How to Exfoliate Scalp?
Everyone brushes their hair, washes and conditions it, and many style their hair with several products and tools. But many overlook taking care of their scalp, which is important to the overall health of their hair!
Thankfully, exfoliating your scalp is one additional step that you can add to any skincare routine, and you can accomplish it as you wash your hair.
What Is Scalp Exfoliation?
Exfoliation is achieved using either physical or chemical exfoliants, which peel away the top layer of skin and removes dead skin cells. Physical exfoliants, also known as manual exfoliants, include dry brushing and skin care products that contain small particles. These particles include ground nut shells (walnuts being one of the most common) and seeds, and many others.
Chemical exfoliants include acids that are incorporated into skin care products to promote skin exfoliation. These acids include citric, galactose, lactic, glycolic, retinoic, and salicylic acid, among many others.
Each acid is used for different skin-related conditions, including acne, dark spots, and scarring. Certain chemical exfoliants are also used for different skin types, including oily, dry, or combo skin.
While our bodies naturally exfoliant and shed dead skin cells, exfoliating your scalp can help with a variety of skin conditions. It’s also great in general for hair and skin health.
What Are the Benefits of Scalp Exfoliation?
There are many benefits to exfoliating your scalp on a regular basis. Exfoliation helps to improve your skin and hair health by removing dead skin cells and can stimulate hair growth as well.
Scalp exfoliation can be helpful for people who struggle with dandruff, dry skin on or around the head, and who have excess oil on their hair or an oily scalp.
Prevents and Removes Product Buildup
If you tend to style your hair most days, even with washing regularly, there can be a buildup of product residue trapped in your hair follicles. This residue can make your hair appear greasy or dull, even weighing hair follicles down. Product residue can even appear similar to dandruff, in that the residue can flake off the scalp, while also making your scalp feel irritated.
A scalp scrub can help to remove the trapped dirt, oil, and residue. When you exfoliate your scalp, you can revive the shine of your hair, and the process can leave your scalp feeling lighter as well.
Helps Keep Dandruff and Oil Under Control
For those who live with dandruff and oily hair, exfoliation can also be a good way to keep these conditions under control.
This common scalp condition doesn’t have a defined caused by professionals, but it is a common skin condition that leaves the scalp feeling irritated and itchy, leaving dead skin flakes on clothing and pillowcases.
Scalp exfoliation removes oil from the scalp, which can also help with conditions that leave excess oil on hair. Exfoliators can help to promote healthy hair and a healthy scalp for these conditions, too.
Scalp exfoliation has also been known to help other skin conditions as well, including psoriasis and seborrheic dermatitis.
Improves Appearance and Growth of Your Hair
As mentioned before, scalp exfoliation removes dead skin, dirt, and oil from the scalp, which can help with a dry scalp or an itchy scalp. However, exfoliation can also help with hair growth.
A manual scalp exfoliant combines the powers of exfoliation and massage, which help to promote and stimulate fresh blood flow to the scalp. This helps to promote healthy hair growth, as well as doubling as a healthy scalp treatment.
In general, this process helps to improve the overall health of your hair. Of course, this is only possible when exfoliation is done in moderation. But healthy hair starts from the scalp, so as you care for your scalp, you will also be taking care of your hair as it grows.
Boost the Effectiveness of Your Hair Care Products
After removing the buildup, exfoliation leaves room for new applications of product to do what they are meant to without blockage. After exfoliating, you should notice a visible difference in using your current hair product routine and how much better serums, sprays, and gels will hold.
This is especially helpful for the person who has been trapped in the cycle of buying new products because their old ones suddenly stopped working. Try scalp exfoliation before purchasing another hair serum!
How to Exfoliate the Scalp
Whether you are using a scalp scrub or a chemical exfoliant, exfoliation of the scalp can be broken down into two parts: massage and treatment. Most commonly, skin exfoliation is performed on wet hair that was freshly washed, as in this state, the skin pores and hair follicles will be exposed and open.
For both a dry scalp and oily scalp, this works well because some oils have already been washed away, and some dry skin has already been scrubbed away. Exfoliation helps to take the next step in removing the stubborn oil and skin that held on.
No matter which type of exfoliant you choose to use, you use both in similar ways by applying the scrub or treatment to the scalp and gently scrubbing in small circular motions with the tips of your fingers. You can also opt for a brush or exfoliating glove if you prefer.
