How To Reset Your Skin And Scalp When They're Totally Freaking Out

Every once in a while — or more often, depending on your luck and lifestyle — your skin may throw a toddler-level tantrum. That includes the skin on your scalp too, an area that's even more vulnerable to this sort of thing. (You're not exactly double-cleansing and moisturizing it on a regular basis.) The most common signs of a freak-out include, but definitely are not limited to, symptoms like itchiness, inflammation, redness, and breakouts. If you're dealing with a skin meltdown, you probably know it.

Tons of things can trigger this sort of reaction. Maybe you went a little wild with your facial cleansing brush. Maybe you were washing your hair too frequently — or too infrequently. Or, maybe that new, five-star-review serum you tried isn't exactly agreeing with your skin. Whatever the culprit, treat irritation by scaling back your routine and giving your skin and scalp a serious break. That way, you can more easily figure out and eliminate the exact cause of your skin's reaction. Freak-out, over. We've partnered with SheaMoisture to bring you a guide to resetting your skin and scalp — and keeping things calm.

Detox The Dry Shampoo

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We all know the sort of magical stuff a bottle of dry shampoo can do, like absorb oil, boost volume, and save you a ton of time after yoga class. But too much of it, combined with once-in-a-blue-moon shampooing, can lead to buildup on your scalp — and irritation. So dial back the number of days per week you use dry shampoo, and up the number you wash hair the old-school way (i.e. in the shower). Once a week, rotate in a purifying formula, like SheaMoisture African Black Soap Deep Cleansing Shampoo, which deeply cleanses and soothes the scalp with tea tree oil.

Scale Down Your Skincare

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If your bathroom cabinet is spilling over with bottles of serum and jars of cream — and your skin is still a mess — consider taking a step back in your routine. We mean way back, like limiting it to cleanser, moisturizer, and sunscreen only. Without a jumble of active ingredients (which are best in moderation), your skin can get a chance to rebalance and heal. Plus, you can then re-introduce your formulas one-by-one to figure out which caused the freak-out in the first place.

Air-Dry Your Hair

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Unplug your straightening iron! Put the hair dryer back in the drawer! The high heat from your styling tools can exacerbate any weird situation that may be happening on your scalp. Try to go a full week air-drying. You can apply an oil or serum on your ends if they feel dry, but otherwise, keep your scalp clean and free of styling products. The heat-and-product break will give it a chance to recover from that daily damage.

Mask With Mud

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We love a sheet mask as much as the next person, but when it comes to decongesting and clarifying skin, nothing beats a mud mask. SheaMoisture African Black Soap Problem Skin Facial Mask yanks out impurities and controls oil production to keep skin smooth and clear. Plus, the formula contains a blend of botanical oils, so your face will feel nourished rather than tight or squeaky-clean.

Condition Your Scalp

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Typical hair-washing advice says that you should shampoo at the roots (where hair tends to be oiler, thanks to the scalp's natural sebum) and condition at the ends (which are drier, having been exposed to the most amount of damage over time). And while that's usually the way to go, when you're dealing with a dry scalp, it can be worthwhile to bend the rules occasionally. Try conditioning all over, working a moisturizing formula into your scalp for fewer dry flakes and less itchiness. Just rinse it out thoroughly to ensure it doesn't weigh hair down.

Slow Down On Exfoliation

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Between chemical exfoliants (hi, acids!) and physical ones (looking at you, konjac sponge), it's easy to go a little overboard in your quest for clean, bright skin. That constant exfoliation can backfire, though, compromising your skin's moisture barrier and potentially leading to dryness, redness, or an annoying combo of both. If you've gone a little scrub-happy, stop exfoliating for at least one week to allow the moisture barrier to heal. Then, limit exfoliation to two or three times a week to keep it from happening again.

Minimize Your Makeup

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When your skin is having a complete meltdown, it's tempting to pile on makeup to hide the evidence. But introducing even more ingredients to the situation could actually make things worse. Instead of trying to hide it all with heavy, full-coverage foundation, just dab concealer where you need it, and consider a calming tinted moisturizer. Less is more, especially when you're dealing with a skin issue.

This post is sponsored by SheaMoisture.