Do you want gorgeous, healthy hair? Perhaps you should shift your focus from hair care to scalp care. You may have done it all your life but its always good to go back to the roots with some TLC..Having grown up in a salon, invigorating head massages and pampering spas were a very regular part of my life well, it has been a privileged life and taking care of my hair meant nurturing and caring for the scalp. To a large extent, Bengali genes and the daily diet including fish, helped in maintaining good hair health. Hair woes began when I stepped out of the comforts of home and moved to Delhi for further studies and subsequently started working. All that I managed to do was wash my long hair every day and blow dry it with a blast of hot air two of the worst things that you can do to your crowning glory, which I would learn later in life.On one particularly stressful day, my awareness was brought back to the scalp when the roots of my hair started hurting. It was like an alarm bell that made me realise that my scalp needs attention. I headed to the salon for a head massage and the therapist was shocked how tense and stretched my scalp felt. With gentle kneading strokes, she gradually eased out the tension in the body and mind. This incident made me realise that healthy hair equals to healthy scalp. For last 15 years a weekly head massage has become an integral part of my health routine. Along with that I try to shampoo my hair thrice a week, take vitamin and mineral supplements as directed by my dermatologist, and de-stress myself through yoga and meditation. But is that enough? Here are my learnings.Why is Scalp Health Important for Hair Health?Scalp Health or Scalp Facials are the beauty buzzwords of the season, and thats undoubtedly a good trend to hop on to. Hair fall, dandruff, itchy scalp, thinning hair these are all perennial concerns. However, to address them, we have been focusing] on hair health and treatments, and given very little thought or time to the scalp. Delhi-based dermatologist Dr Chiranjiv Chhabra, Mumbai-based dermatologist, and author Dr Jaishree Sharad, and celebrity hair designer, Rod Anker, unanimously believe that the scalp is the soil of the hair and hence healthy scalp is a pre-requisite for healthy hair. Chhabra says, If the scalp is well nourished and hydrated then the hair will also be healthy, hydrated and lustrous. Hence, it needs to be clean, devoid of infections and ailments. Sharad adds that an unhealthy scalp can also lead to hair loss a red flag for all of us. I personally believe in treating my scalp as well as my skin. Therefore, I love the concept of Scalp Facials and often treat myself to a good head massage, an exfoliating hair pack, mild shampoo followed by gentle blow dry, hair tonic application on the scalp and hair serum on strands. Albeit it is time consuming, and I may be judged for having the luxury of leading a slow life, but a little attention now, can ward off anxieties due to hair loss later in life.What Are the Red Alerts from the Scalp?Sharad says, You need to pay attention to your scalp if you have dandruff, flaky scalp, itching, burning, redness, excessive oil secretion, bald patches on the scalp. For me, the first signal is taut scalp followed by excessive hair fall and tense hair roots. Anker advises that one must keep a watch on the shampoo that you are using. Dry and sensitive scalp could be a reaction to the shampoo. Even excessively oily scalp requiring a hair wash every day could also be a signal for concern. Thinning hairline is another indication from the scalp asking for attention.How to bid Adieu to the Pesky Dandruff?Experts caution that flaky skin is not always dandruff. Sharad says, First of all, you must differentiate between dandruff and other scalp conditions which mimic dandruff such as seborrheic dermatitis and psoriasis. Hence, to rule out medical conditions get your scalp examined by a dermatologist. Chhabra says that itchy scalp could be a side effect of dandruff but if it is severe a persistent, then a doctors advice is needed. Anker believes that shampoo again can be the cause of dandruff and hence recommends the use of sulphate-free shampoos. He adds that sometimes product build-up on the scalps can lead to dandruff and hence a daily use of an appropriate shampoo can clear out the problem.What About Our Good Old Champi?The jury is still out on the benefits of champi or head massage. While Anker is critical about oils and massages, Sharad is in favour of a champi. She says, A traditional champi is quite a stressbuster but it should be done on a clean and healthy scalp. Oil is a good conditioner and massaging also improves the blood circulation to the scalp hair momentarily. However, she cautions that oiling and massaging should be avoided if there is flaking, itching or burning of the scalp. Chhabra is also a champi loyalist and often uses carrier oils like mustard, olive, coconut and almond oil with some essential oils to massage her scalp. I too love a head massage with a mix of olive oil and coconut oil, along with essential oils like ginger, cedarwood, rosemary, tea tree and lemon.How to Maintain a Healthy Scalp?I believe in daily routines be it for skincare, fitness, spiritual practices and scalp health as well. Having used and reviewed beauty products for years, I have learnt that no matter how good a product is, for it to be effective one must use it regularly. In fact, following a minimal, daily skincare routine with the simplest of products can do better than a battery of luxurious products used intermittently. Much like following the CTM regimen for face, I follow a simple routine for hair. That includes:1. Get a head massage done once a week. Theres no need to apply the oil hours before washing it. Just keeping it for an hour or so is great.2. Wash the scalp with a shampoo thrice a week. Please remember to massage to scalp to clean it and wash your hair out thoroughly.3. Blow drying the hair after every wash. No, using a hair dryer is not harmful, when done the right way. If you are in a hurry, dont try air drying your hair. Blow dry at a moderate speed and warm air not a hot air blast.4. In between hair washes I use a blend of essential oils to nourish the hair and keep the strands healthy.