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The best scalp treatments for balanced skin and healthy hair

As skincare brands slide into scalp care, we reveal the treatments and tonics worth investing in

scalp treatment
Harper's Bazaar

Nourishing shampoos, masks and conditioning oils are all great for tackling environmental damage on dry lengths and frazzled ends. However, if your hair never seems to look its best, it might be worth getting to the root of the problem – and chances are, it starts at your scalp.

“Scalp health definitely impacts hair health,” confirms Anabel Kingsley, trichologist at Philip Kingsley. “Your scalp is a living tissue, a mini ecosystem of sorts, that supports your hair follicles and the hair that emerges from them. When the scalp is in good condition, strands are given a healthy base from which to grow.”

When the scalp is thrown out of balance, a whole host of issues may arise. Perhaps your hair never feels really clean (no matter how vigorously you shampoo) or maybe your scalp has become uncomfortably dry and flaky; according to research by Philip Kingsley, more than half of women have experienced dandruff in the UK.

So it makes sense that scalp care is big news in beauty right now, with women looking to prevent, rather than treat hair issues. Space NK has reported a 196 per cent growth in the scalp care category over the past 12 months, and there are now plenty of products available that sit at the intersection of skincare and haircare.

In fact, skincare brands are moving into the scalp-treatment arena rapidly: recent months have seen blockbuster launches from Guerlain and Augustinus Bader hitting the shelves. Science-led skincare brands are perfectly placed to capitalise on this growing beauty category, formulating their signature ingredients – such as Guerlain's honey and Bader's TFC8 – into products that deliver benefits for the scalp.

Equally interesting is The Nue Co's foray into scalp care: the brand's topical and ingestible supplements are designed to work in tandem, optimising the scalp's condition to maximise hair's growth and thickness. And for a scrub that gets the balance perfectly right – not too foamy, not too drying – Shu Uemura's latest offering excels.

Below, discover the shampoos, scrubs and specialist spot-treatments designed to clean your hair and calm your scalp, tackling hair issues right from the root.

The best scalp treatments, scrubs and cleansers to try now

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Best scalp treatment for hair growth
Supa Thick Topical Scalp Supplement
Niche Beauty
The Nue Co. niche-beauty.com

The Nue Co's latest launch is garnering rave reviews, and we can attest to its impressive follicle-fortifying powers. Designed to reduce hair fall and increase strong, healthy growth, Supa Thick feeds hair in the anagen (or growth) phase, removing build-up while balancing dryness and stimulating circulation.

Simply apply the creamy liquid to the scalp (the precision nozzle makes this a breeze) and shampoo as normal after twenty minutes. Instant satisfaction comes via lifted, bouncier roots, while loyal use will deliver better hair growth.

Best scalp cleanser
Purifying Scalp Cleanser
Aveda lookfantastic.com

Aveda's plant-derived scalp cleanser is one of the gentlest way to sweep pollution and product build-up away from your scalp – a once weekly treatment is all it takes.

A light dose of salicylic acid helps tackle oil and congestion, while tamanu oil balances moisture levels.

Best shine enhancer
Abeille Royale Scalp & Hair Youth-Oil-In Serum
Guerlain feelunique.com

Guerlain might not be the most obvious choice for a scalp treatment, but this new addition to the brand's prestige Abeille Royale line is welcome indeed. Thankfully non-sticky, the honey-based oil is designed to condition the hair, making it appear thicker and glossier. For swishy, shiny lengths, this is just the thing.

Best exfoliating scalp treatment
Glycolic Acid Exfoliating Scalp Scrub
The Inkey List boots.com

The Inkey List is expanding its collection of skincare-inspired scalp treatments, and this supercharged scrub is one to try. It works double-duty to exfoliate a congested scalp, calling on castor beads and glycolic acid to physically and chemically resurface respectively. The nozzle applicator makes massaging it in an effortless task too.

Best scalp scrub
Ashita Supreme Intense Revitalization Scrub
Shu Uemura

Shu Uemura's hair collections never disappoint, and the new Ashita Supreme is a luxe option for anyone looking to tackle product build-up, dryness and a congested scalp. This extra-rich scrub is formulated with chunky, gritty sea salt that does a stellar job of removing product residue and oil, leaving things feeling cool and invigorated. Consider it your once-weekly deep cleanse.

