Anyone with dandruff and itchy scalp problems can relate to this scenario: it always starts with a small itch on one spot. But before you know it, it escalates into a full-blown hulk-like scalp-scratching fest all over your head.
It’s even more embarrassing when your scalp starts to itch and flake in public, moreso if you’re wearing a dark top and end up with a visible snowfall of dandruff over your shoulders. Yes, I know this all too well, having struggled with dandruff problems on-and-off for most of my adult life.
In my quest to find a reliable fix for bad dandruff days, I’ve tried a lot of solutions within a tight budget. This is what has gone down so far:
Possibly the worst part about having itchy scalp and dandruff is that, I never know when it’s going to happen. There are days – even weeks – where my scalp can be completely flake-free, but on others, it’s as if my head’s shedding skin like a reptile does.
Dandruff can be caused by a myriad of things, from naturally oily scalps and skin disorders such as psoriasis, to external factors like hair products and fungal or bacterial infections. It has also been said that stress tends to aggravate itching. In my case, it seems to be random occurrences – almost like eczema, mixed with stress-fueled bouts of dandruff.
To me, fine flakes are more annoying than large ones, especially when they seem to always feel more uncontrollably itchy.
For me, it has occurred most often after a long day at work when my scalp tends to be oilier than usual. Other times, it happens in the morning after I’ve washed my hair at night. On rare days when my condition is at its worst, I’ve even experienced waking up in the middle of night with uncontrollable itching on my scalp.
So here’s the thing – I’ve refused to seek professional help for a couple of reasons: 1. They’re on the costly side, and cannot guarantee a permanent cure. 2. My condition is considerably mild, and I’m lucky not to have more severe cracked skin, flaking and swelling – my itchy spells usually go away within a week or so, depending on how much effort I put into managing it.
I’ve fallen back on some convenient home remedies instead, and here’s my bittersweet experience with them:
Anti-dandruff shampoo: This is probably everyone’s first go-to solution, because you can kill 2 birds with 1 stone – wash your hair and eliminate those flakes. But 9/10 times, it does little to stop the itching. Switching hair product brands doesn’t make much difference and it usually takes extended use for it to finally “work”. But that could also be thanks to other methods I’ve used concurrently.
Over-the-counter medicated treatments: In the past when my dandruff was worse, I tried the strong stuff – those with funky ingredients like tar for symptomatic relief and selenium sulfide which eliminates bacteria. Those usually did the trick after continuous use, but I wasn’t a fan of the chemical-like smells and the fact that you can only use it 1-2 times a day on wet hair so it doesn’t offer immediate relief.
Prevention methods: I try to never wash my hair past 8PM so that it can dry out fully before I sleep, and to always blow-dry it if I do have to wash it at night. But this is always a hit-and-miss, and the latter often results in an over-dried scalp which aggravates more itching.
Many websites also say that dandruff can be caused by lack of thorough washing of hair. But anyone with this condition will agree that we can wash our hair 10 times a day, through and through, but it doesn’t offer any respite. Another method is to simply avoid the urge to scratch, but we all know that’s as good as trying to stop a natural reflex… like breathing.
If something has the ability to give me instant relief from embarrassing itching and flaking, you can bet I’d be more than willing to give it a try. Before my editor could even finish asking, “who has dandruff problems and wants to try…” I was already at her desk with my arms stretched out.
That was my first encounter with Suu Balm’s Rapid Itch Relief Scalp Spray Moisturiser. Soothing menthol? Check. Moisturiser? Check. Alcohol and paraben-free? Check. This water-based formula isn’t just aimed towards those with constantly itchy scalps, it’s safe to use on sensitive skin and has anti-inflammatory and anti-fungal ingredients.
Here’s how it fared against my temperamental scalp:
Let’s talk about logistics first. I was glad to know that the spray is easily portable and travel-friendly, given its 100ml size that easily fits into makeup pouches. It also comes with a detachable safety lock for the nozzle so you won’t accidentally end up spraying the product all over your bag.
Applying the solution is also extremely straightforward: just direct the nozzle to problem areas, spray against the scalp, and gently massage the solution in. Unlike products that you have to deposit over your head with your eyes shut, this spray won’t warrant unwanted drizzling down your neck or into your eyes* as long as you don’t spam spray your entire head.
*Disclaimer: Do, of course, avoid letting the product get into your eyes and ears.
Within a few seconds of spraying it onto my scalp, I could already feel the menthol effect work its magic, even when it was on a tiny spot. This effectively distracted from the itching, and didn’t leave any uncomfortable greasy or sticky residue on my scalp and hair. The watery solution only made the roots of my hair damp, but it dried out soon after.
The nozzle helps with easy application directly to problem areas on the scalp
When I did use it all over my head, the soothing menthol effect seemed to last for up to 2-3 hours, which I thoroughly welcomed during a stressful day at work. I didn’t have to subtly scratch my head and avoid disapproving glances on my morning commute on the MRT, and it didn’t exude any unwanted odours in favour of a minty scent.
If my scalp started acting up in the middle of the workday, it was easy enough to skidaddle off to the restroom for 5 minutes to apply it before continuing with my day. When I used it before going to bed, the cooling menthol was godsent to help me get a good night’s sleep with no itching.
Fine flakes were unfortunately still present on my scalp, but at least any red or swelled spots were soothed, and I stopped having to scratch my head so often.
One thing that stood out to me was that I could use the spray as often as I needed. There’s no limit as to how many times a day you can use it, but it’s recommended for use whenever your scalp is itchy, dry, or flaking.
Convenience was a main factor here, because I didn’t have to wait till I showered to use my anti-dandruff shampoo or scalp treatments. And instead of having to add 3-5 more careful steps to my routine, the Rapid Itch Relief Spray Moisturiser offered an instant fix.
This is particularly useful for those who are already using methods like medicated treatments, as it helps to provide symptomatic relief and prevent scratching which can cause excessive damage to the scalp.
In case you aren’t already familiar with Suu Balm, this homegrown brand has a myriad of solutions for common itchy skin conditions like eczema, dry and sensitive skin, and psoriasis. Their products are available for purchase online, or at commonly-found pharmacies such as Watsons, Guardian and Unity across Singapore.
If you too suffer from an itchy scalp, you’ll be glad to know that a 100ml bottle of Rapid Itch Relief Scalp Spray Moisturiser costs a reasonable $38.90. They even offer free shipping if you’re ordering it from Singapore, Malaysia, Hong Kong and Ireland, so you don’t have to scour store shelves for it.
And great news for those who love a good bargain, you can get 20% off the scalp spray when you use the promo code TSLSCALP20 from now till 31st March 2020.
While there isn’t a permanent cure for dandruff, you can get to the root of the problem by halting that urge to scratch while treating the symptoms with this spray. You’ll no longer have embarrassing bouts of scratching in public, and you’ll have an immediate solution on-hand even when you’re on-the-go.
This post was brought to you by Suu Balm.
Photography by Irfan Syafiq.
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