We’re all in pursuit of our dream hair, which is why we gunk it up with sprays, mousses, and dry shampoos daily. But these products accumulate over time, making your mane more blah than ooh la la. Your face benefits from exfoliation on a regular basis, so it makes a lot of sense that your scalp would too. You can’t have great hair without a healthy foundation, right? Using a scalp scrub will not only get rid of product buildup, it can improve conditions like dandruff, itchy scalp, and even hair loss.
How Exfoliation Benefits the Scalp
Just like the face, the scalp produces sebum to hydrate the skin and hair. But sometimes it can overproduce, which can lead to an oil buildup that feeds the malassezia furfur yeast and causes dandruff. (Malassezia is a fungi that exists naturally on the human scalp, however some people have a negative reaction to it resulting in the death of extra skin cells that appear as white flakes.) The accumulation of excess dead skin cells and sebum may also lead to seborrheic dermatitis, a sometimes painful condition that manifests as scaly skin, red patches, and dandruff, according to the Mayo Clinic.
An oily scalp can also cause hair loss. Over time, excess oil clogs the hair follicle, preventing it from following its natural growth cycle, which stops new follicle growth and leads to thinning hair. A scalp massage will break down the buildup and help the sebum levels return to normal. If you suffer from dry scalp, using a soothing scrub as you massage can add in moisture.
Side note: Dandruff and dry scalp are two different issues that often get mistaken for one another. Both manifest in an itchy, flaky scalp, but dandruff flakes are often larger and yellow-tinged. Dandruff is caused by a fungal infection and likely won’t get better without treatment, while dry scalp can sometimes be solved by shampooing less frequently and adding in a scrub.
Scrubs can be abrasive on the skin, so you shouldn’t do them every day. Usually, it will say how often a product should be used on the package, but a good rule of thumb is to exfoliate one to two times per week. You’ll see the best results if you use them on a consistent basis, so aim to make scalp scrubs an important part of your beauty routine.
How to Choose the Best Scalp Scrub
The best scalp scrub for you depends on your needs. Do you have dandruff? Is your scalp sensitive? With so many exfoliants on the market, you may be left scratching your head as to which one to buy. So, we’ve rounded up the best scalp scrubs on the market to take the guesswork out of your decision-making.
Keep scrolling to shop Woman’s World’s picks for the best scalp scrubs so you can enjoy the hair of your dreams.
We write about products we think our readers will like. If you buy them, we get a small share of the revenue from the supplier.
Apple Cider Vinegar Scalp Scrub Dphue
Best Apple Cider Vinegar Scalp Scrub
Where to buy: $38, Sephora
Apple cider vinegar contains alpha-hydroxy acids (AHAs) that dissolve oil buildup on the scalp and help regrow thinning hair. It's also rich in acetic acid that stimulates blood flow to the hair follicles, promoting future hair growth. Sounds like an all-around winner, right? So we had to include dpHUE's Apple Cider Vinegar Scalp Scrub, which is made for all hair types and textures. This nourishing formula also contains aloe vera and avocado to soothe irritated scalps and replenish moisture.
Some users complain that this ACV scalp scrub leaves behind a greasy film on the hair, but a clarifying shampoo takes care of that. Other reviewers find the pink Himalayan salt crystals to be quite large, meaning it takes awhile to rub it in. That said, if you close your eyes and think of it as "me time," applying this salt scrub can be a very relaxing and luxurious experience.
Christophe Robin Cleansing Purifying Scrub With Sea Salt
Best All-Around Scalp Scrub
Where to buy: $53, Sephora
Christophe Robin's Cleansing Purifying Scrub with Sea Salt is a shampoo and scrub in one. This fan favorite (it has hundreds of five-star reviews) is ideal for all hair types and textures, including colored hair. Reviewers love how easily this product lathers, as well as how effectively the salt scrubs away built-up hair products, oil, and dead skin cells. The formula also includes sweet almond oil, which moisturizes the hair once the salt has stripped away any impurities. Just make sure you follow this scrub with a deep conditioner!
Christophe Robin Cleansing Volumizing Paste With Pure Rassoul Clay And Rose Extracts
Best Volumizing Scalp Scrub
Where to buy: $53, Sephora
A little of Christophe Robin's Cleansing Volumizing Paste with Pure Rassoul Clay and Rose Extracts goes a long way, you simply apply to your scalp, massage, and rinse. Like the Cleansing Purifying Scrub with Sea Salt, this volumizing paste is meant to be used as a shampoo and lathers beautifully. Not only will it add volume to the root, but it also visibly thickens the hair shaft, meaning you can ditch your regular shampoo and hair-thickening spray in place of just one product. If you have dyed hair, this scalp scrub will protect and enhance your color.
Briogeo Scalp Revival Charcoal + Coconut Oil Micro Exfoliating Shampoo
Best Detoxifying Scalp Scrub
Where to buy: $42, Sephora
Give yourself a much-needed scalp detox with Briogeo's Scalp Revival Charcoal + Coconut Oil Micro-Exfoliating Shampoo. Not only will this charcoal and coconut-oil infused shampoo soothe your irritated, flaky scalp, but it will also clear away buildup from leftover hair products, dead skin, and oil. It also includes tea tree oil, a popular dry scalp remedy that nourishes the skin and unclogs hair follicles. If you're into clean beauty, you'll love that this product has earned Sephora's Clean seal, meaning it's made without ingredients like parabens and sulfates.
