Understanding Scalp Anatomy & its Care

We always put so much efforts about discussing various hair issues. However, we lose sight of the source- the Scalp. The key to understand the difference in experience among people with respect to any sort of hair condition or issue is to have understanding of the scalp and how different types of scalps yield different results.

Scalp is the anatomic region covering the upper surface of your head. It extends from the top of your forehead to the skullcap, bordered anteriorly by your face. It reaches down laterally to your ears and cheekbones, connected posteriorly by your neck.

Your scalp comprises five soft tissue layers that act as a barrier to protect your skullcap, defending foreign elements’ entry into your body. It serves you aesthetically as an area where hair can grow to cover the surface of your head.

  • Skin
  • Connective tissue
  • Epicranial 
  • Aponeurosis
  • Loose connective tissue
  • Pericranium (periostium)

These layers can easily be remembered using the handy mnemonic SCALP.

The first three of the layers are tightly bound and, more or less, act as a single unit. Those layers are the skin, connective tissue, and epicranial aponeurosis. The skin is where you will find the hair follicles then, below the skin, is the connective tissue directly attaching the skin to the epicranial aponeurosis – which acts as a tendon connecting the muscles from the front and back of the scalp. Below that we have another layer of connective tissue. This one is looser than the previous layer and allows more mobility. It is important to note that both layers of connective tissue in the scalp are dense with blood vessels, which is (in part) why damage to the scalp can cause profuse bleeding. The final layer, periosteum, is a dense connective tissue connecting the scalp to the skull; serving this purpose from the forehead down the back of the head where it meets the neck.



The skin (dermis) is a thick layer containing hair follicles and sebaceous glands densely scattered around it. It is the upper layer of your scalp that can slide over the connective tissue beneath it, the reason why the skin has gentle movement.

The epidermis of the scalp contains multiple layers. These include :

  • stratum corneum 
  • stratum spinosum 
  • stratum basale
  • stratum granulosum

Beneath the epidermis, the dermis is found. This is the portion of skin that contains structures such as the hair follicles, sweat glands, and dermal papillae. The dermal papillae is stromal and comprised of connective tissue. There is also a thicker layer of connective tissue beneath known as the reticular layer. This extends to the subcutaneous layer (hypodermis), which is positioned above the fascia. Within the subcutaneous layer, the basal portion of sweat glands can be found. There are many hair follicles on the skin of the scalp. They are densely packed together and often oriented at an angle from the scalp.

The skin of the scalp is highly innervated with blood vessels and sensory receptors known as Pacinian corpuscles. The corpuscles are egg-shaped and comprise many concentric rings of tissue layers. They are innervated with a free nerve ending and therefore work as deep pressure receptors to external stimuli.


Also referred to as the superficial fascia, the connective tissue of the scalp is a fibrofatty layer. This layer forms the bridge between the skin and the epicranial aponeurosis by connecting the two together.  The blood vessels are highly adherent to this dense collagenous connective tissue. It is a passageway for nerves and blood vessels. The roots of your hair follicles extend deeper into this layer.


The aponeurosis also called Epicranial aponeurosis is a thin but tough layer of fibrous tendinous tissue that connects your scalp muscles. It is an immobile and tough tissue tightly attached to the dense connective layer. Aponeurosis serves to prevent stretching of the scalp.


As its name might suggest, this type of tissue forms a loose connection between the epicranial aponeurosis and the pericranium. This allows the other layers of the scalp to slide over the pericranium. Loose areolar tissue comprises a network of reticular fiberselastic tissue, and collagen. Since this is a loose connective tissue, cell types vary beyond fibrocytes and can include plasma cells, mast cells, and adipocytes.

The tissue contains numerous blood vessels and veins that connect to the blood channels of your skull. It acts as a flexible plane to separate the top three layers from the bottom layer.


It is the deepest layer of your scalp composed of dense irregular connective tissues. Pericranium tightly adheres to the skull’s upper bone, covering the outer surface of your skull. It is made up of dense irregular connective tissue. It has 2 distinct layers; the fibrous layer (outermost) and the cambium layer, which is the innermost layer. The fibrous layer of the pericranium contains fibroblasts. Meanwhile, the cambium layer contains progenitor cells which later develop and form osteoblasts. It supports the skull’s calvarium with a vascular supply.


There are three basic scalp types: Dry, Oily, and Normal.

  1. Dry scalps can result in dry, frizzy hair that breaks more easily – as well as a build-up in dry skin on the scalp that comes off in small flakes known as dandruff.
  2. Oily scalps usually lead to acne from clogged-up pores as well as dandruff.
  3. Normal scalps (which is rarer) tend to be drier in the winter months and more oily in the summer… maintaining a balance without much need for any particular hair and scalp products.


Ayurveda emphasizes the balance of bioenergies, the doshas namely: Vata, Pitta, and Kapha.  in your body constitution plays a significant role in keeping your scalp healthy. Each elevated dosha exhibits different characteristics of your scalp.

  1. Vata (dry, frizzy, dandruff, nutrient depletion): The scalp is dry and this sometimes causes itchiness and dandruff. Vata scalp grows hair that is thin, sometimes wiry or frizzy and has a tendency towards curliness and/or dryness. Vata type hair and scalp requires nourishment. One should wash hair less frequently to retain natural oils in the scalp. To tame the dryness and curliness, regular warm oil treatments are beneficial. After washing, towel dry the hair and use a small amount of oil on the ends. For a deeper treatment, do lukewarm oil head massage and then leave on the hair overnight. Rinsing off the following morning and washing with a gentle shampoo.

Ingredients to favour: Almond, coconut, jojoba & argan oil

  1. Pitta (inflammation, scaling of the skin, scalp irritation). Pitta type scalp requires cooling down and de-greasing. Washing the hair and scalp daily or every other day is recommended if the oiliness is quite prominent. Use shampoo with ingredients like neem and amla to keep the oiliness bay as well as having a cooling effect on the head. This will help in preventing hair loss and premature greying. It is very important that the head is covered in places of direct sunlight as this will help immensely in preventing hair loss and premature greying. Also, think about rinsing the hair with cool water instead of hot.

Ingredients to favour: Mint, Neem & Coconut

  1. Kapha (oily, greasy scalp, dandruff, scalp irritation) Kapha scalp has very thick, shiny, smooth, lustrous and well-nourished hair. However, it can have a tendency towards dullness when Kapha is out of balance. Kapha scalp is generally oily and have greasy dandruff and may have skin irritation. Kapha type scalp & hair will benefit from stimulating scalp treatments. This will counteract the heaviness and create a light feeling. One should use light shampoos. Lemon is an excellent ingredient for Kapha type hair. The hair need not be washed so regularly in Kapha types, but when it is washed, the use of light oil or serum is recommended to seal in the shiny and smooth quality. When outdoor, wear the hair loose. This will allow air to circulate through the scalp and prevent a build-up of grease and dirt. Regular head massage is beneficial for Kapha types to create stimulation and blood flow.

Ingredients to favour: Lemon, lemongrass & lime

Ayurvedic herbal powders and essential oils work intensely in your scalp layers to improve blood circulation and boost your scalp immunity.


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