How to clean scalp follicles

Follicles on the skin mostly get blocked from the inside when the body produces excess sebum, causing painful bumps and pustules. A recurrence of this is usually due to hormonal acne, which effects many areas of the body including the scalp. While acne should be treated by a medical practitioner, keeping skin clean helps with comfort. If you don’t suffer from hormonal acne but do get the odd pimple or flaky scalp, keeping follicles clean should help to clear up these conditions. This mild discomfort is often caused by a build up of styling products on the scalp, which can coat hair and block pores. An easy but regular routine is usually the best way to get a really clean and comfortable scalp.

Daily care

Brush hair to help loosen any dirt and spread the scalp’s natural oils. This starts the process of unblocking follicles.

Shampoo once with a mild shampoo. Those with oily hair often resort to excess shampooing but stripping the scalp just makes it produce even more oil. So keep your everyday shampoo gentle and try a sulphate free product if you cannot find a regular shampoo you like. Rinse hair for at least a minute longer than you think you need to, to ensure no clogging soap deposits are left on the scalp.

Condition hair only from the mid-lengths down to the ends, avoiding the scalp. Use a small amount of product and comb through for effectiveness. Many conditioners contain ingredients that coat the hair, so it’s important to keep these formulas away from the scalp where they could block follicles further.

Weekly detox

Deep cleanse your scalp once a week with a detoxifying shampoo. Choose one designed to remove build-up from styling products, sea salt and chlorine but without a harsh soap base. For the best results choose a product formulated to clean the scalp as well as the hair.

Brush hair then wash with the detoxifying shampoo, working the lather in to the scalp. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for this and the shampoo should gently cleanse away product as well as excess oil.

Rinse hair clean, condition and style as usual. With a good detoxifying shampoo, your scalp should feel clean and de-clogged but not dried out. A deep cleanse is not the same as stripping the scalp.


Applying a deep conditioner to the ends after using a detox shampoo helps the product penetrate better. This is a good way to complete your weekly treatment but keep rich conditioners away from your cleansed scalp.


If your scalp follicles are consistently blocked, with recurrent pimples and a greasy feel, you could have acne or folliculitis. Although using detoxifying treatments might bring comfort, these conditions should be treated by your doctor or a preferred medical practitioner, such as a tricologist. Severe and untreated scalp conditions can lead to painful cysts and hair loss but there are a range of treatments available, so everyone should find something to suit them.

Those who suffer from acne on the scalp should avoid heavy styling products, silicone or humectant laden conditioners and oil treatments. These can stay on the scalp and block follicles even more, despite your cleansing regime.

Things You'll Need

  • Gentle shampoo
  • Light conditioner
  • Gentle detoxifying shampoo
  • Good quality natural bristle hair brush
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About the Author

Shefali Choudhury is a qualified make-up artist and nail technician, with more than 12 years experience of professional makeup in beauty, film and theater. She graduated in fine art from Central Saint Martins and has been writing professionally since 2007.