If you’re like most people, you have a regular hair-care routine that includes shampoo, conditioner, styling products, and maybe even a deep conditioner or hair mask. You might also clarify, on occasion, or do a special treatment at the salon once or twice a year. But have you ever thought about how to properly care for your scalp? It turns out, shampoo is only one part of proper scalp care. Scalp exfoliation is what most of us are missing out on for a healthy scalp.
The Benefits of Scalp Exfoliation
Scalp exfoliation helps reduce itching and flaking, removes buildup, and can help with a dry or sore scalp. Just like products and minerals in hard water build up on your strands, the same happens on your scalp.
Your scalp needs to be healthy to ensure healthy new hair growth. In fact, scalp buildup can lead to hair loss and thinning, because it blocks the follicles. “Imbalanced oil, dirt, and pollution accumulate naturally on a daily basis and need to be removed from the scalp and hair so the follicle can remain balanced, clear and unclogged,” says Josh Rosebrook, hairstylist and natural skin-care-brand owner. With dry shampoo being so popular nowadays, most of us have a lot of scalp buildup that needs to be removed.
How to Exfoliate Scalp
The good news is there are several easy ways to exfoliate your scalp. You can do it with a scalp brush, by using something gritty like sugar or quinoa added to shampoo, or by using a product formulated to exfoliate the scalp like a scalp scrub or mask.
A scalp exfoliation brush is an easy way to exfoliate your scalp because you simply use it with your regular shampoo to do a good scrub of your scalp. You can use it every time you wash or less often if desired. I have my 8-year-old daughter use one of these every time she washes just to ensure she is really cleansing her scalp. It has eliminated her seborrheic dermatitis, a common scalp condition that shows up as yellow, greasy flakes and redness of the scalp.
Products like scalp scrubs and masks would be used less often but do a better job of removing product and mineral buildup compared to the brush. They are often formulated like a clarifying shampoo along with something gritty like salt or sugar or acid to remove flakes and buildup.
There are also a few cheap and easy DIY options to exfoliate your scalp. You can simply add a tablespoon of brown sugar, salt, or quinoa to a handful of your regular shampoo and get scrubbing. This works just as well as a scalp scrub, and sugar is very cleansing. For something less gritty, try an apple cider vinegar rinse. Mix 1 tablespoon of apple cider vinegar into 1 cup of water and pour the mixture over your hair after you have shampooed and conditioned, then rinse it out.
The Best Products for Scalp Exfoliation
If you’d rather not DIY and want to pick up a product that works to exfoliate your scalp, then check out the recommendations below.
This is a great scalp brush to use with any shampoo, oil, or scalp treatment. This one has nice, sturdy bristles and is a good size with an easy to hold handle.
I love using this clarifying scrub about once a month. It foams up like a regular shampoo and the salt granules don’t dissolve quickly so you can get the most out of them. The clay helps to remove mineral buildup from the scalp and hair. Because it’s clarifying, it can be drying so I would focus on just the scalp area and rinse it. It has a nice light scent and leaves my scalp feeling squeaky clean.
Briogeo has a full line of scalp-care products, and their shampoo is a scrub and shampoo in one. It has charcoal and vegetable-derived micro-exfoliators to remove buildup.
This scalp scrub is for use before shampooing. It has apple cider vinegar and tea tree oil to soothe any scalp irritation and flakes. You can use this once or twice a week.
This gentle exfoliating scrub contains apple cider vinegar and is to be used on dry hair, before washing.
This unique product is a water-based toner used on the scalp after washing. It stimulates blood supply to the scalp, has mildly astringent qualities to absorb excess oil and protects against flaking from bacteria.
Regardless of which method you choose, remember to be gentle. And while scalp exfoliation is great for most, some should avoid it. Anyone with psoriasis, eczema, skin infections, or any other sores on their scalp should speak to their doctor to find the right type of exfoliation, since in these cases, exfoliation can irritate the scalp and worsen these conditions.
I used to struggle with an itchy, flaky scalp and started regular scalp exfoliation when I learned about it. This is one change I made that really helped transform my hair in the past few years. New growth coming in was much healthier, and my hair grew longer than it has before.
If you’re interested in learning more about transforming your frizzy, wavy hair into healthy defined curls, download my free Getting Started guide called The Quick Start Guide To The Curly Girl Method. You can also follow me on Instagram, Facebook, or YouTube for more curly hair tips, tutorials, and clean product recommendations!
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