Tag Archive: haircare

Itchy Scalp? The Microbiome May be the Cause

January 15, 2021

An itchy scalp, or scalp pruritus, is a common problem that can lead to symptoms such as frequent scratching or discomfort, scabbed or flaking skin, or redness on the scalp. 

In this article, we’ll cover everything you need to know about itchy scalp and its links to the scalp microbiome, including excerpts from accredited dermatologist, Dr. Teo Wan Lin. We’ll also cover how the scalp microbiome can lead to various hair conditions, and how to keep the scalp microbiome healthy.

What causes itchy scalp?

The cause of an itchy scalp is inflammation. Is it possible that itchy scalp leads to hair loss? The short answer is no. But the long answer is that if your itchy scalp is due to an underlying scalp condition such as seborrheic dermatitis, this can in the medium to long term, disrupt your hair cycle and cause more hair to fall our faster, and hair to grow at a slower rate due to the underlying inflammation. Associated scalp symptoms can include redness, sensitivity. Some individuals experience pain when they’re tying up their hair. All that has to do with increased activity of the immune cells around the area where there is inflammation.

Seborrheic dermatitis

The commonest cause of scalp inflammation in this part of the world, in tropical Singapore, is seborrheic dermatitis. Seborrheic dermatitis is due to an overgrowth of yeast organisms that are otherwise normal commensals, meaning that they are part of the healthy scalp microbiome. What happens in seborrheic dermatitis is that the scalp inflammation leads to symptoms of itch, flaking, redness, sensitivity.

Over a period of several months, or years, this can cause disruption in the hair cycle. 90% of our hair should be in the growing phase known as the anagen phase. When there is active inflammation such as in the case of seborrheic dermatitis, psoriasis, or eczema, the hair cycle may be disrupted and as a result, more hairs may enter into the telogen phase. This expedites the hair cycle process, leading to more hair that is falling out, and comparatively, less hair that is growing back to compensate for the amount of hair that’s falling out. 

Itchy Scalp? Copper Peptide Hair Regrowth Serum

The Copper Peptide Hair Regrowth Serum contains Copper tripeptide, a novel molecule that stimulates hair growth. Copper tripeptide is a potent antioxidant with minimal to zero risk of scalp irritation. It helps to maintain healthy, immunological function of the scalp, promoting beneficial scalp microbiome.

What is the scalp microbiome? 

The scalp is one of the thickest parts of the skin on the body, with on average about 100,000 hairs growing on it at a given time. It high production of vitamin-rich sebum (oil) and an unusually humid environment, which gives rise to microbes and microorganisms that aren’t found on any other part of the body. 

A microbiome is a community of microorganisms that exist in one habitat, like your gut, skin and scalp. In order for a microbiome to function efficiently, it must maintain a balance of diverse microorganisms, with each contributing to the productivity of the habitat. The scalp microbiome is the balance of healthy microorganisms that work together and contribute to our scalp health. Just like our skin microbiome, if the delicate microbiome is thrown off balance, skin conditions can develop, causing symptoms of flaking, itching, and irritation.

How does the scalp microbiome affect hair conditions?

Research in the scalp microbiome has intensified in the last 3 years. In 2017 in a paper submitted to Experimental Dermatology, a group of researchers stated that there was a difference in the scalp microbiome in terms of the bacterial and yeast flora in individuals who suffered from dandruff, also known as seborrheic dermatitis, compared to individuals with healthy scalps. What that really means that there is a definite role in the balance that microorganisms play in our skin, and now our scalp, in order to maintain scalp homeostasis. Homeostasis is the state of balance that is required for our organs to function at their optimal states.

A disturbance in the scalp microbiome can be influenced by the environment, one’s personal genetics as well as hormonally influenced oil production on the scalp. In this situation, we should zoom in on the specific problems that are brought about by the imbalances of the microorganisms living on one’s scalp.


Dandruff is one of the most common scalp complaints. Flaking on the scalp and white scales found on one’s clothes are one of the first symptoms of dandruff. The term dandruff is lay speak for any form of scalp inflammation that causes the cell turnover rate on the scalp to increase abnormally. There are several medical conditions that can result in this, the commonest being the following: scalp psoriasis, seborrheic dermatitis and scalp eczema. 

Dandruff and Seborrheic dermatitis 

We have spoken about seborrheic dermatitis earlier, and how it can lead to itchy scalp and scalp inflammation. Additionally, seborrheic dermatitis could also be the cause of your recent dandruff outbreak. It mainly affects the sebaceous, gland-rich regions of the scalp, face, and trunk. Seborrhea or seborrheic dermatitis is a common, chronic or relapsing form of eczema/dermatitis. 

Dandruff, also known as pityriasis capitis, is considered to be an uninflamed form of seborrhoeic dermatitis. Scattering within hair-bearing areas of the scalp, dandruff of such presents as itself as bran-like scaly patches. 