Sephora Collection Peppermint Hair Cleansing Salt Scrub
Best Affordable Scalp Scrub
Where to buy: $7, Sephora
If you aren't looking to splash out on a dry scalp treatment, Sephora's Peppermint Hair Cleansing Salt Scrub is one of the best scrubs for you money. Sephora recommends using it once a week in place of shampoo to deep clean your scalp and restore its optimal pH levels. The star ingredient, peppermint, has anti-inflammatory properties that can relieve irritation caused by dry, itchy, flaky scalps. Peppermint oil is also great at absorbing excess oil to promote new hair growth.
Ouai Scalp And Body Scrub
Best Scalp and Body Scrub
Where to buy: $38, Sephora
Get the biggest bang for your buck with Ouai's Scalp and Body Scrub. This two-in-one beauty product buffs away dead skin cells and replenishes moisture with fatty coconut oil. As an exfoliant for the body, some users love using it after shaving to prevent ingrown hairs and hydrate the skin because the sugar crystals don't sting like salt. As a scalp scrub, reviewers enjoy how easily it lathers and how gentle it is, while still effectively wiping out scalp buildup.
Loreal Paris Everfresh Micro Exfoliating Scrub Sulfate Free
Best Drugstore Scalp Scrub
Where to buy: $5 (originally $9.99), Amazon
L'Oréal Paris' EverFresh Micro-Exfoliating Scrub is a sulfate-free exfoliant designed to be a precursor to the brand's EverFresh Antidandruff Shampoo and EverFresh Balancing Conditioner. It contains apricot seeds that gently buff away buildup and dirt to cleanse and balance the scalp. "I have scalp issues because of medications. I get dandruff and adult cradle cap in the winter which is embarrassing. This stuff is fabulous. Feels good on my scalp. Rinses clean. Takes care of these issues. I use it a couple times a week with my regular routine. Cheaper than other brands. Only need a small amount. Will be part of my cleansing routine from now on," one woman wrote on Amazon.
Natura Siberica Oblepikha Sea Buckthorn Scrub For Scalp
Best Scalp Scrub for Colored Hair
Where to buy: $11.80, Amazon
The harsh process of dying your hair can wreak havoc on your scalp, but Natura Siberica's Oblepikha Scalp Scrub is a cocktail of all the best nutrients for your sensitive, bleach-damaged scalp. Its nourishing formula contains cloudberry oil, which delivers moisture by way of omega fatty acids and vitamins A and E. It also encourages increased blood flow to the follicles, which in turn promotes new hair growth.
R Co Crown Scalp Scrub
Best Scalp Scrub for Sensitive Skin
Where to buy: $38, Amazon
R+Co was created by hairstylists, so you know its scalp scrub will live up to the hype. Just a walnut-sized dollop is enough to exfoliate and dissolve the built-up oils, dead skin, and leftover hair products weighing down your strands and irritating your scalp. Made with aloe leaf extract, this scalp scrub is also paraben-, sulfate-, gluten-, and petrolatum and mineral oil-free, so even those the most sensitive of skin can use it.
Adama Minerals Deep Cleansing Hair Scrub Pear Blossom Zion Health
Best Scalp Scrub for Dry Hair and Scalp
Where to buy: $16.81, Amazon
Treat a dry, scaly scalp with Adama Minerals' Deep Cleaning Scalp & Hair Scub. This detoxifying exfoliant breaks down buildup so your scalp feels squeaky clean. At the same time, vitamin E, biotin, Argan oil, and sweet almond oil add back much-need hydration and shine to dry, damaged strands. "Love this stuff. If you have an oily scalp and/or buildup from hair products, I highly recommend adding this to your weekly hair care regimen. It has a light clean fragrance, and leaves your scalp and hair squeaky clean, removing product buildup and excess oil. A little goes a long way, so it's a great value. I will definitely repurchase," one Amazon reviewer wrote.
Ors Hairestore Sclp Scrub With Nettle Leaf And Horsetail Extract
Best Scalp Scrub for Natural Hair
Where to buy: $12.80, Amazon
Try ORS' HAIRestore Scalp Scrub with Nettle Leaf and Horsetail Extract if you're looking for a luxurious scalp scrub experience. This root-stimulating scrub clears away flakes and debris while also fostering hair growth through the addition of sulfur. This element extends hair's growing phase and is a natural part of the hair growth process. To use, mix equal parts of the scalp scrub and baking soda until you have a yellow foam. Apply the mixture to your scalp using the brush that comes with it, then sit back and relax for the next 30 minutes.
Nexxus Clean And Pure Scalp Scrub
Best Sulfate-Free Scalp Scrub
Where to buy: $14.99, Target
Use Nexxus' Clean & Pure Invigorating Detox Scalp Scrub either as a pre-poo treatment or in place of your normal shampoo and you'll have a scalp free of oil and product buildup. Plus, it's made with Nexxus' own PROTEINFUSION blend, which combines elastin proteins and marine minerals to repair and strengthen your existing hair. "I absolutely love this scalp scrub! I usually only wash my hair once a week, its 36" long and a lot of work. I [love] using this scrub because it gently removes any dead skin or debris from my scalp AND can double as a shampoo!! It smells wonderful, it's got a soft sweet scent, not overpowering at all and the fragrance stays with you until your next wash. I'd recommend this to anyone who's looking to change up their routine with something new and fun!" a satisfied Target reviewer wrote.
Drybar On The Rocks Charcoal Scalp Scrub
Best Charcoal Scalp Scrub
Where to buy: $32 (originally $34.99), Amazon
Drybar's On the Rocks Charcoal Scalp Scrub offers a gentle exfoliation with sugar crystals to minimize damage to the scalp or hair follicle due to aggressive scrubbing. The activated charcoal draws out impurities and deep cleans the scalp better than just shampoo alone. This scrub is paraben-, sulfate-, and phthalate-free, so its fabulous if your scalp is sensitive. Plus, the musky scent of ginger, mint, and sandalwood will instantly relax your mind.