Our faces are some of our most cared-for possessions. The ever-growing community of skincare addicts do everything from chemically exfoliate to run microcurrents through their cheekbones, all in attempts to rejuvenate, repair, and protect facial skin. One of the more under-treated areas of skin is the scalp. Oily, dry or super-sensitive; it was only a matter of time before the scalp received some love and affection of its own.
Enter the scalp scrub, which proves that exfoliation around your hair follicles can be just as crucial as the serums you’re smoothing over your face every other night. Whether irritated from excess product buildup, or keeping your hair flat and lifeless, dull hair and itchiness are no match for the latest set of granulated shampoos, which target one of the most widespread of scalp issues: dandruff. “The most common disorder of the scalp is dandruff with almost half the population suffering with this problem,” says Macrene Alexiades, M.D., Ph.D. “It is most similar to seborrheic dermatitis, which is due to the overgrowth of yeast and the abnormal shedding of cells and sebum.”
While excess dead skin cells and oils sounds like the ingredients to a recipe familiar to anyone who’s ever dealt with acne, scalp disorders typically are caused by a slew of underlying health issues, according to Alexiades, and it’s why she takes a holistic approach to them. Although, sooner or later, she says an exfoliant may be needed. “If the scales are very thick and adherent, like in scalp psoriasis, an exfoliant is necessary,” she explains. “These typically include salicylic acid, such as in Sebulex. Alternatively, I will often prescribe a tar based treatment in order to get the underlying inflammation under control and this works very well.”
Scalp treatments, such as R+Co.’s CROWN Scalp Scrub, have a similar makeup, with salicylic acid being what dislodges flakes and scales. Other more stimulating products get their muscle from physical exfoliators, sea salt being a fan favorite. From Goop, the G.Tox Himalayan Salt Scalp Scrub Shampoo has chunks of the rosy grains whipped into the formula, making the experience as emotionally balancing as physically satisfying, with rosemary, geranium, orange, and peppermint oils leaving nothing but their clean scent behind.
Perhaps the most satiable yet are those with smaller grains, which really stimulate the hair follicles and can (literally) scratch any itch. While Christophe Robin’s Purifying Scrub with Sea Salt has maintained cult status since its release, the Rose-perfumed Elvis + Elvin Sea Salt Scalp Dandruff Shampoo is by far the most underrated: not only does it keep the scalp dandruff-free for days, but it keeps the hair looking fresh out of a salon-grade blowout. A few scrubs later, and you’ll be smelling la vie en rose.
Main photo credit: goop.com