The One Product That Banishes Dry Shampoo Buildup From My Scalp

I may not be proud to admit it, but it’s the truth: The mornings I wake up and refresh my hair with dry shampoo far outnumber the ones where I actually wash my hair. While it’s no secret that dry shampoos are convenient, time-saving, and help achieve that sought-after lived-in texture with just a few sprays, I’ve found it’s quite possible to have too much of a good thing.

I realized my dependency on dry shampoo was starting to take a toll on my scalp health once I noticed an itchy dryness that persisted even after washing with traditional shampoo. After a few too many lazy hair days, I had created a buildup that was blocking my hair follicles and affecting my scalp. Luckily, I recognized what was happening, and took to researching detoxifying products to help reset my scalp—this is when I  found Amika’s Reset Pink Charcoal Scalp Cleansing Oil ($25,, a true gamechanger. 

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But before we get into the specifics, let’s dive into what exactly a cleansing oil does (and how you can benefit from one). Debra Jaliman, MD, a New York City-based dermatologist, explains that cleansing oils attract impurities like a magnet by gently pulling out build-up on your scalp from products that are being overused and negatively impacting your hair follicles (so, in my case, dry shampoo).

“Scalp care is important because it’s where the hair follicles are and where hair grows from.  The healthier the scalp, the healthier the hair will be,” Dr. Jaliman tells Health. “Having your hair trimmed every three months is great for the hair but the foundation of our hair stems from the scalp.” 

When looking for a cleansing oil, Dr. Jaliman recommends choosing a gentle formula that won’t strip your hair and scalp of its essential oils, but instead, is formulated with natural ingredients that absorb dirt and oil. While some cleansing oils take the place of regular shampoo,  Dr. Jaliman points out that Amika, my personal go-to, is a pre-shampoo oil designed to be applied before your regular wash, making it an ideal fit for almost all hair types.


To buy: Amika Reset Pink Charcoal Scalp Cleansing Oil, $25; 

Amika’s scalp cleansing oil brings together a grime-busting duo of pink clay and charcoal to absorb dirt, sebum, and impurities lurking at your roots, while moisturizing the scalp with antioxidants and omega fatty acids. From the first use, I could noticeably tell a difference in the way my scalp felt—it was squeaky clean, sans dryness—for the first time since my dry shampoo habit had escalated. 

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Meant to be applied to dry hair before getting in the shower, Amika’s cleansing oil is designed with a thin, nozzled applicator so you can easily apply the product directly to the scalp of sectioned-off hair. You’ll then want to distribute the oil evenly by massaging it into your scalp and allowing it to sit for five minutes while it works its detoxifying, menthol-infused magic. When you get into the shower, the oil transforms into a milky texture, which creates a light sudsy-foam that rinses out and leaves your scalp feeling clean and refreshed. 

I’ve been using the Amika Reset Pink Charcoal Scalp Cleansing Oil at least once a week (in conjunction with my dry shampoo habit), and am happy to report that my dry shampoo is no longer causing any itchy-scalp woes. Now that I know the feeling of a healthy and hydrated scalp, this cleansing oil will be in my hair care rotation for good.

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