Why You Need to Have a Spoonful of Sugar Handy the Next Time You Wash Your Hair

It turns out that this basic kitchen staple may hold the key to finally getting rid of your dryness and dandruff.

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When your scalp is dry and itchy, you may be tempted to try any solution, including one the Internet have been buzzing about: adding sugar to your shampoo. According to Francesca Fusco, dermatologist at Wexler Dermatology and Dove Hair Expert, you can soothe a dry scalp by mixing a tablespoon of sugar with Dove DermaCare Scalp Dryness & Itch Relief Shampoo and gently massage it into your scalp using your fingertips. (Don’t forget to check out these shampoo picks, based on your hair type.)”The sugar will gently exfoliate and completely dissolve, without leaving behind any grit or particles,” Dr. Fusco says.

But is scalp exfoliation really the answer? To find out more about the sugar scrub trend, we consulted a dermatologist of our own, Julie Russak, MD, of Russak Dermatology Clinic in New York City.

“There are many reasons why your scalp may be flaky or dry, including sensitivity to hair products, oil accumulation, eczema, or psoriasis,” says Dr. Russak. “The benefit of scalp exfoliation is that it removes that top layer of excess skin, which allows the scalp to breathe and not be irritated,” she says.

Although sugar isn’t the only way to exfoliate your scalp, Dr. Russak says it’s a great, perfectly safe option. “Sugar is an all-natural way to add a little friction to scalp to loosen up build-up. There’s no harm in it as long as you are gentle,” says Dr. Russak. “I also recommend Plarmia Moisture Balancing Scalp Treatment to my patients for dry scalp. You can gently dry brush the scalp pre-shampoo, then use a scalp conditioner to soothe the skin.”

So there are tangible benefits to scalp scrubs! But according to Dr. Russak, it’s not something you need to do on a daily basis (depending on the severity of your scalp condition). “If your scalp is prone to cell build-up, make it a part of your routine to exfoliate once or twice a week,” after which symptoms will subside, she says.

But on top of exfoliating once or twice a week, Dr. Russak’s final advice to those with scalp dryness is to avoid using any harsh chemicals on the scalp, including hair dyes and chemical relaxers. If your condition continues, check in with your dermatologist for help determining the underlying cause. Here’s everything else your hair is trying to tell you.

Aubrey Almanza
Aubrey Almanza is a graduate of The Johns Hopkins University and King's College London. Her writing has appeared in Prevention, SHAPE, and Reader's Digest, among others. She specializes in data-driven content on topics of wellness, beauty, culture, art, and fashion.