Most people never exfoliate their scalp, but using a scalp scrub is a key step in any healthy hair care routine. Keep reading to learn why scalp exfoliation is so important, how to choose the best scalp scrub for your hair, and how to exfoliate the scalp.
Why Scalp Exfoliation is Important
First, let’s talk about why you must make scalp exfoliation a part of your hair routine. While your body naturally replaces dead skin cells with new skin cells, sometimes it needs a little help to remove dead, dull skin. That’s where scalp exfoliation comes in. Like face exfoliation, scalp exfoliation removes dead, dull skin cells from the surface of your scalp. But scalp exfoliation and hair scrubs have a few additional benefits:
1. Hair Scrubs Help Control Dandruff
Your scalp produces a natural oil called sebum that keeps your scalp and your hair moisturized. But overproduction or buildup of sebum can feed a form of dandruff-causing yeast called Malassezia globosa. Using a scalp scrub for dandruff can help to control that yeast and reduce those pesky flakes.
When shopping for a scalp scrub for dandruff, look for one that contains natural ingredients with antifungal properties like tea tree oil or rosemary oil. My favorite scalp scrub for dandruff? Hair & Scalp Detox Scrub. This scalp scrub for dandruff is formulated with organic rosemary leaf oil, which helps to eliminate fungus and relieves itchiness from dandruff.
Want to learn more about dandruff? Then read this post “Dandruff: What Your Dry, Flaky Scalp is Trying to Tell You”.
2. Hair Scrubs Promote Volume
Hair scrubs, also known as exfoliating shampoos, are also adept at removing buildup from styling products, hard water, etc. So why is this important? That buildup can leave you with greasy hair and an oily scalp. If you’ve ever washed your hair with a regular shampoo, only to find it still oily-looking, that’s buildup! And if you have fine or thinning hair, the buildup is even more noticeable. A good exfoliating shampoo removes that buildup for hair that’s soft, shiny, and voluminous.
3. Hair Scrubs Soothe Itchiness
Buildup from styling products, hard water, and sebum can also leave the scalp itchy and irritated. Sometimes that buildup can cause inflammation at the roots that makes your hair “hurt”. An exfoliating shampoo gently buffs away buildup for a healthy, itch-free scalp.
Tip: If you have a dry, itchy scalp, also make sure to try Scalp Follicle Treatment & Volumizer. This product’s combination of organic, plant-based ingredients provides soothing moisture to the scalp while promoting healthy-looking hair volume.
Want to soothe scalp itchiness? Make sure to read the article "Dry, Itchy Scalp? How to Choose the Best Shampoo for a Dry Scalp".
4. Hair Scrubs Can Promote Hair Growth
Hair grows from your scalp, so it makes sense that improving your scalp health may also help your hair to grow faster. Using an exfoliating shampoo boosts blood flow to the scalp, nourishing hair follicles with the nutrients they need for healthy hair growth.
5. Hair Scrubs Balance Oil
If you suffer from an oily scalp, scalp exfoliation can help. Scrubbing away sebum buildup helps to keep oil production under control.
So how can you tell that you need to exfoliate your scalp? Here are a few signs that your scalp is due for a good scrubbing:
- Your scalp feels itchy and irritated, or your hair “hurts”.
- Your hair and scalp are greasy-looking, even when you’ve just cleansed your hair.
- You can see dry skin flakes on your scalp, hair, or clothes.
- Your hair looks lank and lifeless.
- Your hair looks dull and flat.
As you can see, scalp exfoliation has many benefits for healthy hair. Next, I’ll tell you about your options for scalp exfoliation and how to choose the best scalp scrub.
Chemical vs. Physical Scalp Exfoliation: What's the Difference?
There are two types of skin exfoliation: chemical exfoliation and physical exfoliation. Chemical exfoliation uses gentle acids to dissolve the bonds between dead skin cells, allowing them to rinse away with water. Physical exfoliators like scalp exfoliating scrubs and exfoliating shampoos, on the other hand, use a gritty ingredient like pulverised apricot kernels or sugar to gently buff away dead skin. Scalp exfoliating scrubs and exfoliating shampoos are usually often formulated with moisturizing and soothing ingredients that promote scalp health.
So why is it better to use a hair scrub for scalp exfoliation? While chemical exfoliation works well for your facial skin, the acids used in chemical exfoliants can dry out and damage your hair. So if you’re looking for scalp exfoliation, a hair scrub is your best bet.
How to Choose the Best Scalp Scrub
So how exactly do you choose the best scalp exfoliating scrub? Here’s what I recommend:
- Choose a scalp exfoliating scrub that contains neither sulfates nor silicone. Why? Because both of these ingredients are counterproductive to your hair goals. Sulfates can dry out the skin and scalp, which will cause the scalp to overproduce oil. Silicones in shampoo and conditioner, on the other hand, build upon the hair and scalp. So if you want a balanced, healthy, and clean scalp – avoid those ingredients!
