Grease. Dandruff. Residue. Using a ton of products like hair spray, hair gel, and mousse on your hair day in and day out can really wear out your locks and your scalp. Just like you exfoliate your face with a face scrub, you can get rid of product and dirt buildup with a good scalp scrub! But with so many scrubs to choose from, how do you know which one will do the job?
We found that the best ones not only clarify, but they also nourish with oils and moisturizers galore. We fell in love with dpHUE's Apple Cider Vinegar Scalp Scrub because it's safe for all hair types, soothes, and moisturizes. See what else made the cut and some things to look out for when you're shopping with our buying guide!
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Scalp scrub, like the name suggests, is a scrub for your scalp. Your scalp is where the sweat and dead cells are produced. Your hair is also exposed to a lot of pollution as you go about your day. Not to mention if you're a big styling gel user, there's going to be plenty of leftover product coating your scalp.
All these factors contribute to your scalp getting grimy and unbalanced, leading to issues like skin irritation and dandruff. Hair grows out of hair follicles, which are embedded in the scalp. The hair follicles need a healthy scalp with balanced pH levels to produce luxuriant hair. Over time, the sebum and skin flakes clog hair follicles leading to hair loss and hair thinning.
This is where the importance of a scalp scrub comes in. It's either a gritty or chemical formula that removes the dead skin, styling product and oil from your scalp.
With so many scalp scrubs to choose from, we have compiled some important points to keep in mind when you select a product.
There are two types of scrubs: physical scrubs and chemical scrubs. Physical scrubs have tiny particles to exfoliate the skin of the scalp. These particles can be salt, sugar, clay, or even nut and fruit pits. The gritty particles dislodge the matter around your follicles as you massage them into your scalp, which also has the benefit of boosting circulation to the root of your hair.
Many of these scrubs have oils such as olive oil, tea tree oil, or avocado oil to add nutrients to the scalp, giving you healthy shiny hair.
On the other hand, chemical scrubs don't need as firm a rub, as they use active ingredients like salicylic and glycolic acid. These ingredients act against excess sebum and remove dead skin cells and also stimulate the production of new cells. Chemical scrubs also contain nutrients to boost the health of your scalp.
Much like the rest of your body, your scalp can be oily, dry, sensitive, or a combination. It gets a little trickier due to the density of hair on the top of your head.
If your scalp feels oily and easily gets sweaty, select scalp scrubs that have ingredients with absorbing quality such as kaolin clay. Oily scalps also benefit from chemical exfoliates that contain zinc and BHA, as both of these combat excess sebum.
If you have a dry scalp that has flaky skin, scalp scrubs that have moisturizing nutrients such as argan oil or jojoba oil can provide some extra nourishment while removing the skin flakes that are choking the hair follicles. If you experience itchiness, soothing oils such as tea tree or spearmint can help.
If you use a lot of dry shampoo or styling products, using a physical scalp scrub is better than using a chemical one. Physically rubbing in the gritty formula of the scrub is more efficient in removing particles of products that are sticking to the base of your hair.
Your hair type is also going to affect the type of scalp scrub you should use. Usually, scrubs are not as different from each other as shampoos. But by carefully selecting the scrub, you can give your hair an extra boost of nutrients.
People with oily hair should use scrubs that contain our good friend salicylic acid, which will remove oil at the root. Oily hair types should also use scrubs that have kaolin clay, which is good at absorbing excess sebum the scalp produces.
An excess of bacteria around your scalp causes dandruff. If you have a dry, flaky scalp, a scrub with the detoxifying and hydrating ingredient of coconut oil will make your hair luxurious. Also look for ingredients like mint, aloe vera, or chamomile, which will soothe and cool the scalp.
Fine hair is prone to be more gunked up by pollution. People with this hair type should opt for sea salt scrubs. This type of scrub will not only rejuvenate your scalp, but the massaging action will boost circulation to your hair follicles to make them stronger and less prone to breakage. Also, sea salt has a volumizing effect on hair.
If you have thick, curly hair, you run the risk of having an oily scalp with dry hair tips. In this case, you'll need a scrub that will cleanse your scalp without stripping your hair of their natural oils. Look for scrubs that have moisturizing ingredients like coconut with an absorbing ingredient like activated charcoal to suck up that scalp debris.
People with colored hair need to ensure that the scrub they use won't remove or damage their processed locks. Try to aim for exfoliants that are not harsh and without sulfates, which could potentially damage your hair color.
