If you have an itchy scalp, or your hair looks limp, you might need to exfoliate. Just like on any other part of the body, dead skin and excess oil can clog your scalp. Then, there’s the residue from styling products. The accumulation can make it hard to feel clean even if you shampoo daily.
So, what is the best way to exfoliate your scalp? We recommend choosing the best scalp scrub for your needs from the reviews below. We selected a variety of exfoliators that are guaranteed to reset your scalp and hair back to clean and comfortable.
|The best scalp scrubs||Why we love them|
|Oribe Serene Scalp Exfoliating Scrub|
|R+Co Crown Scalp Scrub|
|Briogeo Scalp Revival Charcoal and Coconut Oil Scalp Scrub|
|OUAI Scalp & Body Scrub|
|Nexxus Clean & Pure Sulfate-Free Scalp Scrub|
|Yes To Tea Tree Scalp Relief Gentle & Soothing PreShampoo Scalp Scrub|
|Drunk Elephant T.L.C. Happi Scalp Scrub|
Table of Contents
- What is a scalp scrub?
- The benefits of scalp scrubs
- Are scalp scrubs bad for your hair?
- How to choose the right scalp scrub
- Best Scalp Scrubs in 2021
- Oribe Serene Scalp Exfoliating Scrub
- R+Co Crown Scalp Scrub
- Briogeo Scalp Revival Charcoal and Coconut Oil Micro-Exfoliating Shampoo – Scalp Scrub
- OUAI Scalp & Body Scrub
- Nexxus Clean & Pure Sulfate-Free Scalp Scrub
- Yes To Tea Tree Scalp Relief Gentle & Soothing PreShampoo Scalp Scrub
- Drunk Elephant T.L.C. Happi Scalp Scrub
What is a scalp scrub?
There are two types of scalp exfoliants: physical and chemical.
Physical exfoliants are ingredients like salt or sugar, and chemical exfoliants are components like salicylic or glycolic acid. One scalp scrub may contain both types of exfoliants, where the glycolic acid loosens the dead skin and sugar scrubs it away.
The benefits of scalp scrubs
Scrubs do a deep-cleanse on the scalp, sweeping away product residue, dead cells, and excess oil. They help unclog the follicles for better hair growth. The result is a healthier scalp and more manageable hair.
As stylists point out, shampoo is for the strands. A scrub is for the scalp. You only need to use it once or twice a week before shampooing to enjoy the benefits.
Are scalp scrubs bad for your hair?
If you’re about to get a color treatment or perm, don’t use a scalp scrub in the days leading up to the appointment. Also, those with eczema, psoriasis, acne, or open wounds on the scalp should avoid using a scrub as it could make the conditions worse. Dandruff is probably best treated with dandruff shampoo, too.
With that said, scalp scrubs aren’t bad for the hair if you use them on the scalp, not the strands. Some scrubs incorporate shampoo, and others are meant to be used before shampooing.
Massage the scrub into the scalp and avoid drawing it out to the tips of the hair. Rinse well, and use conditioner after washing.
How to choose the right scalp scrub
There are many kinds of scalp scrubs. Let’s see if we can help you narrow down the best one for your needs.
If you have a sensitive scalp, try a gentle scrub with glycolic acid, exfoliating beads, and plant extracts. Remember, even though it’s called a “scrub”, it’s best to use a gentle massaging action.
On the other hand, if you use a lot of styling products, try a physical scrub with sugar or salt. Oily hair can benefit from a charcoal scrub, too.
Best Scalp Scrubs in 2021
Oribe Serene Scalp Exfoliating Scrub
Oribe’s hair products have a signature scent that smells fantastic. But that’s not the main reason why you should try this scalp scrub. It offers several benefits when it’s used weekly.
Apply it to a wet scalp before shampooing. As you massage it into the skin, it feels cooling and tingly because of the peppermint oil. The soft beads polish away the buildup and dissolve as you scrub. At the same time, alpha-hydroxy acids cleanse the pores.