The cause of seborrheic dermatitis is associated with the proliferative species of the fungus Malassezia. Its metabolites (such as fatty acids oleic acid, malassezia, and indole-3-carbaldehyde) may cause an inflammatory reaction. Therefore, there is a link between dandruff and the bacteria and fungi that grow on the scalp. 

The Copper Peptide Deep Cleanse Shampoo can help to overcome itchy scalp

The Copper Peptide Deep Cleanse Shampoo contains amino acid surfactant for gentle cleansing of sensitive scalps,  zinc pyrithione that has anti-dandruff properties, and copper peptide that helps to promote healthy hair growth. 

Scalp folliculitis

Scalp folliculitis is an inflammatory disorder of the hair follicles in the scalp, also known as “acne necrotica miliaris” or “Proprionibacterium folliculitis”.

It is characterised by small, very itchy pustules on the scalp, often most troublesome on the frontal hairline. Depending on the severity, there may be only a small number or may appear as very numerous lesions. Due to the itch, they are hard to leave alone and overtime often become sore and crusted. 

Causes of scalp folliculitis

The cause of scalp folliculitis is generally considered to be an inflammatory reaction to components of the hair follicle, particularly the micro-organisms. These include:

●  Bacteria (especially Cutibacterium acnes, but in severe cases, also Staphylococcus aureus)

●  Mites (Demodex folliculorum)

●  Yeasts (Malassezia species)

An imbalance in these microorganisms can lead to an inflammatory reaction on the scalp, causing scalp folliculitis. 

To explain, Malassezia is the causative yeast organism belonging to the family of fungi that colonizes the scalp of individuals who suffer from seborrheic dermatitis. Chronic inflammation of the scalp’s follicles can lead to pimple-like lesions that can be painful, lead to deeper cysts, and even abscesses in a more serious type of scalp folliculitis known as dissecting folliculitis. These are typically associated with imbalances in the bacterial flora of the scalp. Research shows a link between scalp folliculitis and scalp sensitivity, as well as the sebum and bacterial imbalances. The microorganisms interact with environmental factors such as increased temperature, humidity, the presence of sweat in a genetically predisposed individual to create chronic inflammation. 

Keeping the scalp microbiome healthy


Research has shown that zinc pyrithione medicated shampoo is a safe and effective way to treat dandruff. Fighting off Malassezia can help to restore the health of your scalp microbiome. 

Hair serum

Use of antioxidants serums on the scalp can encourage healthy cell talk between the immune cells, and improve the ability of the scalp to fight off disease-causing bacteria and fungus. This also helps to maintain regular sebum production. Copper tripeptide is a potent antioxidant with minimal to zero risk of scalp irritation. It helps to maintain healthy, immunological function of the scalp, promoting beneficial scalp microbiome.


Home Hair Treatments for Damaged Hair

December 1, 2020

Does your hair get easily tangled? Is your hair frizzy? Is the texture of your hair rough? Does your hair break when you comb? If you answered yes to any of these questions, your hair may be showing signs of damage.

In this article, we’ll walk through home hair treatments for damaged hair, the botanical ingredients you should look out for, and the science behind how it can benefit your hair shaft. We’ll also include excerpts from Haircare Bible: A Dermatologist’s Tips on Haircare and Hair Loss by Dr. Teo Wan Lin, dermatologist at TWL Specialist Skin & Laser Centre.

What is hair elasticity and how is it measured?

Hair elasticity is measured by how much the hair will stretch before it returns to a normal state. Healthy hair, when wet stretches up to 50% of its original length and returns to its normal shape without breaking. Dry hair will stretch about 20%.

How to test your hair elasticity:

After you wash your hair, try these steps to check your hair elasticity:

  • Take a strand of hair, hold it at mid-length or at the roots (this will prevent pulling at the root), and gently stretch the strand of hair.

After a gentle tug, if the hair doesn’t fall back into shape or if it breaks, hair elasticity is low.

What can be used to increase hair elasticity?

Protein and oils can be incorporated into the hair shaft

What are proteins? Why are they important for healthy hair?

Proteins are large molecules consisting of amino acids, the building blocks of proteins, that our body’s cells need to function properly.

Amino acids play an integral role in the body’s processes for healthy skin and hair. Amino acid proteins are necessary for the strong and resilient growth of the hair shaft — reducing the incidence of breakage due to brittleness. It can also increase hair shine and elasticity, and features prominently in thick, healthy shiny virgin hair.

Hair Mask bar as home hair treatments for damaged hair

The 360° Conscious Mask Bar for Hair is developed with a focus on environmentally conscious, science-backed botanical ingredients for a deep-conditioning home hair spa treatment. 

Why are topical formulations of proteins important and how do you get amino acids into your hair?

Proteins like keratin and collagen are too large to be directly used on the hair shaft for a beneficial effect. They need to be broken down via a process performed in the laboratory, known as hydrolysis in order to be absorbed by hair.

What is hydrolysis and how does it affect the ability of proteins to be absorbed by the hair shaft?

Hydrolysis is a chemical reaction involving reactants that will create at least two products via a decomposition reaction. “Hydro” is derived from water — hydrolysis means a reaction with water. The hydrolysis process means this – a larger molecule is split into two or more parts by the addition of a water molecule.