Best density booster
Flourish Density Booster
Cult Beauty
Virtue Cult Beauty

Virtue made a name for itself by formulating results-driven products infused with a human-identical form of keratin, which works better than most to repair and strengthen strands.

Now, the brand is turning its attention to hair loss, bringing its instantly successful Flourish line to our shores. The shampoo and conditioner will set you off on the right track, but it's this fast-absorbing scalp spray that'll really set to work energising sluggish follicles. With signal peptides and probiotics, it creates the optimal base for new and existing strands to thrive.

Best hair oil
Pre-Wash Strengthening Treatment Hair Oil
Cult Beauty
Fable & Mane cultbeauty.co.uk

Hair oiling is a ritual rooted in Ayurvedic tradition, and this natural blend stays true to a tried-and-tested combination of plant-based ingredients. Ashwagandha is combined with herbal dashmool to create a deep-nourishing oil that stimulates the follicles and strengthens strands. Use it as a pre-shampoo treatment, letting it soak in overnight for maximum benefits.

Scalp Serum
Cult Beauty
OUAI cultbeauty.co.uk

Ouai's hydrating serum is the latest scalp treatment to have impressed us. Formulated to support healthy hair growth, it contains barrier-balancing adaptogens that resolve dryness and itching, alongside peptides to nudge follicles into gear. The experience is surprisingly sensorial too: expect a cooling, watery serum and a truly delicious fig and tomato-leaf scent.

Best strand-strengthener
Initialiste Advanced Scalp and Hair Concentrate
Kérastase feelunique.com

If your hair seems to grow sporadically, fortifying strands from the roots could help you achieve uniform length. Designed to reduce brush-induced breakage, Kérastase’s advanced serum is a great treatment for every hair type. Apply it to towel-dried hair (between two and four pipettes, depending on thickness), and massage in.

Best exfoliating scalp serum
Transforming Scalp Serum
Ameliorate lookfantastic.com

Deeply nourishing, this pre-shampoo treatment is designed to relieve intensely dry, flaking scalps. The brand's signature lactic-acid complex dissolves dead skin cells that linger on the surface of the scalp, while oat-derived hydrating extracts bring instant relief and lasting moisture.

Best shampoo for an itchy scalp
Flaky/Itchy Scalp Anti-Dandruff Shampoo
Philip Kingsley boots.com

Philip Kingsley is a go-to brand for hair care that starts at the scalp – from the legendary Elasticizer mask to the targeted Scalp Toner, there’s a product in the line-up to address every hair concern. If dandruff and itchiness are an issue for you, begin with this specially formulated shampoo, which clears congestion quickly without agitating sensitised skin.

Best deep-cleansing mask
Detox Scalp Mask
Cult Beauty
MALIN + GOETZ cultbeauty.co.uk

If you're looking for something extra-thorough to sweep away build-up and oil, this has to be the most satisfying option. The clear gel foams vigorously on the scalp (thanks to the non-drying oxygenating formula) and uses a combination of acids to effectively exfoliate dry skin.

Best scalp serum
The Scalp Treatment
Space NK
Augustinus Bader spacenk.com.uk

Augustinus Bader's signature Trigger Factor Complex proved so effective on skin, the brand has formulated it into a line of scalp-focused hair products. This scalp serum contains that cult blend of proteins and vitamins alongside magnesium, zinc, keratin and copper: a powerful cocktail of ingredients designed to boost scalp health and hair strength.

Best dry scalp treatment
Multi-Peptide Serum for Hair Density
The Ordinary
The Ordinary theordinary.com

It's always satisfying when one of The Ordinary's affordable formulas really delivers: and trust us, this one excels. Anyone with a dry scalp that veers into flaking territory will love this gentle blend of skin-kind squalane, fatty acids and lipids, which hydrates skin while softening hair.

Best oil-absorber
Hair Rituel Pre-Shampoo Purifying Mask with White Clay
Space NK
Sisley-Paris spacenk.com.uk

An unashamedly luxurious pick, Sisley's cooling, creamy scalp treatment should be applied (via the no-mess precision nozzle) to roots before shampooing.

The white clay inside soaks up excess oil and product build-up, negating the damaging effects of pollution and making hair feel seriously clean.

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