We wouldn’t dare go a week without using a gentle scrub on our faces or giving the dry skin on our elbows and knees a good rub down with a loofah or dry brush. Exfoliation—and the right amount of it, not too much or too little—is totally necessary for maintaining clear, healthy skin. We just have no time for the dead, useless skin cells that inevitably join forces to create dulling buildup.
But even with all of our diligent exfoliating, there’s one area that’s still being neglected, and it’s actually way more important than you might think. We scrub our skin to keep oil and debris from collecting in our pores, but most of us aren’t giving our scalps the same fair treatment. Why would one need to go about exfoliating their scalp and hair? One word: Residue.
Most of the things that touch our hair each day—conditioner, styling products, our grubby fingers—leave behind dirt and oils that can’t always be removed by shampoo alone. Just as a good facial cleanser can’t get as deep into your pores as a good exfoliating treatment can, shampoo is no match for a gentle scrub meant to purge the scalp of impurities.
Exfoliating daily, or even as frequently as once a week, may be overkill. But if you find your hair looking lackluster, your roots greasy, your texture grimy in a way that won’t seem to shampoo out, that’s when a scalp exfoliator should enter the picture. It has the added benefit of stimulating blood flow to the scalp as you scrub, which encourages the growth of stronger, healthier hair.
However, not just any scrub will do. You don’t want to damage your hair in the process, so opt for one of the specially developed formulas available on the market. Christophe Robin Cleansing Purifying Scrub with Sea Salt ($51) is the latest to target this need: Its main ingredient is simply sea salt, which works in conjunction with various oils and extracts to keep the hair follicle nourished as it rids the scalp of buildup. There’s also the time-tested Kiehl’s Deep Micro-Exfoliating Scalp Treatment ($20)—sure, it says it’s for dandruff, but the (non-medicated) treatment is packed with microfine apricot seed and argan shells for a gentle exfoliation that will leave your hair shiny, bouncy, and ridiculously clean.
This may seem like another superfluous step in your routine, but didn’t everything seem superfluous before you realized how much you needed it? Every so often, spend a few minutes giving your scalp a serious scrub—we promise you’ll see a difference. May the road to our future be paved with better hair.