Despite rarely using any styling products in my hair, every night I still seem to be able to scrape a layer of buildup off my scalp. Where does this crud come from? New York City pollution? A naturally greasy scalp? Using the wrong shampoo and conditioner? Although the answer has long evaded me, finding the crux of the problem no longer seems so important now that I’ve stumbled upon the perfect solution: a whole new category of shampoos that without fail get the the scalp clean and gunk gone. No, I’m not referring to clarifying category of hair cleansers, but rather a lesser well-known type of product called exfoliating shampoos or scalp scrubs. These miracle workers take the place of your regular shampoo and contain physical exfoliators (usually salt or sugar) to thoroughly clean your stands and scalp without ever stripping your color or moisture. Below, seven that I’ve personally tried and can vouch will get rid of any buildup while leaving your hair softer than ever.
Christophe Robin was one of the first stylists to come out with a purifying scrub, but it’s his new launch, Cleansing Volumizing Paste, that I reach for most regularly in my shower. This rose-based paste contains super fine sugar crystals that gently exfoliate while rassoul clay and rose extracts detoxify and nourish. Of particular note is how unique the texture is: While the product goes on a little grainy, it quickly lathers up into a lightweight foam that doesn’t weigh down hair, leaving it full of volume and bounce. The product is also so hydrating that you can even skip the conditioner!
This scuffle-like shampoo is a dream to use from the first scoop. It has a light (but intoxicating!) sweet-mint fragrance and foams up instantly when applied to wet hair. Tiny exfoliating particles scrub away every last bit of dirt and dead skin cells while charcoal cleanses and coconut oil moisturizes hair for an all-day softness. The super light texture means your hair will never be weighed down.
Walnut shell powder helps to slough away any buildup and irritation while apple cider vinegars clarifies and peppermint oil soothes and rebalances the scalp. When lathered, the exfoliants melt away and rinses out clearly, just leaving behind smoother, softer hair.
A super gentle option, this shampoo has a light, gel texture with micro apricot seeds that remove impurities and buildup without ever feeling harsh on your scalp. The product rinses out easily without leaving behind any residue and smells fantastic to boot.
LUSH Big Shampoo ($30)
With sea salt making up over the base of this shampoo scrub, this mineral-rich product degreases hair and removes gunk, leaving your scalp feeling fresh and clean, but not overly stripped. Seaweed and extra-virgin coconut oil help to balance out the salt and infuse your stands with rich moisture that lasts from wash to wash.
R+Co Crown Scalp Scrub ($38)
Especially great for oily and sensitive scalps, this scrub helps to detox, cleanse and rebalance skin so you’re left with healthier strands. It’s rich in emollients to provide long-lasting hydration while jojoba beads remove impurities and dissolves to rinse away easily. It can also be used as a post-color treatment to remove any chemical residue and relive an itchy, flaky scalp.
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