Reviewed: I Tried the Ouai Scalp & Body Scrub on My 4C Natural Hair

First thing's first—I have extremely thick, curly hair that doesn’t agree with chemicals in many products. That means I have a hard time sifting through new hair care products (including scalp scrubs). I've been disappointed by nearly every scrub on the market, but just when I was about to give up on trying new scalp scrubs for good, I started noticing everyone singing the praises of Ouai's Scalp & Body Scrub all over my social feeds. Intrigued and always up for a beauty experiment, I decided to give this little frosted jar a try. Ahead, my full review of using Ouai's Scalp & Body Scrub on my natural hair.

Pros:

  • Provides exfoliation before shaving
  • Incredible rose scent
  • Leaves scalp cleansed
  • Softens skin

Cons:

  • Drying on my coarse hair
  • Difficult to distribute on scalp

The Bottom Line: 

Ouai’s Scalp and Body Scrub is an incredible solution to exfoliation needs on the body and scalp, but may dry out curly, color-treated, or damaged hair.

Ouai Scalp & Body Scrub

Best for: Straight or wavy hair

Star Rating: 4/5

Uses: Remove product build-up from scalp and dead skin from body

Potential allergens: PEG-100

Active ingredients: Sugar, Coconut Oil

Clean? No

Price: $38

About the brand: Ouai is the child of celebrity hairstylist Jen Atkin and features a full line of products to repair and nourish your hair.

ouai scalp scrub
Ouai Scalp & Body Scrub $38
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About My Hair: Curly, thick and high-maintenance

As a mixed race female with type 4C kinky curls, my hair is anything but easy to handle. My curly hair becomes extremely dry if I don’t maintain a consistent moisture regimen compiled of thoughtful products with clean ingredients. I generally try to avoid products with sulfates, parabens and other harsh chemicals that can damage or dry out my curls. I wash my hair with shampoo every one to two weeks and condition at least once a week. This schedule helps maintain the moisture in my hair, while preventing knots and breakage.

ouai scalp scrub texture photo
 Nicole Pulyado/Design by Cristina Cianci 

The Feel: Wet and grainy

Just as you might expect, this scalp and body scrub features a gritty, thick texture. The sugar crystals provide a physical exfoliation, removing dead skin and build-up, and are immersed in a hydrating formula to provide moisture. 

Since the thick viscosity of the scrub is too much to apply at once, I broke my hair into six sections to make it manageable. I applied the scrub to a small section of wet, freshly detangled hair. This product is best applied at the roots, so I worked it into my scalp while preventing the product from traveling down the shaft of my hair as much as possible.

The Results: Transformed my scalp, but dried-out my curls

Ouai’s Scalp and Body Scrub worked wonders for my dry scalp that gets itchy in the cold weather. Over a week after my first scalp scrub I realized with excitement that the itchiness was still at bay. The exfoliating sugar successfully removed the dead skin and product buildup from my scalp—it really felt like my scalp could breathe.

But while the scrub was a perfect match for my scalp, I can’t ignore the toll it took on my hair. While I did my best to keep the product concentrated on my scalp, it inevitably traveled down further into my curls, drying them out and causing them to form new knots. It was an arduous task to rinse it all out from my curls, and I definitely needed to use more deep conditioner than usual to detangle my hair post-shower.

Let’s recap so far: yes to scalp, and no to hair. I loved how this product made my scalp feel (and how it made my scalp continue to feel even a week after use). But it was difficult to keep the formula concentrated just to my scalp; the product slid into my curls and had a noticeable drying effect.

I've covered how this made my scalp and hair feel—but this product also functions as a body scrub. And I absolutely loved using it as that modality. After showering in warm water, my legs were soft enough to begin exfoliation. I scooped a small amount of the scrub into my hands and worked it in circular motions around my legs. After a good scrub, I rinsed the product off and followed up with a quick shave. My legs looked and felt incredibly polished, smooth, and soft to the touch.

woman's hair after using ouai scalp and body scrub
 Nicole Pulyado

The exfoliating sugar crystals successfully removed the dead skin from my scalp and made a noticeable difference.

