The Best Scalp Detox Products

We only recommend products we love and that we think you will, too. We may receive a portion of sales from products purchased from this article, which was written by our Commerce team.


Much like the skin on your face, your scalp requires regular cleansing. And while shampoo might do the trick day-to-day, if you're experiencing build-up on your scalp, it's time to introduce a heavier-duty product into your routine. "A scalp detox is the removal of dead skin, debris, and product build-up from the scalp, which can impact and prevent hair growth," trichologist Precious Rutlin tells Bustle, adding that you'll know you have excess build-up if you're experiencing dryness, itchiness, flakiness, irritation, or a film-like coating on your scalp and hair. The best scalp detox products will cut through all the product build-up, dead skin cells, and excess oil that contribute to the congestion in the first place, and they come in a variety of different forms. "A clarifying shampoo and a scalp scrub can be helpful in removing build-up and nourishing the scalp," shares Jennifer Matos, a stylist at Rita Hazan Salon in New York City. No matter which product you choose, both Rutlin and Matos recommend looking for ingredients like baking soda, apple cider vinegar, aloe, and peppermint oil, which can help to gently remove dirt, oil, and build-up while calming inflammation.

The Experts

Precious Rutlin is a certified trichologist and licensed cosmetologist. She specializes in non-surgical hair loss restoration services and offers training for hairstylists and beauty professionals.

Jennifer Matos is a hairstylist with Rita Hazan Salon in New York City whose work includes editorial shoots and red carpet events.

How Often Should You Use A Scalp Detox Product?

An occasional scalp detox product is helpful for maintaining a healthy scalp, and by extension, healthy hair, but it's equally important that you aren't overdoing it. "Don't use a clarifying shampoo every day because it can dry out your hair," Matos cautions. "Ideally, it should be used once every other week," she recommends. "For curly, kinky, coily hair, never use clarifying shampoo by itself," cautions Rutlin. "Always follow up with a moisturizing shampoo and conditioner to keep your hair healthy and moisturized," she says, adding that scalp scrubs should be used even less frequently. "Use scalp scrubs once or twice a month at most, and only when there are no visible signs of irritated skin or abrasions present," Rutlin says. You'll notice that physical exfoliants (like sugar crystals) are popular in scalp scrubs, but if your scalp is particularly sensitive, stick with chemical exfoliants like glycolic, lactic, or salicylic acids.

Shop The Best Scalp Detox Products

In a hurry? Here are the best scalp detox products:

  1. Best Pre-Shampoo Scalp Cleanser: Amika Reset Pink Charcoal Scalp Cleansing Oil
  2. Best Clarifying Shampoo For Scalp Detox: Ouai Detox Shampoo
  3. Best Scalp Detox Scrub: Oribe Serene Scalp Exfoliating Scrub
  4. Best Scalp Detox Rinse Under $20: Girl + Hair Clear+ Apple Cider Vinegar Clarifying Rinse
  5. Best Scalp Detox Scrub Under $20: Yes To Tea Tree Gentle & Soothing Pre-Shampoo Scalp Scrub
  6. Best Scalp Detox Mask: Act + Acre Cold Processed Scalp Renew

1. The Pro's Pick: Best Pre-Shampoo Cleanser For Your Scalp

If you're not into the idea of a scalp scrub, or if you're prone to scalp sensitivity, Matos recommends this pre-shampoo treatment. "This makes it easier to loosen flakes and refresh your scalp before shampooing," she says of the amika Reset Pink Charcoal Scalp Cleansing Oil, which lathers into a foam. Charcoal powder and pink clay draw out dirt and oil from the scalp, making it easier for your shampoo to wash away stubborn build-up. You'll also notice a cooling sensation when you use this thanks to menthol, and nutrient-rich ingredients like sunflower seed oil, red algae extract, and sea buckthorn seed oil help to nourish your scalp and promote healthier hair.

Key Ingredients: Charcoal Powder, Pink Clay, Sunflower Seed Oil, Sea Buckthorn Seed Oil, Aloe Leaf Extract, Celery Seed Extract, Calendula Extract, Red Algae Extract Size: 6.7 oz. Cruelty-Free: Yes

Relevant Review: "This stuff is amazing! I have extremely thick hair that collects greasy build-up and flakes easily. This made my hair feel so clean. The nozzle makes it very easy to apply directly to the scalp, and [it] feels very cooling."

2. The Pro's Pick: Best Clarifying Shampoo For Your Scalp

This clarifying shampoo from celebrity stylist Jen Atkin is a hairstylist favorite, so it's no surprise that it's Matos' top shampoo recommendation. "It's great to treat the scalp and really help relieve build-up," Matos says of the shampoo, which uses apple cider vinegar and chelating agents to remove product build-up, oil, and hard water deposits from the scalp and hair. The Ouai Detox Shampoo is also free of parabens and sulfates, which Matos cautions against using too often as they can dry out your hair.

