A sensitised scalp is different from one with dandruff, although both may experience itchiness and redness. What the first has more of: tightness, and sometimes, a burning sensation. The discomfort is brought on by pollution (here are some gentle face cleansers to protect against pollution), unsuitable products, heat from hairdryers, repetitive styling and stress, says French botanical brand Klorane. This is not a new problem. According to its 2008 survey, 45 per cent of 1,000 people said they had a sensitive scalp.
Most scalp treatments stop at shampoos, as conditioners are usually to rich and not encouraged for use on the scalp. Klorane addresses this by making its popular Soothing & Anti-irritating shampoo gentler, and by adding a conditioner gel and serum for scalp care from pre- to post-shampoo. Both the gel conditioner and serum have nozzles for direct application.
The Klorane Soothing & Anti-irritating haircare range. From left: shampoo ($18.90), gel conditioner ($14.60) and serum ($29.90).
Why Chinese peony? And how to use the range
Chinese peony has an active ingredient called paeoniflorin, which is said to be soothing and anti-irritating. All three products in the line are formulated with this natural extract. Use the shampoo as you would any regular one, then rinse.
The gel conditioner and serum also has a moisturising complex which also soothes the scalp, as dryness can further aggravate itchiness and tightness. Apply the conditioner section by section to the scalp and massage it to through the hair length and tips. Leave in for about three minutes before rinsing. It can even be used as a pre-shampoo care, which is perfect for mornings, especially if you've already shampooed your hair the night before.
The serum is like water, so there is no heaviness and doesn't weigh down your hair. Spray it on damp or dry scalp and massage it throughout your scalp and hair and leave to dry.
Not all types of scalp itchiness can be treated with anti-dandruff shampoo, which may be too harsh on scalps that are reacting to stress and pollutants.
Does it work?
"Ever since I went through multiple rounds of bleaching (read this before you do the same), I've had this area at the back of my head that itches constantly. I've tried different types of purifying and nourishing shampoos, but not those for dandruff as my scalp is not flaky. The Klorane Soothing & Anti-irritating haircare range is the only one so far which provides immediate and longer-lasting relief from the itch. The shampoo lathers pretty well, and rinses off without making my hair or scalp feel stripped of its natural oils. I love that the conditioner can be applied directly to the scalp. It's lightweight and detangles my hair without making it feel artificially smooth. The serum also has a nice scent and can be easily massaged through the scalp and hair without weighing them down.
"Three days after using the range, my scalp felt less itchy and soothed. Because this is a range for sensitised scalps, it won't do wonders for damaged hair – it doesn't moisturise as well those haircare ranges for damaged and chemically treated hair, although it does keep them from becoming too frizzy or dry. If your hair doesn't feel as soft as you would like it to be, try topping up with a treatment mask to get the best of both worlds." - Kayce, beauty writer
A version of this story was originally published in the June 2018 of Her World magazine.