The alpha-hydroxy acids come from natural sources like sugarcane, orange, and lemon. They clear away dead skin without removing the natural oil or causing dryness. As a result, the formula resolves itchiness.
Meanwhile, soothing floral extracts like chamomile, marigold, and cornflower calm the scalp and strengthen damaged hair. Malachite guards against environmental pollution and caffeine invigorate the follicles.
The Oribe signature complex of lychee, watermelon, and edelweiss protects the hair from damage caused by heat styling and UV rays, too.
Lastly, this is a vegan product that’s been dermatologist-tested. It’s free of sulfates, salt, and parabens so it won’t harm keratin-treated or color-treated hair.
- Potent scrub with protective benefits
- Has dissolving beads and alpha hydroxy acids to remove buildup
- Cooling sensation and fabulous fragrance
- Protects hair against damage from pollution, UV rays, and heat styling
- Safe for color-treated and keratin-treated styles
- Premium price, but only needs to be used once a week
R+Co Crown Scalp Scrub
Sensitive and oily scalps will benefit from this purifying scrub. It balances and calms the skin, leaving the hair shiny and healthy.
It features salicylic acid, a chemical exfoliant that treats both dandruff and acne. The acid dissolves oil that clogs pores and removes flaky dead skin.
There’s also Ecuadorian Ivory palm seed powder, a unique ingredient and an effective exfoliant in its own right.
But what takes care of the excess oil? Kaolin clay – it soaks up the oil and clears away loose flakes.
Happily, the formula contains no parabens, gluten, sulfates, or petrolatum. It’s vegan and cruelty-free.
However, it takes a glob about the size of a walnut to cover the entire scalp. It also takes some time to section the hair and massage the scrub until the grainy texture dissolves. But the results are worth it.
On the bright side, users say the grit is noticeable, but not aggressive. Plus, the scrub has a light fresh fragrance.
- Excellent performance on sensitive, oily scalps and hair with dandruff
- Blends salicylic acid with kaolin clay and natural ingredients to sweep away buildup
- Vegan and contains no sulfates, parabens, or petrolatum
- Light, fresh fragrance and surprisingly gentle texture
- A bit expensive and it takes time to use, but happy reviewers say it’s worth it
Briogeo Scalp Revival Charcoal and Coconut Oil Micro-Exfoliating Shampoo – Scalp Scrub
No, it’s not a dandruff treatment, but it’s the next best thing. This product blends the best benefits of shampoo and a scrub to alleviate itching, flaking, and irritation. Plus, it’s a timesaver as you don’t have to use two separate items to wash your hair.
The 98% natural formula has calming ingredients like spearmint and peppermint oil to calm the skin. Meanwhile, it balances the scalp’s pH with coconut oil and other goodies to keep it hydrated and healthy. There’s also tea tree oil, a botanical treatment for dandruff.
The scrubby texture comes from charcoal and plant-based micro-exfoliators. These soak up and sweep away impurities. There’s no need for harsh chemicals or unneeded extras like parabens, silicone, or artificial color. As it’s also salt-free, the scrub is safe for color-treated and keratin-treated hair.
Users say it has a very light fragrance and makes a nice lather. It leaves the hair clean and fresh.
- Two-in-one product that scrubs the scalp and shampoos the hair
- pH-balanced and moisturizing, with a 98% natural formula
- Uses physical exfoliants like charcoal
- Lathers nicely and has a pleasant fragrance
- Free from salt, silicone, parabens, and artificial dyes
- It’s tempting to use this scrub more often than is needed
OUAI Scalp & Body Scrub
Between salt scrubs and sugar scrubs, we prefer sugar. That’s because it’s gentler to the scalp and hair and safe for color and keratin treatments. It also seems to have a gentler texture that dissolves faster.
OUAI’s scrub features sugar with coconut oil and a probiotic blend. It smells like roses and works wonders on the scalp and the entire body. That’s right, this is a body scrub, too. Talk about convenient!
