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Diane S. Berson, MD is a Board Certified Dermatologist, an Associate Professor of Dermatology at Weill Medical College of Cornell University, and an Assistant Attending Dermatologist at the New York-Presbyterian Hospital. She has a private dermatology practice in New York City. Widely regarded as one of the leading dermatologists in the United States, Dr. Berson is frequently featured in national print, broadcast, and online publications.
Our go-to dermatologist, where hair and scalp health are concerned, is the nationally recognized hair loss expert Diane Berson, MD. Given her extensive experience treating hair and scalp disorders, we figured she'd be the best resource for those of us who want to avoid problems, too. So we approached her with a question that we figured most of you would have: "What are your top tips for keeping hair and scalps healthy?" Read on for her clear, simple, and myth-busting answers.
Ayla: What do you generally recommend to your patients who want to keep their hair and scalp healthy?
1. Wash your hair gently: don’t be too rough. Remember that it’s your scalp that needs to be washed, not so much your hair — your scalp is where the oils are. So when you’re shampooing, just gently massage your scalp.
2. Washing hair every other day is fine; washing too much could dry out the hair as well as the scalp.
3. Don’t comb hair when it’s wet — or be very gentle when you do. Use conditioner and a wide-toothed comb.
4. When you’re wearing your hair back, do it loosely. I sometimes see what we call traction alopecia when patients frequently wear very tight braids or ponytails.
Ayla: Customers often mention that their hair products seem to stop working over time. Do you think there’s a benefit to switching products on a regular basis?
DR. BERSON: I don’t know if there is any science reporting that. If you have something you really like, I don’t think you necessarily need to switch it as long as it’s beneficial for your hair and scalp.
Ayla: How do you feel about dry shampoo? We’re beginning to hear from a lot of hairstylists who don’t think their clients should use so much of it.
DR. BERSON: It serves a useful purpose when needed. I think of it as using a powder on the skin. If you haven’t washed your hair and your scalp is oily, it’s analogous to powdering your nose. But use it as needed. Don’t use it too often or you’ll get a buildup of that powder on your scalp.
Ayla: What about keratin treatments? We’re noticing some interest in these now that formaldehyde-free treatments are more widely available.
DR. BERSON: Patients with wavy or frizzy hair benefit most from this cosmetically. Some patients may react to the chemicals. One benefit may be using blow dryers and curling or straightening irons less frequently, which can cause damage and breakage.
About Dr. Berson:
Diane S. Berson, MD, is an Associate Professor of Dermatology at Weill Medical College of Cornell University and an Assistant Attending Dermatologist at the New York-Presbyterian Hospital. She has a private dermatology practice in NYC and volunteers at the NY Presbyterian Hospital Department of Dermatology, where she teaches medical students and residents. Dr. Berson has been quoted in the Wall Street Journal and the New York Times, and many magazines including Allure, Town and Country, W, and More. She has also been interviewed often in the media, including NBC’s Today Show, ABC World News Tonight, and CNN Headline News. She lectures regularly at national dermatology conferences and is on the editorial boards of Practical Dermatology, Journal of Drugs in Dermatology and Dermatologic Surgery. Read more about Dr. Berson’s impressive background here.
Any topic discussed in this article is not intended as medical advice. If you have a medical concern, please check with your doctor.