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Apple Cider Vinegar Scalp Scrub with Pink Himalayan Sea Salt
A Refreshing Scrub That Vitalizes Your Scalp
Cleansing Purifying Scrub with Sea Salt
A Hydrating and Soothing Cleanse for the Scalp
Head & Shoulders
Royal Oils Water Activated Scalp Scrub
A Moisturizing Yet Exfoliating Treatment
Perfect Shine Clarifying Scalp Scrub
Scrub Technology That Balances Your Scalp
Rosemary Scalp Scrub
A Purifying Scrub Full of Herbal Goodness
Scalp Scrub with Nettle Leaf and Horsetail Extract
A Deep Cleanser for Thinning Hair
Beauty Tea Tree Lemon Sage Refreshing Moisture Scalp Scrub
A Gentle Cleanser That's Free from Harsh Chemicals and Bad Vibes
Tea Tree Gentle & Soothing Pre-Shampoo Scalp Scrub
A Mild and Natural Scrub That Soothes Irritated Scalps
Scalp & Body Scrub
An All-In-One Experience for Scalp Health
Scalp Revival Charcoal and Coconut Oil Micro-Exfoliating Shampoo
Charcoal Technology Giving Your Scalp the Boost it Needs
This scalp scrub is made with pink Himalayan sea salt, which naturally exfoliates the scalp and removes buildup from hair styling products. The apple cider vinegar has antimicrobial properties that removes bacteria from the scalp and balances the skin. It's infused with avocado oil and aloe vera to soothe the scalp.
It also balances the pH level after hair coloring and contains enhanced color locking technology leaving your hair soft and shiny. People with thicker hair found it quite tricky to apply it to the scalp. However, this product is gentle on the hair itself and the coarseness of the pink sea salt is designed to work around the hair follicle.
Many users of this scrub had dermatitis, psoriasis and other conditions on their scalp. Using this product helped reduce skin flakiness and soothed the scalp.
This scrub is a cleansing exfoliant that removes excess oil and particles that choke your hair follicles. It's strong enough to be used for oily scalps, but without any astringency. It's also gentle enough to be used on sensitive scalps.
Reviewers found this product to have a refreshing and soothing effect on the scalp. People with thick hair remarked that while it didn't strip the hair shaft of its natural oils, the scalp did not feel greasy. Some could even skip hair washing due to the effects of this scrub.
Some reviewers found the consistency of the scrub to be a bit difficult to work with as it's quite thick. However, users were able to dilute it with water and apply it directly to their scalp before shampooing, giving them a fresh and bright feeling.
This scalp scrub has coconut oil, which is a great moisturizing agent for dry scalps. Its Royal Oils formula is non-stripping, cleansing and renewing the hydration of the scalp. The formula also draws out impurities that clog the hair follicles to improve your scalp's condition as you wash your hair.
Reviewers found that this product made their hair soft while reducing itchiness caused by dandruff. The coconut oil worked on both the hair and the scalp, making it a favorite with people who had dry scalps and hair.
Some users felt the smell was stronger than expected. As the product is to be used before shampoo, the scent doesn't remain in the hair after washing, though. Many felt that continuous use of the product completely relieved them of their dandruff problem.
This formula gently exfoliates with sugar crystals, clearing product buildup, alongside grape stem cells and probiotic sake water, which balance your skin's pH level.
The hyaluronic acid adds shine and can absorb impurities surrounding the hair. The pearls act as a potent antioxidant, boosting hair’s own enzymes.
Some users found it a little too powerful for their hair, leading to more dryness. On the other hand, reviewers enjoyed how the foaming technology started as a basic scrub but then turned into a full shampoo treatment for their scalp and hair, giving them shiny hair and a cleansed scalp!
The cleansing formula in this scalp scrub is enhanced with sea salt particles from the Dead Sea, which removes buildup around the hair follicle, purifying the scalp and hair. The rosemary, eggplant, and pine extracts nourish the hair root to help maintain healthy hair.
The mineral-rich granules of the Dead Sea salt add an extra nutrient boost, but dissolve easily in water and do not stay in your hair afterward. Some users felt that the nutrient-rich formula made their hair a little greasier than usual.
Reviewers loved how this product is completely vegan. It's without harsh chemicals, but extremely effective in delivering shiny hair and a refreshed scalp. It's mild for sensitive skin types, due to its high herb content.
The sulfur-rich nutrients in this formula are blended with olive oil to stimulate hair follicles, as well as moisturize the scalp. As this scrub is used before shampoo, it gently dislodges skin flakes and product buildup and eliminates residue that blocks hair growth.
Some reviewers felt that it was relatively more complicated compared to other scalp scrubs available on the market. However, the results were immediate when used by reviewers.
Reviewers felt that this was a deep cleansing product that really helped those suffering from thinning hair. This scrub aids in removing debris that causes flaking and also helps improve scalp environment for hair growth, preventing hair loss and thinning.