Reviewers love the rich texture, attractive fragrance, and the way it leaves the skin and scalp comfortable and refreshed.
- Moisturizing scrub for the scalp and body
- Blends probiotics with coconut oil and sugar
- Appealing rose fragrance and rich texture that soothes the skin
- Not cheap, but a jar lasts for a while
Nexxus Clean & Pure Sulfate-Free Scalp Scrub
From the hair experts comes this daily shampoo scrub that detoxes the scalp and hair. It’s a salon-quality product that works best in combination with the matching shampoo and conditioner. It’s from the Proteinfusion lineup with marine minerals and elastin protein to smooth and strengthen the hair.
Nexxus says it’s for all hair types. It’s made without sulfates, parabens, artificial colors, and silicone. However, it does contain sea salt which isn’t ideal for keratin treatments.
If you follow the Curly Girl Method for curly hair, this product is on their approved list. It doesn’t weigh down the hair. Instead, it leaves the scalp refreshed and calm, and the hair moisturized.
- Designed to be used daily if needed
- Infused with elastin protein and marine minerals to fortify the hair and leave it smooth
- Free from sulfates, parabens, dyes, and silicone
- Curly Girl Method-approved
- Contain salt which isn’t safe for keratin treatments
Yes To Tea Tree Scalp Relief Gentle & Soothing PreShampoo Scalp Scrub
Here’s the best natural scalp scrub. It’s perfect for dry, itchy scalps. Moreover, it’s mild enough to use up to twice a week, even on color-treated hair.
The formula has no silicone, sulfates, or parabens, plus it’s Leaping Bunny Certified cruelty-free.
This gel-based sugar scrub is made with witch hazel, apple cider vinegar, sage, and tea tree oil for the perfect deep cleanse. These soothing ingredients tingle as they remove impurities and nourish the scalp. Follow up with shampoo and especially conditioner to counterbalance any dryness.
Users say it smells good and leaves their hair looking fantastic even after only one use.
- Provides relief for dry, itchy scalps with tea tree oil, witch hazel, and apple cider vinegar
- Gentle enough to use twice a week on color-treated hair
- Free from parabens, sulfates, and silicone
- Be sure to use conditioner after shampooing to prevent any dryness after purifying the scalp
Drunk Elephant T.L.C. Happi Scalp Scrub
Silly name, but a highly effective product. This scalp scrub combines beta hydroxy and alpha hydroxy acids for maximum exfoliation. But don’t let the “acid” scare you. The ingredients simply dissolve oil and dead skin to leave the scalp cleansed and refreshed.
It also has soft little beads made from plant cellulose. These massage the scalp while they get rid of styling product residue.
The formula also acts like a deep conditioner. It uses plant oils packed with fatty acids and antioxidants to nourish the skin and hair. They rebalance the scalp and prevent flaking and dryness.
Unlike some scrubs, this one should be applied when the hair is dry. Thankfully, it comes with a nozzle applicator that helps with targeting where to put it. After massaging it into the skin, let it sit for at least ten minutes. Then shampoo and apply conditioner as usual.
Please take note that the exfoliating acids will make the skin more sensitive to sunburn. Therefore, keep your head out of the sun as much as possible the next day.
But on the plus side, the formula is free from sensitizing ingredients like sulfates, artificial fragrances and dyes, silicone, drying alcohol, and essential oils.
- Blends alpha-hydroxy and beta-hydroxy acids with plant cellulose beads for maximum exfoliation
- Acts like a deep conditioning hair mask with fatty acids and antioxidants
- Free from sensitizing ingredients like artificial fragrances, dyes, essential oils, and sulfates
- Has a nozzle applicator for easy placement
- The exfoliating ingredients make the skin sensitive to sunburn
If you’re dissatisfied with the way your scalp feels and your hair looks, you could benefit from a scrub. Try exfoliating the scalp to get rid of product buildup, dead skin, and oil. The deep cleanse will do you good.
If we helped you find your new favorite hair care product, we’d love to hear about your experience with it. Please feel free to leave us a comment below.