Balancing Your Scalp Microbiome Is Key to Hair Growth, and These 3 Products Are Designed To Help

Photo: Stocksy / Eloisa Ramos
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Your skin microbiome is made up of bacteria, fungi, viruses, and mites that keep your skin strong and healthy. This ecosystem extends to your scalp, and maintaining its balance is critical for creating an optimal environment for hair growth. The problem, though, is that there are a lot of things we all do regularly that throw off this equilibrium. Thankfully, Nutrafol's latest launches—which are designed specifically to balance the scalp microbiome—are here to help.

"When we looked at what happens to the microbiome and how it's showing up on the scalp.. . we found that there's either not enough good bacteria or not enough [microbial] diversity altogether, and those two things are putting the scalp at risk," says Sam Archer, Nutrafol's vice president of product marketing. "What is usually happening is that people are either overwashing [their hair] and therefore stripping all of the good bacteria from the scalp, or they're under washing, which is essentially causing a lot of product and oil buildup. The oilier your scalp gets, the more it attracts bad bacteria."

When your scalp microbiome is out of whack, it can hinder hair growth. Clo your hair's ability to grow out of the scalp, which will leave you with thinning and/or strands that are more prone to dryness and breakage. Nutrafol's new Scalp Microbiome line addresses these concerns with a Build-Up Blocker exfoliating mask ($49), a Root Purifier shampoo ($44), and a Stress Reliever essence ($59). The first mask and shampoo work to ensure the scalp is getting thoroughly cleansed without being stripped, while the essence calms the scalp and shields it from environmental stressors.

To ensure that these products supported the microbiome, Nutrafol worked with MyMicrobiome, a European company that tests products to ensure that they allow for correct levels of sebum, moisture, and pH that allow your hair to flourish under the best conditions. "We went through testing with them, in which case we were awarded their seal of Microbiome Friendly, that basically just says we're promoting good diversity of the scalp microbiome and we're not disrupting it," says Archer.

Exploring the Nutrafol Scalp Microbiome line

Build-Up Blocker Scalp Microbiome Exfoliating Mask — $49.00

This mask is designed to help prevent the overgrowth of bad bacteria. “It’s not realistic and it’s not smart for everyone to wash their hair on a daily basis,” says Archer. “It was important to us that we were addressing that and that’s where the exfoliating mask came up, the buildup blocker.”

It uses alpha-hydroxy acids and jojoba beads to offer both chemical and mechanical exfoliation. It also includes the amino acid sarcosine to remove excess sebum on the scalp, Australian wild berries for healthier looking hair and scalp protection, and chia seeds to help soothe the scalp while removing product build-up.

Root Purifier Scalp Microbiome Shampoo

Shampoo can’t technically help to grow hair (according to Archer, it doesn’t stay on your scalp long enough to have any real effects in that department), but it can optimize your scalp for growth by keeping it clean. Nutrafol’s formula includes alpha-glucan oligosaccharide, a prebiotic that strengthens the scalp barrier by feeding the microbiome, protective Australian wild berries, and vegan protein to nourish hair while gently cleansing.

“We wanted to make sure that we had full lather, even though it was sulfate-free, which is super hard,” says Archer. “So we really pushed that to the limit and we added a biosurfactant in it, which is just a natural surfactant that’s actually able to lather the same way as a sulfate, without having the stripping properties.”

Stress Reliever Scalp Microbiome Essence — $59.00

Lightweight and easy to use, this essence feels like skin care for your scalp. It soothes your skin while promoting a healthy microbiome. Prebiotics alpha-glucan oligosaccharide and bacillus ferment strengthen the scalp barrier, while smithsonite stone protects the scalp and boosts collagen. Finally, peach gum and prickly pear soothe the scalp and reduce redness.

Learn more about build-up on the scalp and how to remove it:

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Our editors independently select these products. Making a purchase through our links may earn Well+Good a commission.

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