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Despite our undying obsession with hair, most of us tend to ignore the skin, pores and glands underneath it all.  Show a bit more love to your scalp and you may just be pleasantly surprised by the benefits.

Why you should care about your scalp:

Ahh scalps, the fun meeting point of haircare and skincare which means — you guessed it — you should treat your scalp the same way you treat the skin on your face (albeit with different products). Like the rest of your skin, your scalp is made up of layers of tissue with the lowest layers being the newest and healthiest, and the top consisting mostly of dead skin cells. Between pores, hair follicles and sebaceous glands, these dead skin cells mean your scalp is a prime target for buildup, so regularly removing bacteria, sweat and excess oil is crucial in keeping your scalp (and hair) healthy and happy.

How to do it:

Think of your scalp like a small child (in the least weird way possible): it needs regular stimulation to thrive. It also needs regular exfoliation to stay healthy, something I’m not sure a small child needs, so the metaphor ends here. Either way, getting your scalp to peak performance requires a little bit — but not too much! — work.

The easiest place to start? A good scrub to remove buildup. (Between those dead skin cells, oil and hair product, there’s likely more than you’re aware of.) Once a week or whenever your scalp starts to bother you, sub your regular shampoo routine for an exfoliant or exfoliating shampoo like Briogeo’s Scalp Revival Shampoo. The formula blends charcoal to draw impurities from the scalp and hair with micro-exfoliators to cleanse and balance the scalp. If you’re more of a DIY-er, simply add a few tablespoons of sugar to your shampoo and gently massage the mixture into your scalp with the pads of your fingers before rinsing.

If you’re worried that exfoliating won’t rid your scalp of all the product buildup hiding up there, consider an apple cider vinegar. Hero ingredient ACV is a natural way to thoroughly remove product, skin and oil buildup without stripping your hair and scalp of the natural oils they need to thrive. Added bonus: it softens hair, makes it shiny and also helps to calm an inflamed or irritated scalp. All you need is a bottle of the stuff and a shower: after shampooing and conditioning, simply flip your head over and spritz ACV all over your hair and scalp. Let it sit for 5-15 minutes (whatever you can stand before you start to freeze or get prune-y), then rinse out with water. For something that smells a little better than straight up vinegar, consider R+Co.’s Acid Wash ACV Cleansing Rinse.

The next step is to hydrate your scalp. Yup, that’s right: your scalp needs moisturizer, too, though the preferred form is conditioner. While you perform your regular shampoo/conditioner routine in the shower, don’t be afraid to apply some of the latter directly to your scalp (as long as it’s noncomedogenic so as not to clog anything up). Not only will this help hydrate the skin of your scalp, it’ll also ensure that you’re actually using conditioner the way you’re supposed to: from roots to ends.

Finish it all off with a lil’ scalp massage. Without any aggressive rubbing, simply massage your scalp all over for a few minutes every day to stimulate circulation (and thereby healthy hair growth) and also to relax the skin. If you want to step up your game, throw a massager like this one from Vanity Planet into the mix. While your fingers alone are just fine, a vibrating brush basically mimics a pre-haircut salon wash, which we all know is the best part of getting a haircut.