If the mere mention of “scalp care” makes you scratch your head, you’re not alone. If you, too, have fine hair, then allow me to send you to an idyllic version of the future in which JVN’s scalp-serum changed your life, and hair, forever. Imagine the conversations you’ll be having: “Thanks, isn’t it amazing? I only wash my hair once a week now and it looks like this all the time, naturally. I owe it all to scalp care.”
For those out there with thick, luscious heads of hair—yes, I’m incredibly jealous, and I always will be. Even though you never have to wash your hair more than once every full moon, that leads to a different issue: product build-up. Don't panic! There are scalp remedies for you, too. (You get a scrub! You get a serum!) Irritation can happen to all, regardless of where you fall on the hair texture spectrum. Scalp care products tend to fall into one of three categories: serums, scrubs, and treatments, with many brands providing entire scalp-healing regimens.
So, from sugar- and salt-based scalp health products to apple cider vinegar and rosemary-infused elixirs, we sorted through the best scalp care items out there, tossed out the phonies, and brought you nothin’ but the true, headbangin’ (but not head-scratching) hits.
The Best Scalp Scrubs
A hybrid shampoo and scrub, this sea-salt based formula from Christophe Robin is the OG when it comes to scalp care products. (Hence why there are 1,300 reviews on Sephora’s website, most of them five stars.) One relieved reviewer wrote, “this is the first store-bought product that has helped my scalp, so for me it’s been a game changer!” Just a tablespoon-sized amount is needed weekly to de-gunk hair follicles and remove itchy flakes—no need to shampoo afterwards, just condition.
Celebrity hairstylist Jen Atkin’s The Ouai has a group of diehard followers. The sudsy, musky floral scent that perfumed her first line of products became such a hit, it launched a line of fragrances. St. Barts, the newest edition of the brand’s scalp and body scrub, contains sugar and coconut oil to gently cleanse and calm your skin while smelling like an island breeze with notes of dragonfruit, orange blossom, tuberose, and baltic amber.
TPH by Taraji
This sunny yellow tube has an exceptional, dual-tipped applicator that delivers the product straight to your roots. The scrub-to-balm formula melts into the hair, using apple cider vinegar and peppermint oils to unclog pores and lift dead skin cells to promote hair growth.
The Best Soothing Serums and Oils
Everyone’s favorite queer, non-binary, gymnastics-loving celebirty hairstylist Jonathan Van Ness now has a hair care line! All of the products in the line are silicone- and sulfate-free, color-safe, and vegan—plus, the pre-wash scalp oil is made from hemisqualanet, which promotes stronger, shinier hair. It is suitable for all hair types, and 97% of users in clinical trials saw less hair fall.
Dr. Barbara Sturm
Fans of German doctor Dr. Barbara Sturm love her for her scientific approach to beauty and her pioneering techniques that she developed at the beginning of her career in orthopedics. That’s why her products have been trusted by so many: The scalp serum is particularly good for sensitive skin, and contains a combination of ATP, algin, and papaya extract to restore moisture, and panthenol to soothe irritated skin.
Pattern by Tracee Ellis Ross
Peppermint, rosemary, and lavender oils generate a tingly feeling that stimulates and soothes the scalp in this serum by Pattern Beauty, formulated especially for curls, coils, and tight textures. The brand’s hilarious (and gorgeous) founder, Tracee Ellis Ross, even delivers video tutorials for all of her products, and her passion for scalp health is infectious.
The Best For Hair Loss
The scalp detoxifying serum is the newest addition to Vegamour’s famous line of GRO products, and uses innovative ingredients to clarify, remove buildup, and provide a barrier from harmful environmental pollutants. A proprietary vegan silk protein protects and absorbs excess oils, and fireweed extract safely reduces the appearance of flakes.
For those that like to get very specific with ingredients and do hours of homework on the chemical compounds that make up all their favorite beauty brands, The Ordinary makes pared-down products that allow for users to mix-and-match the best routine for them. The multi-peptide serum contains Redensyl, which targets stem cells to improve hair’s density, and Procapil, which increases blood flow to the scalp.
The Best Scalp Treatments
The winner of countless beauty awards, Briogeo actually has an entire lineup of scalp products to help soothe itchy, flaky scalps, remove excess oil, and promote hair-growth—but the charcoal and tea tree scalp treatment is an excellent place to start. The use of four all-star ingredients makes an unbeatable combination: Binchotan charcoal detoxifies, tea tree oil purifies, witch hazel balances, and biotin strengthens.
Act + Acre
The brand at the forefront of scalp health is absolutely Act + Acre. With a slew of products to target any hair woes you might have, the one at the top of the list is the cold-processed scalp detox. This serum is intended to be left on for at least 20 minutes (if not overnight) to deliver all the benefits of its ingredients, including baobab oil, which strengthens strands, and amaranth oil, an antioxidant-rich squalene, which adds shine.
Honey has been used for its antibacterial and soothing properties for centuries. Eczema sufferers are already familiar with its ability to soothe and repair, so it’s no wonder it makes such a gentle leave-on serum for extra-sensitive folks. The main ingredient, mirsalehi honey, is a natural humectant that hydrates hair while ectoine relieves dryness, and a prebiotic complex balances microflora on the scalp.
The Best Masks and Massagers
If you’ve ever used a Wet Brush scalp massager, chances are your life has been changed forever, and you’re never going back. Their specially-designed bristles glide through wet hair like a dream—just fill it with any shampoo or serum to dispense and gently distribute with its silicone bristles.
The perfect starter set from Ceremonia features its super-popular scalp remedy oil containing conditioning aloe vera, antioxidant-rich babassu oil, and anti-inflammatory castor oil—plus, a gentle exfoliating brush that boosts shine.
For those obsessed with the Aztec Secret Clay mask, you may have seen a video or two of people using it as a hair mask, but for skeptics and other mess-adverse people, Bread has taken the guesswork out of it, and created the absolute best mud mask for your hair with a blend of kaolin, bentonite, rhassoul clay and quartz. This mask is best suited for curly and textured hair, but can be used by all.
Farewell flaky friends—see you at the serum aisle.
The Rec Room staff independently selected all of the stuff featured in this story. Want more reviews, recommendations, and red-hot deals? Sign up for our newsletter.