« Back to Blog

How (and Why) to Exfoliate Your Scalp: Step By Step

For head shavers, the quest for a shiny and smooth dome is something we all want to achieve, except if you prefer a less shiny head. Since hair growth is no longer prioritized, we venture into the removal of dead skin as part of our new scalp care routine.

You're in for a treat if you haven't tried scalp exfoliation.

We'll discuss how to exfoliate your scalp and the benefits you'll get from the process. You may be surprised that scalp exfoliation can be a game changer to a perfectly polished dome and healthy hair.

Why is scalp exfoliation important?

Why bother learning how to exfoliate your scalp? Let's compare it to having a spa day for your head. You may have heard about the benefits of exfoliating your face and body. If they need a good scrub to stay fresh, our scalps need them too.

This becomes more essential for head shavers since shaving can be harsh on our scalp. Think about our shaving routine; we apply pre-shave oils, shaving gel, and moisturizers. While these products are great for your skin, they can clog your pores, especially if you have an oily scalp. This is why you need to exfoliate your scalp.

What happens when you fail to exfoliate your scalp? Dry scalp, flaky skin, clogged hair follicles, and itchy scalp, to name a few.

Scalp exfoliation involves removing dead skin cells and loosening build-up.

How to exfoliate your scalp

There are two types of scalp exfoliants: physical and chemical. What's the difference?

Physical exfoliants usually require manual assistance after application; a good example is using your fingers to rub your homemade exfoliating scrub, or using an exfoliating brush.

Chemical exfoliants, on the other hand, are more like leaving them and letting them work. They only require application and do not need any physical intervention.

Which is better? It depends on what works best for you.

There are pros and cons to both. For example, with physical exfoliants, you can apply too much pressure and cause skin irritation. For chemical exfoliants, it may take longer for the product to work, and you put your scalp at risk of reacting to the chemicals.

Freebird has an exfoliator with salicylic acid, which is a good option for scalp exfoliation.

Freebird purifying exfoliator

We share some of the best ways to exfoliate your scalp, including physical and chemical exfoliation.

Freebird scalp care kit

Exfoliating shampoo

Exfoliating shampoos are way different from your average shampoo. They feature tiny beads that scrub away dirt and leave your scalp fresh and invigorated. Don't use this as your regular shampoo; once every two weeks is a good place to start and experiment from there.

Exfoliating brush

photo of silicone exfoliating brush

An exfoliating brush helps with scalp exfoliation and gives your head a good massage. These silicone brushes don't cost much but work wonders on your scalp. Freebird has a Scalp Exfoliator Brush & Scalp Scrubber that comes with the FlexSeries Shaving Kit.

photo of Freebird exfoliator brush attachment

Leave-in Treatment

If physical exfoliants are not your thing and you prefer a hands-off approach, a leave-in treatment is perfect for keeping your bald head shiny. Leave-in treatments are the way to go for baldies with tight schedules who want a set-it-and-forget-it scalp exfoliation product.

Be careful when using harsh scrubs, especially if you have a sensitive scalp.

DIY Scalp Scrub

DIY coffee scrub

You can make a DIY scalp scrub from ingredients found in your kitchen. Just mix sugar and oatmeal into your favorite shampoo, and you'll get an instant exfoliation concoction that can keep your scalp happy. If there are fruits in the cupboard, papaya, pineapple, and pumpkin are also good scalp exfoliators. Why not add coconut and peppermint essential oils to level up your scalp exfoliation game?

What Are the Benefits of Exfoliating Your Scalp?

It prevents product buildup

One of the major benefits of scalp exfoliation is the removal of product buildup. You'll immediately notice the difference once you exfoliate, especially if you have an itchy or flaky scalp.

It boosts the effectiveness of other hair care products

If your hair care products are not working or not as effective, you may have blockage preventing them from working their magic on your scalp. Before applying your hair care products, perform a scalp scrub and see the results.

It helps with dandruff

When dandruff starts appearing on your clothes, don't worry. A scalp scrub is an effective way of dealing with dandruff and a dry scalp.

Conditions like dandruff and seborrheic dermatitis are linked to oxidative stress, which is prevalent in various scalp conditions and can impact hair growth and retention.

It keeps oil in check

Too much sebum on your scalp makes your skin extra oily. A scalp scrub is the best solution to keep sebum at healthy levels.

After exfoliating, you should avoid exposing your scalp to direct sunlight. If you need to go out, wear a hat or apply sunscreen with SPF 30 or higher for sun protection.

Potential side effects and risks

Like anything done in excess, over-exfoliation can do more harm than good. Remember, our scalp is ultra-sensitive and irritates easily by scrubbing too hard or applying a chemical product you're allergic to.

The best way to avoid these potential problems is to start slowly and gently with physical or chemical exfoliants. You'll know if you've gone too far if your scalp feels sore or turns red.

If you notice pain, swelling, irritation, or discomfort. Discontinue the scalp scrub and talk with your doctor.

You should also avoid using your fingernails to exfoliate. You might scratch your scalp and do further damage.

The Bottom Line

bald man exfoliating using Freebird exfoliator brush

The global scalp scrub market is projected to grow from US$ 13.33 billion in 2023 to US$ 19.92 billion by 2033, at an annual rate of 4.1% from 2023 to 2033. And for good reason.

Exfoliating your scalp is like hitting the reset button for your bald head. Regular scalp exfoliation promotes a healthy scalp, leading to a better head-shaving experience.

If you haven't tried scalp exfoliation yet, add it to your head-shaving routine.

Your scalp will thank you.


What is scalp exfoliation?

Scalp exfoliation refers to removing dead or excess skin cells and debris through a physical exfoliant or chemical exfoliant. It makes way for new skin and hair follicles to grow. If you have sensitive scalps or other scalp problems, you should consult your doctor before starting a scalp scrub. You should refrain from scalp exfoliation if you have the following conditions on the scalp:

  • acne

  • eczema

  • ringworm

  • lice

  • an open wound

  • sore

  • psoriasis

How can I exfoliate my scalp at home?

You don't have to go to the hair salon and spend so much on scalp exfoliation. A DIY scalp scrub, an exfoliating shampoo, an exfoliating brush, or a leave-in scalp treatment is all you need to remove dead skin cells at home.

Are you supposed to exfoliate your scalp?

Yes, if you've heard about exfoliating our face and body, our scalp is skin too. For healthy hair growth or if you want a shiny, smooth dome, scalp exfoliation is a must.

How do I get rid of buildup on my scalp?

Getting rid of buildup on your hair follicles is essential to scalp health, especially if you have an oily scalp. A regular scalp scrub should be a part of your grooming routine to remove excess scalp buildup.

How often should you exfoliate the scalp?

While it's safe to massage our scalp daily, exfoliation is another story.

The frequency of scalp exfoliation depends on a number of factors. Do you have sensitive skin? Do you have oily skin?

While regular exfoliation can do wonders, over-exfoliation is not good for our scalps. A scalp expert recommends not overdoing scalp exfoliation since it can disrupt the natural flaking process of the scalp and cause imbalances. Two to three times a year for an exfoliant and once every two weeks for an exfoliating product is a good place to start.

Does apple cider vinegar exfoliate the scalp?

Apple cider vinegar can help in scalp exfoliation since it acts like a mild exfoliant. It's made from fermented apples, but you must proceed cautiously. Dilute it with water and use it as a rinse after shampooing. It can help remove dead skin cells and balance the pH of your scalp.

« Back to Blog