How to Deep Clean Your Scalp (Updated!)

When it comes to pampering and getting pretty, we think about so many things. Skincare, haircare, makeup… skincare for the body… but what about your scalp? I have personally victimized my scalp in oh so many ways. Piling on the dry shampoo. Overloading it with product. Spending days at the beach and at the pool. Abusing it with ultra-drying clarifying shampoos. Ignoring it.

The health of your scalp is so, so important. Poor scalp health can actually lead to hair loss – keeping it clean and able to breathe is extremely important. And while washing your hair helps, it needs a deep cleanse every now and again, too. Deep cleansing your scalp regularly will help to encourage healthy hair growth and natural oils, exfoliate dead skin cells, and remove all that yucky dry shampoo buildup.

(PS – this apple cider vinegar hair rinse is magical!)

How to Deep Clean Your Scalp – Scalp Detox Treatment at Home!

Back in 2016 I had the chance to visit Younghee Salon (in Tribeca) to give their Hair + Scalp Balance Treatment a whirl. The salon markets it as a facial for your scalp, which sounded like the greatest idea ever. I was excited to try it as I had never really done anything like that for my scalp, and after a summer of blowouts (so much dry shampoo), weekends at the beach, and plain old product overload (my hair is thick so I use a heavy hand with styling creams, serums, and sprays) it just felt necessary.

It was such an awesome, over-the-top treatment. The stylist began by massaging René Furterer’s Karite Oil throughout my scalp. I was then treated to a (heavenly) seven (yes, seven) minute scalp massage. From there, they washed my hair twice (first with a clarifying shampoo and then with a regular shampoo) and did a vinegar rinse prior to conditioning and blowing out my hair. The idea is that the oil helps to lift dirt, debris, and buildup from the scalp, allowing the shampoo to get hair really, really clean. It’s kinda like a good old fashioned double cleanse… except for your hair. Afterward, my scalp felt amazing… and my hair has never been shinier!

If you are in New York I would highly recommend paying Younghee a visit (I need to go back!) but if not, here are a few DIY ways to get your scalp ultra clean – including some tips + tricks from Younghee herself!

Younghee’s at home Method

You can (sort of recreate her spa treatment at home). Massage a generous amount of oil (Younghee likes this one) all over and into your scalp. Leave it on for two hours (!!!) and shampoo using a clarifying shampoo. From there, shampoo again and do a vinegar rinse with apple cider vinegar (mix 2-4 tbsp vinegar with 16 oz. water in a plastic squeeze bottle). Be sure to use the rinse all over the hair, from scalp to ends. Besides the clarifying benefits for your scalp, a vinegar rinse also helps make your hair look extra shiny. Leave the vinegar mixture on for a few minutes, and then rinse with cold water. Condition the ends, and style appropriately.

The budget/on the fly method:

A long, long time ago a hair stylist noticed all the dry shampoo that had been accumulating on my head and suggested mixing in a teaspoon of plain old baking soda with my regular shampoo and massaging it in to my scalp. The baking soda helps to exfoliate and clarify, and my hair felt super silky and soft afterward. The best part? Everybody has baking soda… and if you don’t, it’s dirt cheap! Condition the ends, and style appropriately.

The luxe method

A few years ago I tried Christophe Robin’s Cleansing Purifying Salt Scrub a try and LOVE IT. It’s a great way to deeply cleanse and remove buildup. It’s also very soothing if you have sensitive skin or a flaky scalp. I loved how tingly it was. Christophe’s background is as a hair colorist and he actually created the scrub to be a post-coloring treatment as your scalp can get so itchy afterward, but quickly realized that it could be used for so much more than that (especially for all of us dry shampoo addicts!

Besides exfoliating, the sea salt also purifies and rebalances excess oils while hydrating the scalp – making it ideal for everyone!

More recently I gave Briogeo’s Scalp Revival a try (you can read the full review here!) and like it even more… probably because of the smell (it literally smells exactly like a Girl Scout thin mint cookie!), its amazing soothing properties, and the smaller granules which are easier to rinse out!

Last but not least, Kerastase actually has an amazing pre-shampoo scalp treatment treatment, which I have used before. Inspired by skincare, it’s kind of like a scrub for your scalp. Apply a quarter-size amount to damp hair, rub in all over, massage for 3-5 minutes and then rinse out. From there, use a clarifying shampoo. You’ll want to give your hair an extra rinse as it can be tricky getting the scrub out of your hair!! Condition the ends, and style appropriately.

