Open Dialogue: How to Talk to Your Clients About Dandruff

We spoke to Patrick McIvor, Artistic & TechniCulture Director for Goldwell and KMS California, to get his expert advice on how to help clients address the dandruff issue. Read the interview below and then head to Launchpad's December digital edition for our dandruff-nixing product suggestions.

Dandruff can be a potentially embarrassing subject for clients. How do you approach talking to a client who has dandruff? When is it a stylist’s role to bring this up? 

The first things to realize is that there is a difference between a dry scalp and dandruff even though the 2 are often confused and their names seem to be interchangeable. Dry scalp is a natural occurrence and is part of the body’s natural growth of new cells replacing old cells, which are on the outer most layer of our dermis, and the old cells are falling off. Dry climate, sometimes diet and products that can be drying can make a dry scalp worse and moisture is the answer. Dandruff, however, is an ailment, which is caused by yeast, excessive oil and skin cells that create the right environment for scalp fungus to cause dandruff. When talking with a guest who has dandruff, realize that it’s probably no secret to them that something is not right with their scalp. Outside of making an appointment with a doctor, we have been trained to recognize ailments of the scalp and recommend treatments or referrals, that’s why we have licenses! It is part of our professional responsibility to advise people on how to maintain healthy hair and scalp!

What care and product advice would you give to clients who have dandruff?

Years ago there were huge differences between prescription medicine and what an individual could get without a prescription, but today that is different. From the commercials on TV for drugs that say “now available without a prescription,” we too have benefited from this in our industry.  Today, the “medicated” shampoos and treatments we can offer a guest from our salons right from our retail shelves are nearly identical in result to what people used to need a doctor's appointment and a prescription to achieve.

Is there anything clients should avoid doing or products that could unintentionally make the problem worse?

First thing is, have guests realize they can relax, we probably have the answers for them, unless their condition is severe or chronic. For many, a dry scalp can be seasonal depending on where they live, and changing to more moisturizing products will help correct this. But for some, the overuse or misuse of products could make things worse. Examples include a dry shampoo being repeatedly applied to the scalp that is already dry or not cleansing the scalp often enough.

How can a client maintain a healthy scalp once the problem is seemingly under control?

Once the challenge has been controlled it needs to be maintained. For some it may be an annual change of their haircare regiment to one that is more moisture-based when the season gets dry. For others it may be a condition that needs to be maintained by using a medicated shampoo once to a few times a week to keep not only their hair beautiful but also their scalp and shoulders flake free.

[Getty Images/Tetra images]

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