9 Exfoliating Scalp Scrubs To Clear Build-Up And Enhance Hair Health

Great hair starts at the scalp.

Love to slather on the dry shampoo as a way to extend hair between washes? Or perhaps you’re a fan of utilising a hydrating hair balm to keep things looking sleek? Well, we have news for you: build-up is real.

And it doesn’t exactly just wash off.

Applying products and then solely washing with a classic shampoo and conditioner combination is a bit like applying a full face of makeup and removing it with just a makeup wipe. The surface may look clean, but residue remains.

Interestingly, an effective hair routine actually starts with the the scalp, where hair (and subsequently, hair health) actually stems from, and said routine should always start with a good scrub.

Here, we break down the importance of exfoliating your scalp, plus the best build-up-clearing scrubs to try.

How do scalp scrubs work?

As with any other area of skin, exfoliation is essential for keeping the scalp in optimal condition as it sheds dead skin and produces sebum in the same manner.

Applying a scalp scrub can aid in keeping flakes at bay, cleansing the skin of product buildup, and boosting circulation which then helps to enhance hair health by enhancing its shine levels and ability to grow.

How do physical exfoliants work vs. chemical exfoliants?

As with exfoliants you would apply to your face, there are two categories within the scalp scrub realm: physical and chemical.
Physical exfoliants are microbeads or grainy elements (such as salt or sugar) added to formulas to scrub away buildup, slough off dead skin and stimulate cell renewal, whereas chemical exfoliants work to dissolve the excess oil, product residue and glue that holds dead skin cells to the scalp using ingredients like alpha hydroxy acids.
Through utilising scalp scrubs that combine the powers of both categories, you will be able to best treat a congested scalp.

How do you apply a scalp scrub?

Prior to shampoo, wet your hair and divide into several sections. Apply a small amount of the scrub directly to your hairline and use your fingers to massage into the scalp. Repeat this process all around your head until all areas of the scalp have been exfoliated, then rinse thoroughly to remove and follow with your shampoo and conditioner of choice.
It is of course possible to over-exfoliate in any area, so be wary of scrubbing too hard as this can aggravate the scalp and trigger irritation. Keep your massage technique gentle and your frequency of use to once per week.

The best scalp scrubs to shop in Australia


Scalp & Hair Scrub Shampoo, $31.99 at Body Blendz

Ideal for flaky scalps and dry hair, this mask doubles as a shampoo as well so you’re getting a real two-for-one. 

scalp scrub

Cleansing Purifying Scrub by Christophe Robin, $69 at Sephora

Brilliant for easing irritation, this purifying sea salt paste is a stellar option for using post-colour refresh to soothe tingling and itching sensations.

oribe scalp scrub

Serene Scalp Exfoliating Scrub by Oribe, $82 at Adore Beauty

Can’t choose between physical and chemical exfoliants? Blend both with this congestion-clearing combination of alpha hydroxy acids and exfoliating beads.

ouai scalp scrub

Scalp & Body Scrub by Ouai, $58 at Sephora

Formulated with exfoliating sugar crystals, hydrating coconut oil and bacteria-balancing probiotics, it’s a scrub of the soothing and smoothing variety.

drunk elephant scalp scrub

T.L.C. Happi Scalp Scrub by Drunk Elephant, $55 at MECCA

Created in collaboration with Jennifer Aniston’s hair stylist Chris McMillan, this oil and AHA concoction dissolves dead skin while boosting moisture.


Sachajuan Scalp Scrub by Sachajuan, $65 at Adore Beauty

A scrub formulated to show excess oil and leftover product to the exit, it works to purify the scalp of product build-up and impurities while also promoting cell renewal.


Kevin.Murphy Scalp Spa Scrub, $44.95 at Adore Beauty 

If you’re looking for a scalp scrub to combat oily hair, look no further. This formula from Kevin Murphy combines micellar water to gently cleanse, celery root to reduce oil production and perlite for exfoliation. 


G.TOX Himalayan Salt Scalp Scrub Shampoo by Goop, $64 at MECCA

After relief? Treat both your scalp and the lengths of your hair with this purifying and detoxifying whipped shampoo made of exfoliating mineral-rich Himalayan pink salt, nourishing cold-pressed moringa oil, and pure unfiltered rosehip oil. It cleanses the hair and scalp of product build-up, dirt, and oil, leaving both clean and refreshed.

briogeo scalp revival scrub

Briogeo Scalp Revival Charcoal + Coconut Oil Micro-exfoliating Scalp Scrub Shampoo, $64 at MECCA

Designed for those with curly hair, this detoxifying charcoal scrub is packed full of hydrating coconut oil, working wonders on drier hair.

Shopping one of these scalp scrubs at Adore Beauty? You can get an exclusive discount code, here

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