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  5. How To Exfoliate Your Scalp For Maximum Benefits?

Is hair loss becoming your constant problem despite a good hair care routine? Exfoliating your scalp once in a while can enhance product absorption and boost your hair growth.

While dirt and sebum can be washed off with shampoo, product build-ups are a major cause of hair fall. These tend to block your hair follicles and also form an occlusive layer on your hair shaft. This prevents nutrition from your hair oils and masks from nourishing your hair.

Read on to know the various benefits of scalp exfoliation, and how you can avoid dull, dry and weak hair through exfoliation.

Our Ayurvedic Doctor Speaks

“Scrubbing in Ayurveda is Udgharshana. Dissolvable scrubbing mediums like salt and sugar work well for the scalp. Decoctions containing high saponins and acidic pH mediums were traditionally used to clear scalp blockages.”

Dr. Zeel Gandhi (Bachelor Of Ayurveda, Medicine & Surgery), Chief Ayurvedic Doctor, Vedix

What Is Scalp Exfoliation?

Scalp exfoliation involves the process of using a physical or a chemical exfoliator to scrub off accumulated dead cells, sebum, product residues and dandruff flakes. This not only improves scalp health but also keeps your hair soft and lustrous.

Just like your face, your scalp needs to be exfoliated from time to time for better hygiene and enhanced nutrition absorption. Hair growth and scalp health are interconnected. The scalp acts as an incubatory ground for the emergence of healthy hair [1]. Thus, it is of utmost importance that the scalp is kept clean and free from infections.

As per Dr. Zeel Gandhi, Chief Ayurvedic Doctor at Vedix, “All living matter benefits from the unhindered flow of Prana / Chi / Energy. This offers a steady supply of nutrients and oxygen for growth and removal of toxins. Blockages (Avarana), caused by various reasons can hinder hair growth and vitality. Ayurveda primarily focuses on correcting the flow of Prana all through the system of proper detoxification methods that occlude it.”

She further adds, “Scrubbing in Ayurveda is Udgharshana. Dissolvable scrubbing mediums like salt and sugar work well for the scalp. Decoctions containing high saponins and acidic pH mediums were traditionally used to clear scalp blockages.”

While certain beauty experts advise on the inclusion of oatmeal in hair scrubs, this can become counterproductive as oatmeal tends to form lumps and stick to the scalp. This makes rising a very tedious and difficult process.

Benefits Of Scalp Exfoliation

1. Controls Excess Oil And Scalp Odour

While a little sebum nourishes your hair and prevents dry scalp conditions, too much can cause trouble. People with oily skin are often prone to oversecretion of sebum on the scalp. This can be triggered by hormonal imbalances in the body.

Excess oil on your scalp can serve as the perfect breeding ground for bacteria and fungus, leading to scalp odor. Scalp exfoliation helps remove oil build-ups and lowers the risk of scalp infections.

2. Prevents Clogging Of Your Hair Follicles

dandruff prevention antifungal treatment 3d

Over time your scalp tends to gather impurities such as sebum, dirt and dead skin flakes. While sloughing off dead cells is a natural process for your skin, once debris piles up between your hair strands, it is no longer able to get removed on its own.

These impurities can gather around your hair follicle and choke your emerging hair. Further, it can also lead to skin irritation, itchy scalp conditions and inflammation, thus proving detrimental for healthy hair growth. Exfoliating your scalp with a natural exfoliator prevents blockage of your hair follicles and fosters hair growth.

3. Improves Nutrition Absorption

You may be spending thousands on hair care products but it may all go in vain if your tresses are not able to absorb their goodness. Emollients such as dimethicone and other chemicals in conditioners, hair sprays and gels tend to get deposited on the hair shafts and the scalp.

While this product build-up may initially give your hair a smooth texture, over time it creates a barrier that prevents nutrition from entering the hair fiber. Cleaning your scalp with an exfoliator removes this unwanted layer of chemicals and allows the complete absorption of hair care products.

4. Improves Blood Circulation

Scalp exfoliation not only enhances topical product absorption but also improves the internal supply of nutrition to your hair. The process of exfoliation boosts blood and oxygen supply to the hair roots, which in turn prevents hair thinning and hair loss.

5. Improves Dry Scalp And Dandruff Conditions

image before after anti dandruff treatment

Scalp exfoliation can be especially beneficial for those suffering from dry scalp and dandruff conditions. While scrubbing an already dry scalp may sound counterintuitive, getting rid of unwanted dead cells accelerates cell regeneration. It also allows easy penetration of hair oils and masks that repair and nourish your hair and scalp.

