Is a hair detox a real thing?

You may be wondering how to clean that scalp slate, especially after years of treatments, relaxers, or chemicals. Don’t fret about the restart: When it comes to going natural, we’re here to help you embark on a hair journey that both scalp and curls will thank you for!

The best way is to start with a hair detox

Many people detox their hair because they’ve been using conventional hair care products made with chemical toxins or low-quality ingredients.

When it comes to ditching your harsh chemicals, which is especially common in black hair care, a detox can help rebalance your scalp. It rids your hair of suffocating buildup while nourishing the scalp.

It helps stimulate hair follicles, allowing for hair growth, and clears the scalp of dandruff, acne, and scabbing. When your hair follicles begin to flourish at their ultimate potential, you should see the difference in your hair texture within a week.

So, when is it time to detox my hair?

It’s quite simple. If you have an itchy, oily, or inflamed scalp, dry follicles, hair loss, or any scalp pain, it’s time to detox. Read on for the how, where, and aftercare tips.

1. Hair detox mask

As complex as it may seem, most hair detoxing instructions are cost-effective and use three simple ingredients that can be applied in five easy steps. As with all at-home methods, patch test before use, and immediately wash off if your skin feels uncomfortable.


  • Bentonite clay powder. This powder has a high concentration of minerals, including silica, calcium, magnesium, sodium, iron, and potassium. It also absorbs and purges clogged pores, including heavy metals, impurities, and chemicals.
  • Apple cider vinegar. It’s rich in vitamins B and C and minerals for the hair. It’s also an anti-inflammatory, which can help with dandruff.
  • Aloe vera gel. The proteolytic enzymes in this gel may help repair dead skin cells on the scalp. It’s also a great conditioner and prevents itching.


  1. Combine 1/2 cup each of bentonite clay powder, apple cider vinegar, and aloe vera gel.
  2. Spread generously throughout hair, applying on the scalp as well.
  3. Place a shower cap on and sit for 20 to 30 minutes. Don’t let the mixture dry out.
  4. Rinse your hair with 1 cup of white vinegar and allow it to sit for at least 1 to 3 minutes, then use a clarifying shampoo.
  5. Follow with shine boost rinse or detox hair soak immediately after.

2. Try an oil-based scalp massage

For more sensitive scalps, especially people who have had their hair relaxed or treated, an oil-based scalp massage may help.

Choose the oils based on your hair needs, dilute as necessary, and then massage it deeply onto your scalp for 15 minutes. You can also wrap your hair in a shower cap to let it soak. Sit in the sun to let heat open up your hair’s pores.

Oil benefits:

  • mineral: shine and friction
  • sunflower: shine and friction
  • coconut: moisturizes damaged hair
  • olive: moisturizes thick, processed, damaged hair
  • jojoba: moisturizes damaged hair, itchy scalps
  • argan: improves scalp health and protects against hair damage and loss
  • essential oils: boosters for targeting growth, acne, itching, and more
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3. Create your own detox recipe

If you’re wary about using clay or oils in your hair, there’s plenty of other natural ingredients you can use to help remove buildup. Whether it’s using a DIY mask or a massage, here are some ingredients to consider:

  • Micellar water. This cleanser draws out impurities without drying out the skin.
  • Baking soda. It may remove oil and buildup, but it’s not good for dry, processed, or heat damaged hair.
  • Egg whites. Some claim that mixing egg whites with coconut oil works to strengthen hair, though it may not remove oils.
  • Garlic. As a mask, garlic may help with hair growth, but you may want to dilute it with a carrier oil to avoid chemical burns

1. Choose the right shampoo for your hair type

When it comes to shampoos, you want to use a cleansing shampoo for your hair type.

Hair can be:

  • thin
  • normal
  • fine
  • relaxed
  • natural
  • damaged or colored

You’ll want to get a product made specifically for your hair type. Otherwise, it’ll continue damaging your hair and preventing optimal shine and softness. A great place to start is by finding a shampoo label that has the word “aloe” “toxin rid” or “detox.”

You may want to invest in a clarifying shampoo. This shampoo has the ability to remove buildup from hard water minerals and styling residue. One of the benefits of clarifying shampoo is it won’t strip color-treated hair of moisture.

