I only get dandruff in the winter. It's caused by a combination of dry air and my co-dependent relationship with my flat iron. The dandruff is always worse in the areas where I apply the most heat (around my part and my edges), but exists all around my scalp. The only way to get rid of the flakes and start fresh is to wash my hair, but I don't always have the time or energy for that. So I've been keen to find a way to keep my scalp hydrated in between wash days.
During a consultation with Helen Reavey, celebrity stylist, trichologist, and founder of scalp- and hair-care brand Act+Acre, I learned that my dry scalp was doing more than causing a bit of itching and flaking.
"The cold weather can strip the natural oils from the scalp, affecting hair growth and increasing the chance of thinning and fallout," she says. "Keeping the scalp hydrated and moisturized will ensure that the scalp microbiome is balanced, leading to a healthy environment for growth and hair health."
She shared that I could seriously benefit from the brand's Stem Cell Serum ($86), which does a whole lot more than hydrate.
"Our Stem Cell Serum harnesses the power of plant cell culture technology, utilizing Swiss apple stem cells which are clinically proven to promote and extend the hair's natural growth phase, while soothing and hydrating the scalp," says Reavey. "The stem cells are paired with aloe vera and bamboo and pea extract, which work together to reduce the production of free radicals responsible for the premature aging of hair follicles."
Act+Acre makes this with its patented cold-processed method, "which uses ice-cold water, pressure, and a hyperbaric chamber to retain an optimum level of nutrients throughout the formulation," says Reavey. "By going through this method, ingredients like apple Stem Cells are able to maintain their highest nutrient potency levels, ensuring that consumers have what they need for healthy scalp and hair."
So I set out to make the serum a part of my daily routine for a month.
What it's like using the Act+Acre Stem Cell Scalp Serum
I very much despise taking care of my hair. I find the process tedious, and if I can muster the strength to wrap my hair up before bed it's a major win—so I wasn't positive I'd be able to stick with regular serum use. But the fact that it comes in a pretty glass bottle that I wanted to keep front and center on my vanity helped, as it made it feel more like a part of my skin-care routine than my hair-care routine (which makes sense, considering your scalp is skin). I found myself reaching for this serum as the natural next step in my routine after my facial regimen was complete.
Most of my hair is braided down to accommodate my U-part wig. I placed the serum between my cornrows, throughout my leave-out, and around my edges, which I also leave out of the braids. And on days when I was feeling really motivated, I'd finish off by putting the Bread Beauty Supply Hair Oil Everyday Gloss ($18 to $24) on my strands (not my scalp!) to seal in the hydration.
At first, I was worried that the serum consistency would eff up my silk press, but I found the added hydration wasn't an issue since I was wrapping my hair right after applying the serum. So even if it was a little wet, it would dry flat and sleek. As someone with dry skin, I was used to my scalp being perpetually itchy in the winter to the point that I'd ignore it. This serum helped so much—I've found myself instinctually reaching for it to soothe my parched and itchy scalp. It turned out to be a must-have when was home in Buffalo, NY over Christmas when a wild blizzard came through and made the air so incredibly dry.
My nighttime hair routine remains imperfect, and I did not use this every night like I wanted to. But honestly, I've still noticed a major difference in the hydration of my hair and the way my scalp feels. I can't wait to go to my next hair appointment and have my stylist tell me how much my hydration has improved. Because I know for a fact that my strands are softer and stronger than they usually ever are in the winter. It's earned a place in my forever rotation.
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