While we’re always told to treat our scalp and hair the same way we do to our skin, it’s not always the case. That is, we go for repeated chemical treatments – perms, dyes, and the like – and blow-dry it before work. Of course, there’s also Singapore’s humid weather to blame for the grimy scalp that we get at the end of the day.  

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This oily scalp and dry hair problem – or “combination hair” as some of us call it – is what most of us Singapore women struggle with every day. In fact, owner of Headlines Hairdressing Gary Lee, says that more than half of his customers at the salon show up with these concerns.

So we’ve asked Gary to walk us through how we should be taking care of our scalp and hair at home, as well as at the salon every month to improve the condition.

Here’s what he says:



Like your skin, over-cleansing the scalp can lead to the increased production of sebum, making it oilier than usual. So the most common oily scalp care advice would be to shampoo less often.

While that is true, there are many other external factors that can contribute to an oily scalp besides over-cleansing. “For example, environmental aggressors – pollution, humidity and heat – the wrong use of products, hormonal imbalance and stress,” says Gary.

As such, washing your hair once every day is still a must for us Singaporeans. “Due to our humid weather, our sebaceous glands are more active, thus by cleansing the scalp and hair daily, you will be able to prevent bacterial infection or clogged pores,” says Gary.

But how do you avoid the over-cleansing problem? Easy peasy. Just alternate your shampoo, Gary advises: “You should have a deep cleansing shampoo – one that’s for an oily scalp – to alternate with a daily shampoo. In addition, you should condition your hair with a conditioner every day.”

An easy way to think of this in terms of skincare is like using a hydrating mask after a clay mask to balance the moisture levels in the skin, and after, topping up with a moisturiser, sealing all the goodness into your skin. In this case of course, the moisturiser is your conditioner.

You can use your deep cleansing shampoo at any time from once a week to every other day. It all depends on what you need.


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Purifying shampoos: If you’ve got dandruff problems, try Matrix Biolage Scalpsync Anti-Dandruff Shampoo, $24, which has antifungal and antibacterial properties to relieve scalp irritation. Otherwise, try Kerastase’s Specifique Bain Divalent Shampoo, $39, which works on oily roots and damaged hair will help to deeply cleanse the scalp and selectively nourish the sensitised parts of your hair.

But if you’re sticking to using it once a week, then try Vichy’s Dercos Oil-Control Treatment Shampoo, $25. Besides its detox properties, this affordable option also comes in a refreshing gel texture and has a mint fragrance for that uplifting morning cleanse.

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Daily shampoo: Opt for light, hydrating shampoos with calming properties like L’Oreal Paris’ Elseve Extraordinary Oil Shampoo, $16.90. It contains a blend of oils – including Chamomile, Rose and Sunflower – that help to remove excess sebum and dirt from the hair and scalp, while balancing moisture levels at the same time.



While it’s tempting to swap out the conditioner for a hair mask when you’ve got extremely dry ends, don’t.

“Conditioners are meant to be used daily and helps to seal the hair cuticles – it makes the hair feel smooth – while treatments are designed to repair damages to the core; they repair the internal structure of the hair, called the cortex,” explains Gary.

Using a hair mask more than once or twice a week could therefore weigh down the hair or make it look greasy instead.


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One we love for Singapore’s weather is Redken’s Frizz Dismiss Intense Smoothing Treatment Mask, $55, which not only nourishes the ends but keeps frizziness caused by humidity at bay. Apply this to towel-dried hair for about 10 minutes, then rinse it off and finish with your regular hair oil.



Like your skin, oil and dirt can sometimes build up on your scalp to a point where you need to “scrub” them off. Gary says: “Cell turnover slows with age, so dead cells need help to be scrubbed away. Exfoliating will clear away this build-up.” And doing so will better help any hair loss or scalp treatment tonic that you may use penetrate the scalp better.


Every month, go for a scalp exfoliating treatment. One that Gary does in his salon is the Matrix Pelicure, $65, which not only helps to loosen flaky build-up on a greasy and itchy scalp, but also stimulates healthy cell turnover on the surface, helping to prevent hair loss.

So ladies, remember this: Alternate your shampoo, condition daily, mask once a week and ask your hairstylist for an exfoliating treatment every month. Hurray for healthy hair!

Headlines Hairdressing can be found at #03-32 International Plaza, 10 Anson Rd, Singapore 079903. Tel: +65 6223 3133

Makeup: Zhou Ai Yi from Makeup Entourage, using Urban Decay. Hair: Alvin Ong from Arx Salon, using Shiseido Stageworks. Art direction: Michelle Tham. Styling: Niki Bruce, assisted by Hong Xinying and Ainslyn Lim. Dress: Exhibit Alt by Curated Editions. Model: Grace L