- Look for a scalp exfoliating scrub that also contains moisturizing, soothing, and anti-inflammatory ingredients such as oat extract, blueberry extract, and aloe vera. These ingredients will help to improve the results of the exfoliating shampoo.
- The best scalp exfoliating scrubs also contain active ingredients that can promote hair growth and strengthen hair strands such as hydrolyzed proteins and rosemary oil.
My pick for the best scalp exfoliating scrub? Hair & Scalp Detox Scrub. This sulfate-free exfoliating shampoo buffs away dead skin as well as shine-dulling buildup from hair products, sebum, pollution, and hard water. Plus, it contains lots of hair- and scalp-loving ingredients such as:
Organic Aloe Leaf Juice – When it comes to lightweight hydration, aloe leaf juice is king. If you’ve ever applied aloe onto a sunburn, you know that this botanical ingredient provides soothing relief to irritated skin. But what you may not know is that aloe also contains many enzymes, minerals, amino acids, nutrients, and vitamins that help maintain the natural pH level of the scalp and support healthy hair growth.
Organic Rosemary Oil – Data suggests that this botanical ingredient may help to promote hair growth. A 2015 study tested whether topical application of rosemary oil or minoxidil was more effective. After six months, the participants who used rosemary oil on their scalps experienced just as much hair growth as the participants who used minoxidil. But what is most exciting about this study is that the participants who used rosemary oil didn’t experience as much scalp itching as those who used minoxidil. This study suggests that rosemary oil is just as effective as minoxidil at promoting hair growth, but with less unpleasant side effects.
Gluadin® Kera-P LM – Gluadin® is a compound made up of hydrolyzed vegan proteins AKA micro-proteins. Micro-proteins offer many benefits for the hair and scalp. For example, micro-proteins can penetrate the outer layer of the hair to rebuild stressed-out hair from the inside out. This strengthens hair, which means less breakage and more hair growth. Gluadin® also helps to protect hair against damaging free radicals.
Hair & Scalp Detox Scrub is also formulated with oat extract, carrageen moss, organic blueberry fruit extract, and organic açai fruit extract. Additionally, Hair & Scalp Detox Scrub works for all hair types, including dry, damaged, or curly hair. In fact, this exfoliating shampoo is Curly Girl Method approved and is a great option for the occasional clarifying wash that the CGM recommends.
How to Exfoliate the Scalp
Now that we’ve reviewed how to choose the best scalp exfoliating scrub, let’s talk about how to exfoliate the scalp. This is the method I like best.
- Start with a sulfate-free scrub, such as Hair & Scalp Detox Scrub. Apply to wet hair and massage into the scalp with your fingers using gentle circular motions. Focus on the scalp rather than the hair strands, just like you would with a shampoo. For more efficient exfoliation, use Hair & Scalp Detox Scrub with the Scalp Massage Brush. The Scalp Massage Brush has gentle silicone bristles and an ergonomic design that makes scalp exfoliation a cinch.
- Follow with a sulfate-free shampoo like Hair Growth & Repair Shampoo. This gentle shampoo will make sure that your hair is squeaky clean without overly drying it. (Hint: Hair Growth & Repair Shampoo comes in several formulas for different hair needs, including a formula just for men!)
- Finish with conditioner, focusing on the lengths of your hair. This will restore any moisture lost during scalp exfoliation.
- Rinse hair thoroughly with lukewarm water. While hot water feels amazing, it can also dry out the hair and skin. Not what you want! Remember, healthy hair is hydrated hair.
- If you’re looking for a more gentle exfoliation that you can do more often, use the Scalp Massage Brush with shampoo or just on dry hair.
Now that you know how to exfoliate the scalp, you may be wondering how often to do it. How often you should exfoliate depends on many conditions, so there’s no one-size-fits-all recommendation. But there are a few factors that may mean you’ll need to exfoliate your scalp more, including:
- You use a lot of hair styling products, especially products that contain silicones that leave a residue on the scalp and hair.
- You have oily skin.
- You live in a hot and humid climate.
My advice? It’s time to exfoliate when your hair looks greasy (even when it’s clean) or your scalp starts to feel oily and itchy. Another sign that your scalp needs a good scrubbing is when your hair looks lank and lifeless.
It’s worth noting that, as with all good things in life, moderation is key. While scalp exfoliation is important for a healthy hair routine, too much scalp exfoliation can be a bad thing for your hair. Pay attention to how your hair and scalp look and feel to find the right exfoliation routine for you.
Hopefully I’ve now convinced you of the importance of adding an exfoliating shampoo to your routine. Periodic scalp exfoliation promotes a healthy scalp, shiny hair, and regular hair growth.
PS: If you’re ready to get started with a hair scrub, I recommend the Scalp Rehab Box. This scalp health kit includes Hair & Scalp Detox Scrub, Scalp Massage Brush, and Scalp Follicle Treatment & Volumizer. When you purchase these scalp-boosting treatments together, you save 14%!