11 Skincare-Inspired Products for Your Hair That Might Solve Your Scalp Issues
Say hello to the latest (and best) skincare-haircare hybrids.
I've seen a lot of pretty questionable haircare trends over the past few years as a beauty editor (I’m looking at you, placenta), but if there’s one approach I can get on board with, it’s the skin-ification of haircare. That’s to say there’s been much more overlap between haircare and skincare in recent years, especially with the newfound focus on the scalp (which is also skin, after all). We tend to focus on the hair growing out of it, but the reality is that most of our hair problems stem from the scalp itself. Take the harsh hairstyling products that we use on the daily (and often aren’t designed for skin): These products can seep down and clog hair follicles, leading to chronic scalp and hair conditions.
The good news: With ingredients that were once reserved for our faces now being repurposed for our hair, shampoos and conditioners are becoming more than just something that makes our strands smell good. Even former strictly skincare brands (see: Drunk Elephant, Sunday Riley, Barbara Sturm, and Neutrogena) are now branching out into haircare, letting beauty lovers reap the benefits of both worlds. From toners that balance your scalp’s pH level to exfoliating masks with hydroxy acids that scale away dandruff, below are some of the best haircare products that take inspiration from modern advancements in the skincare world.
Tea tree oil isn’t exactly a newcomer in the beauty world (it’s in just about every acne medication); it’s a popular element in skincare because of its anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties, and is known to calm redness, swelling, and inflammation. When put into shampoo, like this formula from Neutrogena, the calming ingredients help soothe dry and tight scalps.
Micellar water, purified water that looks and feels just like regular water, is finally picking up stateside in haircare for its ability to cleanse with zero irritation. The alcohol-free staple is comprised of dirt-loving micelle molecules, moisturizers like glycerin, and mild surfactants, that attach to debris to break it down. This lightweight, pH-balanced conditioner maintains the scalp's natural barrier with regular use, making it choice for conditioning sensitive scalps without weighing down strands.
Harsh ingredients in dandruff products can sometimes exacerbate itchy, scaling scalps. Niacinamide, a water soluble-form of vitamin B3, is a gentler solution, acting as an antioxidant and anti-inflammatory to reduce flaking at the core. It also includes a powerful glycolic and salicylic acid fusion to exfoliate and dissolve sebum buildup inside of the follicle.
Created with a supercharged AHA/BHA acid blend designed to rapidly break down and dissolve dead skin cells and product buildup, this luscious scalp scrub uses gentle plant-cellulose exfoliating beads to sweep gunk away. Thanks to the balancing marula and passionfruit oils, it works for all hair types, even those with a more sensitive scalp. For an extra boost, try pairing it with a massaging brush (we love this ergonomic one from Conair).
The OG Moroccon argan oil on the hair market, OGX’s nourishing argan oil penetrates the shaft to renew your hair’s cell structure from within, reversing damage and sealing in shine. Despite the contradictory notion of adding more oil onto already oily hair, it’s also ideal for grease-prone scalps: Argan oil has anti-sebum effects, which can regulate oil production on the skin.
Similar to facial cleansers, specially formulated hair cleansers work the same way by gently removing impurities while moisturizing your scalp and strengthening your strands. This hair rinse features a vegan ACV formula (don’t worry, it doesn’t smell vinegar-y) that’s infused with aloe vera, argan oil, and apple cider vinegar to hydrate while removing dirt and other impurities. Bonus: It also features a color-locking technology to protect dyed hair.
Are your strands looking dull and lifeless lately? Your clogged scalp might be the blame. If you need a deeper cleanse to remove residue, apply this detoxifying serum to your scalp for 20 minutes. The cold-pressed formula (which allows for more potent ingredients) will work overtime to break down product buildup, while delivering essential nutrients that stimulate hair follicles for healthy hair growth.
If you aren’t using a toner in your skincare routine yet, you really should. When applied topically, the astringent liquid helps reduce oiliness and balance pH levels. Philip Kingsley's haircare rendition uses witch hazel to do the same for your scalp, along with anti-fungal piroctone olamine to counteract bacteria and relieve flaking.
Activated charcoal is commonly used in skincare to remove deeper-rooted impurities. This detoxing serum infuses binchotan charcoal to draw impurities from the scalp, providing the optimal foundation for scalp health. Meanwhile, a cooling blend of peppermint, tea tree, and spearmint oils reduces itchiness and inflammation. Think of it as the ultimate charcoal treatment for your hair.
In this hair equivalent of a skin serum from skincare sorceress Barbara Sturm, you'll find traditional skincare go-tos, like hyaluronic acid, purslane, and panthenol, to drench the scalp in hydration and soothe irritation. Simply massage into wet or dry hair, no need to rinse out.
Everyone and their mother will attest to the need for religious SPF application, but the scalp often tends to be overlooked. Alas, UV rays can make even the most moisturized of strands dry, brittle, and dull, so you really do need hair sunscreen if you're planning to venture outside. Packed with UVA and UVB filters, this lightweight mist from Sisley (think of it as an SPF mist for your face) forms a protective film over your strands, protecting your hair condition and color from the sun's rays.