Meet Scalp Exfoliators: The Secret to Weirdly Perfect-Looking Hair

Why did we not know about these before?!

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Okay, yes—we're fully aware of that fact that scalp exfoliators sound like another bullshit product that virtually nobody needs, but these gritty scrubs actually serve a purpose: to keep your hair looking kickass, while helping your scalp stay healthy.

Though you may think you're cleansing your scalp each time you wash your hair, your 15-second shampoo massage isn't making as much of an impact as you think, especially if you have super-thick or curly hair. (Ever wonder why your hair looks especially voluminous and shiny after a haircut? It's largely due to the hardcore scalp cleaning at the beginning).


And when all of the sweat, oil, and product buildup from your dry shampoos and styling products meld together without being exfoliated away, they form a follicle-blocking barrier that can irritate your scalp, leading to ingrown hairs, extra greasiness, itchiness, hair loss, and even some yeast growth. Yep.

"In some cases, scalp inflammation from accumulated oils and dirt can promote the growth of yeast on the scalp," says dermatologist Joshua Zeichner, MD, effectively terrifying us all. "Either way, chronic inflammation may interfere with healthy hair growth," he notes, which is the opposite of what you want when you're trying for a good hair day.

So to keep your curls and waves in their bounciest form, we rounded up the best new scalp scrubs on the market that are infused with natural exfoliators, like apricot seeds and walnut shells, along with follicle stimulating oils, like peppermint, for supremely excellent hair.

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1 IGK Low Key Cleansing Walnut Scalp Scrub

This pH-balancing scrub (yes, the pH on your scalp matters, just like with the rest of your skin) removes gunk and buildup with walnut-shell powder and a dose of peppermint oil.

IGK Low Key Cleansing Walnut Scalp Scrub, $36

BUY IT: sephora.com.

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2 Alterna Caviar Clinical Exfoliating Scalp Facial

If the idea of rinsing gritty scrubs from the thickets of your hair sounds like a nightmare, try this brush-tipped exfoliator, which uses silicone bristles to softly massage your scalp clean.

Alterna Caviar Clinical Exfoliating Scalp Facial, $36

BUY IT: sephora.com

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3 L'Oreal Paris Hair Care Ever Fresh Micro-Exfoliating Scrub

Perfect for curly hair, this sulfate-free scrub uses crushed apricot seeds to gently exfoliate flakes, itchiness, and buildup.

L'Oreal Paris Hair Care Ever Fresh Micro-Exfoliating Scrub, $9

BUY IT: target.com

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4 Kiehl's Deep Micro-Exfoliating Scalp Treatment

This argan-shell and apricot-seed exfoliator feels tingly on your scalp, thanks to its menthol-infused formula.

Kiehl's Deep Micro-Exfoliating Scalp Treatment, $20

BUY IT: kiehls.com

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5 Madam C.J. Walker Dream Come True Wonderful Scalp Exfoliator

The mix of coconut oil, shea butter, and olive oil in this salicylic-acid scrub works to moisturize dry, itchy scalps, while helping prevent ingrown hairs and bumps.

Madam C.J. Walker Dream Come True Wonderful Scalp Exfoliator, $32

BUY IT: sephora.com

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