Courtesy Image/Khadija Horton
Listen, even if you don’t douse your roots in dry shampoo or hairspray every AM, scalp scrubs are still a must-have. Sorry, but a dollop of shampoo every few days isn’t enough to cut through layers on layers of sweat, oil, and product buildup—and all that gunk can make its way into your roots and your follicles, resulting in pretty blah hair. That’s where scalp scrubs come into the equation.
You know how you exfoliate your face to get rid of dead skin cells, leaving your skin brighter and smoother? It’s a similar thing with scalp scrubs—by using ingredients like sugar, salt, and charcoal, these formula are able to gently exfoliate dead skin cells and oils from your scalp, making your roots cleaner and shinier. Use them about once a week and you’ll get healthier and more hydrated hair in no time. Now that you’re on the scalp scrub bandwagon, it’s time to find your perfect match. Ahead, the 12 best scalp scrubs for a much-needed detox.
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Best Natural Scalp Scrub
Drunk Elephant T.L.C. Happi Scalp Scrub
FYI: Just because this scalp scrub is formulated with natural ingredients doesn’t mean it isn’t powerful AF. The highlight of the formula is the AHA/BHA acid blend (yes, the same acids you put on your face) that break down dead skin cells and melt away your dry-shampoo buildup. And in case you’re wondering if the acids will leave your scalp tight and dry, don’t worry—the scrub is also filled with marula and mongogo oils to boost hydration levels.
Best Scalp Scrub for Curly Hair
Ouidad Heavy Lifting Bubbling Scalp Mask
For anyone with curly hair, the words “scalp scrub” would usually have you running in the opposite direction. But I promise: This one won’t leave your curls dry or limp. The gel-to-foam formula cleanses without stripping, the white charcoal clears out any buildup, and the hyaluronic acid and vitamin E soothe and hydrate—all without effing up your curl pattern.
Best Drugstore Scalp Scrub
Nexxus Clean and Pure Scalp Scrub
Just because you can’t spend a ton on a scalp scrub doesn’t mean you have to settle—this drugstore option checks off all the boxes. It gently exfoliates your scalp, while also infusing it with elastin protein and marine minerals to help strengthen and moisturize your hair.
Best Scalp Scrub for 4C Hair
Madam C.J. Walker All The Feels Scalp Restoring Scrub Treatment
Even though 4C hair may not see the same level of oil buildup as finer hair types, you can definitely still benefit from using a scalp scrub. This one will eliminate the growing edge control stockpile along your hairline without drying out your hair. Plus, the azalea in the formula will have your curls looking sleek and smooth.
Best Scalp Scrub for Color-Treated Hair
DpHue Apple Cider Vinegar Scalp Scrub With Pink Himalayan Sea Salt
This scalp scrub has a mash-up of sea salt, ACV, avocado oil, and aloe vera to soothe your scalp, get rid of dandruff, and cancel out build up. And the formula’s hair-dye friendly, so you won’t have to stress about your color fading down the drain.
Best Lightweight Scalp Scrub
Virtue Exfoliating Scalp Treatment
This scalp scrub might feel light and airy on your head, but trust—it’s putting in work. The BHAs and the fruit enzymes shed flakes, while the coconut and jojoba oils hydrate your scalp without weighing it down.
Best Scalp Scrub for Fine Hair
Ouai Scalp and Body Scrub
Fine hair compiles product buildup more quickly than other textures, so you want to opt for a scalp scrub with grittier exfoliants, like this sugar-based one. It’s filled with coconut oil to ease dryness and also has a slight lather that helps you massage it through your roots. The biggest bonus? You can use it on your body, too.
Best Scalp Scrub for Oily Hair
SheaMoisture Green Coconut & Activated Charcoal Exfoliating Hair Mud
The charcoal in this scrub soaks up excess oil, while the added white tea and green coconut work to hydrate and balance out your greasy scalp. The consistency is thick, but once you work it in with your wet hands and massage it into your roots, you’ll get a lather that feels almost like a shampoo.
Best Scalp Scrub for Dry, Flaky Hair
Briogeo Scalp Revival Charcoal + Coconut Oil Micro-Exfoliating Shampoo
A scalp scrub with hydrating oils is a major key if you have dry hair, otherwise you risk making the dryness even worse. This one from Briogeo is formulated with coconut oil to increase moisture levels, along with micro-exfoliators that work to gently remove flakes.
Best Scalp Scrub for Sensitive Skin
R+Co Crown Scalp Scrub
This product has a natural component—Ecuadorian ivory palm seed powder—that provides light, yet powerful exfoliation for the most sensitive of scalps. The formula is also loaded with kaolin clay to soak up grease (and, in turn, leave hair fuller) and argan oil to moisturize your scalp, so your skin will never feel stripped or tight.
Best Scalp Scrub for Intense Buildup
Christophe Robin Cleansing Purifying Scrub with Sea Salt
So, it’s been a while since you’ve given your hair a good clean. No worries—this ultra-powerful sea-salt scrub breaks down the most severe buildup in one use, making it a powerhouse for treating gunky scalps, fast. Use it in place of your regular shampoo twice a week (don’t worry; it’ll still get your roots clean).
Best Scalp Scrub for Thick Hair
Omorovicza Revitalizing Scalp Mask
The nozzle applicator on this scalp scrub helps target your roots more easily, which is a savior for thicker-hair types. Just apply it to your wet roots in sections, leave it on for 10 to 15 minutes (or, realistically, for the time it takes for you to shave your legs), then rinse it out. The result? Soft, silky, and super-shiny hair—and a perfectly moisturized scalp.
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