When my boyfriend started picking at the tiny snowflakes nestled in my hair over dinner last month, I knew it was time to do something about the dandruff (or what I thought was dandruff) that had plagued me for years. I've always been hyper-focused on my dry skin and hair, but hadn't paid my scalp the same care. It was time I started investing in my scalp the way I do with my skin and hair.
Pros + Cons
- Great smell
- Scalp-soothing blend of oils
- Adds body and thickness
- Three-step process is time consuming
- Doesn't fully transform a dry scalp
Bottom Line: Thicker Hair and Scalp Relief
Act + Acre's Cold Processed Scalp Detox and Cold Processed Hair Cleanse and Conditioner soothe a dry, itching scalp and can help give the appearance of thicker, more voluminous hair.
Act + Acre's Cold Processed Scalp Detox
Star Rating: 4.5/5
Best For: Dry scalp
Uses: Cleanse and nourish the scalp
Potential Allergens: No
Active Ingredients: Basil, baobab oil, aloe leaf extract, and more.
About the Brand: Founded by a celebrity hairstylist, Act + Acre offers cold-processed, plant-based hair care. The brand's sustainability initiatives include manufacturing practices that use less energy and recyclable packaging.
About My Hair and Scalp
Having big, curly hair all my life also meant that I was a frustrated owner of a dry scalp. Because my hair structure makes it difficult for my scalp’s natural oils to find its way down the hair shaft, I was constantly dealing with dryness and itchiness.
Meanwhile, I was loading up my head with a slew of anti-frizz products that smoothed my curls but left behind so much build-up if I didn't wash them out properly. I tried generic dandruff shampoo and even saw a dermatologist years ago, who prescribed me an oil that I never put to good use because of its greasy effects.
After trying all the things for my dry scalp, I decided to pay a visit to Act + Acre—a natural haircare brand that treats scalp issues—for a studio consultation.
About Act + Acre's Cold-Processed Hair Care
Since I’ve been using mostly natural skincare products for the last couple of years, I was relieved to hear that Act + Acre's chemical-free products wouldn't strip my hair of its healthy oils. Plus, it’s not just good for humans—it’s good for the earth, too. “For generations, the hair care industry has been using chemicals to achieve product performance, prioritizing short-term benefits over the long-term health and wellness of your hair...artificial ingredients need to be added because nutrients evaporate during the traditional high-heat production process,” says founder and celebrity hairstylist Helen Reavey. Act + Acre's Cold Process uses 90 percent less energy and and retains up to 96 percent more vitamins in the active ingredients by mixing with hyperbaric chambers, ice cold water, and 1200 lbs of pressure, according to the brand. Without the added heat, the formula remains fresh and highly potent, just like the “cold press” juice method does with produce.
The Process: My Act + Acre In-Salon Experience
I met with Reavey, to (quite literally) take a closer look at my scalp. By using a specially made “scalp microscope” that’s connected to a phone app (not offered to the public), I had a front row seat to the state of my scalp. It turns out, I don’t have dandruff—Reavey explained that my scalp is just dry.
Hair care 101: While both dandruff and dry scalp have similar symptoms like flakes and itches, the former condition is the result of excess oil buildup and the latter is the result of lack of moisture.
However, Reavey’s hair care products treat both, in addition to other conditions like pregnancy hair loss and psoriasis.
Reavey informed me that my scalp is only moderately dry, which was better than I was expecting. Even though my scalp apparently didn’t look too dry, I expressed my concern of walking around with flaky hair and the new bout of sweat-induced itchiness I'd experience after every workout class.
That’s when she suggested Act + Acre's three-step scalp recovery system. The first step is a scalp treatment: the Cold Processed Scalp Detox. She showed me how to use it during my consult, applying it to my scalp by squeezing the nozzle against my scalp. She started at the back of my head (“Most people forget about that area,” she explained) and worked her way to my hairline. From there, she massaged my head until the oily glob atop my head was evenly distributed.
The detoxing treatment, which is made from moringa oil, baobab oil, basil leaf, and amaranth oil, is designed to remove the build up of product, stimulate the hair follicle, and provide the essential nutrients for healthy hair protection against pollution and UV damage. Essential oils strengthen and add shine to hair.
