Dead skin, natural oils, dirt, product build-up – ridding your scalp of these elements is no small feat. Excess scalp build-up is not only itchy and smelly, but it can weaken your follicles and damage hair health, too.
Luckily, you can make your own DIY scalp scrub at home and eliminate these scalp and hair issues. All it takes is mixing a few ingredients that you probably already have at home.
Before we look at some easy recipes, let us understand what a scalp scrub is.
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What Is A Scalp Scrub?
Hair specialists have been pushing the use of dry shampoo and hair powders to minimize the use of conventional, oil-stripping shampoos. However, less shampooing leads to build-up on the scalp. This may, in turn, affect the growth of hair (1).
The good news is you can easily cleanse your scalp without visiting a salon with the help of scalp scrubs. These exfoliants are gently massaged onto the scalp to scrub away any impurities and dead skin cells.
But, just how good is scalp exfoliation for your hair? And, why should you make it an important part of your hair care regimen? We explain the benefits of scalp exfoliation below.
How Does Scalp Exfoliation Benefit You?
Exfoliating your scalp removes dandruff, product build-up, sweat, and other residues. A clean scalp is necessary to prevent inflammatory skin conditions such as seborrheic dermatitis (2).
Deeper cleansing may also promote the growth of hair. It is because scalp care is directly related to the health of your hair (3). So if you notice excess oil or a flaky scalp, it is time to exfoliate it. The kind of scrubs you use depends on whether your scalp is overly flaky or oily.
Scalp scrubs are easily available to purchase. But, finding the right products that suit your skin can cost you time and money. Instead, you can make your own DIY scalp scrub at home! If you need the right combination of nourishing and exfoliating agents for your scalp, try the following DIY scrub recipes.
Easy-To-Make DIY Scalp Scrubs To Cleanse Your Scalp
Let us walk you through some easy-to-make DIY scalp scrubs:
1. Honey And Coconut Oil Scrub
- 1 tablespoon of honey
- 1 tablespoon of apple cider vinegar (ACV)
- 5-10 drops of peppermint oil
- 3/4th cup of sugar
- 1/4th cup of coconut oil
This scrub is good for inflammatory skin conditions such as psoriasis or eczema. Plus, it has antibacterial and antiseptic properties, thereby protecting your scalp from infections.
Sugar, which is a natural exfoliant, gets rid of all the build-up of products and dead skin cells on your scalp (4). Peppermint oil, which has a calming effect on the scalp, also promotes hair growth and acts as a skin conditioning agent (5).
Apple cider vinegar (ACV), on the other hand, maintains the skin’s pH balance (6). However, more research is required to fully know the benefits of ACV.
2. Himalayan/Sea Salt And Avocado Scrub
- 1 teaspoon of coconut oil
- 1 teaspoon of avocado oil
- 1 teaspoon of raw sugar
- 1 teaspoon of Himalayan or sea salt
Let us break down the purpose of each ingredient for you in this DIY scalp scrub recipe.
Coconut and avocado oils have moisturizing elements that nourish your scalp, while salt and raw sugar serve as exfoliators (7). Plant oils such as olive oil, argan oil, avocado oil, coconut oil, jojoba oil, and rosehip oil have anti-inflammatory properties (7).
3. Tea Tree Brown Sugar And Avocado Scrub
- 1 teaspoon of tea tree oil
- 1 teaspoon of avocado oil
- 1/2 teaspoon of brown sugar
Tea tree oil (TTO), derived from an Australian native plant, has immense benefits for the skin – including your scalp. Besides being a strong antioxidant, it has anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties (8).
Apart from bacteria, it is effective against protozoal, fungal, and viral infections on the skin (8). Similar to the previous recipe, avocado oil is used for moisturization.
Brown sugar allows you to remove dead skin and is mild in nature. Moreover, it is less abrasive and finer than regular granulated sugar (9).
4. Brown Sugar And Oatmeal Scrub
- 2 tablespoons of finely ground oatmeal
- 2 tablespoons of hair conditioner
- 2 tablespoons of brown sugar
This DIY scalp scrub increases circulation, provides moisture, and exfoliates the scalp. In fact, colloidal oatmeal is used in a wide spectrum of personal care products for treating itchiness and dryness of the skin (10).
Even though oatmeal has low irritant potential, you should talk to your dermatologist if you have doubts about your allergies. A study conducted on 2291 participants found that 1% of them reported low-level reactions (10).
5. Brown Sugar And Jojoba Oil Scrub
- 1-2 tablespoons of lemon juice
- 2 tablespoons of brown sugar
- 5-10 drops of jojoba oil
Jojoba oil is claimed to moisturize the scalp skin while lemon juice fights inflammation. This scrub also contains brown sugar that is gentler on the skin.
Before applying this scrub, shampoo your hair to remove any styling products. While applying it to your scalp, move your fingers in a circular motion for effective distribution.
6. Baking Soda And Clarifying Shampoo Scrub
- 1 tablespoon of baking soda
- 1-2 tablespoons of clarifying shampoo
- 2-3 drops of tea tree oil (optional)
Baking soda and clarifying shampoo are good for removing excess oil or product build-up from the scalp. You may even add tea tree oil to the scrub to benefit from its antiseptic and antifungal properties (11).
