The deal with scalp exfoliation: What it entails, its benefits, and how to do it

The deal with scalp exfoliation: What it entails, its benefits, and how to do it

Mind that itch

Text: Jean Chua

Editor: Emily Heng

You don't have to be a skincare savant to know about the many benefits of skin exfoliation. You might, however, be less well-versed in the multitude of advantages a proper scrub-and-cleanse brings for your scalp. It's ironic, seeing that most of us spend an inordinate amount of time and money on our locks all while neglecting 'em roots. This, consequentially, contributes to flat, dull hair, clogged follicles, and even an itchy scalp. Sound familiar? Lucky for you, it's not too late to get in on this — plus, it is a process that is fairly easy to carry out provided you are armed with the right tools and info. And that's where we come in. Here's all you need to know, below.

Why is scalp exfoliation necessary?

First things first: there are dead skin cells and sebum buried in the midst of our hair follicles along our scalp area. Scalp exfoliation, hence, rids it of said cells, excess oil, as well as sebum through the use of physical or chemical exfoliants. This can help prevent scalp buildup, the precursor to everybody's biggest hair enemy — dandruff. And since a healthy scalp is instrumental in the growth of healthy hair, it plays a large part in keeping our locks looking nourished and healthy. Without exfoliation, hair follicles might get clogged which would lead to the thinning and weakening of the hair strands.

Can everyone exfoliate their scalp?

For the most part. It is especially beneficial for those with dandruff, dry skin, or oily hair as they tend to be subjected to more scalp-related issues. However, people with sensitive skin may find that certain chemical or physical exfoliants are too harsh for their scalp and should take extra care in seeking the right products. Be sure to check the labels and opt for options developed for sensitive skin. Those with active infections, lice, or an open cut should not exfoliate their scalp at all. Bear in mind that you should avoid  avoid exposing your scalp to direct sunlight after exfoliating. If you need to go outdoors, make sure you wear a hat or spray sunblock on your scalp and hair.


How should you exfoliate your scalp?
Do it on wet, just-shampooed hair. If it's a scrub, comb through and separate your hair into sections before using fingertips to apply the product. If it's a physical exfoliant, start by placing the product directly on the head, then use small circular motions and your fingertips to gently lift the dead skin cells off the scalp and finally rinse with water. Make sure to be ultra-gentle when exfoliating your scalp whether with fingers or a gadget to avoid irritation. Otherwise, refer to your product of choice and go through the instructions.

What type of scalp exfoliants should you buy?
For those with a sensitive scalp or with skin conditions such as acne or eczema, steer clear of scalp scrubs. The difference between physical and chemical exfoliants is that while a chemical exfoliant uses an acidic solution to help lift away the dead skin cells, while a physical exfoliant contains ingredients that creates friction to directly remove dead skin cell flakes through massage.

How often should you exfoliate your scalp?
Although it's safe to massage your scalp every day, you shouldn't exfoliate your scalp more than once or twice a week.