Large proteins are too large and bulky to be absorbed by the hair. What Hydrolysis does is that it allows the hair shaft, which is made of keratin material to readily “absorb” and hang on to proteins by breaking them to smaller molecules.”

What are the types of proteins that can benefit the hair shaft in home hair treatments?

Wheat, Silk, Milk, Soy, Keratin, and Collagen proteins. The hydrolysed state of these proteins have all been proven to directly penetrate the hair shaft and repair it.

How do these proteins work to help heal the hair shaft?

Hydrolyzed Wheat Protein
Hydrolysed wheat proteins are considered reparative and conditioning agents for the hair due to the active peptides that are present. While it does not prevent hair loss, wheat proteins work to bring existing hair follicles to optimal health. It functions primarily by the following methods:  First of all it moisturises the hair cuticle, the part of the hair that is responsible for keeping the hair smooth and shiny looking. In addition, it forms a coating around the hair shaft hence easily doubling the volume of the hair shaft, consequently working as a hair shaft volumiser. Finally, it helps to seal up the cuticle and functions as a smoothener to enhance hair shine in home hair treatments.

Place LipiShine, LipiSilk serums and Gel Cap in Mask Bar on “HOT” 30 min for the hot oil treatment. Apply the serum on the hair shaft, and wear the Gel Cap for 5 minutes. Rinse off thoroughly with cool water. Repeat this home hair treatment monthly.

Hydrolyzed Silk Protein
Silk is one of the strongest natural fibers in the world. It offers crystalline protection, ensuring hair elasticity and resiliency against breakage. At the same time, hydrolyzed silk protein acts as a barrier to improve shine by guarding the hair against moisture loss.

Hydrolyzed Milk Protein
A perfect fix for dry, limp and tangled hair. Hair tangles are more common when there is cuticle damage. Smooth, closed cuticles are less likely to encounter snags which are the primary cause of tangles and knots. Hydrolysed milk protein acts as an effective cuticle moisturizer ensuring detangled, well-nourished locks.

Hydrolyzed Soy Protein
Derived from the soybean plant, hydrolyzed soy protein is water soluble and can strengthen hair while repairing the shaft. It increases the natural ability of hair to retain moisture while adding shine and smoothness. Soy protein also functions as a humectant to trap moisture under the hair cuticle in home hair treatments.

Hydrolyzed Keratin Protein
Keratin is a fibrous protein that makes up the structure of our hair and is part of the natural protective layer of hair. It renders strength and returns elasticity to hair strands. As a protective barrier, it greatly reduces damages to the hair from harsh chemicals.

Hydrolyzed Collagen Protein
Sourced from bovine bone and cartilage, this protein temporarily bonds to the hair and increases its resistance to breakage under tension.

Hair Mask Vial bundle for at home hair treatment of damaged hair

The Hair Mask Vial Bundles includes 3 customized masque applicators that thicken the hair shaft after each treatment. It includes the Keratin Hair Mask for hair strengthening, the Milk Hair Mask for hair softening, and the Silk Hair Mask for smoothing frizzy hair.

Plant oils and its benefits for hair

Plant oils have been known for centuries to help improve hair conditions in home hair treatments. Bioactive substances in plant oils have functional properties such as moisturizing, conditioning, anti-inflammatory and antioxidant activity. These substances are mainly found in the non-saponifiable (non-soaping forming) lipid (NSL) of plant oils. The effectiveness of plant oils are significantly reduced after undergoing chemical refinement methods in manufacturing but are still widely used and purported to be effective in many cosmetic hair care products.

The LipiSilk™ Serum is enriched with Linoleic acid for deep repair of hair shaft and purified seed oil of Hippophae rhanoides (Sea Buckthorn Oil). It coats and penetrates hair cuticles to repair hair damage and reduce breakage.

Synthetic Sandalwood found to stimulate hair growth in studies

The interesting finding of synthetic sandalwood stimulating human hair growth was first published in the prestigious journal Nature in 2016, as it appears to bind to the scalp’s olfactory (sense of smell) receptors. This did not occur with the actual sandalwood extract, rather the synthetic version made under trade name Sandalore.

This has implications in the realm of hair cosmeceuticals for hair regrowth. Firstly, is it viable to apply this as an oil directly to the scalp? There is a single commercially available preparation at the time of publication of this book, marketed as a hair growth tonic. While this is promising, there needs to be further clinical studies performed on the safety and efficacy of a topically applied synthetic oil directly on the scalp in home hair treatments.

Based on this study, my team and I have developed an alternative method of impregnating the fully porous natural material of a wooden comb with Sandalore, as a means of exposing the oil to the scalp receptors without direct contact with the scalp. I deem this a safer method of application in the absence of clinical studies, and will be looking towards a controlled study of such an intervention.

The ORZAT4 Infusion Treatment Comb is impregnated with Sandalore® which has been scientifically proven to stimulate hair regrowth in home hair treatments.