This idea came to me recently when I got my hair clippered and noticed my scalp felt excessively flaky and oily. Being an infrequent washer (once a week) for a while now, my scalp doesn't produce oils or shed dead skin cells very rapidly, but if it does decide to go a little haywire, it's not like I notice immediately, because I'm just waiting for my next wash day.

So I thought that, for occasions like this, an exfoliant would be a good idea to just give it that extra cleanse when needed. I knew very clearly that I didn't want an exfoliating shampoo (of which there are a few around) because when I do wash, I like something that looks after my cool blonde colour. So I managed to track down a couple of actual purpose-built exfoliators. I tried them out, and here's the scoop on them...


Keihl's Deep Micro Exfoliating Scalp Treatment



Size/Price: £20 for 100ml (20p/ml)

Exfoliating agents: Apricot seed and Argan shell powders

Scent: Menthol, Rosemary and Thyme

Method: Massage into scalp and leave for five minutes before shampooing.

Experience: The abrasive materials in this certainly feel as though they're dong something and the menthol content is really soothing. I love the scent, too. My scalp felt clearer afterwards, if not a little tight. Overall, though, I'd certainly recommend it.


Philip Kingsley Exfoliating Scalp Mask



Size/Price: £6 for 20ml (30p/ml) or £16 for 75ml (21p/ml)

Exfoliating agents: Betaine Salicylate & Zinc PCA*

Scent: Aloe

Method: Apply in front-to-back partings 3cm apart, massage in and leave for 10-20 minutes before shampooing.

Experience: The abrasive components of this one are much finer, which makes t feel as though it's doing less. However on removal my scalp felt much smoother, probably owing to the purifying qualities of the chemical exfoliants.

*(according to an email received from Philip Kingsley HQ, these two are the exfoliating ingredients. On further research, it's hard to determine the active effect of betaine salicylate. Zinc pyrrolidone carboxylic acid (PCA) apparently lowers the level of sebum production).


Verdict: I personally prefer the Philip Kingsley product, although I must say the Keihl's option is both better value for money per ml and contains fewer chemicals and fewer ingredients overall, making it a more suitable option for those of you who are fans of more natural.organic choices. You can also feel the Keihl's one working harder. The merits of Philip Kingsley are it's clinical background. Kingsley himself is a trichologist and the products are borne out of clinics, making them somewhat the authority on scalp condtions and treatments.

So, is a scalp exfoliator for you?

I would suggest 'yes' to anybody who suffers from a slightly dry or irritable scalp, but not to those who wash on a daily basis. Abrasive materials will stimulate sebum production, so if you have a greasy scalp, (often caused by over-washing or seborrhea), it might serve to make things worse. It's also advisable to exfoliate your scalp no more than once per week (just like the skin on your face) to avoid causing your scalp to become greasy. If you do want to avoid this completely, the safe option is the Philip Kingsley product, which is more likely to keep this under control.