It's no secret that the scalp is the foundation of healthy hair and requires the same care and love you give to the skin on your face. At some point in time, we've probably all experienced some scalp irritation from itchiness, flakiness, oiliness, or even sunburns. Styles like ponytails, braids, Bantu knots, and twists that pull at the roots can also cause discomfort on your scalp, leaving it vulnerable.
It's why we've seen a boom in scalp-care offerings in recent years. Scalp-targeted shampoos, more specifically, have been hitting shelves everywhere. Brands are formulating cleansers with ingredients to cleanse the scalp directly, and the design of most of these shampoos comes with precision nozzles that allow you to get into hard-to-reach areas. This is especially ideal if you're washing your hair while it's in braids or if there's a specific area you don't want to dig for.
Scalp shampoos are excellent for all hair types but can be a lifesaver if you tend to have a drier scalp or prefer to wear your hair in protective styles most of the time. Tim Abney, professional hairstylist and vice president of education for Colorproof and Neuma, says that scalp shampoos offer three main benefits. "Most formulas detoxify and exfoliate the scalp, creating a more optimal environment for stronger, healthier hair growth," Abney explains. "They can also help to remove residue and built-up odor resulting in shiner, healthier strands."
Abney recommends looking for stimulating ingredients when seeking out scalp cleansers. "Ingredients like peppermint leaf extract can freshen up the scalp, and other ingredients like volcanic ash sop up residue and build-up," he says.
Ahead, we've rounded up ten scalp-focused formulas that cleanse, soothe, and bring relief to all scalps regardless of your hair style or type.
Mizani Wonder Crown Scalp Clarifying Foaming Pre-Cleanse
The scalp-targeted application tip of the Wonder Crown is ideal for anyone looking to refresh the scalp before shampooing. This product primarily targets oily, flaky, and dry scalps. It's packed with cannabis sativa seed oil, tea tree, and honey to invigorate and moisturize at once. Use this before shampooing your hair to ensure your scalp gets a deep cleanse. It's also great to remove scalp build-up on styles like braids and twists.
Carol's Daughter Wash Day Delight Sulfate Free Shampoo
Micellar water and aloe are the star ingredients in this gentle formula that buffs off debris without stripping your scalp of moisture. When combined with water, the shampoo transforms into a gentle foam lather that clarifies your scalp without leaving your hair dry and wiry.
Love Beauty & Planet Micellar Shampoo
This vegan shampoo is infused with naturally derived ingredients like rose water, vitamin B3, and rose petals to help deliver smooth and healthy hair. It's equally gentle, thanks to micellar water, and helps maintain the hair's elasticity.
Melanin Hair Care African Black Soap Shampoo
Think of this formula as a nice, refreshing detox shot for your scalp. It's packed with healing ingredients like tea tree oil, cumin, rosemary, and peppermint to soothe the scalp while you wash. Charcoal powder also helps absorb sebum and product build-up, giving your hair a clean environment to thrive.
TPH by Taraji Master Cleanse Scalp Shampoo
Actress Taraji P. Henson designed this three-pronged shampoo applicator to avoid missing areas of your scalp. The formula is refreshing, with tea tree oil, witch hazel, and eucalyptus, so prepare to feel a pleasant cooling sensation when you rinse it out.
Alikay Naturals Black Soap Shampoo
Alikay Naturals' scalp-focused formula is made with black soap, plantain skins, cocoa seed powder, and tea tree oil to cleanse and buff off product buildup from the scalp. Use it as your regular clarifying shampoo, or reserve it for days when you take down a protective style.
Girl and Hair Clear + Apple Cider Vinegar Clarifying Rinse
This potent formula was created by a dermatologist and has a nourishing blend of rice water, vitamin E, shea butter, and apple cider vinegar to clean the scalp and restore its pH balance. It's great for refreshing your scalp and eliminating odors between protective styles.