Scalp Scrubs Are the Missing Link In Your Hair-Care Routine

rear view of person with long hair
Photo: Dennis Aglaster/EyeEm/Getty Images

In the quest for healthy hair, scalp exfoliation is key. These scalp scrubs can help remove excess buildup.

01 of 10

What Is the Point of a Scalp Scrub?

rear view of person with long hair
Dennis Aglaster/EyeEm/Getty Images

If you want your scalp to live its best life, scrubs are the answer. As with your face and the rest of your body, regular scalp exfoliation is key for breaking up the gunk that can accumulate at the surface of your skin. "Scalp scrubs remove dead skin, excess oils, and product buildup," says Nunzio Saviano, New York-based hairstylist and creator of Oxilogica hair and scalp treatment.

Even if you're overdoing the dry shampoo, you still stand to benefit. "Applying a scalp scrub using massaging techniques also helps to relieve scalp tension which further supports follicle health," says Kerry Yates, trichologist and founder of Colour Collective.

With the exception of people with skin conditions like psoriasis or eczema, everyone can benefit from an occasional scrub, but they're especially helpful for people who experience dandruff, dryness or excess oil, says Saviano. He loves what they do for people who have fine hair. "If you have fine hair and you see that it's getting limp, once you remove all that excess oil you're going to regain so much body," he says. "It's really amazing what it does."

If you're overwhelmed by options, Yates recommends looking for a scalp scrub that uses micro, round-edged abrasives to avoid anything too harsh. (Watch out for coconut husks or apricot pits on the ingredient label as the exfoliants which tend to have harder edges.) She also prefers scrubs that have a shampooing element. "The action of the foam will add a buffer for your desired exfoliating material and will make the whole experience feel like a proper hair treatment," she says. With all that in mind, here are some of the best scalp scrub options.

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Nexxus Inergy Gently Exfoliating Scalp Scrub

Nexxus Scalp Inergy Gentle Exfoliating Scalp Scrub

This scrub is a standout in Nexxus' new Scalp Inergy line, which is inspired by the concept of putting as much effort into scalp care as skin care. It incorporates a protein blend to strengthen hair.

03 of 10

Kristin Ess Instant Exfoliating Scrub

Kristin Ess Instant Scalp Scrub
Kristin Ess

Kristin Ess' exfoliating scalp scrub contains ingredients you probably already use on your face such as calming chamomile extract and squalane, which seals in moisture. A pointed bottle makes it easy to apply directly to your scalp.

04 of 10

dpHUE Apple Cider Vinegar Scalp Scrub

dpHue Apple Cider Vinegar Scalp Scrub with Pink Himalayan Sea Salt

Search for DIY scalp scrub recipes, and you'll probably notice that apple cider vinegar is a common ingredient. It can help balance the scalp's pH since most hair products are alkaline, plus it's an exfoliant that fights buildup and excess oil. If you want to reap the benefits without risking a Pinterest fail, try this scrub.

05 of 10

R+Co Crown Scalp Scrub

R+CO Crown Scalp Scrub

R+Co's take combines sugar, a manual exfoliant, with salicylic acid, a chemical exfoliant. Salicylic acid is commonly used in shampoos formulated to treat mild dandruff since it helps to eliminate flakes.

06 of 10

Goop G.Tox Himalayan Salt Scalp Scrub Shampoo

Goop G. Tox Himalayan Salt Scalp Scrub

Of all the scalp scrubs listed, this is Yate's top pick. "The pink Himalayan salt scrub blended with the natural oils gently cleanses the scalp of any buildup while also reconditioning the hair," she says. Once you've tried a whipped scrub, you might not look at your everyday shampoo the same.

07 of 10

Ouai Scalp & Body Scrub

Ouai Scalp and Body Scrub

This one doubles as a body scrub, so you can quite literally use it from head to toe. You'll slough away ALL the dead skin cells and smell like fresh roses and bergamot.

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Christophe Robin Cleansing Purifying Scrub with Sea Salt

Christophe Robin Cleansing Purifying Scrub with Sea Salt
Christophe Robin

It's impossible not to think 'ahhhhh' while massaging this sea salt paste into your scalp. It has nearly 1,000 reviews on Sephora and is safe for color-treated hair.

09 of 10

Pacifica Rosemary Detox Scalp Scrub

Pacifica Rosemary Detox Scalp Scrub

A vegan and cruelty-free option, this scalp scrub contains tiny sea salt particles that are on the gentler side when it comes to exfoliants. It'll still give you that deep-clean feeling thanks in part to a hint of peppermint.

10 of 10

Oribe Serene Scalp Scrub

Oribe Serene Scalp Exfoliating Scrub

Another of Yates' favorites, this scalp scrub has glycolic acid and other AHAs. It "contains rounded polymer beads which gently eliminate any product build-up without causing inflammation," she says.

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