You know that feeling when you just need a cleanse?
Life throws a lot at us these days, and it’s perfectly normal to feel like you need to pause and reset, whether that means taking some time off social media, focusing on your gut health, or in the case of a cause near and dear to our hearts, giving your scalp a much-needed detox. Scalp detoxes are very much in style right now, with our Instagram and TikTok feeds full of people showing off their hair reset routines. But what is a scalp detox? And do you need one?
Keep reading for everything you need to know.
A scalp detox doesn’t necessarily focus on toxins. It’s about soothing inflammation, clearing away build-up, and giving your scalp the conditions it needs to thrive. There are three key benefits.
First and foremost is a deep cleanse. Most shampoos do a pretty good job clearing away build-up, dirt, and oils — especially ones without sulfates, which strip your scalp’s natural supply of sebum. But they don’t get everything. A scalp detox works harder, clearing away the most stubborn build-up to leave your scalp feeling refreshed.
When dealing with irritation and itchiness on the scalp, we’re really facing inflammation. For many people, a scalp detox can focus on soothing that inflammation, reducing discomfort, and strengthening the barrier between the scalp and the outside world. Several ingredients in the natural world have soothing properties to achieve this effect.
Lastly, a scalp detox can also include a scalp massage. Scalp massages feel good, but they actually have more benefits than just pleasing sensations.
Whether you’re using fingers or a scalp brush, scalp massages have been proven to increase circulation to the scalp, which can help strengthen hair follicles and produce thicker hair. One study in 2019 found that alopecia areata patients who massaged their heads twice daily reported increased and restored hair growth.
So how do you know when it’s time for a scalp detox? It’s a good question, because you don’t want to overdo it. While these benefits are great, reaching for them too often could lead to sensitivity and irritation on the scalp, which is the opposite of the point. Instead, look for these telltale signs that it’s time for a detox.
Itchiness is an exceptionally common issue on the scalp, and the reasons your scalp could be feeling itchy are many. You might be dealing with a dry scalp, which is really common during the cold winter months, or if your scalp is suffering from sun damage during the summer months. Itchiness can also be caused by sensitivity to new products, so if you’ve started using something new over the last month and noticed sensitivity on your scalp, a detox is a great way to get rid of any residual product causing that itch.
Speaking of itch, if you’re noticing some discomfort on your scalp paired with oily flakes, it could be an imbalance of the flora and fauna of your scalp. Flakes are a normal but misunderstood problem that isn’t caused by poor hygiene but instead is likely related to a fungal imbalance. Malassezia is a type of yeast that’s supposed to be on your scalp, but sometimes it experiences an overgrowth, resulting in excess sebum and flaking.. If you’ve seen lots of flakes on your shoulder recently, a scalp detox with soothing products can help.
This brings us to the last point. You may not be experiencing flaking or itching, but if you have noticed oiliness or lifelessness, your hair could also likely use a refresh. Sometimes when we overdo it with products on our scalps, our hair becomes limp and waxy. Have you ever attempted to curl overly oily hair? Yeah, it usually doesn’t go so well. Too much oil and product build-up can leave your hair feeling slack and dead. A scalp detox can help. Once you’ve done a scalp detox, you’ll start to recognize the signs of when it’s time to intervene. As a general rule of thumb, we’ve found that doing one every four to six weeks is a good routine for helping hair always feel full of volume and life. But remember that everyone’s hair is different and finding the right regimen for you is part of your own personal hair care journey.
...a scalp detox can focus on soothing inflammation, reducing discomfort, and strengthening the barrier between the scalp and the outside world.
Have you decided it’s time to give your hair back some life? Good idea. Here are four simple steps to detoxing your scalp.
First, try a scalp brush. You can do this during your shower, but we suggest doing it before. Dry brushing your scalp will ensure that you lift out all that dirt and oil ahead of a wash. This will also protect your hair strands from breakage as hair is at its most vulnerable to damage when it’s wet.
Gently rub a scalp brush throughout your scalp, exfoliating the surface. It’s important to only apply gentle pressure here, as you’re trying to lightly lift away build-up, not cause further irritation. If you have a sensitive scalp or struggle with eczema or psoriasis flare-ups, you can skip this step just to be safe.
Next, try a scalp mask. Scalp masks are sort of like exfoliating masks but on the skin of your scalp. Like the scalp brush, a scalp mask will work harder than your regular shampoo and your fingers to clear away build-up.
When selecting which mask you want to go with, ensure you’re paying close attention to the ingredients. Opt for products that include natural ingredients and exfoliants, and stay away from products that include phthalates. These are preservatives that help products be absorbed more into the skin but have the potential to do real damage to your internal wellness. Jupiter’s Purifying Mask uses volcanic ash to gently exfoliate the scalp and pull out debris, along with soothing and scalp healthy ingredients like biotin and argon oil that can help improve hydration and luster of your hair.
Next, you’ll want to reach for a shampoo that really goes the distance. Like we said, your regular shampoo is great at clearing away dirt and products, but if you want your hair to feel truly clean — and trust us, once you see how clean your hair feels after a scalp detox, you’ll understand the difference — then you need to use a clarifying shampoo every once in a while.
Clarifying shampoos are hyper-focused on clearing away residual product build-up on your scalp. They’re hardworking and effective, so we don't recommend using them too often. Save them for when your scalp needs them the most so you maintain your scalp’s natural sebum production.
And now it’s time to rest! You can also opt for a deep conditioning mask here to restore your hair’s moisture and bring some life to your ends, but it’s your call. After a scalp detox, we like to let the scalp heal and relax. We won’t brush it or use heat styling tools for a few days, just so the scalp can reap the detox's full benefits. If you’re dealing with flakes, this is also a great opportunity to use a serum, like our Restoring Serum, with soothing aloe vera juice and the active ingredient Zinc Pyrithione to manage flakes.
We’ve said it before, and we’ll say it again, healthy hair starts at the scalp. If you’re looking to refresh your hair care routine, our number one piece of advice is to focus on scalp health. From there, healthy new inches can grow in a nourished, clean, and balanced environment. If you’re dealing with itchy or lifeless hair and feel at your wit’s end, a detox can help restore your scalp’s natural condition and get you back to square one. People tend to underestimate just how much damage product build-up can do. A scalp detox can totally help. Give it a try to see what it does for your locks and scalp health.
Our clarifying foaming scalp mask eliminates excess build-up, gently clears away dead skin, and feels like an at-home exfoliating spa treatment. Designed for use once a week before you wash. the mineral-rich volcanic ash pulls out impurities, while other high-end ingredients nourish the scalp, leaving you cool, calm, collected, and smelling sublime.