It is fair to say that our cultural obsession with all things sparkling clean has gone way too far. Yes, life is messy, but our bodies are, for the most part, good housekeepers.
Healthwise, a clean scalp is more important than clean hair. Clean hair looks, feels and smells great, but a properly cared-for scalp is what keeps all clean hair gorgeous. Fortunately, the tools for a good scalp detox are literally at your fingertips – mastering massage techniques for cleaning the scalp will never fail, no matter what else you do.
Some remedies for busting scalp build up lurk somewhere in your kitchen, but stay with us and we’ll help you avoid wasting perfectly good food. Others are often-hyped new products designed for scalp cleansing – but we’ll warn you to look before you leap on the scalp scrub bandwagon.
How do I know if I need a scalp detox?
Worried about your scalp health? Here are the top 5 reasons to make a scalp detox a part of your regular hair care:
#1 You wash infrequently
A scalp detox can help purify your hair follicles and dissolve accumulated products, pollutants, sweat, and the daily grime.
#2 You are exposed to toxins (duh)
Boost antioxidants to limit damage from free radicals that damage hair while it incubates.
#3 It’s a new season
Soothe a dry scalp and slough off flakes in arid heat or freezing cold.
#4 You love your styling products
Prevent or soothe irritation from build-up after playing with polymers, silicones, waxes, and alcohols found in your hair styling products.
#5 You’re making a lifestyle change
If you’re on a dietary cleanse, purify your scalp of toxins being expelled through your pores.
If you’re experiencing dryness, itching, dandruff, or inflammation. Learn all about life above the brows – in sickness and in health – here.
Hair Detoxing with The Right Moves
Get physical to remove debris from the scalp: Friction and massage help to stimulate blood vessels while removing spent skin.
One of the most effective tools to start the process comes from something you already use on a daily basis. A good-quality boar bristle brush is the best way to spread nourishing sebum through your hair. Gently stroking the scalp with it feels fantastic, of course, but also helps dislodge those old skin cells. We suggest you brush before you shower or go to bed. But remember, go easy on your scalp. We’ll say it again: G.e.n.t.l.y.
A Scalp Brush
If you don’t use a brush, a silicone-bristle scalp massage brush is a great next step. Those with curly hair in particular might find a silicone shower brush a beneficial tool. Use it to get your products – from cleansers to masques – well-distributed into hair and roots. A shower brush also offers a nice, safe massage and saves your scalp from getting scratched by your fingernails.
A home-made scalp treatment
The next level of scalp detox involves applying an array of potions that you can buy or make. Before you apply anything, make sure your hair is adequately detangled so your fingers or brush can reach your scalp. Work in small sections to avoid re-tangling your hair in the process.
Scalp Detox Ingredients and Recipes
Creating a scalp scrub is the perfect project for the DIY beauty enthusiast. With a few exceptions, you may already have these cleansing ingredients already on hand. Try out several of these treatments to see which method works best for you.
Apple cider vinegar
Apple cider vinegar for the scalp can kill bacteria, viruses, and fungi that lead to dandruff and its more severe form, seborrhoeic dermatitis. It can also help remove scalp buildup, and its acidity will close your cuticles and boost your shine. To avoid irritation, be sure to dilute the apple cider vinegar before applying. Whether you want to learn how to get rid of dandruff or you’re looking for natural ways of cleaning the scalp, apple cider vinegar is a great product for all your hair detox needs.
• Mix ¼ cup of apple cider vinegar with a cup of water.
• Fill a spray bottle and mist your hair and scalp.
• Massage into your scalp with a shower brush or fingertips and leave on for three to five minutes.
• Rinse with warm water and cleanse as usual.
When it comes to scalp care, sugar is great as your key exfoliant. It gently buffs away sebum and product buildup while also helping to hydrate a dry scalp. Add it to your conditioner or mix with coconut or olive oil:
• Combine two tablespoons each of brown sugar, and two tablespoons of conditioner or oil (more if your hair is very thick or porous).
• After washing your hair massage the scrub into your scalp in a circular motion with your fingertips or shower brush. Leave it for a few minutes, and rinse thoroughly.
According to DNA India, black pepper is rich in Vitamins A and C, flavonoids, carotenoids and other antioxidants that help remove harmful free radicals and protect the body against certain cancers and diseases. It is also said to have exceptional growth-stimulating and dandruff-fighting abilities.
Combine 1/4 cup ground peppercorns in 1/2 cup coconut, olive, or jojoba oil in a bowl until smooth.
Store in a tightly sealed jar at room temperature for at least two weeks (refrigeration optional).
Drain the oil; discard the pepper.
Apply oil to the scalp, and cover with a warm towel for 30 minutes
Rinse thoroughly and cleanse.
Aloe Vera Gel – a celebrated skin soother – contains enzymes that break down dead skin cells and promote healing. It also has conditioning and anti-itch properties for people who suffer from an itchy scalp. No recipe necessary here: Apply the product directly to your scalp and let it do its magic.
Tea Tree Oil
Tea tree oil is an effective solvent for sebum and dirty or oily scalp buildup, allowing your scalp to better absorb moisture from your condition and products. Like apple cider vinegar, use tea tree oil if and only if dissolved and diluted with a carrier oil first.
Rosemary oil is included in many clarifying shampoo recipes to help balance natural oils in your scalp. The antioxidant powers of iron and calcium support collagen levels and promote shiny hair growth.
This famous tree oil is valued for its antibacterial, antiseptic, anti-inflammatory, and antifungal abilities. It cleanses the scalp and helps soothe the cells from the inside out. Blend a few drops in coconut oil and lather onto the scalp before rinsing.
Willow Bark Extract
White willow bark is excellent for those prone to oily hair or dandruff, which can go hand-in-hand. It contains the highest concentrated form of exfoliating salicylic acid found in nature, and its astringent tannins counteract oiliness. Using willow bark extract is a great natural remedy that really helps with oily hair and scalp exfoliation.
Typically available in powder form and loaded with pore-purifying and oil-zapping minerals, clay is a great mask for clarifying the scalp. Reconstitute it with water or oil and let it sit.
Ginger has thermogenic properties, meaning it creates heat through metabolic stimulation, which helps heal the scalp. Here is an invigorating scalp tonic that you can use weekly:
• Mix fresh ginger, lemon juice, and water in a spray bottle.
• Mist your scalp with the mixture and massage thoroughly
Witch hazel is an astringent that can help remove buildup and residue. You can either soak a cotton ball and dab your scalp or dilute it with water to make a spray. To make the spray, combine one part witch hazel with two parts water in a bottle. Leave the mixture on for a few minutes, and then cleanse. When using this product, be sure to choose an alcohol-free witch hazel brand.
Remember that deep-cleansing the scalp should be done weekly. Do not over detox the scalp as this can lead to further irritation. If you are looking for new hair products that are strong enough to support your scalp but gentle enough to use regularly, try our New Wash from Hairstory. People with lifelong scalp complaints have found a lifelong partner in New Wash, an oil-based hair cleanser that treats the scalp the way it deserves to be: with tender, loving care.