2. Comb your scalp with the right brushes

While we’re on the topic your scalp, invest in wide-toothed combs and a scalp scrubber. Use the wide-toothed comb for dry hair, working from the hair roots to tip. (If your hair is knots at the ends, section your hair and work out the tangles from tip to first before combing down). You can also apply oil before shampooing to help lubricate the hair shaft. This helps prevent damage during the shampoo and drying processes.

Then during shower time, use a scalp scrubber, which should always be used under water. Massage the scalp in a circular motion to eliminate all buildup and rinse out all of your detox mask, or use to apply conditioner or conditioning masks. The brush’s bristles will help to stimulate the scalp and allow for easier application of products.

3. Use natural oils to keep your hair and scalp healthy

Oils are an essential element to hair, relaxed or natural. The oils are what keep hair alive, vibrant, and shiny. We can’t forget about the scalp, as it must also be oiled properly. It’s the respected foundation of the hair palette.

According to a 2015 overview on hair cosmetics, oil can enhance lubrication of the shaft and help prevent hair breakage when applied regularly. When researchers studied the properties of mineral oil, coconut oil, and sunflower oil, they found that all oils helped avoid hair damage, enhance shine, and reduce friction. However, only coconut oil could reduce protein loss.

4. Try hair butters to make natural hair soft as cotton candy

There are numerous brands to choose from and they all come in an array of scents. If you’ve never used hair butter or don’t know what they are, they’re a mixture of oils and butter. They moisturize and act as a protectant to ensure that your hair doesn’t get dry and brittle and inevitably damaged.

5. Avoid chemicals, heat, and processing

Don’t backtrack on all that progress by diving back into your routine. Hair damage from processing and heat comes from stretching your hair beyond what it’s used to, making it more porous and harder to maintain.

To really let your hair detox take effect, you’ll want to avoid:

  • dyeing your hair, as bleaching and coloring can damage your strands
  • heating your hair with styling irons or scorching tools
  • hair products with sodium laureth sulfate and sodium lauryl sulfate

However, if changing your hair color is part of your routine, be sure your care products at home support your hair. Do deep conditioning treatments at least once to twice a week, and space out the dying processes by at least a month before dying again. If you need to heat your hair, use a thermal treatment with silicone ingredients.

What to know about shampoo ingredient terms

  • Ingredients that end with sulfate or sulfonate tend to be in deep cleansing products, which can be harsh for damaged or delicate hair, if used too frequently.
  • Ingredients that end with chloride or ions work for softening the hair and supporting your hair and act as a mild cleanser.
  • Ingredients that end with alcohol are mild cleansers and often in conditioners to help with enhancing damaged hair.
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If hair detoxing at home doesn’t seem easy, you can always go to a professional. Always do your research ahead of time when choosing a salon.

Look at their website and credentials, and call and ask if they have experience doing a hair detox. The average hair detox will cost around $25 and will take about 45 minutes.

Don’t abandon your roots now that the hard part is over: They still need love. After the detox, you’ll also want to stop using chemical or heavy treatments that change the natural state of your hair. For damaged hair, it may take a while for your hair to recover. Don’t fret.

Continue conditioning with nutrient-rich conditioners — full of vitamins and free of sulfates and parabens — oils, and hair butter to seal the moisture in. Get regular trims to keep the ends healthy.

Many have questioned if a hair detox help someone pass a drug test. Some people have shaved every hair follicle and others have purchased shampoos targeted especially to detox hair for testing, the answer is inconclusive — and it depends on what kind of drug you’re being tested for.

Some people get different results than others for a number of claims, whether it’s because their metabolism is faster or because they stopped smoking in time. These results are anecdotal. If you want to be 100 percent sure that you’re going to pass a drug test, go the guaranteed route and abstain from drug use.

Candis McDow is an author, poet, and freelance writer. She lives in Atlanta and has a bachelor’s degree in mass communications. She enjoys writing, inspiring others, traveling, going to movies and concerts and painting. Candis is currently working on publishing her memoir on mental illness. You can contact her at or on Instagram.