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As someone who has both big chopped and had very long hair, I can say with wholehearted confidence that wash day is never short. Though many describe it as some sort of relaxing, self-care activity, I view it as unavoidable self-maintenance that requires multiple, time-consuming steps. At the same time, I won’t deny that all of those steps–including a natural hair scalp product–are also necessary.
Between protective styling, hot tools, and the many other products in a daily regimen, those with textured hair know the product buildup struggle. Personally, I know it’s time for a deep cleanse when I’ve been using edge control every day and it starts to leave a white cast, even after I’ve washed and moisturized along the hairline. It’s the double-edged sword of priming your scalp with grease or lotion; you know it’s what stimulates growth and nourishes dry patches, but it can also leave behind the kind of gunk that gets stuck under your nails when you go in for an itch. (Don’t side-eye me; we’ve all done it.)
Scalp-focused formulas made with antimicrobials such as apple cider vinegar and tea tree oil are life-savers when you really want to get rid of the grime and start fresh. Here are the top-rated ones I recommend keeping in your bathroom.
As I Am Olive & Tea Tree Oil Leave-In Conditioner
An antimicrobial, creamy lotion that moisturizes the scalp.
$8.24 at Sally Beauty
Briogeo Scalp Revival Charcoal + Tea Tree Scalp Treatment
A powerhouse mix of charcoal for drawing out dirt, mint oils for cooling irritation, and witch hazel for neutralizing oil production.
$32 at Sephora
TXTR by Cantu Apple Cider Vinegar + Tea Tree Soothing Shampoo
Remove buildup (apple cider vinegar, spearmint oil, and tea tree oil) and moisturize (shea butter and aloe) in one easy step.
$9.99 at Ulta
Curlsmith Scalp Stimulating Booster
A delicious daily serum chock full of nourishing ingredients for stimulating hair follicles and calming the scalp.
$27 at Ulta
Design Essentials Detoxifying Tonic
Instantly lift dandruff and buildup from the scalp with this lightweight treatment.
$6.22 at Sally Beauty
Dove Dermacare Scalp Anti-Dandruff Shampoo
This dermatologist-approved cleanser is gentle enough for everyday use to ward off flakes and itching.
$4.88 at Walmart
Earth’s Nectar Green Olive & Lavender Scalp Oil
This is the ultimate soother for excessive itching and dryness.
$18.50 at Sephora
Hair Chemist Scalp Care Hair Mask
This underrated add-on is a great way to get rid of excess oil on the scalp.
$6.74 at Sally Beauty
Head & Shoulders Daily Moisture Scalp Cream
This light and quick-absorbing treatment was specifically made for textured hair types.
$8.99 at Target
Living Proof Restore Dry Scalp Treatment
One of the few hair treatments out there infused with hyaluronic acid, a star ingredient for restoring moisture, thus relieving itchiness.
$32 at Sephora
Mizani Calming Scalp Lotion
This affordable, professional salon option cools irritation and delivers moisture to a dry scalp.
$20 at Ulta
Nexxus Clean & Pure Scalp Scrub
Prior to shampooing, apply this marine mineral-infused formula directly to the scalp to scrub away dirt and grime.
$14.99 at Target
Noughty Care Taker Scalp Soothing Shampoo
An almost all natural (97 percent to be exact) formula infused with the gentle, but effective cleansing properties of olive oil, oatmeal extract, and bisabolol.
$9.99 at Noughty
SheaMoisture Bamboo Charcoal Scalp Tonic Treatment
With the clarifying power of charcoal and tea tree oil, your scalp is in for the deepest cleanse it’s ever had.
$11.99 at Target
Silk Elements Pre-Cleanse Scalp Treatment
This peppermint-infused treatment instantly lifts buildup so your shampoo doesn’t have to work as hard.
$2.99 at Sally Beauty
Unwash Balancing Scalp Serum
No rinse needed when you apply this prebiotic-infused formula to clean, damp hair and scalp.
$22 at Ulta
Yes To Soothing Hair Clay Mask
Be sure to rub the mask into your scalp too so the clay and tea tree oil can go to work on your scalp and strands.
$2.99 at Target