Scalp trouble: Maybe reacting to shampoo? Advice?


Well-known member
I have very long, fine, natural hair. I almost always air-dry it; I almost never use products because mostly I just throw it in a bun, ponytail, or braid. My hair is actually in great shape. The problem is my scalp.

I've been using Nioxin cleanser and scalp therapy for years now. I love the way it leaves my hair. I wash my hair only once or twice a week because the ends get too dry otherwise, and always condition. But for the last year, I've been noticing some rough patches on my scalp and it looks like there are some places where my hairline has receded! I thought it was all the stress I was experiencing applying to graduate programs while working, and then I thought it was related to all the exercise I was doing last summer, training for a few athletic events. (I have sensitive skin and break out on my face if I don't wash sweat off after a workout, so I figured it was just my scalp having the same problem). My esthetician thought I was maybe just rubbing or itching my scalp without noticing.

After thinking about it for awhile, though, and having some lifestyle modifications (less stress, different, less-intensive exercise routine), I'm thinking maybe it's the shampoo! I'm wondering if it could be irritant contact dermatitis. It does not look like dandruff; just slightly irritated skin, the occasional thickened or red spot, and sometimes my scalp itches.

I'm stopping the Nioxin for a few weeks to see if it clears up, but meanwhile, what to use instead? I have no idea what I might be reacting to and don't want to use something else that will just continue to irritate, if that's the problem. And I really want to keep conditioning my hair during this time since it's so long and the ends get so dry (I haven't tried any conditioners I love as much as the Nioxin, sadly). I'm trying to make sure the conditioner starts only at the nape of my neck, away from my scalp.

Any suggestions? Shampoos or conditioners I should try? Any ideas are appreciated.


Active member
I really love Trader Joe's Tea Tree Tingle Conditioner, Shampoo. The ingredients make my hair feel so good & shine. I try more expencive products & always go back to the best. The poo doesn't bubble as much as sulfate types do unless you wash twice. It has No icky stuff, cones in it. It could be your diet? or you could be having your scalp also react to being pulled tightly, beware of dancers scalp (I have read) yet I put my long hair in a twist bun & clip it with hot tools pro clips (the smaller ones) they are sturdy, hold a lot of hair & don't break as often as most butterfly bigger clips do. I have long natural hair & don't use styling products, air dry etc. If water is an issue, an filter or Malibu treatments can do wonders. Hormonal or diet changes can affect the hair. Get good vitamins from greens, white kidney beans if needed & fruits. Redken, Paul Mitchell, Artec, Joico... all seem heavy & the later irritates my scalp like crazy (joico). Biolage has great shampoo but the conditioners have "cones" in it. I too keep active with sports etc. Goodluck with your Graduate school stuff. I found that going for an assistantship TA or research really helped a lot. Finding mentors in your field that can get you through effectively is very beneficial.

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