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This Cooling Serum Relieved My Itchy, Flaking Scalp Just in Time for Winter

Lady with black hair gives herself a scalp massage with Act+Acre Cooling Microbiome Scalp Serum

Photo: Getty Images/Anastassiya Bezhekeneva

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With temperatures changing from warm to cold, I have very real concerns about properly transitioning my (itchy, flaky) scalp for the weather. And according to according to Jodi LoGerfo, DNP, APRN, FNP-C, a board-certified dermatologist, I’m not wrong to be worried: Your scalp can be affected by seasonal variations, especially humidity, temperature, UV light, and the environment. “Sometimes people notice changes in their hair or scalp during seasonal variations, which can be especially true in the winter. The dry, cold air of the winter months can cause both the hair and scalp to become dehydrated, leading to dryness and itchiness in the scalp,” she says. Colder weather also brings drier environmental conditions due to indoor heating and changes in humidity.

Trichologist Kerry E. Yates of Colour Collective suggests that one way to address the scalp challenges caused by weather changes is to use hair products infused with humectants, like the Act + Acre Microbiome Cooling Scalp Serum ($68). “This product is especially beneficial for alleviating scalp itchiness and inflammation, and it can help reduce flakes,” she says.



Act + Acre, Microbiome Cooling Scalp Serum — $68.00

Pros:

  • Soothes the scalp
  • Relieves itch
     
  • Reduces flaking
  • Safe for all hair types, textures, and colors

Cons:

  • Expensive

How it works

To understand how the Act + Acre Microbiome Cooling Scalp Serum works, it’s first important to have a sense of how the health of your scalp microbiome can impact the look and feel of your hair.

Just like your skin microbiome, your scalp microbiome is an ecosystem of “good” bacteria that lives on the surface of your skin and serves as the first line of defense against environmental aggressors, like pollution and hard water.”Keeping the microbiome balanced basically means fighting off the negative microbes that harm the skin or scalp while preserving and nourishing the positive, beneficial microbes,”  Brian Oh, co-founder of VENN, previously told Well+Good “When this balance is disrupted, the negative microbes become dominant and overpower the positive microbes.” This, he went on to say, can cause irritation, buildup, flaking, and itching on the scalp, and lead to weaker, more fragile hair.

The primary focus of the Act + Acre Microbiome Cooling Scalp Serum is to keep that microbiome balanced. The formula contains .25 percent peppermint oil, which cools and soothes the skin to provide immediate relief from irritation and the discomfort that comes along with it. “Peppermint is an essential oil and a well-known anti-bacterial and anti-fungal agent, making it an ideal choice for preventing dandruff,” says Yates. “Additionally, it is a natural anti-inflammatory that instantly soothes and cools the scalp.”

The serum also includes fireweed extract, which is believed to clear away loose flakes and scales (though more research needs to be done on the ingredient). “Since it is a natural herb, I suspect it offers anti-inflammatory benefits,” says Yates. “By relieving any scalp tightness, it may ensure that hair follicles can maintain a healthy life cycle, resulting in gorgeous, manageable hair.”

Furthermore, it’s got a trademarked amino acid complex that’s designed to balance the scalp’s microbiota to soothe skin and reduce itching.

The formula is designed to be used on all hair types and textures. According to Yates, the best way to apply the serum is by massaging a few drops on clean hair along the hairline, part-line, and crown. Gently move your hands from the front of your scalp to the nape of your neck to ensure you’re covering all of the necessary ground. “Repeat this process several times to ensure complete serum penetration while also providing the scalp with a healthy massage,” she says.

What happened when I tried it

I moved to New York from sunny Texas a little over a year ago, and my scalp and I haven’t reacted well to the cooler temperatures and overheated rooms (seriously, why are the radiators in this town so intense?!). My scalp isn’t painfully itchy, but there’s some discomfort and often some dandruff. While I know that dandruff is completely normal, it’s a bit embarrassing for me as someone who should be an “expert” and have a handle on all beauty concerns.

What separates the Act + Acre serum from others on the market is the immediate cooling sensation it provides to the scalp, which can be especially refreshing after a long workday and a good shower. You’re only supposed to use two to three pipettes, so make sure you don’t go overboard.

Similar to the way you’d apply skin care to targeted areas, you can also use the serum as a spot treatment on any itchy patches. Whenever I feel an itch coming on, I now reach for this product, and it delivers instant relief—which is wonderful because it helps me avoid scratching and picking at my scalp all day long. When I use it consistently, I notice significantly less dandruff.

However, that consistency isn’t always easy to come by. While many reviewers claim that the serum isn’t greasy and doesn’t leave any residue, I found it to be slightly stickier than I had expected. It didn’t make my hair look wet or oily, per se, but it took me a while to fully rub the product in and it did flatten my blowout. With that said, I wouldn’t recommend applying the serum right before a big event—reserve it for self-care nights when you’re hanging out on the couch with squeaky-clean hair.

Remember: A healthy scalp equals healthy hair, which is reason enough to give this Act+Acre serum a try for yourself.

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