Use Exfoliating Shampoos
Exfoliating shampoos classify as a type of chemical exfoliator and are often marketed for people with dandruff. These shampoos often contain acids, among other chemicals that would assist in the exfoliation process.
As with any chemical exfoliant, remember to read the directions before using and to stop use if you find that your scalp is more irritated than before use.
Use Exfoliating Brushes
Exfoliating brushes or scrubbing combs are designed to be used in the bath or shower, but you can also find a few that are designated for dry hair. Although using your fingers is the easiest way to help exfoliate your scalp, these brushes can be more thorough.
These combs and brushes also help to remove dirt and excessive oil from your scalp, as a physical exfoliant would, as well as massaging your scalp.
Use Leave-In Hair and Scalp Treatments
For those who are always on the go and need help but don’t have the time, there are leave-in treatment options! Leave-in treatments are great because they are meant to be left to do their job and allow exfoliants to work over longer spans of time.
Use At-Home DIY Remedies
There are many natural alternatives to hair and scalp treatments and exfoliants, including DIY recipes you can make at home. You can buy scalp scrubs, but you can just as easily make your own following any of the recipes below:
Sugar Scalp Scrub recipes
Sugar-based scrubs are one of the most common because sugar is a small, yet gentle and natural particle that is also easily accessible. You may be familiar with other skin exfoliation sugar scrubs that contain natural oils, such as tea tree oil or peppermint oil. A similar approach is used with scrubs for the scalp.
Common ingredients in sugar scrubs include brown sugar, oatmeal, honey, oils, and either a shampoo or conditioner of your choice. The general measuring rule in creating a scrub is two tablespoons for each ingredient, or you can measure by adding one part of each ingredient to each other.
A brown sugar scrub commonly consists of brown sugar, finely ground oatmeal, and a hair conditioner. However, you can use olive oil or jojoba oil combined with essential oils as well. Some recipes call for honey, as this can help soften your hair.
For an at-home DIY chemical exfoliator recipe, you can try this aspirin scrub recipe.
You only need some aspirin, between six and eight aspirin pills, and four tablespoons of warm water. This is a great at-home recipe because aspirin contains a chemical exfoliant acid. You will need to crush the aspirin down and then dilute it in warm water to create smaller particles.
Then, with small circular motions, massage the mix into your scalp and hair. You can use a toothbrush, exfoliating glove, or comb for a deeper massage. Then, you simply rinse the scrub out of your hair and then condition your hair.
What’s the Difference Between Physical Exfoliants and Chemical Exfoliants?
The primary difference between the two types of exfoliants is the method of how they work. Physical or manual exfoliants work by manually scrubbing them into the skin. A chemical scalp exfoliant works through the acids found within the product.
A physical exfoliant includes a scalp scrub, scalp brush or comb, and any type of exfoliation that requires your direct involvement. A chemical scalp exfoliator, while most require at least massage motions, does not depend on this. These include shampoos and other hair care products that include acids that exfoliate on their own.
How Often Should You Exfoliate Your Scalp?
When delving into the practice of exfoliating your scalp, you should make a point of paying attention to your scalp health. The skin in this area is delicate on its own, and someone with a sensitive scalp will want to exfoliate less often than those who don’t have a sensitive scalp.
A good rule of thumb would be to start with a once-per-week schedule. This way, your scalp can avoid excessive dryness and can still reap the benefits of exfoliation. From there, after a few weeks, you may increase to twice a week if needed. Another way to count when to exfoliate is doing so every seven to ten shampoos.
Risks of Exfoliating Regularly
However, if you notice an increase in irritation, dryness, itchiness, or redness, you will want to decrease the frequency to once every two weeks. When you exfoliate your scalp, pay attention to your hair follicles and the condition of your scalp and hair. Exfoliating too regularly can lead to damaged hair and overly sensitive skin that can be painful when touched.
If this happens, you may want to discuss alternative treatment options with your doctor, especially if you have a skin condition, including psoriasis and seborrheic dermatitis.
Also, after exfoliation, your scalp will be more sensitive, so it is recommended to use spray-on sunscreen for a while after each session to protect your scalp from any sun damage.
Lastly, exfoliating too frequently can cause the pH level in your skin to be put off balance. This can lead a dry scalp to flake and crack more rather than less, and for oily skin to overproduce oil as well. If you notice any of these signs, put a pause on exfoliating until your skin heals and then limit the frequency.