How Do You Use a Scalp Scrub? Hairstylists Explain What to Do and Why They’re Important

Say goodbye to greasy, lifeless hair.

While most people pay attention to the skin on their face and body, not so many take care of the skin on their heads. However, scalps are skin and need to be taken care of properly. Using a scalp scrub can help detox your scalp, promote hair growth, and contribute to maintaining healthy hair follicles.

If you live off styling products like dry shampoos and texturizing sprays, then scalp scrubs will make a massive difference. Using a scalp scrub regularly can make hair feel lighter, look shinier, and be less oily. However, it can be tricky to know how to use one and to identify which one will work best for your hair type, so we interviewed three hairstylists to ask for their advice and get answers.

What are scalp scrubs?

“A scalp scrub is an exfoliation [product] for your scalp and has the same benefits as a scrub for your complexion,” explains Nunzio Saviano, a celebrity hairstylist and owner of the eponymous salon in New York City. Most scalp scrubs are physical exfoliants that gently buff away product buildup, excess oil, and other debris lingering on the scalp.

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Nexxus Clean & Pure Invigorating Detox Scalp Scrub

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Why are scalp scrubs important?

“You need to think of your scalp as an extension of the skin on your face and body,” explains celebrity hairstylist and Ouidad brand ambassador Irinel De León. Because of that, it’s important to give it equal care.

“Scalp scrubs address scalp issues such as dandruff, dryness, [and] oiliness and help maintain hair follicle health to promote hair growth and strength,” explains Trey Gillen, a New York-based hairstylist and creative director at Sachajuan.

How can scalp scrubs be used on different hair types and textures? 

Different hair types and textures need to be treated differently to achieve maximum results. For thin to medium hair, De León says to part the hair in the area you’d like to apply the scrub, place the scrub directly onto the scalp, and massage in circular motions using your fingertips.

However, it’s a different process for people with thick to coily hair. De León recommends that people with thicker hair textures steer clear of scrubs as they can be difficult to wash out of the hair. Instead, she says to opt for a hair product with natural exfoliants, like apple cider vinegar and pineapple extract, to lift and remove buildup naturally. 

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dpHUE Apple Cider Vinegar Hair Rinse

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Scrubs of all types should be applied following shampoo but before conditioner. They also shouldn’t be used more than once a week as they can sensitize the scalp from too much scrubbing.

What scalp scrubs work best for detoxing? 

Different scalp scrubs work best for different purposes. While some are specifically formulated to remove product buildup, others are intended for detoxing. Detoxing your scalp unclogs your pores and removes both dirt and dead skin cells.

In order to fully detox the scalp, De León recommends the Ouidad Bubbling Scalp Mask to get a full detox, lift away any dirt or impurities, and balance the scalp’s natural pH levels, too. “Using this [product] gives your scalp a clean slate,” she explains.

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Ouidad Bubbling Scalp Mask

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What scalp scrubs work best for removing product buildup? 

It’s important to remove product buildup from the scalp to prevent dandruff, itchiness, and an oily-looking scalp. To combat this, Gillen recommends using R+ Co’s Crown Scalp Scrub for its many added benefits. “This purifying and soothing scrub will detox, cleanse, and rebalance your scalp, leading to clean, shiny, and healthy hair,” he says.  

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R+ Co Crown Scalp Scrub

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Extra scalp scrub tips: 

To jazz up your application, you can use your fingers or a scalp massaging tool to give yourself a scalp massage. Aside from that, Saviano advises adding a few drops of a high-quality essential oil, like rosemary or peppermint, to stimulate and promote hair growth. 

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