To achieve the desired results, massage it gently into your scalp for a few minutes.
There is, however, limited research on the effects of baking soda on the health of your scalp and hair in general. Therefore, discuss it with a hair specialist before using it.
7. Deep Cleansing Salt And Olive Oil Scrub
- 1-2 teaspoons of olive oil
- 1-2 tablespoons of lemon juice
- 2 tablespoons of sea salt
This scrub is particularly useful for dry scalp. You should know that you can have a dry scalp and not have dandruff. The latter may require professional treatment.
Olive oil is an excellent hydrating agent thanks to its rich fatty acid content. It moisturizes your scalp and prevents hair damage. However, more scientific research is required to support the effects of olive oil on the skin since most studies are based on animals.
8. Olive Oil, Honey, And Sugar Scrub
- 1 teaspoon of apple cider vinegar
- 2 tablespoons of sugar
- 1 teaspoon of honey
- 1 tablespoon of coconut oil
- 3 drops of rosemary oil
Rosemary oil is known for treating the acne caused by the bacterium P. acnes (12). Its antibacterial activity may be useful for treating the scalp as well since it is good for your skin.
In fact, when it comes to hair, rosemary oil is also used for treating androgenetic alopecia (13). If you add it to the scrub, it may help clear clogged pores and sebum.
Besides, it may encourage blood flow, thereby promoting the growth of your hair (14). Therefore, by combining rosemary oil with ACV, sugar, honey, and coconut oil, you can cleanse your scalp.
These were a few effective DIY scalp scrub recipes. Next, we will look at the frequency and method of application.
What Is The Frequency Of Applying The Scrub?
The frequency varies with the type of scalp. Most people apply it twice a month. However, even once a month is enough for people with a sensitive scalp.
You should note that this is purely based on anecdotal evidence. It is best to consult your doctor to figure out the frequency that suits your scalp.
How To Apply Scalp Scrubs
Scalp scrubs are not only easy to make but also easy to apply.
- The first step is to shampoo your hair and divide it into multiple sections.
- Take the DIY scrub in small amounts and move your fingers in a circular motion to apply it directly to your scalp.
- Repeat this process until you have applied the scrub to all the sections. Remember not to go overboard as it can leave your scalp irritated.
- The final step is to rinse off the scrub thoroughly.
But before you use these DIY scalp scrubs, it is important to know the difference between a clarifying shampoo and a scalp scrub.
How Is A Scalp Scrub Different From A Clarifying Shampoo?
Clarifying shampoo is not to be confused with scalp scrubs. The former is meant for deep cleaning your hair, while the latter is focused on promoting a healthy scalp via exfoliation.
One can safely say that scalp scrubs are comparatively more intense than clarifying shampoos. Besides, one cannot use a scrub too frequently as it may make the scalp tender and sore. Both scrubs and clarifying shampoos should not be used on a daily basis.
Note: There is not enough research to support this claim. For this reason, it is best to discuss with your dermatologist, especially if you have a sensitive scalp.
Scalp build-up can lead to slower hair growth, greasy hair, and clogged hair follicles. Therefore, using scalp scrubs at least once a month is essential. DIY scalp scrubs are not only super easy to make, but they remove product build-up, sweat, and other residues from your scalp with ease.
Depending on your hair type and the condition of your scalp, you can choose any of the DIY methods described in this article. Remember to consult a dermatologist if you are apprehensive about using a specific ingredient.
Expert’s Answers For Readers’ Questions
Is a scalp scrub suitable for all hair types?
Yes, most scalp scrubs suit every type of hair, but it largely depends on the ingredients.
How good is a salt scrub for exfoliating my scalp?
Scalp scrubs containing sea salt or sugar are ideal for people who have a build-up of product on their scalp.
What is the ideal duration of leaving the scrub on my hair?
You can leave the scrub on for 5-10 minutes.
Can I use a sugar scrub on my scalp?
Yes, you can use white sugar and brown sugar for scalp exfoliation.
What can I use to exfoliate my scalp?
You can use various ingredients to clean your scalp, such as salt, sugar, essential oils, honey, and clarifying shampoo.
- Does Dry Shampoo Actually Keep Your Hair Clean?
- Seborrheic dermatitis
- A Study on Scalp Hair Health and Hair Care Practices among Malaysian Medical Students
- Skin Care with Herbal Exfoliants
- Peppermint Oil Promotes Hair Growth without Toxic Signs
- Apple cider vinegar soaks [0.5%] as a treatment for atopic dermatitis do not improve skin barrier integrity
- Anti-Inflammatory and Skin Barrier Repair Effects of Topical Application of Some Plant Oils
- A review of applications of tea tree oil in dermatology
- Homemade sugar scrubs for skin care
- Safety and efficacy of personal care products containing colloidal oatmeal
- Melaleuca alternifolia (Tea Tree) Oil: a Review of Antimicrobial and Other Medicinal Properties
- Plants used to treat skin diseases
- Rosemary oil vs minoxidil 2% for the treatment of androgenetic alopecia: a randomized comparative trial
- Handbook of Herbs and Spices, Rosemary
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