Woman checks her scalp health in the mirror

Want Healthier Hair? Check Your Scalp Microbiome

Why Your Secret to Healthy Hair Is a Healthy Scalp

Does your scalp ever feel itchy or irritated? Ever noticed your roots are oily and lifeless while your ends are fried? Then you’re probably suffering from an imbalance in your scalp microbiome. 

Billions of microscopic bacteria, fungi, and other microorganisms form what is called your microbiome – your very own ecosystem that keeps your whole body in balance. Your microbiome works hard behind the scenes throughout your body, including your scalp.

Modern life is not your scalp microbiome’s best friend. Heat-styling, chemicals in your tap water, harsh ingredients in haircare products – they can all disrupt the delicate balance in the microbes and bacteria that keep your scalp and hair healthy. 

As a stylist, and in my training as a Trichologist (haircare expert), I know that taking care of your scalp is your ticket to healthy hair. If you want fabulous hair, the best place to start is your scalp microbiome.

When I co-founded Arey with my client Allison Conrad, we wanted to create conscious haircare products that work holistically with your whole body. That means they are safe for your scalp and your health.  

What Is Your Scalp Microbiome? 

Your scalp microbiome is unique to your body. It is a delicate balance of good bacteria that maintains the ideal environment for healthy hair follicles and scalp skin. Your scalp microbiome is your body’s natural defense against infection.

Your scalp produces vitamin-rich moisturizers (sebum) which nourish and support your scalp microbiome. Harsh cleansing, harmful ingredients in hair products, environmental and lifestyle factors can all cause an imbalance in your scalp’s ecosystem. 

If you’re suffering from a scalp imbalance, you’re not alone. A government report found that almost 50 percent of the worldwide population suffers from dandruff.1

In a 2018 study2, scientists studying the scalp microbiome identified Malassezia as the main bacteria associated with dandruff. Malassezia is a species of yeast fungi that naturally occurs on a balanced healthy scalp.

If your microbiome is unbalanced, an excess of sebum is produced and Malassezia overgrowth occurs. Malassezia depends on fatty acids to survive, and sebum has a high-fat content. The result – flaking, itching, and irritation.

close up of woman's scalp with dandruff flakes

If you are suffering from excessive hair shedding, severe skin irritation, or flaking, you should seek help from a skin and haircare specialist. 

Dermatologists and Trichologists believe that when your scalp bacteria are in balance, they can fight off infection and inflammation. If the fragile balance of your scalp microbiome is weakened, your scalp and hair health are at risk. 

What Is the Link Between Your Scalp Microbiome and Your Hair Health?

New research shows a direct link between the health of your scalp ecosystem and your hair growth and thickness. 3  If your scalp microbiome is disrupted, your hair health also suffers.

An unbalanced microbiome on your scalp can lead to:  

    • A flaky, itchy scalp: imbalances leave your scalp vulnerable to dryness and flaking.

    • Dandruff and eczema: an impacted microbiome allows inflammatory skin conditions to flourish.

    • Overproduction of sebum: an unhealthy scalp can lead to oily roots, dry ends, and bacterial infections. 

    • Hair loss and thinning: imbalances in the microbial environment in your hair follicles (roots) can lead to hair loss (alopecia) and thinning.

You don’t need a degree in microbiology to do the best for your scalp and hair health. With a few small changes in your haircare routine, you can rebalance your scalp, improve your overall health and boost your hair growth and thickness.


How to Keep Your Scalp Microbiome Healthy

Dermatologists and Trichologists are starting to focus on how hair products impact your scalp health. Here’s what I recommend my clients do for their best scalp health.

1. Always Use Clean Hair Products 

The easiest way to keep your scalp’s ecosystem in balance is to make sure your hair products are not exposing you to damaging ingredients. Always look for clean products that are free from harmful preservatives, colors, perfumes, and harsh cleansers. 

