The scalp microbiome
28th February 2019
How do you really know about what’s going on on your head?
Today I’d like to talk a bit about the wonderful unexplored jungle of the scalp microbiome.
First, let’s start with some fun facts about the scalp.
The scalp is skin, and it’s even the thickest skin on your body, an average of 8mm, compared to 0.5mm for the eyelids.
It usually has around 100,000 hairs on it.
This is where hair is born, and at birth, you already have all your hair follicles ready.
50% of men over 50 are suffering from hair loss.
Personal fun fact: I was born extremely bald and stayed that way until I was two years old. My dad used to hold me in the light to see if by any chance there was any fine hair was coming up, he was quite worried. I wore a lot of hats for a baby…
The environment of the scalp is quite different from other skin sites. If you think of your body as a planet, the arms and legs would be dry savanna, your armpits dark humid caves and the scalp would be a tropical forest. Because of its humid environment and rich sebum, you will find there a very different microbiome.
The first thing to note is the presence of a lot of yeasts, especially from the Malassezia family. In this club you will see M. restrictans. M. furfur (cool name!), M. globosa, the latest one being responsible for dandruff and seborrheic dermatitis when it gets out of control.
These yeast feed from fat and live very happily on your scalp from all the sebum.
These fungi collaborate with the bacteria neighbours. On the bacteria side, you will find common skin bacteria such as C. acnes and S. epidermidis, but also local people who seem to synthesise vitamins and nutrients essential for hair growth. I say “seem” as the scalp microbiome research is really in its infancy. But early exploration is fascinating.
For us, it made a lot of sense to preserve this microbiome rather than to wash it away with harsh shampoos, which is why we developed this Scalp & Hair care range, one of the first of its kind.