Main content
photo of hair products great for exfoliating scalp

Scalp Exfoliation: Benefits, How To, And Best Products

Want to learn more about scalp exfoliation? Read on for everything you need to know plus a step-by-step guide to exfoliating your scalp.

If you’ve ever experienced a dry, itchy scalp, chances are good you’ve scratched said itchy scalp to get some relief. If you’re in a never-ending cycle of scratching your scalp and brushing flakes off of your shoulders, we have the perfect scalp care solution for you: scalp exfoliation. 

Much like the skin on the rest of your body, your scalp can seriously benefit from exfoliation. We sat down with consultant Sophia Emmanuel, an International Association of Trichologists Certified Trichologist, hairstylist, and creator of the blog Crown Worthy, to get the scoop on everything you’ve ever wanted to know about exfoliating your scalp. Read on to learn about  some of our best scalp exfoliation products, including the exfoliating scrub that is a must-have for your routine. 

Good hair day by @friser_pl.

What is scalp exfoliation?

Scalp exfoliation involves using a chemical or physical exfoliating product that is specifically formulated for scalp care. 

Good hair day by @martaoria.

What are the benefits of scalp exfoliation?

The primary advantage of exfoliating your scalp is the same as the benefit of exfoliating your skin—to help buff away dry spots and flakes. In addition to this, exfoliating your scalp can also help remove excess oil, product build-up, and dandruff.

Good hair day by @hellobalayage.

When should you exfoliate your scalp?

Each scalp has different needs, so how often you should exfoliate will vary based on what’s best for your scalp. A trusted stylist should be able to help you come up with the ideal schedule for you and your scalp, but if you’re wondering where to start, Emmanuel has some suggestions.

“If the scalp is extremely clogged, once a week is best until you notice the scalp has improved, then you can try to exfoliate once a month to maintain it,” she explains. “Moderate buildup on the scalp can be exfoliated two times a month. If you do not have buildup, you can still exfoliate every two to three months, but a regular shampoo will work too.”

Following a  proper exfoliation schedule is essential because it is possible to over-exfoliate your scalp.

“Much like the skin on your face, the scalp will feel dry, tight, and a little raw if you over-exfoliate with the wrong product. Try not to use products with coarse exfoliating ingredients that can cut the skin and cause the scalp to feel sensitive,” Emmanuel explains.

If you do get a little scrub happy, lay off the exfoliant and heavy hair products for a few weeks.

How To Exfoliate Your Scalp In 5 Easy Steps

Wondering how to exfoliate your scalp? Here’s what you need to know. Begin by dampening your hair in the shower. Once your hair is damp, brush through it gently to remove any tangles. Then, apply your chosen scalp exfoliator to your crown with your fingertips or a scalp brush. You can also use gloves if you prefer to keep your hands clean. 

Gently massage the formula into your scalp using circular motions. Pro tip: Use the pads of your fingers  to avoid aggravating or damaging your scalp. Once you’re done, thoroughly rinse the product from your hair and follow with shampoo and conditioner

Physical Exfoliants (Scrubs) Vs. Chemical Exfoliants (Peels)

Much like exfoliating your face, there are two ways to exfoliate your scalp: physical and chemical. Physical exfoliants are products like scalp scrubs and scalp brushes that help buff away flakes, dry patches, excess sebum, and product build-up. Whereas chemical exfoliants are formulated to break down flakes, dry patches, excess sebum, and product build-up without scrubbing your scalp.

Whether you choose a chemical or physical exfoliant, be sure to exfoliate your scalp before you shampoo your strands. The shampoo will wash away all of the excess sebum, product buildup, and flakes the exfoliant removes from your scalp.

The Best Scalp Exfoliators

Searching for the best scalp exfoliating products to add to your routine? Keep scrolling to discover four of our top picks. 

Biolage Professional

All-In-One Shampoo Scrub with Oat

Multi-benefit shampoo scrub made with oatmeal gently exfoliates, detoxifies and cleanses.

One size only for All-In-One Shampoo Scrub with Oat
8.5 fl oz

Biolage All-In-One Shampoo Scrub With Oat

While it’s typically recommended to exfoliate your scalp before you start shampooing your hair, this multi-benefit all-in-one formula acts as both a cleansing shampoo and scalp exfoliator. Formulated with oat, jojoba and castor oil, this product gently exfoliates, detoxifies, and cleanses for healthy scalp and hair. It can even be used in your body care routine!


Scrub Apaisant Deep Clean Fusio Dose Scrub

A calming gel scalp scrub to cleanse the scalp

One size only for Scrub Apaisant Deep Clean Fusio Dose Scrub
8.5 fl oz

Kérastase Scrub Apaisant Deep Clean Fusio Dose Scrub

This relaxing scalp scrub for normal to dry hair and scalp types is formulated with jojoba oil, vitamin B5, and sweet orange essential oil.


Scrub Energisant Deep Cleaning Fusio Dose Scrub

An energizing sea salt scalp scrub to remove impurities

One size only for Scrub Energisant Deep Cleaning Fusio Dose Scrub
8.5 fl oz

Kérastase Scrub Energisant Deep Clean Fusio Dose Scrub

This deeply purifying and energizing scrub for scalp is formulated with sea salt, vitamin B6, and salicylic acid to help oily scalps.


Style Shifter Society Wonder Crown Scalp Foaming Pre-Cleanser

A foaming pre-cleanser that refreshes and balances your scalp.

One size only for Style Shifter Society Wonder Crown Scalp Foaming Pre-Cleanser
6.8 fl oz

Mizani Style Shifter Society Wonder Crown Scalp Foaming Pre-Cleanser

Ideal for all texture types, this foaming pre-cleanser works to remove product build-up without stripping your scalp and preps your mane for styling. It also has a targeted applicator which makes it apply to protective hairstyles. 

Interested in more expert hair tips? Use our salon locator to book an appointment at a salon near you.

Orientation message
For the best experience, please turn your device