I’m A Hair Raiser: DIY Scalp Exfoliant

Next to dry shampoo, the best product I’ve discovered to deal with my hair issues is a DIY scalp exfoliant. I put this together myself after doing some research online to combat my dry scalp issue. However, this is not a unique idea as I’ve seen similar DIY recipes online and tons of (expensive) commercial products since then.

The general benefits of a scalp exfoliant:

  • Exfoliating the scalp deep cleans the skin which allows it to reap the benefits of conditioner or oil treatments it would otherwise miss.
  • Exfoliating the scalp helps keep the skin healthy by sloughing off dead skin flakes and clearing out the pores.
  • Exfoliating the scalp stimulates hair growth.

From my research, scalp exfoliation is recommended 1-2 times per week if you are using a commercial product.

My scalp exfoliant is fairly simple. I don’t actually have any real measurements. I just kind of wing it. I use this product about once every 2 weeks, not 1-2 times per week like my research says is ideal. In the beginning, I did use it about every 4 to 6 days because of how often I had to use dry shampoo. However, dry shampoo usage has decreased a lot so I don’t use it as often. I increase exfolating depending on if I’ve had to deal with an itchy scalp that week or not. I do not recommend using this particular recipe more than once a week as the clarifying shampoo can be drying, having the opposite desired effect.



  • Water
  • Clarifying Shampoo
  • Tea Tree Oil
  • Sea Salt

For this recipe, you’ll also need a 3 ounce travel shampoo bottle.


  1. Fill the 3 ounce bottle about 1/4 of the way full of water.
  2. Add 1 tablespoon or so of sea salt.
  3. Add 5-10 drops of tea tree oil.
  4. Swirl/shake this mixture around until the sea salt starts to dissolve.
  5. Fill the bottle 3/4 of the rest of the way full with clarifying shampoo.
  6. Shake the bottle well.
  7. Fill the bottle the rest of the way full with clarifying shampoo.
  8. Shake the bottle until it is completely mixed and there are no visible chunks of sea salt remaining.

That’s it. It takes about 2 minutes and some vigorous shaking to make this bottle. You get about 4 uses out of one bottle. The water helps give it a bit of viscosity. The clarifying shampoo strips the residue out of the hair, scalp, and pores. The sea salt exfoliates the scalp and helps clear out the pores. And the tea tree oil has a ton of benefits. If flakes are caused by dandruff, it works as an anti-fungal to kill the bacteria that causes it. It also helps unclog pores. It is an anti-inflammatory that helps control itching. It can help moisturize the scalp. It cleans excess oil on the scalp and hair. It is an antiseptic that will kill any germs on the skin. It is a lice preventative. The list goes on and on with tea tree oil.

Directions for use: Shake well before use. Use this scalp exfoliant before shampoo and conditioner. Wet the hair. Concentrate it on the scalp, not the hair shafts. Work in sections of the scalp. Massage into the scalp in circular motions. Once you have massaged each area of the scalp, rinse thoroughly with lukewarm to warm water. Follow with your normal hair care routine.


  • Do not expect this product to lather much, if at all.
  • Do not let this product drip into your eyes. If you use more water in the recipe than necessary, this product will be very thin. Be careful. The combination of shampoo, tea tree oil, and salt can damage your eyes. It burns like Hades. Rinse immediately with cool water if this happens.
  • Do not let this product dry onto your scalp. The clarifying shampoo and salt will irritate the skin.
  • Store this like any other shampoo. Just be aware that once it sits for a few days, it will appear to be growing hair or mold at the cap. That is from the salt and is completely normal. There is nothing wrong with it. You can rinse it off in the shower or wipe the excess from the cap back into the bottle. It is up to you. It is just salt.
  • It goes without saying, but this product is for external use only. Do not eat it or stick it in any of your orifices.

This is not mold. It is just salt. It is okay. 😀

Suggested modifications:

If you don’t have too much of an issue with this product coming out of the bottle, you might consider lowering the amount of water used and increasing the clarifying shampoo. This will make it thicker which can lower the possibility of it getting into your eyes.

You can increase how much sea salt you use up to a certain point. You really don’t need it to be as gritty as a lip exfoliant or body exfoliant but that is up to you. Just know that it will clog the shampoo bottle nozzle (hence dissolving a good deal of it in water in the beginning).

Tea tree oil has an unique smell. It is powerful. If it is too much, you might experiment with adding lavender oil as well. I don’t use it so I don’t know how much you’ll need to balance the tea tree oil smell but lavender oil has a lot of uses that might be handy. It helps with headaches, reduces anxiety, and improves sleep for some people. Do not use this combination with children or if you are pregnant or nursing. There are some studies that say it can cause a hormone imbalance in pre-pubescent children.

If the smell of tea tree oil isn’t a problem, you can use more than 5-10 drops. That is plenty for this size of bottle but if you want to use more, knock yourself out. Every time I hear about a lice breakout at the girls’ school, I increase the amount of tea tree oil I use in my exfoliant bottle. I always add it into the girls’ shampoo bottles as soon as a new one is opened. *shiver*

If you can’t use tea tree oil at all, you might consider apple cider vinegar instead. It has many of the same benefits as tea tree oil. But it also has a powerful smell. *shrug*

If you have dry/color treated hair or want to use this more than once a week, replace the clarifying shampoo with a daily-use shampoo. Over using clarifying shampoo will make your hair dry and it eats hair color.

  • You could make up 2 versions of this exfoliant, one with clarifying shampoo and one with your shampoo preference.
    • For dry or color treated hair, use the one with clarifying shampoo once, use up your full bottle of the other shampoo over the next 4 sessions, then use the clarifying shampoo one again.
    • If you want to exfoliate more than once a week, use the clarifying shampoo once a week and the other shampoo for the rest of the week.

Well, that’s all I’ve got today. And I think I’m out of hair care posts for a while. See ya next time folks. 🙂

❤ Dee



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