Before beginning this post, it must be made clear that scalp shine is not necessarily a bad thing. There are some that believe it looks good and it really depends on how a man carries this look. In fact there are online communities out there that actually encourage head shine, and share tips on how to achieve the best results in this regard. The purpose of this article however is to help those who wish to reduce or prevent scalp shine, not those who wish to enhance it.
Not just the exclusive concern of those who have had scalp micropigmentation for hair loss, reducing shine as light bounces off the head is a mission of many men around the world. Those who are totally bald, those with shaven heads and of course, those with scalp micropigmentation, generally wish to reduce the extent to which their heads shine. This article explains some practical methods to stop it.
How closely do you shave?
A smooth head will always shine more than a scalp with some sort of texture (hair), because there is nothing to disturb the reflection of light from bare skin.
For some who are completely bald, perhaps in Norwood 5+ territory, there isn’t much they can do about that. If the hair isn’t there, what else can they do? If however, you do have some hair remaining, even a little, consider shaving with the grain instead of against it, or dispensing with the wet blade in favour of an electric shaver, or even a close-cutting clipper like the Wahl Balding variety.
How much oil does your scalp produce?
The production of scalp oil, or sebum, is a natural process that helps to protect your skin from bacteria. Halting your sebum output is difficult, in some cases impossible, and to be honest a little ill advised anyway. There are, however, steps you can take to keep it under control.
Wash your scalp regularly using an exfoliant. I use the same scrub I use on my face (Loreal MenExpert Pure & Matte to be exact), washing my head and face at the same time in the shower each morning. Keep a packet of facial wipes handy in the glove box of your car. They’re ideal for an impromptu and discreet wipe of the scalp, whenever the need and opportunity presents itself. Astringent wipes that contain witch hazel or similar are ideal.
Avoid products that are particularly drying, as they will actually encourage the production of more sebum to compensate. Use a light non-greasy moisturiser twice a day to keep moisture levels topped up.
Don’t sweat it!
Like sebum production, sweating is a normal and essential bodily function, although it can make your scalp shine like crazy. If you’re hitting the gym, doing some other exercise or are likely to be exposed to an unusually hot environment, plan ahead and take something with you so you have the option of discreetly wiping off the sweat. In the gym discretion is less important, but if you’re wearing your best suit and sweating because you’ve just lugged a box of paperwork to the upper floor of your workplace, a more covert option may be useful.
Choose the right products
Scalp micropigmentation treatments are intended to create an illusion of hair. This semblance of hair is at its best when any remaining real hair is shaved down. A wet shave is all that is necessary to make it look this way. It is recommended to shave with the grain because this will leave a minute amount of hair to act as an absorber of light that could potentially bounce off the scalp. It could also help to prevent irritation of the scalp, as shaving with the grain is much more comfortable than shaving against it.
Daily maintenance should include keeping your scalp clean to avoid shine-enhancing oil gathering on its surface. A mild soap is perfectly adequate, however many men prefer a facial scrub to provide more effective exfoliation. I tend to agree, in fact I use Loreal MenExpert Pure & Matte cleanser. I’ve been using it for years, and I am yet to find something better.
Matte cleansers in general can help to provide a matte effect, though they are sold at a higher price than regular cleansers. Remember that the products you use towards the end of your routine, for example the moisturizer you choose, will have a greater effect on the level of shine you experience throughout the day. The patient still needs to moisturize after they clean their scalp and it is likely that he would like to apply an actual mattifier as well. Cleansers such as Loreal MenExpert Pure & Matte and Men-U Matt Skin Refresh Gel cannot provide any kind of anti-shine effect if the other products in your bathroom cabinet are unsuitable. I use the Loreal product because I like it, not because of any promised matte effect.
Avoid any oil-based sunscreens and heavy moisturisers as these will cause a shiny scalp. These products are available in matte variants which are far more suitable, as long as they really do produce a matte effect. Not all do.
Purchasing a high quality moisturizer with a matte effect is a good investment. The following products are among the most effective in the market:
- Jack Black All Day Oil Control Lotion
- HeadBlade Headlube Matte
- Clinique For Men Oil Control Mattifying Moisturiser
- Recipe For Men Anti-Shine Moisturiser
- Dermalogica Clear Start Oil Clearing Matte Moisturiser (SPF15).
Another far cheaper option is Nivea Aftersun Lotion because of its light texture that would not become too shiny upon application. Aftersun is basically a thin moisturizer and is perfect for what we need, even though it is not marketed as a ‘matte’ product.
Using a mattifier after applying moisturizer is often the best way to address a shiny scalp, because these are specifically manufactured for the very purpose of doing so. The following are among the most popular to use:
- Peter Thomas Roth Mattifying Gel
- Neals Yard Remedies Purifying Palmarosa Mattifier
- Mary Kay Oil Mattifier.
They come however, at a premium price and can be switched with baby talcum powder for daily use. A more effective option is Clubman Pinaud flesh colored talc though again it would be a bit more expensive.
Try milk of magnesia although this is not specifically a mattifier. There has been good feedback on its matte effects but be mindful to wipe it away after a few minutes to avoid any build-up of residue.
A little perspective
Experiencing a little shine on your head is a natural manifestation when the hair is lost. A scalp micropigmentation treatment is highly susceptible because of the general absence of hair, either through loss or shaving. This treatment only simulates hair, and because the scalp should be regularly shaven to maintain the effects of the treatment, scalp shine would almost always be a regular occurrence to some extent.
The combination of oil (sebum) and a smooth scalp will almost always make it shine to some extent. There is no hiding this because of the absence of hair to absorb the light as it reflects off the head. Men sometimes feel anxious about this, and although the advice in this article will almost certainly reduce the reflection of light from the scalp, it cannot eradicate it entirely. It is hugely important not to obsess over this issue, as there is little point in trading one anxiety for another – getting scalp micropigmentation to address your hair loss, then spending your days worrying about whether your head is shining.