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How to Detox Your Scalp for Healthier Curls

How to Detox Your Scalp for Healthier Curls

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Whether you have your healthy hair care routine down to a science or you’re still trying out different methods of nourishing your luscious curls, don’t sleep on scalp care

If you’re looking to support healthy hair growth, lock in moisture or simply amp up your current regimen, it’s time to give your scalp some TLC. While it’s important to offer your scalp the moisture it needs via rich, hydrating products, you’ll also want to detox the scalp as needed. 

Not sure how to detox your scalp? We’ve got you. In this guide, we’re breaking it all down–the benefits of scalp detox, signs that it’s time for some TLC, detox prep & detoxing techniques that can help promote healthy curls & overall healthy hair growth.


Understanding Scalp Detox: Benefits for Healthier Curls

Before we dive into how to detox the scalp, let’s explore why scalp detox is so important for curly hair care:

  • A healthy scalp promotes hair growth – If you’re in a grow-out phase after a Big Chop, scalp care is the ticket to faster, healthier hair growth.1
  • Product buildup, begone – Product buildup can dry out your skin, disrupt natural oil production & make your scalp look flaky. A scalp detox is a great pre wash hair treatment for the deep clean you need to kick these issues to the curb.
  • Your curls are thirsty – If healthy curls are well-watered flowers in a luscious garden, your scalp is the soil. It needs nutrients & hydration to sprout flourishing, bouncy blooms.

Most importantly, scalp care is self care. Taking time to care for you is key, & scalp care is just one way to invest time into your well-being.


Signs Your Scalp Needs Detoxification

So, how do you know when it’s time to detox the scalp? Look for signs like:

  • Dry skin – If your scalp feels tight, itchy or just plain dry, it’s time to reset & refresh your scalp.
  • Flakes – Finding flakes on your shoulders at the end of the day or inside your bonnet in the morning? A flaky scalp is a major sign that it’s time to detox. Remember, flakes aren’t necessarily dead skin. Product build-up can make flakes, too.
  • Dry hair – If your hair looks or feels dull, dry or breakable (especially around the roots) it’s time to amp up the moisture—but first, you’ll need to prepare your scalp for maximum hydration penetration with a detox to slough away dead skin cells.


Prepare for Your Scalp Detox in 3 Easy Steps

What do you need for a successful scalp detox? Let’s break down the prep process:

  • Carve out time – You’ll probably need at least an hour for an in-depth, nourishing scalp treatment. Whether you opt for a morning self care sesh or an evening pampering, make sure you’ll have enough time to complete the process.
  • Grab tools & products – Scalp detox is all about clearing away product build-up & dead skin before moisturizing. Scalp care products & tools can help you do just that. At minimum, you’ll need a comb, shampoo, a moisturizing product & a few towels.
  • Strategize style – While you can complete a scalp detox while wearing braids, locs or twists, some prefer to detox while their protective styles are slightly unraveled. The only way to find out which strategy is best for you is to try both. But, if you’ve never detoxed before & you wear a protective style, we recommend planning your scalp care session the day before you refresh your protective style (just in case some unraveling happens during the process). 


Scalp Detox Methods & Techniques for Healthy Curls

Let’s break down the steps for how to go about a proper scalp cleanse at home:

  1. Use a pre-shampoo treatment like our Deep Scalp Detox to protect your hair ahead of cleaning. Our Scalp Detox offers a one-of-a-kind experience, thanks to its unique blend of ingredients including Australian Tea Tree Oil, pH-balancing Pink Clay, & Lemon Peel Oil. They team up to bid farewell to dirt, wave off dead skin & even give lingering products a friendly nudge, all while preserving your hair’s natural oils.
  2. Hop in the shower, draw a bath or simply stand over the sink to start washing your hair with a deep cleansing shampoo, such as our Cleansing Shampoo.
  3. Use your hands or a soft washcloth to massage your skin & exfoliate your scalp—this is how you’ll dislodge dead skin & flush out product build-up.
  4. Rinse your hair thoroughly & pat dry with a towel.
  5. Use one or more moisturizing hair products for curly hair (we’ll break down which products you might like below) to hydrate your scalp & roots.
  6. Use a leave-in product, dry & style your hair or let it dry naturally.

This is just a surface-level how-to. Let’s explore some specifics about products & methods to help you discover your ultimate scalp detox process.


@patternbeauty The Deep Scalp Detox is the perfect serum to refresh your scalp between or during wash days ✨ @Jasmine Villagomez’s favorite way to use it is as a leave-in serum in the final step of her routine to break down remaining buildup & soothe her scalp before styling 🫧 How do you use your Deep Scalp Detox? #patternbeauty #scalpcare #scalprejuvination #scalphealth #scalpmassage #scalpcareroutine #curlyhairproducts #tipsforlonghair ♬ original sound - PATTERN


Deep Cleansing Shampoos: Choosing the Right Products for Your Scalp Detox

While you might opt for a product like our Hydration Shampoo or Lightweight Conditioner on a typical wash day, scalp detoxing demands a shampoo with more cleaning power. But what should you look for in a scalp detox shampoo product?

