If you’re the type of person who takes their hair care routine seriously, you know healthy hair and a healthy scalp go hand in hand–after all, it’s your scalp that’s actively growing your hair! This is where scalp masks come in. By maintaining the health and balance of your scalp (and helping out with some common concerns, such as sensitivity or excess oil production), these products can be a powerful addition to your routine. Have you tried them?
Scalp Masks 101
What is a scalp mask?
True to its name, a scalp mask is just like a hair mask… but for your scalp. We can consider scalp masks exist for two reasons: a) because most hair masks are not designed to be applied to your scalp, and b), because your scalp has specific needs that aren’t always targeted by other hair care products.
So regular hair masks shouldn’t go on the scalp?
You will notice that the instructions for most hair masks do not mention the scalp at all; instead, they tell you to distribute the product “through the lengths and ends of your hair.” We’re big fans of following product instructions, here at Care to Beauty (always trust the formulators!), so we are not about to go against that recommendation. If your hair mask doesn’t specifically say it can go on the scalp… then err on the side of caution, and don’t apply it to the scalp.
Can I do a scalp mask at home?
A “scalp mask” may sound like a strangely professional thing, but there are plenty of them on the market designed for at-home use. Just follow the product instructions, and you’ll be good to go.
When should I use a scalp mask?
Generally speaking, most scalp masks are designed to be used before your shampoo. As the first step of your hair care routine, a scalp mask can help you remove excess oil and product build-up, which will not only make you feel ten pounds lighter, but also promote the absorption of your following hair care products–say, your stimulating shampoo, or your anti-hair loss ampoules.
Keep in mind that this is a general rule, though: always follow the instructions on the packaging of whatever scalp mask you’re using that day!
In summary, what are the benefits of a scalp mask?
Different scalp masks will have different benefits, so it may be more useful to think in reverse: what are your scalp concerns? If you’ve got an itchy scalp, if you’re struggling with dandruff, if you experience a lot of build-up and sebum and hair products… a scalp mask may be able to help you. It’s all about matching your scalp mask to your needs, and we’ll help you do just that below.
Even so, we can summarize the benefits of scalp masks as follows: they can help you rebalance a troubled scalp, reduce dandruff, manage excess oil and sebum production, or even prepare your scalp for the rest of your hair care routine.
Our Favorite Scalp Masks
New to this type of product? We’ve selected a few favorite masks for you, so you’ll know where to start.
Gallinée Prebiotic Hair Care Mask
Best for sensitive, itchy scalps
What it is: a soothing mask infused with a cocktail of impressive ingredients. From gentle lactic acid and rebalancing prebiotics to smoothing rice water and calming panthenol, this mask has everything your scalp needs to achieve its optimal balance.
Why we like it: chock-full of soothing benefits, this scalp mask might just be the solution for a sensitive, irritated, and itchy scalp. Our Care to Beauty community tells us this mask can also be a valuable ally in an anti-dandruff routine, so why not give it a try?
Phytodetox Pre-Shampoo Purifying Mask
Best anti-pollution scalp mask
What it is: a pre-shampoo scalp cleansing mask with a refreshing (and all-natural!) eucalyptus scent. As part of the Phytodetox haircare range, this scalp mask is all about relieving the scalp of the weight of the impurities and pollution particles that affect us on a daily basis.
Why we like it: we’ve all had those weeks when our scalp is just suffocated by styling products, subway rides, smoke, and endless sprays of dry shampoo. With ghassoul clay and eucalyptus essential oil, this pre-shampoo is here to reset our poor scalps after all that exertion!
Kérastase Specifique Argile Équilibrante Cleansing Clay
Best for very oily scalps
What it is: a clay-based scalp mask with cleansing, purifying, and detoxifying benefits. With kaolin and charcoal, this mask can not only absorb excess oil and sebum, but also help control and rebalance sebum production.
Why we like it: if adding one more product to your hair care routine seems like too much, this mask is the solution. Use it once a week and you’ll be benefiting from its double properties, as it works as both a scalp mask and a shampoo, all in one. Look at all the time you’ve saving!
Klorane 2-In-1 Mask Shampoo Powder with Nettle & Clay
Best waterless hair mask for oil control
What it is: a 2-in-1 shampoo and mask that cleanses and purifies oily scalp in one easy step without causing irritation. With sebo-regulating nettle and absorbent clay, this product is also eco-designed, requiring 80% less water to manufacture.
Why we like it: it’s a scalp cleansing mask in powder form, what’s not to love? Simply pour the powder into your hand, add water, and apply the resulting mousse to your hair and scalp. Leave on for a few minutes, then rinse.
Just like that, you’ve got the purifying benefits of a scalp mask, and the cleansing benefits of a shampoo, all in one. You’re good to go!
Lazartigue Purify Purifying Pre-Shampoo
Best to clarify the scalp before washing
What it is: a sebum-regulating gel that dissolves existing oil build-up and dislodges impurities from the scalp, leaving it feeling fresh and light. It helps normalize the scalp and prepare it for the action of your favorite shampoo.
Why we like it: this scalp cleansing mask is fueled by propolis, a natural ingredient known for its purifying and antimicrobial properties. It’s like a natural detox for your scalp! The gel formula is easy to apply, and you only have to leave it on for 10 to 15 minutes to achieve full benefits.
Now that we’ve seen some of the best scalp masks out there–and answered all your questions about this type of product–, we’re ready to let you go out into the shop and put together your new hair care routine. If you have any doubts, you already know how it goes: you can always ask our beauty experts!
Beauty Writer & Editor