I’ve been pretty excited about Asian haircare for awhile and I’m finally reviewing some of the products from my massive stash. So far I’ve reviewed my favorite shampoo and a shampoo-conditioner that I didn’t love. Long ago I reviewed a fab La’dor hair product (spoiler alert: my next hair review is of my favorite conditioner, also by La’dor).
A lot of people have asked about my favorite scalp scalers, products meant specifically to clean the scalp, so it’s time to review uka’s Deep & Light Scalp Cleansing. I’ve been using this periodically since August, so I’ve had plenty of time to test it and think about it.
What it is: a scalp shampoo. The point of scalp shampoos is just to clean your scalp, not the hair strands.
A word on haircare philosophy: I know that lots of beauty experts at magazines, blogs, and tv shows say we should not wash our hair each day because it’s bad for hair, especially chemically treated hair. I certainly go two days between washings in part because I have so much freaking hair and don’t want to screw around with it on a daily basis. That said, when I go longer between washings my scalp protests, and that’s where I think we have a problem. The advice on going for awhile between washes and routinely using things like dry shampoo comes out of a philosophy that haircare is about making hair strands healthy. Conversely, what I know about Korean and Japanese haircare philosophy argues that a healthy scalp is the key to healthy strands. To me, the focus on scalp care is really mind-blowing, and it has changed how I think about haircare. (For more info on hair and scalp science and Korean haircare philosophy check out this post on the Asian Beauty subreddit).
My feeling is that if your delayed washing strategy is causing itching, irritation, scalp pimples, or flaking skin, it may not be working well for you. The key, in my experience, is to strike a balance between what’s good for your hair and what’s good for your scalp. A weekly deep scalp cleanse can help remove caked-on oil, sweat, and dead skin to buy you more time between washes without irritation.
I have mixed feelings about dry shampoo. On one hand, it’s an amazing innovation that allows hair to look ungreasy and smell good just about no matter how long one goes between washings. At the same time, I find that it leaves my scalp tender after I use it, as if it has sucked all the healthy moisture from my scalp along with the oil. I’m also concerned about purposely adding more debris to my scalp–I just don’t see how that’s going to do my scalp and strands good in the long run. And yet…damn, sometimes I just need fresh hair without washing and styling it from scratch. When I do use a dry shampoo, I make sure to do a scalp shampoo session within the next few days to be sure I’ve removed all the dust.
Consistency/Foam Texture: this bubbles up well, but not profusely. That said, it makes the next shampoo you put on bubble up WILDLY, I guess because all the oil has been removed from hair and the surfactants can just jump around happily rather than putting in a lot of actual scrubbing work.
How to use it: skip to 1:28 to see the official recommendation for how to use this from uka.
My method is a bit different. I find that I’m more competent and complete with my scaling if I sit at my beauty workstation with dry hair and section it carefully.
1. Part my hair to show them sexaaaay roots.
2. Spray some water on my hair. If you don’t have random bottles of water mist sitting around, a spray bottle with tap water is 1000% a-ok. I find that my hair is crazy hard to part when it’s all wet, which is why I wet it on the part only. This also helps prevent the shampoo from traveling down my strands.
3. Apply the scalp shampoo down the part. You don’t need to apply a ton–just a line of it.
4. Massage the shampoo in with your fingertips, keeping it centered on your scalp and avoiding spreading it out on your hair. I mean, it will happen that some gets on your hair, but work to minimize that.
5. Make it sexy.
6. Part your hair about an inch over and do the process again.
7. Do an all-over scalp massage for a few minutes once all of your scalp has been sectioned and shampooed.
8. Rinse the uka shampoo out. It will be tricky due to the squeakiness of your hair, but just do your best.
9. Apply regular shampoo. Rinse.
10. Apply conditioner. Rinse.
11. Style as usual.
I can already see you putting up your hand to ask how one does this in the back of your head. Honestly…as best as you can. The hair expert on the Get It Beauty hair episode called the top front section of one’s scalp extending down to one’s ears the trashbin of the scalp, so I try to focus on doing that area really well along with targeting any itchy areas. Otherwise, I just do my best with the back and then massage the back in really well.
How often to use it: I use this once per week. The brand claims you can use it daily, but that honestly seems like overkill and, damn, it would get expensive fast.
Scent: sage, eucalyptus, peppermint, and tea tree…maybe a few other things? In combination it smells…kind of peppery and not exactly harmonious. Not pleasant. Not unpleasant. Just…weird to me, honestly. I feel like uka should have picked one scent and gone with that, but whatever, it’s not like I’m using this daily or for fun anyway.
Scalp feel: this makes my scalp feel squeaky as hell, but despite that, the ingredients don’t irritate my cleanser-hating skin. I even left this scalp shampoo on half of my scalp while eating dinner a week ago, in part to see if it would cause a reaction due to sitting on my skin for an extended period of time (I don’t recommend it–it’s just something I wanted to test for the sake of this review). It didn’t. My scalp is fine (and many regular shampoos with regular or harsh surfactants set off my skin big time). I asked my friend Chel from Holy Snails blog and formulator-in-chief at Holy Snails Shop about why my skin seems to tolerate this shampoo. She said that the surfactants, like the surfactants in my favorite Skylake shampoo, are gentle and used in combination to help clean the scalp.