Key Ingredients: Apple Cider Vinegar, Hydrolyzed Keratin, Tamarind Seed Extract Size: 10 oz. Cruelty-Free: Yes

Relevant Review: "This might possibly be the best shampoo I've ever used. If you're looking for a shampoo that will deeply cleanse your hair and scalp and remove product build-up without stripping your hair, this is the shampoo. This shampoo also leaves your hair feeling very full and fluffy and naturally healthy. […]"

3. The Pro's Pick: Best Scalp Detox Scrub

When it comes to eliminating scalp flaking and itching, Matos loves a scalp scrub. Oribe's Serene Scalp Exfoliating Scrub is one of her go-to picks because it uses a mix of soft polymer beads, fruit extracts, and alpha hydroxy acids to reset your scalp. You also get plenty of soothing and moisturizing benefits from ingredients like niacinamide, chamomile flower extract, and panthenol, while Oribe's signature complex (a blend of watermelon, lychee, and edelweiss flower extracts) helps to protect hair against damage from environmental stressors. "After any scalp scrubbers, be sure to use a clarifying shampoo," Matos suggests of thoroughly rinsing physical exfoliating ingredients out of your hair.

Key Ingredients: Watermelon Fruit Extract, Lychee Fruit Extract, Edelweiss Flower Extract, Chamomile Flower Extract, Glycolic Acid, Biotin, Niacinamide, Panthenol, Vitamin E Size: 4.2 oz. Cruelty-Free: Yes

Relevant Review: "I have a very dry and itchy scalp, and this got some great reviews […]. I used it for the first time yesterday, and I have never loved a product more. I love the smell, and it felt so good on my scalp. […]"

4. Best Scalp Detox Rinse Under $20

For a less expensive alternative to the Ouai’s ACV shampoo, try this Girl + Hair Clear+ Apple Cider Vinegar Clarifying Rinse. Designed with curly hair types in mind, the dermatologist-formulated rinse is free of sulfates, parabens, and alcohols that can dry out the hair. Instead, the gentle rinse uses apple cider vinegar and rice water to remove build-up as it helps to restore the scalp's pH balance. There are also several nourishing ingredients in here, including shea butter, hydrolyzed keratin, and vitamin E to soften dry, brittle hair and improve its elasticity.

Key Ingredients: Apple Cider Vinegar, Hydrogenated Castor Oil, Shea Butter, Tea Tree Leaf Oil, Chamomile Extract, Hydrolyzed Rice Protein, Hydrolyzed Keratin, Vitamin E Size: 10.1 oz. Cruelty-Free: Yes

Relevant Review: "This product is so good for my scalp and hair. I never let myself run out because it really makes a difference with scalp build-up and soft, healthy curls. The scent is fairly pleasant for an apple cider vinegar rinse, and it completely disappears once it's rinsed out. […]"

5. Best Scalp Detox Scrub Under $20

For a drugstore scalp scrub, this Yes To Tea Tree Gentle & Soothing Pre-Shampoo Scalp Scrub has more than 5,000 five-star ratings on Amazon. A combination of sugar crystals, tea tree oil, and apple cider vinegar loosens and clarifies dirt, oil, and product build-up from the scalp, as witch hazel helps alleviate any itchiness. To prevent the scalp from drying out, Yes To included scalp-balancing sage oil, moisturizing glycerin, and vitamin E in the formula.

Key Ingredients: Apple Cider Vinegar, Tea Tree Leaf Oil, Clary Sage Oil, Sage Oil, Witch Hazel Leaf Extract, Vitamin E Size: 6 oz. Cruelty-Free: Yes

Relevant Review: "I struggle with build-up due to California water and very thick hair, so my scalp can have a hard time both getting and feeling clean and fresh. This scrub is amazing, and my hair was so soft after. I use it twice a week now before my regular hair routine in the shower."

6. Best Scalp Detox Mask

More of an exfoliating mask than a scrub, this Act + Acre Cold Processed Scalp Renew treatment was designed to be massaged into your scalp and left on for 15 minutes before you shower. The gel formula uses salicylic acid and peppermint oil to create a cool, refreshing sensation while gently exfoliating the scalp without any gritty ingredients. This exfoliating treatment is also color-safe and free from potential irritants like silicones, parabens, and synthetic fragrances.

Key Ingredients: Salicylic Acid, Papaya Extract, Arginine, Sunflower Seed Extract, Hydrolyzed Corn Protein, Peppermint Oil, Rice Bran Extract, Vitamin E Size: 1.2 oz. Cruelty-Free: Yes

Relevant Review: "I use a lot of hair products and it's important for me to get rid of all the build-up that my scalp accumulates over time to keep up with a healthy scalp. My hair is fine, thin, chemically treated, and prone to getting oily quickly. This is easy to apply and wash out. […]"

7. You May Also Like: This Scalp Rebalancing Serum

This leave-in treatment won't remove build-up from your scalp, but it will help to nourish and rebalance it. Better Not Younger’s Superpower Fortifying Hair & Scalp Serum can be used morning or night on towel-dried or fully dried hair to help care for your scalp in between the use of detoxifying products. The non-greasy formula combines calming ingredients like centella asiatica and niacinamide with vitamin- and mineral-rich ingredients like seaweed extract, ginger extract, and caffeine to help stimulate the scalp and promote hair growth.

Key Ingredients: Centella Asiatica, Hydrogenated Castor Oil, Ginger Extract, Licorice Extract, Niacinamide, Caffeine, Hydrolyzed Wheat Protein, Seaweed Extract, Chamomile Extract, Vitamin E, Ceramide, Caffeine, Biotin Size: 2 oz. Cruelty-Free: Yes

Relevant Review: "[…] I like this serum for the scalp and hair as my dry scalp feels conditioned. […] This also makes my hair softer and shinier, and it gives it more body and volume without weighing it down as oils tend to do. […]"


Precious Rutlin, certified trichologist and licensed cosmetologist.

Jennifer Matos, New York City-based hairstylist with Rita Hazan Salon.