The Ultimate Scalp Care Routine

photo of woman with healthy hair and kerastase products

When it comes to my everyday beauty routine, skincare has always been my number one priority. I’ve spent hours (and a ton of money) creating the perfect line-up of face wash, moisturizer, and toner for my dry, sensitive skin. So, when the skinification of hair started trending, I began seeing my hair care routine in a whole new light.

After doing research and speaking with salon professionals, I've learned that just like your skin, your mane needs the same personalized TLC to look glossy, nourished, and healthy. If you’re truly looking to skin-ify your hair routine, you need to begin at the root—and that means paying extra attention to your scalp. After all, your scalp is still skin, so it deserves just as much love as the rest of your mane!

Looking to make your hair routine more scalp-centric? Whether you’re dealing with common scalp woes such as dryness or dandruff or simply want to pay more attention to it, this is everything you need to know about how to build the ultimate scalp care routine.

Start with a pre-shampoo treatment

First things first: If your scalp is feeling extra dry or flaky, begin your routine with a pre-shampoo treatment specifically formulated to bring moisture back to your scalp. Biolage’s R.A.W Scalp Rebalance Scalp Oil is formulated with peppermint, fennel, and lemongrass essential oils to soothe, refresh, and balance scalp moisture levels. Using a pre-shampoo treatment is a great way to relax and pamper your mane even if you aren’t dealing with dryness or flakes.

Exfoliate

If you’re committed to stepping up your scalp care game, exfoliating is essential—here’s why: Just like with the skin on the rest of your body, exfoliating your scalp can remove dry patches and flakes. It can also eliminate product build-up and excess sebum that can clog your hair follicles.

Searching for the best way to exfoliate your scalp at home? Use an exfoliating brush or an at-home scalp scrub. If you’re dealing with excess oil or product build-up, use a formula like Kérastase Scrub Energisant Deep Cleaning Fusio Dose Scrub. If you have an itchy, irritated scalp, we recommend a soothing formula like Kérastase Scrub Apaisant Deep Clean Fusio Dose Scrub. Even if you aren’t dealing with scalp woes, you can add a scalp scrub to your routine once a month to give your scalp an extra bit of TLC!

While exfoliating is important, it’s also possible to over-exfoliate. That’s why we recommend working with a hair care professional to determine the right exfoliation schedule for your mane. If you can’t get in touch with your stylist, start with exfoliating once every two weeks and see how it works for your mane.

Photo Credit: @ruzainstitutkerastase

Cleanse and condition

Just like finding the perfect moisturizer for your skin care routine, shampoo is personal—which means you should choose a formula that fits your mane and scalp’s specific needs. If you suffer from a dry, flaky scalp, reach for a system that specifically targets these concerns like Shu Uemura Art Of Hair Cleansing Oil Shampoo and Conditioner. This paraben and silicone-free system calms and regenerates itchy scalp with soothing hair oils leaving hair supple and soft.

If you’re struggling with unsightly dandruff, add an anti-dandruff shampoo and conditioner like Mizani Scalp Care Shampoo and Conditioner. This system helps eliminate recurrence of scalp flaking, scaling, and itching associated with dandruff. We also love Biolage’s R.A.W Scalp Care Antidandruff Shampoo and Rebalance Conditioner system. Formulated with salicylic acid, this system purifies flaky scalps and helps eliminate dandruff.

Dealing with product build-up? Reach for a clarifying shampoo like Redken Detox Hair Cleansing Cream Shampoo. This formula for all hair types and textures removes product-build up, excess oil, and pollution residue.

In addition to the shampoo and conditioner formula you’re using, you also need to pay attention to how you’re washing your hair. First things first: Finding a happy medium between shampooing too often and not shampooing enough. Cleansing your hair too often can cause your scalp to become itchy and dry. While skipping a shampoo sesh too often can cause unwanted buildup of oil and dandruff.

To help minimize the chances of your scalp becoming too oily or too dry, we recommend shampooing two to three times per week. You should also rinse your hair in lukewarm water to prevent stripping your scalp of moisture.

Massage

You may not be able to get that in-salon scalp massage your stylist gives you at the shampoo bowl, but an at-home scalp massage can be just as effective! In fact, a scalp massage can help to increase circulation in your scalp and promote healthy hair growth. Not to mention, it’s an easy way to de-stress!

While you’re shampooing, use your fingertips to gently massage your scalp in a circular motion beginning at the front and working your way towards the back. If you don’t want to use your fingers, you can also purchase a handheld scalp massager.

Photo Credit: @jennyreyhair

Moisturize

Now that your mane is squeaky clean and free of any product build-up, your scalp may still be in need of a little extra moisture. Once you step out of the shower, use a scalp serum like Kérastase Serum Extentioniste Scalp And Hair Serum.

If you have dandruff, we recommend Mizani’s Scalp Care Calming Lotion. Formulated with menthol, eucalyptus oil, aloe, and avocado oil, this product nourishes and soothes to help maintain scalp comfort.

You should also consider adding a weekly hair mask like Matrix Total Results Miracle Creator Multi-Tasking Hair Mask to your routine.

Photo Credit: @thefaithfulblonde

Protect your scalp from the sun

Your scalp and hair are constantly being exposed to the sun in your daily life. We all know about the damaging effects UV rays can have on our skin, but our scalps are often ignored when we’re applying our daily SPF products.

If you’re planning on being in the sun for a long period of time, be sure to sit under a beach umbrella, wear a hat, or apply products that protect your hair from the sun throughout your scalp and hair. We love the Kérastase Soleil range. Even though we’re spending most of our time indoors at the moment, the sun that comes through your window can still have the same effects on your strands—so it’s important to always use sun-protecting products!

Photo Credit: @curlpop

Avoid tight hairstyles

Scalp care is more than just the products you use—the way you style can also be a major factor in your overall scalp health. Tight braids and ponytails tug and pull on your scalp, so if you’re dealing with sensitivity, it’s best to avoid them. Not to mention, wearing tight hairstyles too often can cause traction alopecia. Instead, choose loose hairstyles like undone updos and braids that won’t create tension.

Use multi-tasking products

Avoiding product build-up is key to maintaining a healthy scalp. Instead of layering a ton of formulas onto your strands, try using one multi-tasking product that does it all. We recommend Mizani 25 Miracle Milk. This formula boasts 25 hair beautifying benefits, including preventing heat damage, controlling frizz, reducing dryness, and priming hair for styling.

With our expert tips and product picks, you’re fully equipped to care for your scalp the right way!