Don’t tell anyone, but I need to take a break from reviewing sheet masks. Oh dear. I’m still using them 2-3 times a week and blabbing about them on the Instagrams; that’s pretty much forever a thing. But lately, I’ve been complaining more about how long and annoying my hair is now compared to my old hair style, so I thought I would channel my frustrations in a semi-healthier way. If you haven’t seen this thing before, let me introduce you to the Japanese shampoo brush, A.K.A. the scalp brush—and some hair-washing tips along the way!*
*As with everything in life, take these tips with a reasonable dash of salt. I don’t know you as well as you know yourself, so apply them to your lifestyle as you see fit. Some of these tips may work better for some people than for others. Your Mileage May Vary (YMMV)!
The shampoo brush actually isn’t particularly new—it’s been popular in Japan for over a decade—but hasn’t made its rounds internationally quite yet. I hope it will soon, because it’s such a neat little tool that helps your hair health in a big way! I got a set of two for around $5 at this little Japanese store called Sanki in Pearl City. My mum liked using it, too! I’ve actually used a cheap plastic comb while showering since I was about 12, but having this flatter, wider brush is truly a game-changer for healthier shampooing habits. Here’s why:
TIP #1: Focus on shampooing your scalp, rather than your hair.
The target of your hair-washing should really be your scalp! The oils in your hair are produced by your scalp’s sebaceous glands, which help keep your hair conditioned naturally. Attacking the whole length of your hair with shampoo can excessively strip it of these oils, similar to how over-cleansing can dry out your skin and actually harm your protective skin barrier. After all, your scalp is skin, too; it just so happens to have a lot of hair on it. ☺
Glob that shampoo starting on your head/scalp, rather than in the middle of your hair shaft. I actually learned a little Filipino trick of thinning your shampoo with water so that you can use less shampoo each wash, and have it drip more evenly all over your scalp. If you don’t have a shampoo brush yet, scrub the scalp gently with the fingertips; never use your nails. Think of it as giving yourself a firm little scalp massage.
Since scalp-brushing is really the main function of this, uhh, scalp brush, it helps your shampoo to really get through the thicket of your hair and onto your scalp, instead of just sitting on top of your hair. The brush bristles are definitely finer than your fingers and better-suited for getting deep into your roots. The brush also ensures that the shampoo is spread more evenly across your scalp, and ensures a more even cleanse, too. You may feel that lovely tingle of your shampoo suds on your scalp that you wouldn’t normally; well, feeling The Tingle doesn’t necessarily equate better shampooing, but it does confirm that the shampoo indeed has reached your scalp—right where it needs to be.
TIP #2: Condition your hair, not your scalp.
See how I segued there? Directly related to tip #1, understanding where the sebum in your hair comes from helps understand how your hair is “conditioned.” We only really need to shampoo when the scalp becomes
disgustingly excessively oily throughout the course of the day, especially when warmer spring and summer seasons are upon us. For this reason, most people do not need to condition their scalp with a, uh, conditioner at all. Apply your conditioner starting mid-shaft or at the base of your neck, not at the scalp. If it helps, think of it this way: Shampoo the top half, condition the bottom half.
You’ve also probably heard of the “no ‘poo” life—as in no shampoo ever, that is—which stems from the same idea that our hair is pretty much self-conditioning. No-‘poo people use alternative washing methods, including baking-soda rinses. I’m not saying you should absolutely go that route (I’m definitely not one for that quite yet!) but if your hair tends to be dry, try washing your hair only every other day. This is even recommended by some for any average-to-fine-haired folks to do. Go on, try it! If you’re too self-conscious about your hair looking greasy, just try it on a weekend or day off. That’s actually better if you live in a somewhat air-polluted area, or you have a job/daily task that gets you a bit dirty, because in those cases you’ll definitely want to wash your hair when you get home… You may find that your hair is perfectly fine with shampooing every other day rather than daily. This is sort of how the no-‘poo life begins: Your scalp’s sebaceous glands will adjust sebum production accordingly so that eventually, they’ll only produce as much as your hair needs. It’s believed that your hair only tends to be greasier the more often you wash it! Although like I said, you don’t have to go all the way. Personally, no-‘poo is 2greasy4me. ☺
Also, when you’re done ‘pooing, I mean, shampooing, the shampoo brush can be used to your conditioner’s advantage. You can simply use the brush as, well, a shower hairbrush! Because it’s pretty wide, it can help spread your conditioner more evenly throughout your hair. Rinse your shampoo and gently squeegee your hair before conditioning. Leave conditioner on for about 2-5 minutes, no more or less, then wash off. As a bonus, it just feels really nice to wash tangle-free hair, doesn’t it? All of that grime and dirt just gets washed off smoothly.
TIP #3: Wash your hair with cold water, or lukewarm at most—never hot.
This may be the most difficult hair-washing tip to apply to your life if you are a hot-and-steamy lover. Yeah, I know: Hot showers just feel oh, so good. Oh baby. But again, just as your face can dry out when you use that piping-hot water to wash it, so can your scalp! We definitely don’t want that, especially since, as I mentioned earlier, the sebum from your scalp helps keep your hair protected and “conditioned” to a degree. If you’re the type to shower in hot, hot, heat, turn the temperature down a few notches each time you shower so that you can slowly become accustomed to cooler water.
For this reason, I never blow-dry my hair. Unfortunately, I know a lot of you may not like to air-dry, or even have time to if you have unruly hair that simply needs to be tamed before you step out into the world. If you feel inclined to protect your hair to this degree (get it? gedddiiit? degree? heat?), and I highly recommend it, there are many affordable hair protecting sprays on the market for you.
That’s all very well, Lily, but where can I get this shampoo brush thang?
I can’t speak for all of your local Japanese/Asian markets, but I highly recommend checking there first! Try Daiso, Muji, Marukai in Hawaii and California, Don Quijote in Hawaii and Japan, or whatever else y’all have on the mainland U.S. Even my local Longs Drugs (owned by CVS) has them. Don’t have these stores where you are? There are several options online, including:
- Lots of options on Amazon such as this, this, this Muji one, and even this Remington one. Like I said, the same concept is popping up everywhere (though it’s hard to confirm whether non-Japanese brands borrowed it from Japan, or independently conceived the idea). This is the one I have, but it’s more expensive on Amazon than at Sanki.
- Daiso Japan store online, although it’s a 20-pack, apparently…?
- Rakuten! It takes some time to get used to this Japanese global market, but it’s a great way to access some really handy and quirky stuff, albeit with some…interesting…English translations. Anyway, check out Master of Life (here’s one) and Master of Beauty (like this or this) for shampoo brushes and other body- and skincare stuff. Master of Beauty has this funky octopus one that I actually kind of want to try. Heheh.
- Qoo10 has several: For example, there’s this, this, this, and this vibrating massagey one. Not sure if that’s necessary, but if you’re into that kind of thing…well, you do you.
Wherever you shop, I wouldn’t spend any more than $10 on it. That’s just excessive, man. Anyway, as you can see above, varieties of this brush include rubbery plastic ones like mine, softer silicone, and with shorter, longer, thinner, or thicker bristles. Mine is perfect for hair of fine-to-average thickness, but thicker- and curlier-haired folks may benefit from longer bristles. Whatever your hair type is, I highly recommend the shampoo brush!
Do you have any other game-changing hair-washing tips or discoveries? I’d love to hear about them! ☺