Leave a Comment


  1. elizabeth ashley says 8.15.16

    Have been legitimately wondering about this for weeks now, every time I wash my hair! I learned the baking soda method on your site too – hair feels amazingly clean afterwards. My scalp is always itchy afterwards, though, almost like it is too dry…I’m wondering if the oil first method would help? Hmm…

  2. Jessica says 8.18.16

    Love this! tried the oil treatment prior to washing, I used Aveda Stress-Fix composition oil, and I cannot believe the difference it made. No more itchy scalp. Thanks for writing this Grace!

  3. Delfi says 8.20.16

    Btw. Which dry shampoo you recommend? Powder or spray?

    • graceatwood says 8.20.16

      My favorite is the klorane spray!

  4. Jamie says 11.21.18

    I try to use healthy shampoo like Maple Holistics to clean my scalp.

  5. I love how you suggested a method for each type of person! I’m definitely going to try the budget-friendly ways. 🙂

    Charmaine Ng | Architecture & Lifestyle Blog

  6. Cynthia says 4.14.19

    Love the CR Salt Scrub. A more affordable similar option is the LUSH Jersey Bounce Shampoo. It is more runny and has bigger chunks of sea salt.

  7. Lindsey G says 4.15.19

    I love love love the CR scrub. I had the mini version and am almost out – it will be worth it to get the full size!

  8. Laura says 4.19.19

    The baking soda method is my go-to! I originally tried it as a DIY treatment when I ran out of dandruff shampoo, and it is great for that, and really clarifies my scalp. It also works well as a facial exfoliant in a pinch. Thanks for the tips, Grace!

  9. Lauren says 4.26.19

    Hi Grace, do you use the Christophe Robin scrub with a keratin treatment in your hair? I have been eyeing it for awhile but never end up buying it because it has sodium laureth sulfate and other sulfates which are bad for keratin treatments. I know you have keratin too so was curious about this. Thanks!

    • grace at the stripe says 4.26.19

      That’s a great question – my keratin treatment is basically donezo. So I have been doing it but you are correct – there are sulfates in it so you should not use it if you have one. I thinkkkkk that the goop scalp scrub is sulfate free so that may be a better option!

  10. Emily R says 6.6.19

    Has anyone tried the Goop Himayalan salt scalp scrub?

    • I LOVE IT!!!! Big fan. I like the Christophe Robinne a little bit better (the salt particles are smaller) but it’s great and smells so good.

  11. Jacy Spencer says 6.25.19

    I just did the baking soda scrub at home- obviously so easy AND a game changer!! My scalp feels amazing and it really cleared up all the leftover dry shampoo that I feel has been hanging out for awhile!

  12. D. Baker says 12.30.19

    I heard this AM “Hoda & Jenna” on the Today Show discuss using Carbonated soda as a rinse after shampooing, to rid your hair of all white flakes. Have you found that to be true? _ DB from Texas

  13. Krista says 3.1.20

    One of the above links isn’t working for me–the one with the oil Younghee recommends for the at-home method. What is the name of the oil she likes? Thanks!

  14. raq says 3.2.20

    I bought the Christophe Robin treatment based on your original post. I usually do not spend even half of that on hair product but I live in the Midwest and have dry skin and felt like my scalp was itchy and never really free of buildup. I LOVE THIS PRODUCT!!! I use it twice a week in the winter and as needed in the summer and it is a total game changer.

    • I could not agree more. It is definitely expensive but worth every penny and you don'[t have to use a lot!!!!

  15. Cynthia says 3.2.20

    Love the salt scrub. It really dries out my hair but I use it so occasionally that I don’t mind.

    • It dries my hair out a little bit too! But it’s so effective I don’t mind… I’ll just do a hair mask after!

  16. Sharon says 3.5.20

    So glad you mentioned baking soda! Ive been wondering if this would work. I used to do a baking soda rinse as a kid when my blond hair would turn green from the chlorine and summer swimming (child of FL). It worked great then, and is super easy to rinse out with no crazy smell (vinegar is such a distinct smell, I’m a bit nervous to slather on my hair). I have thick hair as well and lots of product, but the sulfate free shampoos don’t seem to clean as deeply as the old school shampoos do…

  17. GINA DIFLORIO says 4.15.20

    Awesome tips, gonna try em all.