Tips & Techniques, Wellness / Self-Care

Do I need to Exfoliate my Scalp?


words by: Natasha Marsh
May 14, 2022

We spend so much time on our faces — investing in expensive, trendy skincare products that work to rehydrate, remove fine lines and wrinkles, and give us a dewy glow. We go for facials, where trained professionals are skilled in extracting pimples and zits, minimizing pores, and lasering off unwanted pop-ups. All of this costs not only money, but time. Of course there’s nothing wrong with wanting healthy and hydrated skin. But do you keep that same energy with the skin on your head—your scalp?


What is scalp exfoliation?

Scalp care, a growing category, is barely thought of by the average customer. But taking care of your scalp first ensures healthy and shiny hair. And for similar reasons as the face, it must be exfoliated in order to work at its highest function.


The scalp, like the face, can have clogged pores, due to hair follicles or overproduced sebum. When you exfoliate the scalp, you remove dead skin cells or buildup from hair products. This is especially beneficial for curly hair owners like me, who use multiple styling products for definition, shine, and hydration.


Product buildup is always a concern for me. When you exfoliate, you remove surface level dead skin, helping product absorption. It also creates a better environment for new and healthy hair growth.


What are the benefits of scalp exfoliation?

The biggest one is product absorption. There’s little worse than spending a lot of money on products that claim to work for your hair type, washing and styling with said products, only for hair to still look limp or dry. Instead of blaming it on the brand, products, or allotted time you gave to the process, you might want to consider the health of your scalp first.


Products cannot fully penetrate hair if they’re being blocked by product buildup or oil. Exfoliation helps remove this debris, oil, and dead skin cells that might be clogging your pores.


What is the process?

You can exfoliate the scalp one of two ways: Physical or chemical.


Physical exfoliants scrub away dead skin and buildup on the scalp. When your hair is wet, it is more prone to breakage so when applying a hair scrub, make sure you are extra gentle.


Chemical exfoliants promote healthy skin cell turnover and are usually seen as hair serums or gels.


Do I need to exfoliate?

Unfortunately, symptoms are quick and slightly gross. Dryness, dandruff, and brittle hair lead the way. If you use 3-6 products each wash day like me, and about 2 daily, you run the risk of having too much product in your hair at all times. This can occur from curl creams, mousse, hairspray, and dry shampoo.


Over time, it can lead to bacteria, yeast, irritation, and flakiness. Or worse—folliculitis, scalp acne. If you exfoliate your hair enough (once a week for oil-prone scalps, biweekly for healthy scalps) it will grant you with amazingly healthy looking hair while also preventing skin concerns. It truly is a win-win.


In other news, here’s 7 more scalp care tips and why it is essential to your health.


Photo via Getty