The Benefits Of An Exfoliating Scalp Scrub (DIY Recipe Included!)
There are only two kinds of people in this world: those who love that head massage you get while being shampooed just before a haircut, and people who are lying (both to themselves and to the rest of the world!). Those attentive moments given directly to your scalp, whether by your favorite hairdresser or your own hands, feel good for a number of reasons, the primary one being that your scalp is covered in a protective layer of hair, and therefore doesn’t get nearly as much sensory input as most of the other skin cells on your body do.
But those few tingling, blissful minutes are so much more than just a good feeling – regularly caring for your scalp, both with basic massages and exfoliating scrubs opens up a world of health benefits that you’ve probably never even thought of before. So read on to learn about just a few of the health benefits that exfoliating treatments on your scalp can offer, and you’ll even find a DIY recipe to try at home as well!
What does exfoliating my scalp do, exactly?
If you’ve never heard of it before, the concept probably sounds silly to you. We all know what exfoliating other patches of skin on the body looks and feels like, so trying to imagine the same process being performed all along the roots of your hair can be difficult to wrap your brain around. But it’s truly quite the same thing, and surprisingly even more important than exfoliating, say, your elbows or your face. The hair follicles on your head are the biggest and most crowded ones you have, and therefore produce significantly more natural oils than any of the other ones on your body.
Those natural oils, along with sweat, dead skin cells, air particles, and bacteria then get trapped along your scalp beneath your layers of hair and are only ever properly removed when you wash your hair and dig down deep into your roots. But most commercial shampoos are filled with chemicals, dyes, and scents that are counterintuitive to a truly cleansing treatment. The hair care products you can buy at the store do indeed aid in removing all of the aforementioned junk from your head (when used and rinsed properly) but at the cost of leaving your scalp and roots either oversaturated with chemical residues or completely stripped of their natural oils and dried out altogether.
That’s where an at-home exfoliating recipe comes into play! We’ll go over my personal favorite recipe for this treatment in a little bit, but if you’re just too excited and want to get started already, you’ll find a sizable list of recipes to choose from here. By whipping up your own batch of scrub at home with any of these recipes, you can rest assured that your scalp will be getting a much-needed dose of natural stimulation and hydration, free of all the chemical additives and synthetics found in most commercial products.
If you rub deeply enough, any natural scrub you apply to your scalp works to exfoliate and clear the buildup of dead cells, oils, sweat, toxins, chemical residues, and anything else that may be lingering around your roots, all without leaving behind any trace of itself once you’re done. In this way, scrubbing regularly can help you maintain personal cleanliness, protect your body from overheating, and even prevent you from getting sick.
Just think about it – you spend all day at work or school, moving through various rooms and collecting unseen amounts of germs on your body as you interact with people, food, doorways, etc. You probably reach up to fix your hair from time to time as you go about your day, too, and unknowingly transfer some of those germs and bacteria to your scalp, where they can breed and multiply in even the smallest amounts of moisture, thanks to the warmth from your head.
And if you’re someone who prefers to shower in the morning, then all of those germs wind up making contact with your pillow at night, which is likely made of synthetic materials and dyes (as most of them are), which in turn support bacteria growth even further. I’m also willing to bet that your face occasionally winds up on your pillow as you sleep, too, and enables the transfer of that buildup of germs right into your immune system. Hooray! We’ve just learned about yet another way we can wind up sick and be inhibited from our daily activities.
That’s the main reason why it’s important to perform a scalp scrub at least twice a week, and why it is best to perform them at the end of the day, as you’re getting ready for bed. By clearing all of that unwanted junk from your scalp before you rest, you’re setting yourself up for a soothed scalp, a good night’s sleep, and a healthy body to boot! And scrubbing doesn’t just purge you of pesky toxins, either – it breaks down the buildup of sweat along your roots and helps to release trapped heat from your scalp as well.
According to a study addressed in the New York Times, it’s a common myth that a large percentage of our body heat is lost through our heads – in fact, only up to about 10% of heat loss happens from our necks upward. But when you consider the surface area of our heads in comparison to that of the rest of our bodies, that percentage is still nothing to sneeze at. And that’s the other significant way in which exfoliating scrubs benefit your body (other than just helping to keep your hair healthy and growing!). The process of scrubbing clears buildup and opens your pores like no other product, and since it’s recommended to rinse with only lukewarm water, regular scrubs give your scalp a breather, from both its own sweat and that hot shower water and heat-styling we are all guilty of using (at least from time to time).
So, are you ready to give it a try yet? My favorite recipe for a DIY exfoliating scalp scrub includes Epsom salts, which are known for their soothing properties and always leave my body (however I use them) feeling tingly and relieved. The trick to this recipe, in particular, is to not let the salt crystals dissolve much at all since they serve as the exfoliating factor in this scrub. To get started, you’ll want to gather a bag of all-natural Epsom salts and a bottle of aloe vera gel. (Be sure that you’ve found a pure aloe vera product and not one of those intended to be used on sunburnt skin since they sometimes contain extra ingredients!)
Thoroughly combine together a half cup of Epsom salt with two tablespoons of the aloe vera gel until you’ve got a grainy paste that’s very much on the thicker side. You don’t want it to be too thick to work with, but also not too runny and dissolved to apply easily and actually feel the exfoliation. If you find that it’s come out on the runnier side, add more Epsom salt by the tablespoon until you come to a consistency you’re happy with. These scrubs typically apply easiest to dampened roots, so when you’re all ready to go, start by wetting your scalp and hair completely, and then towel drying until just damp.
Apply your scrub by working equal amounts down into your roots and along your scalp in small sections of your head. Once you have your recipe thoroughly applied all over, you can then use your fingertips to massage slowly over your entire scalp. You should feel the granules of salt on your scalp as you scrub along – is it tingling yet? Rub the recipe into your scalp for no less than three minutes, since this mixture is unlike any normal products that you would leave sit on your hair to be absorbed. The magic of any scrub is really in how you apply and work it into your skin.
Once you’ve worked it through, you can leave this mixture to sit on your roots for up to ten additional minutes to reap the hydrating benefits of the aloe as well, particularly if you have a dry scalp or are exposed to the sun frequently. Once you’re all done, simply rinse with plain, lukewarm, water and dry your hair per your usual routine. There should be no need to wash with commercial products since this recipe is comprised of all natural, non-oily ingredients.
So, have you tried one yet? Did it feel as amazing as you thought it would? Now that you have a ton of recipes to work that massaging magic at home and know all about the benefits of doing so, you can skip the pre-cut wash the next time you visit your hairdresser. Nothing feels quite as good as an all-natural, homemade scrub!