For the longest time, I thought that washing my hair by massaging my scalp with shampoo was enough to keep things clean. That’s what most of us were taught, anyway. Then I discovered the world of hair care. Hair specialists everywhere now recommend that we exfoliate our scalps, just as we would our faces or elbows. And how do we do that? With something called a scalp brush.
What is a scalp brush, exactly? Also known as a scalp scrubber or scalp massager, this nifty little brush fits in the palm of your hand and features about 25 soft and pointed silicone bristles. The silicone is gentle enough not to break skin, but strong enough to exfoliate it. But is it more effective than just using your hands? I love my Maxsoft brush (Buy from Amazon, $6.98), because it’s a lot less work than scrubbing with my hands, and the brush is easy to clean. However, I wanted to know whether there were additional benefits. I spoke with Mehmet Göker, a Dermatology Specialist at Vera Clinic, to learn more.
What are the benefits of using a scalp brush?
“There are many benefits of using a scalp scrubber regularly on your scalp,” Göker tells Woman’s World. “Firstly, this can help prevent dandruff by massaging the scalp. A scalp scrubber can also stimulate the scalp and hair follicles by increasing blood circulation. Finally, some people find this process highly relaxing, and it keeps the scalp and your hair clean.”
There’s some evidence to suggest that a scalp massage can boost hair thickness and growth by increasing blood flow. A small 2016 study from Eplasty, for example, found that one scalp massage per day for 24 weeks was enough to increase hair thickness. Also, a 2019 survey published in Dermatology and Therapy found that nearly 69 percent of respondents experienced more hair growth (or a slowing of hair loss) after nearly seven months of daily scalp massages. While more evidence is needed to prove this theory, the current research about scalp massage benefits is promising. And there certainly aren’t any downsides to this daily practice that we can think of!
The next question is whether a hand massage works just as well as a scalp brush. Ultimately, it’s up to you — both have positive benefits. Personally, I plan to continue using my scalp brush, because it gives my hands a break and feels so refreshing and relaxing.
Should you use a scrubber with hard silicone tips or soft ones?
“When looking for a scalp scrubber it is important to consider different silicone tips,” says Göker. “Thicker, soft silicone bristles are best for fragile or coiled hair as they won’t cause breakage or tangles. Thinner bristles will work harder to exfoliate the scalp and reduce product build-up.”
In other words, one size does not fit all! We recommend doing a little shopping to find a scalp brush that has the right bristle strength for your hair and skin type. Another brand to consider — with very soft silicone bristles — is the HEETA Scalp Care Hairbrush (Buy from Amazon, $7.98). And as a word of caution, we don’t recommend the scalp scrubbers that have dozens and dozens of fine bristles, much like a hairbrush. Reviewers note that those scalp scrubbers tend to break easily.
Can you use any other exfoliators with a scalp brush?
When I exfoliate the skin on my arms or legs, I use either an abrasive washcloth or a salt scrub. I don’t use both at the same time, for fear that it would irritate my skin. Is the same true for our scalps?
“Using a scalp exfoliator, such as a salt scrub, consistently can create a healthy environment for hair to grow and is a necessary step in your healthy hair routine,” Göker says. “Scalp exfoliation makes way for fresh skin and hair follicles to grow healthy hair … I would suggest using a scalp scrub [like a salt scrub] about once a week depending on how much oil or build-up you tend to get on your scalp.”
But should you use both a scalp brush and a salt scrub together? “Heavy-handed scrubbing can damage your follicles and cause hair to become brittle,” Göker adds. “Therefore, I recommend limiting the amount of scrubbing and products used on the scalp to prevent irritation to the scalp.”
So, feel free to exfoliate your scalp with a brush or a salt scrub, but we don’t recommend using both at the same time.
How often should you use a scalp brush?
“I recommend incorporating a scalp scrubber into your hair care routine by gently massaging in circular motions with the scalp brush three to four times a week,” says Göker. Pressing too hard and using too often can leave the scalp tender rather than invigorated and cleansed.”
So, feel free to use your scalp brush each time you wash your hair. Then, use an exfoliating scrub once a week for best results. If you’re looking for a good exfoliator, we recommend the Nexxus Clean & Pure Scalp Scrub (Buy from Ulta, $16.99). Hopefully, these tips lead to better hair days and better relaxation during your shower!
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This article originally appeared on our sister site, First for Women.