While the process of exfoliation can remove visible dandruff flakes, a herbal anti-fungal scrub can effectively control malassezia yeast (fungi that causes dandruff) proliferations on your scalp.

6. Promotes Healthy Hair Growth

The detox effect of scalp exfoliation creates a healthy environment for hair growth. It reduces excess oil, frees the scalp of infections and allows hair products to reach deeper into the scalp and stimulate hair growth.

7. Improves Hair Texture

The benefits of scalp exfoliation are immediately visible on hair. As oil and product residues are removed, your hair feels softer, more shiny, bouncy and smooth.

8. Reduces Stress-Related hair Loss

According to research, measurement of hair cortisol (stress hormones) levels is an effective way to detect chronic stress. It is proven that shampoo and water washes can considerably reduce the level of cortisol hormones deposited in the hair shaft. Though there is a lack of research on scalp exfoliation, its soothing effect on the scalp may reduce stress levels and prevent stress-related hair loss.

How To Exfoliate Your Scalp?

Before you begin your DIY scalp exfoliation, wet or even better shampoo your hair with a mild, chemical-free shampoo. This will soften the debris and also allow the ingredients of the scrub to penetrate deeper for a thorough cleansing experience. You can then opt for natural, Ayurvedic or chemical ingredients for your scalp exfoliation.

A. Natural Ingredients For Scalp Exfoliation

1. Almond And Tea Tree Oil Scrub

For a nourishing, oil control DIY scalp scrub, take 2 tablespoons of finely ground almonds and 2-3 drops of tea tree oil diluted with a carrier oil of your choice. Mix well and use it to gently exfoliate your scalp using a circular motion. Rinse thoroughly once done.

2. Baking Soda, Yogurt And Honey Scrub

To remove heavy build-up of oils and chemicals, add 1 ½ teaspoon of baking soda to 1 tablespoon of water. To this add ½ tablespoon each of yogurt and honey. Mix well and exfoliate your scalp. Rinse thoroughly.

3. Orange Peel, Lemon And Olive Oil Scrub

homemade citrus fruit facial mask

Both orange peel and lemon work great for oily and dandruff-prone scalp. Olive oil keeps your scalp moisturized and strengthens your hair. To prepare this exfoliant at home, take 2 tablespoons of orange peel powder and add 1 tablespoon each of lemon juice and olive oil to it. Use this to gently exfoliate your scalp and wash off when done.

4. Coffee, Brown Sugar, Rosemary Oil And Jojoba Oil Scrub

This is a perfect scalp scrub for removing excess oil and promoting hair growth. Add 1 tablespoon each of coffee powder and brown sugar. To this add 3-4 drops of rosemary essential oil and 1 ½ tablespoon of jojoba oil. Mix well and apply on your scalp and exfoliate using circular motion for better effect. Rinse thoroughly for a healthy and clean scalp.

5. Sea Salt, Mint And Pineapple

homemade mint exfoliating scrub

While sea salt gently exfoliates your scalp, mint creates a soothing effect and the enzymes in pineapple improve hair texture. Take 2 tablespoons of pineapple paste, 1 tablespoon of crushed mint leaves and add 1 ½ tablespoon of sea salt to it. Use this to exfoliate your scalp. Wash off when done.

B. Ayurvedic Ingredients For Scalp Exfoliation

ayurvedic handmade bath soaps with herbs

1. Triphala, Yashtimadhu And Coconut Oil Scrub

Apart from cleansing, this scalp scrub with antimicrobial herbs such as triphala [2] and yashtimadhu, prevents various bacterial and fungal infections on the scalp. Add 1 to 1½ tablespoons of each ingredient. Mix well and scrub your scalp thoroughly. You may leave the scrub for a couple more minutes and then wash off with lukewarm water.

2. Amla, Reetha And Shikakai Scrub

These herbs have been used since time immemorial for their amazing cleansing and detoxing properties. Additionally, amla [3] also helps to stimulate new hair growth.

To prepare this Ayurvedic scalp exfoliation recipe, soak 1 ½ to 2 tablespoons each of reetha and shikakai powders overnight in a small amount of water. Add 1 ½ tablespoon of amla to it. Mix well to form a paste and use it to exfoliate your scalp. Wash off with lukewarm water when done.

3. Buttermilk And Amla Juice

Sour buttermilk contains lactic acid that gently exfoliates your scalp and removes hardened impurities and dandruff. Amla not only detoxifies but also helps promote hair growth and prevents premature graying.

