Asking for a Friend: What’s the Right Way to Exfoliate Your Scalp?

While the instructions may vary, depending on the product you choose, Dr. Lamb recommends making scalp exfoliation the first step in your hair care routine. “You should exfoliate your scalp before washing your hair and then follow up with a good moisturizing shampoo,” she says. “Massage the exfoliant into your scalp for a few minutes and then rinse. The Malin + Goetz Scalp Detox Mask is one of my favorites because it contains both glycolic and salicylic acids, which promote scalp cell turnover while simultaneously functioning as a purifying shampoo.”

If you prefer physical exfoliants, Bashir suggests using a regular boar bristle brush to brush loose any flakes or buildup. “I’ll then apply castor oil as a scalp treatment, as it’s amazing for encouraging hair growth, moisturizing the scalp, preventing dandruff, and helping to treat scalp infections,” she says. “I let that sit on my scalp for 20 minutes and then proceed to the shower, adding shampoo onto my dry hair to break up the castor oil before rinsing (remember oil and water don’t mix). I’ll then shampoo twice or use an additional in-shower scalp scrub, like R+Co.’s Crown Scalp Scrub.”

For those with more sensitive skin, Izquierdo also recommends IGK’s Low Key Cleansing Walnut Scalp Scrub. “It’s a gentle salt-free formula that uses sugar and finely ground walnut to physically exfoliate the scalp and remove dirt, oil, and product buildup,” he says. “It also has apple cider vinegar to naturally clarify and peppermint oil to rebalance the skin.”

Ready to reveal cleaner, healthier-looking hair from root to tip? Shop the experts’ picks and more of our favorite scalp exfoliators below.