Scalp problems, seborrheic dermatitis & the curly girl method

curly hair scalp problems


For the longest of time, I struggled with scalp problems. That also caused me to struggle with my curls, which I didn’t even realize until now. Suddenly my waves were not as curly as they used to be and my usually dry hair seemed to be waxy and shiny. Nothing was working and I was struggling with dry, oily, itchy scalp. And bad hair days. I feel like I was also losing more hair than usual.

I felt like a failure and a fraud with my horrible hair. Especially since my post about curly girl method and curly hair routine is still one of the most read post on this site. I couldn’t understand why suddenly the things I used to do for my hair didn’t work anymore.

After quietly suffering with it for several months, I finally realized something. The kind of dandruff and scalp problems I had weren’t normal. Having a flaky dry scalp, that also felt oily and waxy, even right after washing, wasn’t normal. I remembered hearing about this scalp eczema called seborrheic dermatitis and after reading about it online, everything made sense.

Seborrheic dermatitis & how I fixed my scalp and curl problems

[Note: I’m talking about my scalp problems honestly and it can be gross. Also, I have not been diagnosed by a doctor and this is all based on my own research and experience. Also, getting a doctor’s appointment at this crazy time and going to a doctor is not my priority.]

Seborrheic dermatitis is a very common skin condition that causes dandruff and over production of sebum. It might also have a little something to do with the curly girl method, since you’re not washing your hair regularly. That might allow the oils and natural yeasts to profiliterate in your scalp. (Source.)

Seborrheic eczema is also linked to acne, which I’m all too familiar with. Luckily right now my skin otherwise is in a pretty good shape.

Here you can see how my scalp and hair looked like at its worst. This was after my first wash with the ketoconazole shampoo. Hadn’t had that fresh and airy hair in months!

In my case, it’s like having all the scalp problems at once. I had dry scalp and dry dandruff. I also had oily scalp with this weird sebum-dandruff. A shampoo did nothing to it and even right after washing my hair my scalp felt flaky and oily. If I touched my scalp, my fingertips felt oily. I just couldn’t clean my scalp with a regular shampoo. I realized that it also affected my hair and curls, since the sebum got built up in my hair. No wonder my hair felt alien to me. Hair loss is not common with seborrheic eczema, but I’ve also had hair loss. It could also be hormonal in my case, though.

The best treatment for seborrheic eczema on your scalp is simple: wash your hair every day. UV-light also apparently helps, so all the more reason to love summer. Depending on the severity of your problem, you also need a special shampoo. I read that *shampoos containing ketoconazole are pretty effective, because they get rid of yeast, so I bought that.

And you know what? I felt like my problem went away with one wash! Already I felt the itching ease and my hair felt airy and voluminous again. (That is when I had to share my revelation on Instagram stories, so if you follow me there, you probably saw my excitement. You can check out the clips from my Highlights.)

seborrheic dermatitis curly hair

My new hair routine

I’ve now been on my new hair wash routine for about a month and I can say that the problem is pretty much gone. I mean, I understand the condition is probably gonna stay with me, but I have it under control. It feels amazing. (IT FEELS AMAZING!)

I have used my ketoconazole shampoo 1-2 times per week as instructed. Other than that, I can use my normal shampoos. I try to wash my hair every day, but sometimes, if my scalp feels okay, I can get away with skipping one wash.

Besides the shampoo, nothing has really changed. I use my curly hair approved conditioners and gels. So if you have scalp problems, you can still take care of your curls! It just means washing your hair hair more often, which is a bit more work. That is why I don’t always feel like applying gel and I might just use shampoo and conditioner and call it a day. Currently just having clean hair feels amazing.

I’m so happy that I managed to find help for my hair problems. I’m so happy that I got my curls back too! It honestly felt like it did when I first started the curly girl method. I had curly hair! I had curls! It was the same excitement all over again.

New curly hair products

Since then I have tried some new products and I have some new curly hair product recommendations. I listed all the products I used for the curls you see in these photos. (You’ll find all my other recommendations from the curly hair 101 post.)

1-2 per week *
*Ketoconazole shampoo – the specific one I use is Ratiopharm Ketoconazol shampoo

*Loreal Source Essentielle Shampoo
*Loreal Source Essentielle Balm
Noughty 1 Hit Wonder Cleansing Conditioner
*Ecostyler Olive Oil Curl Gel
*Aquis fast dry hair turban

The shampoo I’ve used is Loreal’s Source Essentielle Shampoo. It’s sulfate free and feels gentle, but effective on my hair (since a very clean scalp has become a priority!). For conditioners, I use both the Loreal Balm and the Noughty Cleansing Conditioner. The 1 hit wonder cleansing conditioner is actually made for co-washing, but it works fine as a conditioner for me. It’s lightweight, but gives some moisture and shine to my hair. I feel like using both of these has worked great. Sometimes I use a heavier conditioner and sometimes a lighter one. That way my hair doesn’t get too overwhelmed, since my long wavy hair can’t take too much nourishing products.

That’s it. It feels like a stone has been lifted from my chest! I’m sure I’m not alone with my scalp and curl problems, so it felt important to share. Have you experienced something similar?


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