We wash our faces to keep our skin clear and apply serums followed by moisturizer and eye cream to soothe, treat, and heal. It's become second nature. But when it comes to the skin on other parts of our bodies—in this case, our scalps—we forget to handle it with just as much care. We shampoo and condition, mask and blow-dry, but throughout the process, our actual scalp usually gets neglected. Anyone who's dealt with an itchy, dry, or flaky scalp can attest to how annoying it is, and honestly, the fact that a healthy scalp might be the key to longer, stronger hair is reason enough to start paying it attention.
With that in mind, allow us to introduce you to scalp masks. These masks are meant to be applied directly to the scalp and are usually made with gentle clays and hydrating botanical oils meant to rebalance, calm, and soothe your stressed-out scalp. An added benefit: They'll usually leave your hair feeling soft, too.
Ahead, scroll through to get to know some of our favorite scalp and dandruff masks.
Kristin Ess Weightless Hydration Daily Scalp + Hair Mask
This scalp mask from Kristin Ess feels frothy and whipped and won't weigh your roots down. It's made with sweet almond oil, mango seed butter, and more soothing botanicals meant to calm the scalp. The pointed applicator makes it super easy to apply, and it also happens to smell amazing.
Note: Fragrance can cause allergic contact dermatitis. As such, when used in hair products, it could cause a dry, itchy scalp in some people. If your scalp is red or inflamed, you might be best steering clear of fragranced hair care.
Living Proof Restore Dry Scalp Treatment
This scalp treatment is meant to be left on your scalp after you shampoo and condition your hair. It's made with a hyaluronic acid-based "patch" meant to hydrate your scalp.
Hyaluronic acid is a naturally occurring polysaccharide found in the human body. It acts as a cushioning and lubrication agent for our joints, nerves, hair, skin, and eyes. When used in skincare, it acts as a moisture binder, which means that it will attach itself to the water in the cells (while also attracting and holding water from the air) making them plump.
Aesop Rose Hair & Scalp Moisturizing Masque
This gentle formula from Aesop will remedy even the most irritated scalps. Rose petal extract serves as a soothing agent due to its anti-inflammatory properties while lavender promotes hair growth. A multi-tasking mask that is sure to become a staple in your haircare routine.
Borghese Fango Active Mud for Hair and Scalp
Apply this mineral-enriched volcanic mud mask to your hair and scalp to provide root-to-tip moisture. The formula contains jojoba and wheat germ oils meant to alleviate the scalp irritation caused by hair color.
Jojoba oil is a natural oil produced from the seed of the Chinensis plant, a drought-resistant shrub native to southern Arizona, California, and Mexico. It mimics natural sebum and conditions and seals moisture in the skin without clogging pores or exacerbating acne.
Kiehl's Deep Micro-Exfoliating Scalp Treatment
Well known for its effective skincare, Kiehl's also specializes in body and hair care. Formulated with micronized apricot and argan exfoliators, this dermatologist-tested mask promises to help loosen buildup and stimulate cell turnover on the surface of your scalp.
Avoid exfoliating products or any sort of rubbing or scratching if you have eczema or psoriasis on your scalp. This could cause the skin to become further inflamed and cause hair loss.
Nioxin System 5 Scalp Treatment
Did you know that a dry, flaking, and itching scalp may be caused by product buildup, which can result in hair thinning? Neither did we. This treatment promises to refresh your scalp and combines amino acids, kukui nut oil, and protective conditioning agents meant to stimulate the follicles and help fight against hair loss.
Philip Kingsley Stimulating Scalp Mask
Philip Kingsley has been creating products with scalp health in mind for decades, so it's no surprise his stimulating scalp mask is a favorite. This mask is amazing for sensitive skin, as it promises not only to calm irritation but also to stimulate blood circulation. It is meant to quickly improve the strength of your hair while also tending to the skin beneath it.
Davines The Purity Circle
This travel-friendly treatment from Davines is perfect for anyone living in a city. Formulated with bamboo charcoal meant to draw out impurities and matcha green tea meant to nourish, this mask promises to leave your scalp cleansed but not stripped.
Activated charcoal is created from carbon-rich materials burned at high temperatures, like coal, coconut shells, and wood. In skincare, there are claims that it binds to and removes impurities from the skin, but more research is needed.
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Lubart R, Yariv I, Fixler D, Lipovsky A. Topical hyaluronic acid facial cream with new micronized molecule technology effectively penetrates and improves facial skin quality: results from in-vitro, ex-vivo, and in-vivo (open-label) studies. J Clin Aesthet Dermatol. 2019;12(10):39-44.
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Monselise A, Cohen DE, Wanser R, Shapiro J. What ages hair? Int J Womens Dermatol. 2017;3(1 Suppl):S52-S57. doi:10.1016/j.ijwd.2017.02.010