This plant-based formula is good for all skin types. The tea tree oil cools and soothes the scalp, while the Himalayan sea salt particles remove buildup coating the surface of the scalp. The scrub removes skin flakes and other impurities, leaving your scalp refreshed and hair shining.
Reviewers found that a little of the scrub went a long way. They could go longer between hair washes without the scalp getting greasy. While some reviewers felt the Himalayan sea salt was quite abrasive to their hair, those with thick, dense hair needed the strength of the salt scrub to exfoliate.
This scrub is perfect for exfoliating the scalp during those dry winter months. Many users liked the floral scent which doesn’t linger after shampooing. Users of this product felt instant relief to itchy scalps and noticed a difference right away.
This scalp scrub uses 99% natural ingredients to help a variety of skin and scalp types. The botanicals are suitable for people with underlying skin conditions that cause itchiness, dandruff, and sebum excess.
The apple cider vinegar cleanses the scalp surface around the hair follicle, while the gritty formula removes physical particles. The sage and witch hazel oils provide a nutrient boost with the soothing tea tree oil to round up the process.
Many users found this a good product for fine hair. However, some reviewers felt that that the gritty particles were hard to rinse out without shampooing.
Reviewers found this scrub was very gentle and did not strip hair of its natural oils. This product became a favorite with many users due to its instant effect and affordability, making it a regular in their hair care regime.
This rose-scented scrub has a probiotic formula in addition to sugar particles that increase microcirculation and exfoliates the scalp skin. The formula is good for sensitive skin types, as it's very gentle and also nourishes your hair's health.
While some reviewers found the product quite drying, others were pleased with how easily it washed out of hair, leaving the scalp moisturized, but without any sort of stringent or stripped feeling.
Reviewers felt that the sugar particles were good at removing buildup generated by dry shampoo and also ensured that the scrub formula was worked into the skin. It's also a good product to use if you have colored or treated hair.
This scrub has vegetable-derived micro-exfoliants that dislodge dead skin cells and product build-up from the scalp to support a refreshed, balanced, and healthy scalp. The key ingredient of the formula is the binchotan charcoal, which cleanses the hair by its ability to absorb oils and impurities, giving the hair follicles room to breathe.
Some users felt it was very time consuming to rub this product into the hair. But others felt that the calming effect of the added peppermint and spearmint oils helped soothe their irritated and itchy scalps.
The natural oils work together to promote overall healthy hair and reduce flakiness, reintroducing a healthy scalp pH level. This product is also good for colored or treated hair, ensuring the shaft of the hair is cleansed but not stripped.
When your scalp is happy and clean, your hair will grow silky and strong. However, just like putting other creams or products on our skin, we need to be careful. If you suffer from a pre-existing skin condition like eczema, a scalp scrub will aggravate rather than soothe, creating more irritation and inflammation. Also, be careful if you have allergies, and check the ingredients before use!
A flaky scalp and dandruff are two different conditions. While a scalp scrub can reduce flakiness and be a preventative measure against dandruff, it is not the solution. If you do suffer from dandruff, it is better to consult a dermatologist rather than solely rely on scalp scrubs as a solution.
Dermatologists also caution against the overuse of scalp scrubs, as the chemicals within them may lead to skin irritation. A scalp scrub typically should not be used more than once per week. Excessive exfoliation will make the scalp produce more sebum than usual, causing the opposite of the cleansing effect of the scrub.
You can make your own DIY scalp scrubs at home. Depending on your skin and hair type, you can pick and choose the individual ingredients that will help your unique skin and hair type. A DIY scalp scrub has basically two components.
The first is the gritty substance. You can use sea salt, sugar, baking soda or even brewed coffee grounds. This gritty substance provides the physical friction needed to slough off the unwanted material layered on the scalp.
The second is a nourishing agent. This can be coconut oil, argan oil or aloe vera. This component not only provides nourishment to the hair, but also makes it easier to spread the gritty substance around your scalp. You can add a drop or two of essential oils like rosemary, peppermint or chamomile to soothe and cool the skin of your scalp.
Here's a video by ComfortLifeChannel that shows you how to make three different scalp scrubs using ingredients you probably already have in your house!
Salt scrubs are a gateway to healthy, shiny hair, but there are other ways to take care of your hair! Below we have some more recommendations to help you unlock the secrets to great hair.
No. 1: dpHUE｜Apple Cider Vinegar Scalp Scrub with Pink Himalayan Sea Salt
No. 2: Christophe Robin｜Cleansing Purifying Scrub with Sea Salt
No. 3: Head & Shoulders ｜Royal Oils Water Activated Scalp Scrub
No. 4: NatureLab Tokyo｜Perfect Shine Clarifying Scalp Scrub
No. 5: AROMATICA｜Rosemary Scalp Scrub
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