Scalp acne functions the same and is caused by the same factors as traditional face or body acne. Your scalp naturally produces a protective layer of oil known as sebum. And when dead skin cells, excess oils or chemicals build up on the scalp, pores become clogged and acne forms.

Fortunately, scalp acne is much less visible than traditional acne. It may go undiscovered for some time until you run a comb through your hair and notice tender or sensitive spot. Severe scalp acne can even be painful.

Woman rinsing face

1. Avoid Oily or Chemical-Based Shampoos

The majority of shampoos contain heavy, oily or chemical ingredients that clog pores and contribute to scalp acne. Avoid shampoos that contain ingredients such as sodium lauryl sulfate or any type of fragrance. Instead, choose a mild, light shampoo or a dandruff shampoo that will remove flakes and dandruff while gently cleansing pores. (Tip: if your shampoo is too oily, try diluting it with water.)

Apple cider vinegar


2. Use Apple Cider Vinegar

Mix equal amounts of apple cider vinegar and lukewarm water and pour it onto your scalp, light massaging the mixture through your hair. Rinse after about five minutes. Apple cider vinegar helps disinfect the scalp and restore scalp pH levels. As an added bonuses, your may find that your hair is softer and sleeker. Shampoos containing apple cider vinegar will also have the same effect.

woman checking for split ends

3. Only Condition Your Ends

Conditioners are formulated to soften hair and provide extra moisture. But all that moisture may be too much for your scalp to handle if you’re noticing acne. Try conditioning only the ends of your hair if needed and avoid using any conditioner on the scalp.
4 Tips for Treating Scalp Acne

4. Brush!

The best oils for your hair are the ones produced naturally by your scalp. However, hats or certain hair styles can cause this natural oil to buildup in certain areas, thereby clogging the pores. Regular brushing with a boar bristle brush will spread this concentrated oil to the rest of your hair, removing buildup and naturally improving the health of your hair. Our recommendation is to brush your once a day, more or less depending on your hair type.