Chances are good that you have skin and haircare regimens that involve either moisturizing or conditioning. But what do you do for your scalp? Doesn’t the skin supporting your hair deserve some TLC too? When we heard about scalp moisturizers it was like we had forgotten our toothbrush for a weekend away. How did we overlook this key step? Healthy hair begins at the root via a healthy scalp, and moisturizing is a great way to treat this super-sensitive area. How can you tell if it’s right for you? To find out if you should be using a scalp moisturizer—and if so, how, and how often—we spoke to Mahisha Dellinger, the founder and CEO of CURLS, and Elizabeth Cunnane-Phillips, trichologist at Philip Kingsley. Scroll below to discover what the experts had to share on moisturizing your scalp!
How to Tell If Your Scalp Needs Moisture
Have you ever felt your scalp getting “tight”? This common feeling is not just from a headache or Ariana-esque pony but is actually related to the lack of moisture in the scalp. As Mahisha tells us, “Anytime you feel that your scalp is tight, that means it is dry and in need of moisture.” However, she cautions not to just throw any old cream on top of your head. “You want to be careful not to over saturate the scalp with synthetic oils that will build up, clog the scalp, and block out moisture,” she shares. As long as you’re using the right product, moisturizing the scalp is key to healthy hair. “Keeping the base fertile, clean and moisturized is the key to healthy hair,” she says.
Elizabeth seconds this, posing the question at the heart of the scalp care debate. “Consider all the processes and nourishing ingredients applied to our face, why not our scalp?” She continues, “Think of the scalp as the bedrock for the follicles and consider the scalp the way you think of your face. After all, the scalp is skin and an extension of our face.”
The Importance of Moisturizing Your Scalp
According to Elizabeth, the benefits of scalp care are two-fold. “Hair is influenced by many variables including the health of the scalp which is why at Philip Kingsley we are huge advocates for clean and hydrated scalps. Using products that add moisture to the skin is a super effective way to ensure that the scalp environment stays healthy and hydrated,” she tells us.
It doesn’t take much to really penetrate the scalp, just make sure it is clean (freshly washed is not a requirement) and accessible. “You don’t need a special tool or technique,” says Mahisha, which makes things even easier. Although you may feel like moisturizing may make hair greasy, if your scalp is thirsty (and you are mindful of products) you won’t emerge oily, only hydrated where you need to be. “The key to preventing greasy hair and scalp is to monitor what products you use on your scalp. Look for treatments formulated with natural oils that penetrate the hair shaft and won’t build up on the scalp,” Mahisha says. You don’t need much to work a scalp moisturizer into your routine. “Moisturize your scalp three times a week, a thin coat is enough to do the trick,” Mahisha advises.
How to Apply a Scalp Moisturizer
The best way to deliver your scalp moisturizer is through a massage. Not only is it guaranteed to relax you, but this also ensures you’re penetrating the skin properly and getting even coverage, not to mention stimulating the area. “Massage aids in increasing blood flow to the scalp thereby promoting circulation and stimulation to the area. All very helpful at promoting a healthy scalp and optimal hair growth,” Elizabeth notes.
To DIY a scalp massage, start at the temples and gently but firmly massage the scalp in a circular motion using both hands. “Avoid friction and intense rubbing back and forth, as this has the potential to roughen the cuticle and be too irritating to the skin,” Elizabeth cautions, emphasizing the need for a scalp moisturizer. Continue this motion through the hairline and move back towards the crown, before ending at the nape of your neck. According to Elizabeth, we should repeat twice.
Best Scalp Moisturizers
Philip Kingsley After-Sun Scalp Mask: $8
Designed to soothe burnt scalps, this calming moisturizer delivers long-lasting hydration even on a normal day, keeping scalps healthy and hydrated year-round. Elizabeth describes this go-to for scalp care, as “a summer or year-round lifesaver, infused with ingredients like chamomile extract and super hydrating aloe vera provide a perfect moisture-balancing environment on the scalp.” She notes that “a targeted scalp mask can, with the aid of a scalp massage, gently but thoroughly cleanse the scalp and lift any unwanted debris and scale.”
CURLS Blueberry & Mint Tea Scalp Treatment: $12
Mahisha is proud of this scalp treatment from CURLS. As she explains, it is “formulated with certified organic coconut oil, corn mint, and blueberry extract. This powerful serum moisturizes the scalp and encourages hair growth.”
Aesop Rose Hair & Scalp Moisturizing Masque: $35
This intensive treatment deeply conditions both the hair and scalp, leaving dry strands and a flaky scalp hydrated and nourished.
Mizani Comfiderm Scalp Oil: $13.20
This botanical blend soothes and moisturizes the scalp, keeping flakes at bay, while delivering essential nutrients and restoring much-needed balance.
Moroccanoil Dry Scalp Treatment: $38
Argan oil and vitamin E treat stressed-out scalps, leading to hair that shines.
Ahava PSO Scalp Cream Mask: $37.52
Clinically and allergy tested, this Dead Sea mud and mineral-based cream mask reduces scalp irritation while softening the hair.
SoCozy Hush Sensitive Scalp Serum Balancing Treatment: $8.48
Lightweight and non-greasy, this leave-in serum calms by balancing pH and lipids, all while strengthening hair follicles.
Struggle with a dry scalp? Shop THESE eight scalp scrubs!