, ‘peel’, ‘treatment’, ‘cell turnover’ and even ‘microbiome’ are all terms and activities directly associated with the scalp.

This current spotlight on the scalp is spun out of another trend the beauty landscape is knee deep in right now: The ‘skinification of hair’. The concept basically means giving as much scientific rigor to our hair care as we do our skin. And it makes sense; Once you start delving deeper into the mechanics of good hair care, it’s only a matter of time before you arrive at the condition of the scalp.

My own interest in scalp care was piqued by the launch of the Scalp Solutions range by one of the world’s most recognisable beauty brands, Aveda. The collection is said to fight the visible signs of ‘premature scalp ageing’- which is another kind of new-ish phrase. Although I was not thrilled to add yet another thing to the growing list of ageing parts on my body, it was good to know I could easily do something about it.

As a quick aside, I absolutely adore Aveda as a pioneer of sustainability in the beauty industry. It’s a brand that goes the extra mile, eco-consciously, from sourcing and formulating ingredients to packaging and disposal. The Scalp Solutions collection is no exception. I could go on solely about its sustainability features for this entire post but I’ll just call out that the collection is manufactured using 100% renewable energy, the key ingredients are prime examples of the way Aveda innovates with green chemistry, and most of the products are packaged in 100% post-consumer recycled plastic that can be disposed of through the regular household plastic recycling bin.

Back to the brand’s new Scalp Solutions collection: I had the chance to trial the products and I am genuinely obsessed with the Exfoliating Scalp Treatment and the Refreshing Protective Mist.

The exfoliating treatment can be used on wet or dry hair pre-wash, and the bottle is shaped to make application super targeted to the scalp, rather than your mid hair or ends (so less product wastage). I’ve worked it into my hair wash routine once a week, and find that my hair is shinier and more lifted from the roots after that wash, and it’s less oily between washes.

Aveda Scalp Solutions
Aveda Scalp Solutions Refreshing Protective Mist, $80

The Refreshing Protective Mist acts like a dry shampoo, helping to control sebum for 48 hours, with the added benefit of a blend of ‘adaptogenic botanicals’ to help protect the scalp from oxidative stressors. It felt counter-intuitive at first to apply a wet formulation as a dry shampoo, however when the product dries my hair looks almost like it’s been freshly washed and it even appears thicker, hand on my heart.

The difference between the skin on your face and your scalp

“The facial and scalp skin are very similar,” says Alison Pawlus, Aveda’s Principal Scientist. “A main difference is due to the presence of different hair types; The facial skin (except for beards) has small wispy hairs termed ‘vellus’ hairs. Scalp (in non-balding individuals) has long, thick hairs, termed terminal hairs, that are more deeply embedded in the skin.

“This difference can make cleansing less convenient, and for many of us, less frequent than facial skin. This can be problematic in that sebum can build-up and be metabolized by our microbiome who depend on our sebum as food. Irritating molecules can be formed that can negatively impact our scalp barrier. Pollutants can also accumulate and lead to oxidative stress. This combination of oxidative stress and impaired barrier can drive the aging process of the scalp if not properly managed.”

Alison Pawlus, Aveda’s Principal Scientist
Alison Pawlus, Aveda’s Principal Scientist

Over cleansing can be a problem too, especially if too harsh a cleanser is used. “Over cleansing removes the protective barrier lipids, which can create dry patches or feelings of tightness on the skin,” says Pawlus. “This is important to be aware of as our skin is barrier protects us from our external environment, if impaired, it can’t do its job as well!”

Scalp hair provides some protection for the scalp against UV damage, but it is not 100 percent and even less so in individuals with shorter or thinner hair.

Why should we care about scalp ageing?

Pawlus explains: “Like skin, the scalp ages with time and can be impacted or damaged by lifestyle and environmental aggressors like pollution, oiliness, build-up, dryness, and micro-dust. The thickness of the scalp skin also decreases over the years, becoming flatter and less resilient, thus losing some of its nourishing ability and barrier function. Scalp aging can impact the look of hair, causing it to become dry, brittle, lack luster and prone to thinning or breakage.”

What are the visible signs of scalp ageing?

“Several things such as dry, irritated scalp, tightness, redness and irritation can all be signs of premature scalp aging and a disrupted scalp barrier,” says Pawlus.

Why is scalp hydration important?

Dry scalps are more susceptible to damage,  which can lead to visible premature scalp aging. “Scalp aging can impact the look of hair, as the sebaceous glands that keep the hair glossy and shiny become less effective,” says Pawlus. “So, just as it is important that we look after our skin, we must also look after our scalp to have healthier looking hair.”

Why is it important to combat oxidative stressors – what is the impact on hair growth or appearance?

Pawlus says: “Oxidative stressors are just one component that can lead to a disrupted scalp barrier and premature scalp aging. This ties back to how scalp aging can impact the look of hair, causing it to become dry, brittle, lack luster and prone to thinning or breakage; and can also cause the sebaceous glands that keep the hair glossy and shiny to become less effective. Aveda’s Scalp Solutions Refreshing Protective Mist and Scalp Solutions Overnight Scalp Renewal Serum both provide all day antioxidant protection!”

Aveda Scalp Solutions
Aveda Scalp Solutions Exfoliating scalp treatment, $80

After switching to an improved scalp hair routine, how long should it take to notice the benefits?

Apparently, with the efficacious products, the scalp can improve in as little as one use.

“For example, in clinical testing, women who used the Scalp Solutions Overnight Renewal Serum saw 51% increase in scalp hydration and 58% increase in scalp softness in just one night, and 24% improvement in scalp barrier strength in just one week,” says Pawlus. “Additionally, using the Scalp Solutions Exfoliating Scalp Treatment one time resulted in a reduction of sebum by 76%.”

Check out the products here:


By Ilona Marchetta

Sustainability & Home Editor

Ilona Marchetta is The Carousel's Home and Sustainability Editor. She is a change manager and journalist specialising in sustainability. Ilona is passionate about slow and mindful living, from fashion to interiors to beauty and self care.



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