How To Remove Scalp Buildup & Scalp Exfoliation Favorites

Did you know it's normal to get a ton of scalp buildup? The scalp just needs to be exfoliated like normal skin. However, the hairs on the scalp are longer so there can be a lot of gunk that gets stuck in this area. Scalp buildup is different from dandruff or seborrheic dermatitis or psoriasis. Those conditions need to be diagnosed and treated by a dermatologist]. Check out this videoif you’re worried about other scalp conditions.

How do I fix scalp buildup? 

Have you ever scratched your scalp and gotten gunk under your nails? This can happen if you're someone who uses dry shampoo or styles your hair. There are ways to exfoliate and refresh the scalp. Because just like the skin on the rest of our body, our skin is constantly desquamating or shedding. The scalp also has different oil production, and this can make the desquamation process different. 

However, there are a few OTC things that Cassandra has personally found that help a ton. Cassandra doesn’t wash her hair every day. And if she styles her hair, she doesn’t want to wash it. And if she’s wearing it curly, she doesn’t want to overly strip her curls. So, she tends to have more build-up on the scalp than she would like.


One of the first things that changed Cassandra’s life was Alpha Hydroxy Acid. Cassandra has always used AHA in skincare. Similarly to the way we apply AHA to the skin, they can also be applied to the scalp. 

The Ordinary Glycolic Acid 7% Toning Solution -$13 

This is intense. She first started using it on her face, but then she started using it on her scalp. As long as you don’t have any open wounds, this doesn’t burn. But, it helps to break down desmosomes. It breaks down little proteins and the little bonds that hold our dead skin cells together. AHAs help to exfoliate and stimulate some circulation in this area. This is not like shampoo, and it’s not even made for hair. But, it's a hack that Cassandra learned from TikTok. This was very nice for Cassandra’s hair, especially for her hairline acne. 

The INKEY List Salicylic Acid Exfoliating Scalp Treatment -$15.99 

This is very similar, but it’s made specifically for hair. This is the salicylic acid exfoliating scalp treatment, and it’s basically the exact same thing except its salicylic acid for the hair. This is a liquid that you can put into the part of your scalp if you’re struggling with build-up in the hairline. This can help so much because salicylic acid is medically proven to help with acne. 

Verb Ghost Exfoliating Scalp Serum -$20 

The entire reason Cassandra started exfoliating her scalp was because of the verb scalp exfoliating scalp treatment. This was amazing. This has urea and lactobionic acid, but this also has grapefruit, orange, and some citrus. This formula wasn’t perfect for Cassandra because her skin is sensitive. So, she found the other two to be better scalp serums.

Aveda Sun Care Hair and Body Cleanser -$29 

If you have damaged hair, this works really well. This makes Cassandra’s hair feel fresh, and her hair doesn’t feel overly stripped. It also helps her hair to absorb conditioner better, and this has just helped Cassandra’s scalp feel invigorated. After using it and raking her fingers through her hair, she doesn’t have any residue. 

How can I improve scalp circulation?

he way our body creates new hair or brings nutrients to the surface is through blood and oxygen. We have to have perfusion and cellular proliferation in order to get nutrients, antioxidants, omega fatty acids, and oxygen to other areas of the scalp, and this can be done with a scalp massage.

Scalp Massager 

A hairbrush is wonderful, but these tools are such a wonderful way to invigorate, and you can kind of think of them as physical exfoliants. This feels so wonderful, and it truly helps to bring circulation to the surface of the scalp. It allows more nutrients to this area of the hair.

Comfier Cordless Head Massager 

This is waterproof. It stimulates circulation on the surface level of the scalp so well. This has been monumental in Cassandra’s hair loss journey, and if you’re looking for scalp stimulation, Cassandra would say two of the most important things are finding a low-level acid something that brings surface-level circulation and exfoliation. 

With these tools, Cassandra has less build-up, and she’s noticed that her hair is growing back healthier, and there's been less hair loss. With this routine, Cassandra's scalp just feels so much more invigorated.

Photocred: Hairstyle camp