Mix 2 tablespoons each of sour buttermilk and concentrated amla juice and gently exfoliate your scalp. Wash off with lukewarm water when done.

4. Hibiscus, Methi And Aloe Vera

For dandruff-prone scalp, take 1 tablespoon of hibiscus powder and add 1 tablespoon of soaked, coarsely powdered methi seeds. To this add 1 tablespoon of aloe vera gel. Mix the ingredients and exfoliate your scalp and hair with it. Leave it on for another 5 minutes and rinse using lukewarm water.

5. Henna, Neem, Kalonji And Coconut Oil

For a soothing, antimicrobial scalp scrub, mix ½ tablespoon of henna powder with 1 tablespoon of neem powder and 1 tablespoon of priorly soaked kalonji. Add 2 tablespoons of coconut oil to this and mix well. Apply on your scalp and exfoliate gently. Wash off thoroughly when done.

6. Jatamansi, Curry Leaves And Oil

To remove scalp debris and stimulate hair growth, mix 1 tablespoon of coarsely powdered jatamansi, 1 tablespoon of powdered curry leaves and 2 tablespoons of any nourishing carrier oil of your choice. Mix and exfoliate your scalp. Rinse thoroughly when done.

C. Chemical Exfoliants For Scalp Exfoliation

1. Salicylic Acid

Salicylic acid [4] is one of the most common beta-hydroxy acids frequently used as a chemical exfoliant. In low concentrations, it gently sloughs off dead skin flakes from the scalp without causing skin irritation. It increases your skin’s cell turnover rate and is also known to calm inflammation and redness.

2. AHAs

Naturally derived from fruits, alpha-hydroxy acids are quite gentle on the scalp. Glycolic, lactic and citric acids are the commonly added AHAs in various scalp exfoliating gels and creams. However, if you have sensitive skin or are suffering from psoriasis or scalp eczema, consult your doctor first before applying a chemical exfoliant.

3. Zinc Pyrithione

If dandruff, eczema or scalp infections are your recurring hair problems, choose a scalp scrub with zinc pyrithione. This chemical compound is known for its antibacterial, antifungal and anti-inflammatory properties, and helps heal common scalp issues.

Potential Side Effects Of Scalp Exfoliation

One of the main precautions you must take when exfoliating your scalp is to not overdo it. Frequent, harsh exfoliation can cause cuts on the scalp which may lead to infection and affect hair growth. It can also make your scalp more sensitive, cause inflammation and irritation.

Avoid scrubbing your scalp when there is a bacterial or fungal infection as you may risk spreading it to other areas. Also, refrain from scrubbing when you have head lice. If you are dealing with a severe case of alopecia, or taking topical scalp treatments, consult your doctor before exfoliating with a new product.

Vedix Tip:

Just like your face, avoid direct sun exposure right after exfoliating your scalp. With the scalp stripped of its natural oils, direct sunlight can cause scalp and hair damage. Use a sun-blocker or cover your head for better protection.

Frequently Asked Questions On Scalp Exfoliation

1. How Often Should You Exfoliate Your Scalp?

This depends on your hair’s exposure to dust, chemical products and internal conditions that affect oil secretions. Typically an exfoliation once in 2 weeks is considered safe and healthy. If you experience more build-up or oily scalp issues then you can increase the frequency to once a week.

2. Does Exfoliating Your Scalp Help Hair Growth?

Exfoliating your scalp creates the perfect environment that fosters hair growth. A clean, infection-free scalp allows uninterrupted hair growth and prevents conditions that affect follicle health. Thus, scalp exfoliation plays an important role in healthy hair growth.

3. Do Scalp Exfoliating Brushes Work?

Scalp exfoliating brushes are useful tools that you can use with or without an exfoliant to gently remove dandruff and debris and improve blood circulation to your hair roots. However, it is important that you use them carefully to avoid scalp irritations.

The Last Word

In Ayurveda, the concept of ‘shiro abhyanga’ or massaging the scalp to remove toxins and calm aggravated doshas with the use of herbs and oils dates back to ancient times. Including scalp exfoliation in your hair care routine can greatly benefit your hair health.

However, you must be aware of your unique hair type, and use the right exfoliators. Always use your exfoliants and exfoliating brushes in moderation for clean, stress-free scalp conditions. Also, consult a dermatologist for the right solution that can help promote thick hair growth and keep issues at bay.

Know Your Dosha Now

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