Scalps are the new necks of the beauty world. They weren’t previously thought about, not particularly fun to think about, and now suddenly all anyone is thinking about when it comes to new launches. This newfound interest in scalps is surprising because they are pretty boring, to be perfectly honest. They’re usually hidden by hair and very easy to overlook unless you’re dealing with dandruff or uploading scalp-scraping videos for the ASMR community.
But at second glance, scalps are so much more — they’re at the magical intersection where skin care happens to overlap with hair care, which means everyone’s favorite obsession can be further expanded in the pursuit of better hair. “You should treat your scalp the way you treat your skin,” colorist Christophe Robin once told us, and the latest lineup of scalp-specific products were designed with that crossover in mind. They go beyond the usual dandruff shampoo with lotions, masks, and spot-treatments reimagined for hair and the skin underneath it. The idea is that the healthier the scalp, the healthier the hair.
If you’re new to scalp care, here are nine products that will set you up for success.
The Fun, Fizzy Foam
Styling products can quickly build up on your scalp, which hinder it and the attached hair from thriving. This pre-poo (meaning before shampoo) treatment helps you start with a clean slate before proceeding with the rest of your scalp-care routine. The fizzy foam uses skin-care ingredients we know and love like salicylic acid and micellar water to cut through gunk and unclog your head pores.
The Very Luxurious Spot-Treatment
Oribe’s leave-in is like a spot-treatment for your scalp when certain areas of it are acting up. Part your hair and directly apply the formula of exfoliating BHAs to turn over flakes, while aloe, peppermint, and chamomile simultaneously soothe. Like other members of the Serene Scalp line, this has Oribe’s protective mix of watermelon, lychee, and edelweiss flower extracts with a hit of caffeine to promote scalp circulation. Please also note the pretty packaging, which is worthy of a millennial skin-care brand.
The Dry, But Not Drying, Shampoo
Dry shampoo sounds counterproductive when it comes to scalps because no one wants a drier one, but Briogeo’s charcoal-based formula gently absorbs excess oil at the roots with clay and tapioca starches, all while distributing witch hazel to cleanse the scalp and help normalize oil production over time. It also comes with a hit of biotin which is as nice a treat for your scalp as the line’s adorable stimulating scalp massager.
The Cooling Hairspray
If you’re content with the oil content of your roots and just want to stop scratching your scalp every two seconds, IGK’s cooling spray is the spray for you. It evenly distributes hydrating hyaluronic acid and rebalancing apple cider vinegar to give irritated scalps an instant pick-me-up while leaving your hair’s texture and sheen as is.
The Famous French Lotion
Biologique Recherche’s famed P50 lotion, (also known as “Jesus in a Bottle”) now comes in a scalp-and-hair friendly form. This Jesus in a Bottle has the same cleaning, clearing, and brightening potion vibes as its skin-care predecessor, but it instead focuses on purifying the scalp and regulating sebum secretion through the use of horseradish, lemon, sage, myrrh, burdock extracts, and witch hazel.
The Life-Changing Scrub
This detoxifying scrub was originally created to remove chemical residue post hair coloring, but is now beloved by anyone who could use a good clarifying treatment (almost everyone). Sub this in for your shampoo once or twice a week whenever your scalps starts to bother you, and watch as it slowly returns to normal.
The Home Remedy, Remixed
Apple cider vinegar has long been used as a scalp treatment that leaves you with shiny hair as a (very welcome) side-effect. If you’re not that confident in your dilution abilities and/or want some extra benefits while hanging out in the shower, R+Co’s rinse will help you maintain the pH of both your scalp and hair with a mix of ACV, Cranesbill extract (a form of geranium that’s anti-inflammatory), and glycerin to help hair retain moisture.
The Drugstore Gem
Scalps can wear masks, too! Celebrity hairstylist Kristin Ess created a whipped one that’s light enough for daily use. Apply from root to tip after shampooing and let the blend of rebalancing castor oil, and soothing almond, sunflower, and avocado oils go to work on your scalp while the line’s “Zip-Up complex” makes your hair more manageable for good measure.
The Indulgent Treat
After starting a scalp-care routine, there will come a time when you just want to show your scalp some extra love. Jen Atkin’s foamy, coconut-oil scrub is the perfect way to do so. The pre-wash can be used to exfoliate and soften from scalp all the way to toes, and will make everything (including your entire bathroom) smell like OUAI’s heavenly Melrose Place scent.
If you buy something through our links, New York may earn an affiliate commission.