  • Clarifying ingredients – Look for shampoos with scalp cleansing ingredients like Matcha Green Tea, Aloe Vera & Panthenol—these formulas have the cleaning power you need to ditch product build-up & lingering dead skin cells.
  • Healthy oil maintenance – While you want to cleanse your scalp, you don’t want to strip away the healthy oils that make your curls plump & juicy. Sodium laureth sulfate is a major oil-stripping culprit in hair products, so choose a product with gentler alternatives like sodium olefin sulfonate or sodium sulfite (these sound similar, but they’re completely distinct from sodium laureth sulfate). 

Massaging Techniques for Detoxification

Massaging is key to maintaining your scalp health, & there are two key moments in the process above when you can really clean & soothe your skin:

  1. While shampooing
  2. While applying a moisturizing product post-wash

No matter your curl pattern, massage can support better blood flow & improved hair growth. &, as you might have already suspected, massaging your scalp is just plain relaxing—so much so that it can even decrease blood pressure & stress hormone levels.2

When it’s time to massage, here are some tips for ultimate relaxation & optimal results:

  • Coverage is key – Like applying sunscreen or slathering butter on toast, thoroughness is key to massage. Start in one specific area of your scalp (like your hairline or the nape of your neck) & slowly move across your scalp, stimulating one area at a time. 
  • Pinpoint pressure – Massaging shouldn’t hurt, but you can apply as much pressure as you like. You might even softly use your nails for additional stimulation (but be sure not to scratch too hard). 
  • Exfoliate later – While massaging the skin might help work out some product buildup, that’s the primary goal of exfoliation, which is a different step in the detox process. During massage, focus on relaxation & comfort—you’ll focus on product removal in another step.

Exfoliation Tips for Removing Product Buildup

Speaking of exfoliation, let’s dive into the techniques that can really help you clear away dead skin & built-up product in your natural hair:

  • Use a tool – Bring a tool like the PATTERN Shower Brush, comb or gentle loofah into the shower or bath to help shake the flakes.
  • Be thorough – Just like the massage step, start with one section of your scalp & slowly move across your entire head to ensure thorough exfoliation.
  • Rinse away the flakes – Rinsing away all of the flakes & residue you removed during the scalp exfoliation process is just as critical as removing them in the first place. Make sure to rinse your hair very thoroughly (& then rinse it again) to make sure your hair is squeaky clean before you pat it dry.

Nourishing the Scalp with Rich Ingredients

Once your hair is patted dry, it’s time for the phase that will really pave the way for shiny, luscious curls– moisturizing with our mask or hair oil for curly hair

Apply & massage in a rich product of your choice, like:

After massaging in your moisturizing hair product of choice, follow the instructions on the label. Some products should be patted dry with a towel or rinsed out after a brief waiting period. But even if a product has to be rinsed, this is just to remove residue from the hair shaft. As long as you follow the application instructions on the package, you should achieve the supple scalp you’re looking for.


Post-Detox Scalp Care Tips

So, you’ve detoxed & hydrated your scalp. Wondering what’s next?

  • Heat safely – Heat protection is key to maintaining scalp & hair hydration—both right after your detox & in the weeks between deep-cleaning sessions. Use a product like PATTERN’s Heat Protectant or Shine Spray to protect your freshly-hydrated skin & hair after detox.
  • Wash normally – After detox day, you can resume your normal wash routine. Keep using the same products you normally use on wash day or incorporate a lightweight conditioner to support everyday moisture.
  • Style & protect – Whether you wear a protective style or let your curls swing free, you can style your hair the way you usually would after a detox session. But post-detox is a great time to break out your Satin Cap for sleeping—it’ll protect your hair & help you hold in moisture throughout the night.

Discover Healthier Curls with PATTERN

Learning how to detox your scalp is key to building (& maintaining) juicy, joyful curls—& it’s a great way to practice self care, too. 

At PATTERN, we believe that hair care & self-care go hand in hand. That’s why we promise to create products that help you access both right in your own bathroom. Designed with coilies & curlies in mind, our products are rich in nourishing ingredients that keep curls healthy, shiny & beautiful. 

If you’re ready to celebrate your hair—on wash day & every day—explore our curly hair collection.


  1. Trüeb, Ralph M et al. “Scalp Condition Impacts Hair Growth and Retention via Oxidative Stress.” International journal of trichology vol. 10,6 (2018): 262-270. doi:10.4103/ijt.ijt_57_18
  2. Kim, In-Hong et al. “The effect of a scalp massage on stress hormone, blood pressure, and heart rate of healthy female.” Journal of physical therapy science vol. 28,10 (2016): 2703-2707. doi:10.1589/jpts.28.2703
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Reviewed by Ashley Ludgood

With over 12 years of experience in the beauty and fashion industry, Ashley Ludgood brings a wealth of expertise to her current role at PATTERN. Her insights have been featured in reputable publications like American Salon Magazine, American Spa Magazine, and Skin, Inc. Ashley has also shared her knowledge at conferences, including Face & Body, demonstrating her ongoing commitment to contributing to the industry. Having been an integral part of the team at PATTERN for nearly 4 years, Ashley continues to make significant contributions. Holding a degree in Journalism from Northwestern University, she remains passionate about her field. Among her favorite products, Ashley turns to the PATTERN Styling Cream, Moisture Milk, and the Cleansing Shampoo as her go-to essentials.

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