Healthy Scalp Microbiomes, could these be the route to Healthy Hair?

Healthy Scalp Microbiomes, could these be the route to Healthy Hair?

A healthy head of hair starts with a healthy scalp.

On our scalp, as well as a chemical, physical and immune barrier we have a living layer know as a ‘microbial biofilm’ or microbiome – the two terms are interchangeable.

Humans are covered with microbes - inside and out. A living world consisting of bacteria, fungi, viruses, micro-eukaryotes (mites to you and me), archaea (single celled organisms without a nuclei)  and phages. This complex, living diverse world helps maintain a healthy skin and gut.

In recent years we have been discovering how important our gut microbiome is to our health and wellbeing. The evidence that a healthy diverse microbiome supports a healthy gut, body and mind are irrefutable.

Like your gut, your skin has an equally important balance of microbes, [i]  - get this balance wrong on the scalp and you are more prone to problems such as dandruff, itching and reduced hair growth. The more diverse your microbiome is the healthier the scalp, while the reverse is also true- a less diverse or imbalanced (dysbiotic ) microbiome being linked with increased  skin and scalp  problems  .

For example, one important scalp problem is dandruff, a common disorder resulting in an itchy dry scalp with excessive shedding of skin (often visible on your shoulders when it falls out of your hair).

We have long known that dandruff has been associated with the  overgrowth of the fungi Malassezia, however, emerging evidence now  shows us that it’s  the balance if Malassezia to other  microbes living on your scalp that is more important that a pure overgrowth of Malassezia [ii]

 The skin is the body’s largest organ. The micro-organisms colonising our skin vary according to where on the body they are, for example our scalp has many sebaceous glands each connected to a hair follicle, (take a look at our web page - hair the inside story for a diagram of this).  These glands secret a lipid-rich substance called sebum, which works to lubricate the hair and skin. Within these glands there are specific microbial communities unique to this area only while on a different part of our skin we will have a completely different body of microbes.

 Studies have shown that our immune system can change our microbiome, but the reverse is also true i.e our microbiome educates our immune system, in other words a healthy skin and gut  impacts on our immune system. [iii]

While we know that we have a skin microbiome, made up of different microbes depending on where on the body you are and that an imbalance of these microbes can lead to skin problems, science is still a little unclear on the ‘chicken and egg’ scenario, which comes first? the microbial imbalance causing the problem or another underlying skin problem resulting in a microbial imbalance. There is still a lot to learn in the science of the body’s microbiome which is only partially understood.

What we at An’du want to know is how we can harness what is known to date to give you beautiful hair with a healthy scalp.

 Maintaining healthy shiny looking hair involves two things.

Firstly, looking after it from the outside - a gentle pH balanced shampoo and conditioner, gentle drying reducing friction so minimizing damage to the hair shaft, minimal use of the hair dryer as well as a sensible frequency of washes , too much and you will strip away those valuable oils, too little and the dirt and debris build up which  will start to damage your scalp.

Secondly, you need to maintain a healthy scalp – this includes a healthy scalp microbiome.

This in turn  can be done in two ways.

  1. Your diet, your microbial biofilm on your scalp is linked to the microbes in your gut ,a dysbiotic gut microbiome may impact regulation of the hair cycle, such as supplying nutrients, synthesizing certain vitamins, and giving feedback to  aspects of the immune system [iv] so a diet rich in pre, pro and post biotics is essential for healthy skin and hair[v] 

         Foods rich in prebiotic’s are high in a substance called inulin.  

          examples of which are onions, leeks garlic, asparagus, bananas.

          and oats.

        Foods rich in probiotics and post -biotics include all fermented foods,

        such as kefir, kombucha, sauerkraut and miso.

        2.  There is mounting evidence that topical application of post -biotics helps support the skin microbiome externally. Products made via natural fermentation contain, as a bi product, substances called post-biotics, these have been shown to easily penetrate the skin membrane where they can help support actions such as hair repair, skin protection, moisturization ( that’s the fatty acids working) and pH balance, they also act as a food source for the skin microbiome. [vi]

So, supporting your microbiome both internally and externally has now been proven to maximise your chances of a healthy head of hair.


All An’du products have the dual action described above. They are pH balanced, sulphate, silicone and petrochemical free i.e they are gentle shampoos, but, unique to any other shampoo bar in the UK, they also contain cleansers made via fermentation. This way they contain post-biotics, which as stated above have been shown to support the scalp in numerous different ways.

So, for healthy hair, a healthy scalp microbiome does matter and at An’du we help you support it in every way that we can.






[i]  Kuo-Feng Huang et al. Collapse of human scalp microbiome network in dandruff and seborrheic dermatitis, Experimental Dermatology 2017, Letters to the editor pp 835 - 837. reduction in diversity linked with skin problems.


[ii] Tsai et al . Probiotics, probiotics and the amelioration of diseases. Journal of biomedical science 2019: 26:3 dysbiosis ( upset of microbial balance) can lead to hair loss.


[iii] Cutaneous Barriers and Skin Immunity: Differentiating A Connected Network, Stefanie Eyerich, Kilian Eyerich, Claudia Traidl-Hoffmann, Tilo Biedermann, March 15 , 2018 microbial biofilm made of good bacteria and interact with immune cells helping support immune function.


[iv] Practical Dermatology , September 2019 supplement - exploring the connection between gut health and hair.


[v] Poak-Witka, K Rudnicka, L Blume-Peytavi, U, and Vogt, Annika. The role of the microbiome in scalp hair follicle biology and disease. Experimental Dermatology 2019:1-9 inflammation leads to hair loss. and James A. Sanford and Richard L. Gallo*Semin Immunol. 2013 Nov 30; 25(5): 370–377


[vi] Microbial Biosurfactants in Cosmetic and Personal Skincare Pharmaceutical Formulations Simms A. Adu , Patrick J. Naughton  , Roger Marchant and Ibrahim M. Banat .

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