Why You Should Be Detoxing Your Scalp


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Wash, condition, and style. For many, this is the beginning and end of our hair care routines, as life seldom makes room for overindulgences. There is one step, however, that has proved itself worth a few extra minutes during your cleansing routine—scalp detoxing. 

From the gels we use to perfect our slick-backed buns to the leave-in conditioners and mousses that define our wash-n-gos, the products we rely on to style our hair can build up over time. A standard shampoo is no match for these gnarly product accumulations, dead skin cells, and dirt. But scalp detoxes are the heavyweight champ in the boxing ring of hair care—a total TKO for coiffure gunk. 

To better understand the hows and whens of scalp detoxes, especially as it relates to textured hair, we enlisted the help of three hair experts to unpack the best ways to implement them into your wash day routine.

What is a scalp detox?

A scalp detox refers to the process of thoroughly and intentionally cleansing the scalp and hair follicle to remove excess residue. This includes dirt and oil that can build up as a result of styling. 

“Scalps are a playground for all of those things and without a routine detox it can cause an effect on your scalp and hair health,” says Asia Williamson, a Houston-based hairstylist and scalp specialist who says the lack of awareness surrounding scalp health is especially glaring within the Black community.

“Black women in particular suffer the most from scalp disorders and only we truly know how to take care of it. Seborrheic dermatitis, psoriasis, and alopecia are the most common scalp disorders in Black women,” says Williamson.

Why do our scalps need a detox?

A common misconception is that coily hair does not need to be detoxed because it does not retain oil in the same manner as straight or fine hair. As such, the importance of maintaining a healthy scalp with textured hair cannot be understated, as the scalp serves as the foundation for any hair goal. That means, for those looking to gain major inches, detoxes are not just a want but a need.

“If your scalp is unhealthy, inflamed, or if your follicles are clogged, your hair will not flourish; it will shed and fall out,” says Erica Perry, an Atlanta-based hair stylist who specializes in hormonal hair loss. For those with hormonal conditions, scalp detoxes are also integral to maintaining the integrity of the scalp.

“For those [with scalp conditions] a detox every six to eight weeks will be better for them because of the hormone imbalance,” says Perry.

When should I detox my scalp?

Hormonal conditions aside, how often you’ll need to detox your hair depends on your unique oil production rate, lifestyle and styling preferences. “If you’re wearing wigs I would say about eight to 12 weeks,” says Perry. 

Personal habits can also play a role. “It varies by how often you wash your hair. If you notice your hair is weighed down a lot, if your scalp is oily, or even if you live in an area with more pollution, the frequency will vary,” says content creator Kristen Stikes.

Overall, once a month is a general guideline, barring any extenuating circumstances.

Who should avoid scalp detoxes?

Whether you’re natural, relaxed, or somewhere in between, scalp detoxes are safe for just about anyone. There are, however, a few exceptions and it is always best to consult with a licensed professional to address any concerns beforehand. 

“The only people that should avoid a scalp detox are those who have open sores, bleeding and high inflammation of the scalp. These conditions cannot be serviced on and the process of a scalp detox can worsen these conditions making it uncomfortable,” says Williamson.

Furthermore, those with psoriasis or seborrheic dermatitis should also consult with a dermatologist before incorporating scalp detoxes into their routines.

What products should I use?

This is the fun part. If you are an in-salon girly, some stylists may have their own special concoction. 

“There’s a lot of different detoxes out there. I actually make my own and that sets me apart when my clients come to me,” says Perry. For those looking to detox at home, Williamson recommends the Decca Plus line, a Black owned hair care system. Specifically, try out their scalp therapy treatment.

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