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How to Take Care of Your Scalp and Hair

By Renée Batchelor

Michelle KokFrom left: Act+Acre’s Cold Processed Scalp Detox, Hair Cleanse and Hair Conditioner.

The New York-based haircare brand Act+Acre was started by Irish hairstylist Helen Reavey and her husband Colm Mackin in late 2018. By 2019, Reavey, who had worked in New York for several years as an editorial and runway hairstylist, had created the three key products that would mark the beginning of the brand: the Cold Processed Scalp Detox, Hair Cleanse and Hair Conditioner.

Reavey’s approach to attaining scalp and hair health is not about the quick fixes one would typically find from silicone-based products, but rather by treating your scalp as one would your skin. According to Reavey, the skin on our head is as delicate as that on our face. In fact, the scalp ages six to 20 times faster than facial skin. “Sweat, pollution and oil all contribute to bacteria, build-up and clogged hair follicles. Over time, this can prevent beneficial nutrients from reaching your scalp and hair and lead to discomfort, itchiness and dandruff,” says Reavey. And if you want lustrous and shiny hair, do note that it all begins with a detoxed and balanced scalp. 

With a focus on scalp health, Reavey embarked on creating a range of gluten-free products using a cold processed method one would normally find in juicing. “For generations, the haircare industry has been using chemicals to achieve product performance, prioritising short-term benefits over the long-term health and wellness of your hair. But it’s not their fault, as artificial ingredients need to be added because nutrients evaporate during the traditional high-heat production process,” explains Reavey.

The brand’s cold-pressed method uses hyperbaric chambers, ice-cold water, and 1200 pounds of pressure to mix all of the ingredients together. Because no heat is added, the active ingredients in the formulas remain fresh and potent. “The result is a rich and potent formula that easily absorbs into your scalp, feeding it nutrients that provide long-term health for your scalp and hair. This process is used on all of our products — from the scalp detox to our cleanse and conditioner,” says Reavey. 

 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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To understand how to use the three-step process better, Reavey demonstrated it for us in our T at Home series, starting with the right way to apply the brand’s Scalp Detox and massage it into the scalp, before cleansing and conditioning.

Cleansing Tips

Reavey also helped dispel some common myths about shampooing the hair. “Contrary to popular belief, it’s actually better to wash your hair more often than not, especially if you are prone to scalp issues. As long as you are using gentle, nourishing products, no damage will arise from this,” she says. 

As tempting as it can be to take a superhot shower, extreme temperatures are also not good for the scalp. “We should be giving our scalps the same amount of care as our skin. When you wash your hair in a scalding hot or freezing cold shower, it can lead to dehydration and constriction of nutrients to the scalp,” she says. Too many styling products can also lead to a product build-up which is one of the main causes of bacteria on the scalp.

The Right Frequency

One of the most common questions that people have for stylists is how often and when the hair should be cleansed, especially taking into account the humid weather in Singapore. “Feel free to cleanse every day or every one to two days. We always recommend cleansing after a workout for removal of sweat and dirt,” says Reavey, who also told us that cleansing with just water is a bad idea, as it just runs the sweat and dirt from your scalp into your tresses without removing it. “When cleansing, use lukewarm water and double cleanse. The first cleanse removes product build-up, while the second delivers nutrients to the hair and scalp,” says Reavey.

Conditioner should always be after wringing the hair of excess water, and focussed on the mid-lengths of the hair through to your ends. As for the brand’s Scalp Detox, you should apply it once or twice a week. “Make sure to apply it to your scalp, not your actual hair. The scalp is where the majority of your dirt, sweat, and oil is located, and that’s what you should prioritise,” says Reavey. 

Sustainable Styling 

Post-shower, always treat your wet hair delicately. “Your hair is in its weakest state when wet. This means that when you run a brush through it directly after showering, you are likely causing some degree of breakage. If you must detangle your hair after showering, we recommend sticking solely to a wide-toothed comb, and gently detangling starting at the tips and working up to the root,” says Reavey. 

In our video, Reavey demonstrates an easy way to style the hair for Zoom meetings or even every day that minimises the use of heated tools. “Moderate your use of hot tools. By cutting back and only using heat a handful of times per week, you will notice a significant difference in the overall health of your hair,” says Reavey. For those with long hair, she also advocates wearing it down as much as possible. “Repeatedly tying it up in tight buns and ponytails is one of the easiest ways to cause breakage. If you have to put it up, try using satin scrunchies or loosely putting it up in a jaw clip,” she says.