At Arey, our products deliver gentle, balanced cleansing that won’t disrupt your scalp microflora. Our commitment to clean beauty means that all our products are vegan, gluten, and cruelty-free. They also contain no harmful parabens, phthalates, formaldehyde, or artificial fragrances.

hair products laying on marble countertop

2. Don’t Overcleanse Your Scalp

For your healthiest hair and scalp, here's how to keep your scalp clean and balanced without stripping away too much sebum:

Don’t use shampoos containing sulfates: avoid ingredients like sodium lauryl sulfate and sodium laureth sulfate. These are the most common sulfates found in many shampoos and are a major disruptor to your scalp microbiome.  

Do use a gentle, balanced shampoo: a clean, sulfate-free shampoo like Wash won’t kill the supportive microorganisms on your scalp.  

Don’t wash your hair every day: overstripping your natural scalp oils can damage the healthy bacteria and allow bad bacteria to flourish. 

Do use a treatment shampoo and conditioner: Shower Duo cleans and nourishes your hair with a clinically-effective peptide for thicker, fuller hair.

Sulfates are used in many shampoos to create frothy suds but they have been linked to scalp dryness, itching, and hair thinning.1

Don’t worry, you don’t have to sacrifice a lather when you switch to a sulfate-free shampoo. Clean products use plant-based cleansers to create a luxurious foam without the side effects of sulfate-based cleansers. 

3. Detox Your Scalp:

If excess sebum, dead skin cells, and hair products build up on your scalp, it can unbalance your scalp microbiome. Buildup clogs your hair follicles which causes irritation and even hair thinning.

Here’s how to keep your scalp clean and balanced:

✅ Use a clean dry shampoo: avoid aerosols that use toxic petroleum products as propellants.  

✅  Wash your hair after exercising: sweat combined with sebum and dead skin cells clogs your pores and restricts hair growth. 

✅ Use a scalp scrub: regular, gentle scalp exfoliation keeps buildup at bay. 

Like your skin, your scalp needs a healthy balance of bacteria and yeast. Clean, gentle scalp scrubs like Scrub help keep your scalp microbiome healthy. Scalp scrubs wash away buildup better than regular shampoo. They also prepare your scalp to absorb active hair-growth-boosting ingredients in treatment serums like To The Root.


4. Support Your Scalp Health With the Right Nutrition:

Good hair days come from good nutrition. Here’s what dermatologists recommend for your best scalp and hair health:

Try Probiotics: fermented foods like kombucha, sauerkraut, kimchi, and live yogurt contain probiotics that ‘feed’ your scalp’s healthy bacteria. Research has shown that oral and topical probiotics can prevent and heal acne, dandruff, eczema, psoriasis, and seborrheic dermatitis.4

Get your vitamins: boost your immune system with Vitamin D3, iron, and zinc. This supports a robust, balanced, scalp microbiome.

Eat scalp-healthy superfoods: dark leafy greens and cruciferous veggies like broccoli. Eat plenty of nuts, seeds, and meat or vegetarian sources like beans and tofu. Avoid sugar – it is a major microbiome disruptor.

If you’re worried you’re not getting all the nutrition your hair and scalp need, you can reach for a targeted hair-health supplement like Arey’s Not Today, Grey.

At Arey We Know Clean, Balanced Haircare Means a Healthy Scalp Microbiome

Allison and I are very proud that Arey products are healthy and safe for all hair types. Our commitment to clean, conscious beauty means that you can have healthy hair and a healthy scalp microbiome.

At Arey, we care about your hair and scalp health. That’s what motivates us to create innovative science-based haircare solutions that slow the signs of aging hair and improve hair health. We want to make it easy for you to do the right thing for your hair and your overall health.

We know that science + consistency = results. That’s why we offer 25% off on all subscriptions to help keep you on track with your hair health goals. 

Have any questions? Check out our FAQ page or email us at hey@areygrey.com.


Jay Small with customer

AuthorJay SmallJay Small is a sought-after hair stylist and Trichologist in Los Angeles with over 22 years of experience. His clients consist of high-profile business and creative leaders. He trained as an apprentice to the owner of Paul Mitchell and worked in education and product development for Paul Mitchell Systems. Jay is incredibly passionate about the creative process both in terms of styling hair and developing effective products.


  1. National Institute of Health Study 
  2. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/30338244/
  3. scalp-microbiome-an-emerging-segment 
  4. probiotics-for-dandruff-and-seborrheic-dermatitis-do-they-work