Psoriasis causes accelerated skin cell growth. The buildup of skin cells results in thick red, purple, and silvery plaques or flaky skin. Scalp psoriasis can extend to your forehead, the skin around your ears, and the back of your neck.
Psoriasis is an autoimmune condition. It’s not contagious, and not your fault that you have it. Even so, it’s a condition that may cause self-consciousness. These feelings can lead to anxiety and depression. They might also make you reluctant to visit a hairstylist.
If you have psoriasis, you don’t need to skip visiting a barbershop or hair salon. But you may want to do some preparation before your appointment.
This preparation includes being ready to talk with your stylist about psoriasis. Not only can you increase psoriasis awareness by explaining your condition, but you can also decrease the chance of a flare-up occurring after a salon visit from a trigger like stress or injury to your skin.
Finding the right stylist can improve your salon or barbershop experience.
Nurse practitioner Dr. Cynthia Cobb recommends getting a referral to find a suitable stylist. “If you know of someone who also has scalp psoriasis, ask if they have a stylist recommendation,” she suggests.
If you can’t find a helpful referral, there are still steps you can take to get hair care that’s appropriate for psoriasis.
Call the salon beforehand
“Call your chosen salon ahead of time and let them know about your condition, and ask if they have a stylist who is familiar with it,” Cobb advises.
“You may need to call a few places to locate someone that you would feel comfortable with and who is also comfortable with working with your condition,” she says.
Cobb also recommends asking about the products the salon uses, and “if necessary, ask if it’s OK for you to bring your own products to be used, as often the salon’s products are harsher than those that are available for ‘general public’ use.”
Talk with your doctor
It’s a good idea to have a conversation with your doctor about psoriasis and hair care. They may have useful advice for you to consider when planning a hairstylist or barber appointment.
For example, the American Academy of Dermatology offers the following dermatologist recommendations:
- Avoid scraping or scratching your scalp when you brush your hair.
- Use caution with curling irons and rollers to avoid heat against your scalp and accidental hair pulling.
- Choose loose hairstyles that don’t pull against your scalp.
- Avoid certain treatments during a flare-up, such as perms, colors, blowouts, and relaxers.
Wash your hair the day before
Cobb suggests washing your hair the day before your salon or barber visit and using your prescribed products.
“This should help decrease the plaques and keep your scalp from being reactive to a different product used,” she explains.
Plan what you’d like the stylist to do
Most people benefit from having a specific objective in mind when they visit a stylist. This is particularly true if you have a condition like psoriasis that might be affected by stylist techniques or salon products.
Knowing in advance the cut or style you want will help you communicate your expectations to your stylist.
Psoriasis can cause discomfort, so it’s important to communicate your needs with any prospective stylists.
“Explain you are trying to find someone to work with you in obtaining the best style for your condition,” Cobb suggests.
Remember that many people have psoriasis
The National Psoriasis Foundation estimates that 3% of U.S. adults live with psoriasis. That’s more than 7.5 million people.
There’s a good chance your stylist has worked with a previous client who lives with psoriasis. Still, it’s important to ask if they have experience with this condition and if they have any questions about your skin.
Partner with your stylist
“It’s a good idea to mention prior to the start of your appointment that you are under the care of a healthcare provider for your scalp condition, and you’ve been advised that your scalp must be treated gently,” Cobb says.
You can also show your stylist the location of your scalp plaques and share your previous successful hair care strategies.
Describe your home hair care routine
“Share that your scalp should not be scrubbed to remove the plaques (no trauma to your scalp), that instruments can be used on your hair that are used on their regular clients, but that you’ve been directed by your healthcare provider to avoid hot water, tight hairstyles, hot hair dryers, and harsh brushing,” adds Cobb.
You don’t have to feel uncomfortable asking about salon products or requesting that your stylist use yours. It’s useful to talk about your home hair care routine so your stylist knows what works.
It’s also helpful to inform your stylist of any relevant doctor’s recommendations.
Keep in mind that you are the customer
You’re the person who has to live with a flare triggered by incompatible care.
So, feel free to speak up if your stylist isn’t following your requests, or if their actions are aggravating your scalp. It’s important to find a stylist who will listen. This might mean changing salons, but it’s a priority that you find a stylist who’s the right fit for you.
Cobb suggests avoiding the following:
- Salon products: Bring your own instead.
- Hot water: Ask for lukewarm water.
- Hot hair dryers: Request a cool setting.
- Scalp scrubbing: Ask the stylist to be gentle when shampooing, combing, and brushing your hair.
- Hair dye: Ask if they have a product suitable for sensitive skin.
If you have textured hair, this might mean avoiding scalp-stressing styles like braids or weaves, and processes such as heat straightening and chemical relaxers.
“Also be aware that the products that you use will cause the color applied to not last as long as expected,” says Cobb.
The right aftercare can help improve your hair care experience.
If your stylist used a product you’ve never tried before, it’s wise to watch for any post-visit allergic reactions. You can also ask about aftercare products that are compatible with the treatment you’ve had.
Taking care of your scalp after your salon visit can help make it a pleasant experience.
Everyone deserves a positive hair salon experience. If you live with psoriasis, some planning before your appointment can help you have an enjoyable visit.
Washing your hair the night before and bringing your prescription products for your stylist to use are two ways to make your appointment run smoothly.
Finding a stylist who can work with your condition can help you enjoy your visit to the barbershop or hair salon.