After I detoxed my scalp for 20 minutes, Reavey applied the Act + Acre Hair Cleanse shampoo. Packed with nutrient-dense ingredients like ylang-ylang (controls frizz), rosemary (promotes healthy growth), lavender (controls dandruff), and amaranth oil (combats free-radical damage), this cold-processed product is safe for frequent usage because it doesn’t strip hair of its natural moisture. Then, she began washing my wet hair from root to tip. She pumped, lathered, and repeated for a double cleanse. The first cleanse removes product buildup and pollution while the second cleanse purifies the scalp and hair. She finished off my treatment by applying the Cold Processed Hair Conditioner on the mid-length to ends of my hair. After letting it soak in for five minutes, she rinsed the conditioner and took out the scalp microscope to determine the treatment’s effects.
Immediate, In-Salon Results: Less Buildup
Since my scalp wasn’t too bad to begin with, the before and after pictures weren’t as drastic as I'd thought they would be. Still, Reavey pointed to specific areas where buildup was noticeably gone from my roots. “It will take around one month of regular usage to see full results from the product, so don’t feel discouraged if you do not see a drastic difference within the first few uses," she notes. "After a month, you should begin to notice that your hair is visibly thicker and healthier." Thankful for the treatment (but also grossed out from seeing my hair up close and personal), I began my 30-day journey to fresher-feeling hair.
The Process at Home: Rinse, Repeat, Detox
I was advised to wash my hair as I normally would, (which is every other night) with the shampoo and conditioner. Usually, I wouldn’t shampoo twice, but since Reavey stressed that this extra step would make all the difference, I followed her instructions.
Then, once a week I used the Scalp Detox, which proved to be the most difficult challenge because I had to wait an additional 20 minutes for it to set after applying. I was tempted to jump in the shower after detoxing, but I waited until the clock struck twenty-past before degreasing my hair.
The Results: Less Flakes
At first, I didn’t notice a difference (patience isn’t my strongest suit).
But after two weeks, I definitely experienced less itchiness, less speckled clothing, and less white flakes for my boyfriend to pick out at dinner. After one month, I couldn't believe how thick my hair felt. Every time I brushed it out, I visibly noticed how full and voluminous it looked. I also noticed that my hair was easier to comb through and less tangled than usual.
Although it took some time getting used to double cleansing my hair, it was worth the extra step. Since I got a full-body allergic reaction years ago from what doctors believed to be from my shampoo and conditioner, I’m usually skeptical about trying new formulas. But, thankfully, after 30-days I didn’t notice any harmful changes on my sensitive skin. It’s difficult to tell whether or not my hair felt “healthier,” but as I continued the three product treatment consistently, I saw a significant decrease in the flakiness I once had. After 30 days, it didn't get rid of my dry scalp completely, but I’m still pleased with the results.
The Scent: Fresh and Clean
I loved how fresh my hair smelled after each use. When I would apply artificial shampoo and conditioner, my hair would smell fruity. Now, smelling like a fresh botanical garden is exactly how I want to start off my days.
The Value: Fairly Priced
Act + Acre's Scalp Detox retails for $42 for 3.4 oz. Given that it's intended to be used only once per week on the scalp rather than throughout the hair, a bottle should last for quite a while.
Act + Acre Scalp Detox vs. Omorovicza Revitalising Scalp Mask
Omorovicza's pre-shampoo scalp treatment retails for $79 for a 6.7 oz bottle and uses Hungarian Moor mud to draw out buildup on the scalp, compared to Act + Acre's blend of soothing oils. It's priced higher but you get more product. With salicylic acid, it's a good pick for an oily scalp and hair, while Act + Acre's gentle detox is ideal for all hair types.
Our Verdict: A Healthier Scalp
Act + Acre definitely showed me the importance of pampering my scalp as well as my hair. My scalp is definitely more hydrated—and less flaky and itchy—since using Act + Acre's products. While it didn't work a complete miracle, I'm just happy my dry scalp is in remission as long as I have a tube of the trusty Scalp Detox by my side.