Hair feel: this stuff feels like absolute shit on my hair strands when I first rinse it out. Any strands hit by this feel squeaky as hell. That goes away when I follow with my normal shampoo and a conditioner. Afterwards, my hair feels really weightless and bouncy. My hair’s volume is bananas.
pH Level: the pH tests for this were weird as hell. The shampoo tests high straight out of the bottle and mixed gently with a bit of water, but the pH ends up around 5.5ish once the shampoo is foamed up with water. Honestly, I have no fucking clue what’s up with this. uka claims this is weakly acidic and I only use it once per week, so screw it, whatever, I give up.
Ingredients: Aqua, Lauryl Glucoside, Glycerin, Propanediol, Sodium Cocoyl Glutamate, Disodium Cocoyl Glutamate, Sodium Cocoyl Alaninate, Sodium Cocoyl Threoninate, Cocamidopropyl Betaine, Hydrogenated Lecithin, Ubiquinone, Tocopherol, Salvia Officinalis (Sage) Leaf Extract, Swertia Japonica Extract, Kjellmaniella Crassifolia Extract, Vaccinium Myrtillus Leaf Extract, Melaleuca Alternifolia (Tea Tree) Leaf Oil, Mentha Viridis (Spearmint) Leaf Oil, Eucalyptus Globulus Leaf Oil, Hakka Yu, Cymbopogon Schoenanthus Oil, Citrus Medica Limonum (Lemon) Peel Oil, Laurus Nobilis Oil, Citrus Aurantifolia (Lime) Oil, Algin, Arginine, Aspartic Acid, Glycine, Glutamic Acid, Alanine, Serine, Valine, Isoleucine, Threonine, Proline, Histidine, Phenylalanine, Leucine, Lysine, PCA, Sodium PCA, Sericin, Glycine Soja (Soybean) Sterols, Allantoin, Guar Hydroxypropyltrimonium Chloride, Pentylene Glycol, 1,2-Hexanediol, Caprylyl Glycol, Polyglyceryl-10 Trilaurate, Ethyl Menthane Carboxamide, Alcohol, Tetrasodium Etidronate, Sodium Lactate, Butylene Glycol, Fragrance. (from uka’s English site)
CosDNA analysis. Tocopherol rates 2 out of 5 as a potential acne and sensitive skin trigger, Algin rates 4 out of 5 as a potential acne and sensitive skin trigger, and Butylene Glycol rates 1 out of 5 as a potential acne trigger.
Is It Good?
Yes, I think that this is good, but I want to be clear: it’s part of my healthy scalp routine and needs to be done regularly to be effective–it can’t just be used to nuke one’s scalp problems. In the end, it’s a shampoo, not a medical treatment. If you have minor scalp issues this shampoo may or may not help you, but the effects won’t be instantaneous aside from the removal of dead skin and oil. If you have major scalp issues please please please seek treatment from a dermatologist or other medical professional.
Before taking these photos I hadn’t used a scalp scaler in at least a month, so my scalp was very much in need of cleaning.
To show you the impact of this shampoo on my scalp over the course of one week I whipped out a special camera I have and snapped away.
My hair was really itchy and oily before I applied this shampoo, and there were flakes of dead skin floating around. eww
1 Day After
The flakes were gone, but some irritation and pinkness remained.
1 Week After
The flakes are still gone, but some of the pinkness remains. In places where my scalp isn’t itchy it looks pretty darn clean and translucent.
Do you want a scalp shampoo, scalp scaling liquid, or scalp scaling pack?
I’ve tried a few different scalp-centric products, and I’ve found that this one is the best for my oily, flaky scalp. I prefer to use a product with gentle surfactants to lift the oil and debris away from my scalp. My ultimate beef with other scalp scaling products is that many of them feature alcohol so prominently in the ingredient list and are otherwise focused on hydrating rather than immediate waste removal. My scalp clearly just needs to get clean all over.
I liked the Innisfree scaler, but I found the liquid difficult to work with (it would occasionally run into my eyes, as seen on my snapchat a few times ahahaha). It felt nice, but I didn’t get the same “reset” feeling from the Innisfree scaler as I do from the uka shampoo.
This ampoule is really nice and it makes my scalp feel great, but it is primarily focused on providing moisture rather than moving out nasty oil and dead skin.
This is $36 for 200ml, making it one of the more expensive products in my haircare stash. That said, the formula, bottle, and applicator are really well designed so that there’s no wasted product. I’d like to be able to find something cheaper, but I’m willing to pay full price for a product that works for my notoriously tricky skin while I search.
Where to Buy It
Disclosure: This post contains affiliate and referral links. Clicking those links before you shop means that fan-b receives a small commission, which helps to support the blog. Please see my full disclosure for more information.