Keep your scalp in shape with these simple at-home treatments
Scalp care has always been in the shadows when it comes to hair products. It's hard to compete with glossy, bouncy, styled locks, but when you realize that the foundation of healthy hair is a healthy scalp, it's time to reconsider priorities. Forbes has predicted that scalp treatments will be one of the biggest beauty trends for 2021, and the surge of new products quickly entering this category prove them right.
If you suffer from flakes, dry patches, bumps or inflamed areas on your scalp, don't ignore these cries for help. Think of your scalp as an extension of your skin (because it is). You certainly wouldn't dismiss these issues if they appeared elsewhere on your body. It's no coincidence that distress in scalp health is on the rise now, following a prolonged period of another then-new hair category: dry shampoo. While dry shampoos are fantastic when used for their intended purposes and as directed, the need for focused scalp treatments now indicates we've possibly been overusing them (and other hair styling products) and not cleansing thoroughly afterwards.
We're used to clarifying hair products that free hair from build-up, but when was the last time you clarified your scalp? Some salons have even started offering "scalp facials" or "head spas" that can help reboot your scalp. Irritation, product build-up and inflammation are all symptoms that can affect the health of your hair follicle, and even affect hair growth.
If you've patted your own scalp at least once while reading this, you might enjoy some of these scalp products.
Have your own head spa at home with the help of these mighty scalp saviours...
1. Scrub Apaisant Soothing Scalp Scrub by Kerastasse, $70
KerastasseWhen your scalp is already irritated, scrubs can be over-stimulating. This is a great option if you need to both deep clean and baby your scalp. The texture is satisfyingly bouncy and creamy, with a gel texture that's easy to apply and distribute. There's a light, fresh scent that is a little a floral, a little citrus-y thanks to the sweet orange peel that helps to cleanse while also calming inflammation. Like all scalp treatments, target the roots to maximize benefits and don't spread down through your hair. This gentle formula is also excellent for hydrating the scalp and keeping moisture levels balanced.
2. Cleansing Purifying Scrub with Sea Salt by Christophe Robin, $67
Christophe RobinLaunched in 2013, this is the OG of scalp scrubs and it remains one of the best on the market. The salt crystals are the perfect size for nestling in between hair without falling out, and the formula is delightfully goopy enough to really cling to hair and spread around easily. It simply makes quick work of flakes and product build-up, which is why it's become a coveted staple by those with oily, sensitive scalps. This scrub leaves hair noticeably fluffier—hair is obviously clean, but also it's clear that something wonderful has happened at the roots, as each strand seems to be standing a little taller, with a little bit more life. Also, this summer there's a new limited edition scent that pays ode to Bretagne—fresh, salty, marine notes at first sniff that are grounded by sandalwood, musk and patchouli.
3. Clean and Pure Invigorating Detox Scalp Scrub by Nexxus, $19.99
NexxusTake a big scoop of this grainy scrub and slather it into your roots. The texture is satisfyingly akin to thick honey (with coarse salt) and spreads easily. Like all salt scrubs, you want to use more than you'd normally use for shampoo. Your scalp is left gently exfoliated and free from product buildup. For oily hair or hair with a lot of product, you'll still want to follow-up with your regular shampoo.
4. Kerasilk Revitalize Exfoliating Pre-Wash and Kerasilk Revitalize Rebalancing Scalp Foundation by Goldwell, $37
KerasilkThe pre-wash has the consistency of a thin shampoo with tiny exfoliating beads. Use at least twice the amount that you'd normally use for shampoo and try to distribute directly onto the scalp. Unlike shampoo, this pre-wash doesn't lather up at all so don't be surprised when it seemingly disappears. Don't worry, it's definitely working as long as you keep massaging it into your scalp. This is an exceptionally good scalp treatment that doesn't over-strip your hair while effectively removing dirt, dead skin cells and excess sebum, leaving your scalp noticeably cleaner and fresher.
Follow up with your usual shampoo, and as you condition the ends of your hair, use the Rebalancing Scalp Foundation to condition your scalp. Gently nestle the pin-like nozzle onto targeted points around your scalp to distribute the product, then massage and rinse off. It moisturizes and rebalances your scalp beautifully, adding a protective layer to your freshly exfoliated scalp, all without adding any excess oil or weight to your hair. A brilliant duo.
5. Ginger Scalp Serum by The Body Shop, $22
The Body ShopIf your scalp is dry and flaky, this new serum could help ease the itch in-between shampoos. With this product, you'll want to start with dry hair. The texture of this serum is thick and unctuous, so apply one to two drops of serum to the fingertips and distribute directly to the affected parts of your scalp, massaging until it's absorbed. It contains ginger essential oil and smells deliciously of fresh, spicy ginger, a scent that dissipates fairly quickly.
6. An Apple a Day ACV Hair Rinse by Hairitage, $7.94
HairitageFrom YouTube hair educator Mindy McKnight, this new line of vegan and cruelty-free hair products tries to encompass the needs of every hair type and texture, so it's no surprise there's a product for scalp health as well. Apply this to the scalp after shampooing. The texture is water-like with a bit of slip, so the shower-friendly twist-nozzle tip makes easy work of distributing this precisely. Massage into scalp for three minutes then rinse out. It doesn't smell of apple cider vinegar in the least, but its inclusion (fifth ingredient from the top) will gently clean your scalp without stripping your hair, leaving it smooth and shiny.
7. Care Taker Scalp Tonic by Noughty, $9.99
NoughtyIf you have a sensitive scalp, Noughty's vegan formulas are 97 percent natural and free of petrochemicals, parabens, sulphates and silicones. This scalp tonic is also fragrance-free (the only one on this list), housed in a small bottle that makes it easy to hold as you apply the product. The texture is that of a light serum and remember: less is more. It doesn't take much to notice a reduction in flakiness and dryness, if those are your main concerns. Squeeze out a few drops onto the scalp and massage in; and don't rinse out.
8. Serene Scalp System by Oribe, $57 to $95
OribeSometimes, it takes multiple products to tackle multiple issues. The Serene Scalp system was designed to gently treat various scalp concerns at every step of your hair cleansing routine. Most of the products have the signature Oribe fragrance, but levelled down considerably so you get the olfactory benefit of using a luxury product, while reducing risk of irritation. Start with the Exfoliating Scrub ($65) as a weekly treatment. It has both physical (beads) and chemical (alphahydroxy acids) exfoliants to remove dead skin, oil, dirt and product build-up on the scalp. Even if you don't have dandruff, the Anti-Dandruff Shampoo ($57) contains salicylic acid that helps to both soothe itchiness and hydrate the scalp. Unlike traditional conditioners that are meant to be applied mid-length to ends, apply the Balancing Conditioner ($60) all over from scalp to ends; the deeply hydrating formula will help maintain a healthy moisture balance in both scalp and hair. Whenever you feel your scalp becoming irritated, whether it's in-between shampoos or post-colour, apply the lightweight Soothing Leave-On Treatment ($60) directly onto the scalp for instant relief. Extracts of peppermint, rosemary and chamomille provide soothing comfort without weighing down hair. For instant lift, the fragrance-free Thickening Treatment Spray ($95) contains a densifying polymer that immediately adds volume and density to hair, while also providing long-term benefits by strengthening hair cuticle and protecting the delicate scalp.