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The benefits of scalp exfoliation, according to a trichologist

5 min read

Nobody likes an itchy scalp and reaching for their crown to halt that irritating sensation. Fortunately, optimizing your hair care routine with an exfoliant may be the solution to a lot of your woes.

Whether you have curly hair, a dry scalp or dermatitis, it’s important to exfoliate to slough off lingering dirt, sweat and buildup that has accumulated throughout the week. While it’s easy to neglect the area while you’re showering, experts agree that scalp scrubbing is as important as our skin care regimen.

Shop TODAY asked two hair experts to weigh in on this treatment and why scalp exfoliation is a must.

What are the benefits of scalp exfoliation?

There are endless benefits when it comes to scalp exfoliation. According to certified AMCA trichologist Chasity Shipman, exfoliating the scalp helps in promoting healthy hair growth by waking up the follicles. “A tight and dry scalp will not encourage hair growth, but rather slow it down or cause shedding due to lack of stimulation and blood circulation,” she said. “Scalp exfoliation is great for those who suffer from scalp disorders such as psoriasis, [scalp] eczema and seborrheic dermatitis.”

Another culprit of thinning hair is clogged pores, according to celebrity hairstylist Joel Warren. “Natural oils from your scalp accumulate in the hair pore, which [gets clogged] and stops hair from growing. Exfoliating removes the oils and unclogs the pore so hair can grow.”

In a 2018 study, it was proven there is a link between scalp health and hair growth and quality. According to the study, scalp exfoliation can increase hair fullness and reduce hair shedding while controlling scalp Malassezia levels — a type of yeast that causes damage to the hair follicles.

How often should you exfoliate your scalp?

The amount of times you should exfoliate your scalp depends on your lifestyle. While you can massage your scalp daily, Shipman advises to not exceed exfoliating the scalp more than once or twice a week.

“Exfoliating too frequently can cause other issues on the scalp, making it sensitive and could possibly overproduce oil. Allow time for the scalp to produce its own natural oils to nourish and keep the scalp healthy.”

How to exfoliate your scalp

“The proper way to exfoliate the scalp would be using the ball of your fingertips or a scalp massage device,” said Shipman. Use small circular motions and be gentle to avoid irritation, then rinse and repeat. If you have a delicate scalp, you may want to consult a professional before starting.

Warren also suggests rubbing your scalp for two to five minutes before proceeding with shampoo. Wait for your hair to form suds if you want to ensure your scalp is completely clean.

There are many types of scalp scrubs, creams, oils and serums to exfoliate your head. Scroll down to discover the best hair care products to exfoliate the scalp.

Best hair care products for scalp exfoliation

Garnier Fructis Pure Clean Hair Reset Anti-Residue Scrub

Get a scalp reset with this anti-residue scrub containing aloe vera and citric acid. The lightweight texture will help remove buildup, sebum and dirt while leaving your scalp clean for up to 96 hours.

TPH by Taraji Never Salty Sugar Hair and Scalp Scrub

This sugar-based scalp scrub will leave your hair feeling refreshed. It contains peppermint oil and apple cider vinegar, which help to detox and remove any buildup. One verified buyer said, “I have a very itchy scalp and this scrub gave me such relief. [It] helped minimize my itch to almost non-existent.”

Design Essentials Peppermint & Aloe Soothing Scalp Tonic

Shipman recommended this scalp tonic for a soothing experience. Not only will you get instant itch relief after the first try, it also offers an aromatherapeutic scent from peppermint and aloe to calm the scalp. One customer said their hair weaves feel protect when she uses this tonic — “This product is a miracle!”

Briogeo Scalp Revival Stimulating Therapy Massager

For extra assistance, use this Briogeo scalp massager that helps improve flaky and dry scalps. The massager helps promote circulation and can be used on wet or dry hair. One buyer said this massager “is so gentle and doesn’t hurt my sensitive scalp.”

dpHue Apple Cider Vinegar Scalp Scrub

TODAY readers may be most familiar with dpHue for their potent apple cider vinegar hair rinse, but did you know the brand also makes a scalp exfoliant? Perfect for eliminating impurities and maintaining your scalp’s pH balance, its formula is packed with vitamins, avocado oil, aloe vera, pink Himalayan salt and apple cider vinegar for a complete detox.

NatureLab Perfect Shine Clarifying Scalp Scrub

If you want to protect your hair color, use this scalp scrub with glowing reviews at Ulta and Amazon. It’s made with moisturizing hyaluronic acid to improves shine on dull and drab hair. Also, it supports unclogged pores thanks to the combination of grape stem cells, sake water, pearl extract and platinum fiber.

Drunk Elephant T.L.C. Happi Scalp Scrub

According to Warren, using a “scalp scrub regularly will remove the oils and will help control the oils on your hair.” This one from Drunk Elephant improves your oily scalp by utilizing key ingredients like vitamin E-rich mongongo oil and a 10 percent AHA blend that rapidly breaks down stubborn buildup.

Goop G.Tox Himalayan Salt Scalp Scrub

The whipped formula of Goop’s salt scrub will give you the shine your hair craves. The formula is made with mineral-rich Himalayan salt, cold-pressed moringa oil and rosehip oil that a rich lather to properly clean the scalp. Use about a teaspoon amount and rub it in your palm before massaging your scalp for the best experience.

Ameliorate Deep Cleansing Hair & Scalp Mask

Use this scalp as a pre-cleanse treatment before shampooing your hair. If you suffer from a flaky, dry or sensitive scalp, this product will remove the excess oil and rebalance your scalp microbiome. One reviewer said this hair mask “has transformed my hair — in my case from dry, thin and brittle into bouncy waves.”

Kérastase Fusio-Scrub

Splurge on this Kérastase scrub for the ultimate detoxifying experience. The formula offers a purifying texture and creates a cloud-rich foam of whipped cream. The added vitamin B6 will also decrease irritation in your scalp.

Christophe Robin Purifying Scalp Scrub with Sea Salt

Next time you need to detox your hair, try this sea salt-based scrub from Christophe Robin. Ideal for wavy, curly or coily hair, it doubles as a shampoo to deeply purify the scalp and clean the hair. One fan said that after using this product, “the clean feeling in your hair is insane not to mention how soft my hair is after using this.”

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