The Best Scalp Scrubs to Eliminate Product Buildup
The best scalp scrubs, according to dermatologists
Dry shampoo is more popular than ever, and for good reason—it helps hair look fresher, longer. The one downside? More product on strands combined with less-frequent shampooing can lead to major buildup on both your hair and scalp. While a good clarifying shampoo can deep-clean strands, scalp scrubs are also beneficial to help keep your scalp healthy while you spritz on the dry shampoo.
"Scalp scrubs are popular because people are using a lot of dry shampoo and not washing their hair frequently," says Jeanine Downie, MD, a dermatologist based in New York City. "Product builds up, and all the sudden you need something more exfoliating to make your scalp clean again."
Not a dry shampoo user? These scrubs are also useful for combating various scalp-related issues, says Debra Jaliman, MD, a New York City-based dermatologist. "Someone who has a peeling scalp, is dandruff-prone, or has seborrheic dermatitis would want to use scalp scrubs to help balance their skin's pH," she explains.
Scalp scrubs may also benefit the overall appearance of your hair. "The 'glow' we talk about when hair is healthy refers to the even spread of the skin's natural oil (called sebum) along the hair shaft," says Ted Lain, MD, a dermatologist in Texas. Scalp scrubs remove buildup and dead skin from the roots, which in turn helps distribute oils on the scalp more evenly.
We asked dermatologists to recommend the best scalp scrubs on the market. Here, their top picks for a healthier scalp and lustrous strands.
Christophe Robin Cleansing Purifying Scrub With Sea Salt
To buy: $53; amazon.com
"This scrub is ideal for removing product or oily build-up. As you lather, the salt gradually dissolves and rinses out cleanly, leaving a clean scalp."
—William Kwan, MD, a San Francisco-based dermatologist
L'Oreal Everfresh Micro-Exfoliating Scrub
To buy: $9; target.com
"This product uses ground apricot seed to help with the manual exfoliation prior to shampooing. It is sulfate-free, so it has limited potential for irritation. I recommend this as a safe, gentle scalp scrub."
Madam C.J. Walker Dream Come True Wonderful Scalp Exfoliator
To buy: $32; sephora.com
"I recommend this product because it's supposed to be detoxifying and good for all hair types. Apply it gently and use light pressure to lift the scale and the product buildup off of your scalp. Always rinse thoroughly, and I recommend a deep penetrating protein conditioner afterwards.”
Kiehl’s Deep Micro-Exfoliating Scalp Treatment
To buy: $20; bloomingdales.com
"This product contains apricot and argan exfoliators, which work work well for dandruff control. Argan is naturally anti-inflammatory and helps treat the causes of dandruff, such as dry skin."
IGK Low Key Cleansing Walnut Scalp Scrub
To buy: $36; sephora.com
"This scrub contains apple cider vinegar, which is an alpha hydroxy acid, so it helps to exfoliate the skin. It also helps to maintain the skin’s pH balance, leading to a healthier scalp. The scrub has antibacterial and antifungal properties as well, which can help with dandruff. Additionally, since its pH is similar to the skin’s own, it can further help prevent dandruff and hair loss."
Philip Kingsley Exfoliating Scalp Mask
To buy: $13; skinstore.com
"I recommend this product for those with buildup and scaling. It contains exfoliating ingredients to remove the buildup, and zinc to limit growth of yeast (the cause of dandruff) and control sebum production."