Scalp health is an essential part of any hair routine, and showing your scalp more attention has benefits beyond exfoliation — like removing product buildup, eliminating flakes, and providing a deeper cleanse. Although some naturalistas are hesitant about the product, a scalp scrub for natural hair creates a healthy environment which hair can thrive.
First and foremost, scalp scrubs provide maximum exfoliation for the scalp. By exfoliating, you remove all product buildup, flaking skin, and bacteria which provides a deeper cleanse. “When there is buildup in the scalp, it encourages bacteria and fungus to grow in large amounts which contribute to dandruff and itching,” Sophia Emmanuel, an International Association of Trichologist-certifiedexpert and licensed cosmetologist, tells TZR. When you remove these less-than-ideal factors, hair health and growth thrives.
If you have natural hair, finding hair products that stand up to straight hair counterparts is a real search. More times than not, these products promise to work for all hair types but don't provide the essential moisturizing or smoothing benefits that natural hair needs. But scalp scrubs might be the exception. “Scalp scrubs work the same for natural hair as they would for straight textures," Emmanuel explains. “Women with natural hair tend to use products that add moisture, shine, or softness to their hair. Products like this tend to build up in the hair and scalp, and a mask that exfoliates the hair or scalp is beneficial."
Aside from the exfoliation that these scrubs provide, maintaining moisture still should be addressed. “In kinky and curly hair, scalp scrubs function to provide more moisture which is needed for those with dryness or low porosity,” says Ahava Felicidad, a holistic hair healer and the founder of Ahava Felicidad Hair and Body Holistic Care. To avoid dryness, Felicidad recommends looking for scrubs that don’t contain salt but are more sugar-based. “In comparison to salt, which detoxes and pulls out toxins, sugar draws moisture toward the scalp for more softening and since it’s sweet."
As far as frequency, the pros say that scrubs are a low-maintenance treatment with no right or wrong amount of times to use them. But Emmanuel recommends that those with natural hair should cleanse their hair with shampoo at least once a week. “Co-washing, or rinsing the hair with conditioner, is not sufficient way to cleanse the hair. It’s part of the reason some people have flaky scalp problems,” she says. Add the scrub in when you wash your hair, but remember not to use anything too harsh like scrubs that contain only salt which strips the scalp and ones that contain no oil-rich ingredients like avocado oil. “Abrasive textures on the scalp causes cuts and bruises. Cuts on the scalp cause irritation and can result in discomfort and more dandruff,” she warns.
Even though a scalp scrub shouldn’t completely strip your hair of its natural oils, follow up with a conditioner to add extra moisture and protection to your hair. “Some naturals — especially many with wavy hair and straight hair — have chosen to skip the conditioner and experience great results. However, I would never recommend any of my kinky or kinky-curly clients or to skip the conditioner,” Felicidad explains.
If you do find your hair drying out or your scalp feeling extremely tight, cut down to using the scrub once or twice a month. Emmanuel recommends using a cream-based scrub or one with tea tree oil or aloe vera to help the scalp feel cool and offer temporary relief for itching.
Ahead see the best scalp scrubs to add to your natural hair routine.