Do You Need a Scalp Facial?

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Facials are a widely beloved form of self-care that help us regulate our skin while also feeling pampered. Now, people are applying this same level of TLC to their head with scalp facials. Your scalp sees just as much dirt, pollution and product build up as your face, which means sometimes, a simple shampoo and conditioner session just won’t cut it. That’s where a scalp facial comes in.

According to Spate, there are over 1.7 thousand searches each month for scalp facials in the U.S. While it’s a relatively low volume of searches—in regards to hair services—it’s a 28.5 percent jump from last year. Spate finds that people are prospecting this trend, searching for reviews, where to get a scalp facial and what the practice consists of. Let us enlighten you.

What is a scalp facial?

Don’t think too hard about this one. It’s exactly what you’re thinking, a facial for your scalp. “A scalp facial is designed to exfoliate, deep clean, stimulate and nourish the scalp to create a healthy breeding ground for optimal hair growth,” explains trichologist and hair expert Shab Reslan.

“By stimulating, softening and cleansing your scalp prior to the remainder of your hair ritual, you create an ideal environment for your scalp to absorb all necessary nutrients, which leads to overall healthier hair,” says the founder of Ranavat Michelle Ranavat.

The benefits of a scalp facial

A scalp facial exfoliates impurities and daily buildup, says celebrity hairstylist Giannandrea Marongiu. “They also help unclog hair follicles to promote healthier, stronger, shinier hair,” he adds. Additionally, by beginning at the scalp, you “effectively soften dead cells and eliminate build-up and excess oil, which allows for the remainder of the products used to absorb and work more effectively,” notes Michelle.

Reslan says scalp facials can also encourage blood circulation. According to celebrity hairstylist Marty Harper, stimulating the movement of blood in the scalp can help “invigorate hair growth and most importantly create a healthy environment for hair growth.”

The benefits don’t end there. It can “stimulate cells in the follicle to increase nutrient absorption, increase cell turnover and regeneration and nourish the scalp itself to protect and enhance the hair-growth process that can otherwise weaken over time if left neglected,” says Reslan.

Who needs a scalp facial?

Harper believes that everyone can benefit from this practice. “We’re all looking to have healthy and happy hair. Why not work on the foundation where the hair comes from? The only way to garner a healthy return is to invest in the foundation,” he points out. There’s a benefit for everyone, whether it’s a boost in hair growth, balancing the scalp’s oiliness or dryness, clearing build up and flakiness or simply stress relief and relaxation, says Reslan. Marongiu says people who experience itchiness, greasiness, or tightness of the scalp, as well as those that wash infrequently or use hair products often, are especially great candidates for a scalp facial.

How often should a scalp facial be done?

While it might feel so good that you want to practice a scalp facial frequently, how often you should depends on a few factors. “Much like the varying degrees of a facial for your face, a scalp facial can be done monthly or weekly, depending on your scalp condition and goals,” says Reslan. It also depends “on the intensity of the exfoliation and stimulation from massaging,” she notes. Marongiu suggests those with braids, extensions or other styles that require maintenance should consider a scalp facial whenever they reset.

Scalp facials not only work to ensure that you’re targeting existing concerns but also proactively protecting against future issues that could arise, notes Michelle. So it’s worth folding the ritual into your routine.

Too much of a good thing applies to scalp facials. Reslan warns against frequently over-stimulating the scalp through vigorous massage or exfoliation. “It can increase sebum production and even irritation as the scalp attempts to protect itself and offset its microbiome.” Not only can mismanaging a scalp facial lead to more oil, it could also result in an overly dry scalp, says Harper. This is why the biggest part of a scalp facial is finding “a happy medium,” he notes.

Expert-approved scalp facial products

The INKEY List, which Reslan works with, now has a line of products perfect for a scalp facial available at Sephora. There’s something for every need. Choose between the Glycolic Acid Exfoliating Scalp Scrub ($13), Salicylic Acid Exfoliating Scalp Treatment ($15) and Caffeine Stimulating Scalp Treatment ($15).

Harper recommends NatureLab.Tokyo 2-in-1 Scalp Scrub + Shampoo ($17). The probiotics and hyaluronic acid “find harmony between the pH balance while creating a clean slate.” He likes to use the Lanshin Jade Scalp Simulator ($59) post-scrub to boost blood flow and release tension for a happier, healthier hair microbiome and headspace. Marongiu suggests closing out a scalp facial with HPx Ekakshi Oil Complex Active Hair & Scalp Serum Treatment ($122). “This treatment increases blood flow and oxygen levels to the scalp while improving density and thickness of hair.”

Michelle suggests using Ranavat Fortifying Hair Serum ($70). The proprietary complex in this serum was inspired by Ayurveda. It combines a medicinal and holistic approach creating the ultimate treatment for your scalp and hair, says Michelle.

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