The Value: Won't last long if you use it for its dual-purpose

Ouai’s Scalp & Body Scrub retails for $38. The jar includes 8.8oz of product for the price, which can go quickly if you use the product on a weekly basis (especially if you use it for the dual purpose of a scalp scrub and body scrub). While only a small amount of product is needed at a time, this adds up quickly if you scrub your scalp, arms, torso, legs, feet and back in one shower, which is exactly what I did. I left the shower feeling like a smooth newborn baby, but I did use a good amount of the jar to achieve this.

Dryness and Irritation Concerns: Not the best fit for my curly hair

Since going natural almost a decade ago, my goal is to retain as much moisture as possible when using shampoo or other cleansing hair products. If I wash my hair and it feels squeaky clean after rinsing, that means I’ve stripped all the natural oils away and dried my hair more than necessary. Although many women with straight hair enjoy this clean feeling, free of oils and product, curly girls generally do not. 

After washing straight hair, the scalp’s natural oils travel down the hair shaft with any movement, including brushing and combing. Unfortunately, my curly hair doesn’t perform the same way. The kinks and curls of my hair make it nearly impossible for the oils to move from my roots all the way down my hair shaft, meaning the ends of my hair will virtually never receive natural moisture if I strip the oils on wash day. Although my naturally dry, kinky hair isn’t a great fit for this product, I’m confident women with straight or wavy hair will enjoy the deep cleanse.

The Packaging: Frosted perfection

The heavy packaging of this scrub feels incredibly sturdy and luxurious to hold. The product is stored in a round jar with simple black lettering on the front. The crisp, white lid compliments the clear, frosted texture of the jar, which lets the light pink color of the scrub peek through the sides. With beautiful packaging like this, buyers immediately know this isn’t a cheap product. And while the tub looks beautiful, I would have preferred something with a pointed tip applicator to make it easier to section off my hair in the shower and really get down to my scalp.

The Scent: Sweet and sultry

The scrub features Ouai’s signature Melrose Place scent, a mixture of rose, bergamot, lychee, cedar-wood, and white musk. After viewing the gorgeous frosted glass packaging, this was my second interaction with the product; I was immediately obsessed. Every time I touched the jar I was compelled to open the lid and take a big whiff, inhaling the beautiful scent in a fairly intense manner. It truly is a sweet fragrance to wear in your hair or on your body and transforms your shower experience.

Similar Products: You have options

Kopari Beauty Coconut Crush Scrub ($39): The Kopari Beauty Coconut Crush Scrub is another beloved product in the body scrub realm, featuring all natural, vegan ingredients. While Ouai’s product isn’t all-natural, it does include similar hydrating ingredients, like coconut oil. The Ouai scrub is also a dual-purpose product meant for both the scalp and body, unlike Kopari’s scrub that is meant for body exfoliation only.

Drunk Elephant T.L.C. Happi Scalp Scrub ($26): If you have curly or natural hair like me and are concerned about scalp scrubs traveling down into your hair, opt for a scrub with a pointed tip (like this option from Drunk Elephant). This will help you control the application and keep the scrub more concentrated on your scalp. Drunk Elephant's option also features a less-runny formula than the Ouai scalp scrub, so it's less likely to leak beyond the scalp. Unfortunately, this one isn't meant to be dual-purpose like the Ouai scrub.

Our Verdict: Better for body than scalp

Ouai’s Scalp and Body Scrub is an amazing body scrub that may or may not work on your scalp. It may be incredible for women with loose curls or straight hair, but it simply didn’t compliment my 4C hair texture. I’ll stick to using it for body exfoliation while enjoying the rose and bergamot scent it leaves on my skin.

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