chairs at a hair salon

How to Get the Most Out of a Salon Visit When You Have Scalp Psoriasis

By Jené Luciani
May 20, 2021

Some people with scalp psoriasis find a treatment that works for them and stick with it. For example, Erin Dziados (41) of New York uses drugstore products like Neutrogena T/Sal Therapeutic Shampoo, Head & Shoulders, and Nioxin and says that “works wonders” in keeping her scalp flare-ups at bay. For others, there seems to be no relief in sight. But one thing that remains the same for people with scalp psoriasis, is that they likely get their hair cut, colored, or both, by a professional. Sitting in that stylist’s chair when you have a scaly scalp can feel embarrassing. Some people even avoid the salon altogether.

“Sadly, many of my clients who have psoriasis are self-conscious and hesitant to have their hair done professionally,” says Melissa Crosby, a veteran stylist working in Long Island and Windham, New York. But there are some ways you can make visits to the hair salon more comfortable and get the results you want.

Don’t Assume It’ll Be a Bad Experience

“We are educated on the condition, know that it’s not contagious and is nothing to be feared,” explains Kristina Canelli, a stylist at Metamorphose Salon, located in upstate New York. “Most of us choose to be stylists and it’s our job to help people look and feel their best.” So, the first step will likely be psyching yourself up to make the appointment.

Call Ahead and Ask About the Stylist

The stylist you go to can make or break the experience. Don’t be afraid to call a salon receptionist and ask if they have any stylists with specific experience working with people with psoriasis. “This condition is exacerbated by stress,” acknowledges Crosby. “The salon experience should be comfortable, welcoming, and inviting and not at all stressful.”

Book a Consultation

Christina Obie, a master stylist at J.T. Cutting Co. In Albany, New York, stresses the importance of going to someone you feel comfortable with. Stylists should know what psoriasis is and treat their clients kindly.

“In my 20 years as a hairstylist, I’ve had clients with an array of physical ailments and conditions that can affect their hair, skin, and scalp,” says Obie. “In my opinion, being a hairdresser is about more than just being skilled at doing hair—you must have empathy and social skills, as well.”

Unfortunately, that’s not always going to be the case, so Canelli recommends booking a consultation with the stylist before any treatments, and explaining any sensitivities you may have. You’ll know they’re the right fit if you feel comfortable enough with the stylist to be able to openly communicate any concerns—the consultation will help you determine that.

Ask for Product Recommendations

If you’re not finding haircare products that are working for you, you can ask your stylist for their picks. For example, Obie’s salon uses all-natural hair care products from Aveda, which she recommends to many of her clients with psoriasis, since artificial ingredients may trigger flare-ups for some people. She also counsels them on when to use them, how much to use, and really tailors her advice to clients’ specific issues. Crosby suggests her clients stay away from anything that contains alcohol or ammonia.

But know that there may be limitations on how much advice the stylist can offer. “I try to help my clients as much as possible, but there are times that I refer them to a physician to further discuss,” says Obie. “That way they can see if there’s additional means of helping them beyond what I’d recommend.”

And if you’re concerned the salon’s products could exacerbate your psoriasis, don’t let that stop you from going. Crosby encourages her clients to bring their own products if that makes them more comfortable. “I feel honored to have the opportunity to have people put their trust me,” Crosby says. “My job is to make you feel your best, and that’s how you should leave feeling.”

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