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When hair follicles are blocked with excess oil and product buildup, hair can look limp and greasy. Dirty follicles can also prevent essential nutrients, vitamins, and oils from properly nourishing strands, says James Corbett, a salon owner in New York City.
TEST: Gently rub and scratch your head. Do you feel pimplelike bumps or see a white residue on your nails or fingertips? If so, try these tips.
Sweep Away Debris
Exfoliating is key to heading off scalp breakouts, caused by trapped oil and bacteria. Skip gritty shampoo scrubs and pick up a brush instead, says Corbett. Those with nubby plastic bristles (such as Conair Professional Babyliss Scalp Massage Brush, $1.99, sallybeauty.com) loosen buildup well. Starting on one side of your head, brush from your front hairline to your neck, using a semicircular motion; continue until you reach the opposite side, 10 to 15 strokes in total.
Wash More Efficiently
Shampoo only once every two or three days with this thorough approach: Wet hair, then rub a quarter-size drop of shampoo into the scalp, moving along the perimeter of your hairline. Next, using circular motions, massage with your fingertips from your temples to your crown, behind your ears to your crown and from your neck to your crown. "Try to move the scalp -- this ensures that you're using enough pressure to clean it," says Kaz Amor, a color expert at Warren Tricomi Salon in Los Angeles. Rinse until water is free of suds.
Don't Deep-Clean Often
Purifying shampoos strip your scalp of its natural oils, sending oil glands into overdrive. To prevent slick roots, "use purifiers once a month, tops," Amor says. If they leave your style flat and lifeless (likely, for those with fine hair), spritz on a primer (such as Jonathan), a special styler made with residue-free polymers, for an instant lift.