There’s a haircare trend that’s honestly music to my ears: *scalp care*. It makes sense – when you focus on your scalp, you’re able to ensure the follicles are clear of debris so hair continues to grow in happy and healthy. For years we’ve pushed the narrative of washing only once a week – or even less. For years we’ve said that washing your hair multiple times a week is bad. No more! We’ve realized that, much like skincare, if you wash regularly with a gentle but effective shampoo, you do your scalp a world of good. Should that be every day? That really depends on a lot of factors, and different brands will tell you different things. Personally, as someone who trained my hair to be washed once a week and ended up with a nightmare case of dandruff that would NOT go away? I (and my scalp) flourish best when I wash every 3-4 days. The absolute maximum I would recommend for optimal scalp health is seven days, and then you really need to balance hydration and clarifying to ensure your scalp is genuinely clean. So what should you use? What will help get my hair clean, free of buildup, help it stay volumized, and get rid of the lovely snowflakes that collect on my scalp – and by snowflakes I mean dandruff?

I was in this predicament, and decided to try something I used to love that’s been reformulated & edited: the Briogeo Scalp Soothing Solutions Set which comes with their Charcoal + Coconut Oil Micro-Exfoliating Shampoo, Charcoal + Tea Tree Cooling Hydration Scalp Mask, Charcoal + Tea Tree Scalp Treatment, Charcoal + Biotin Dry Shampoo, and a Stimulating Scalp Therapy Massager.

For complete transparency: I used to RELIGIOUSLY use the shampoo in this set to clarify and begrudgingly used the treatment as directed. The mask, dry shampoo, and this alternate method of using the treatment are all new and not tried before this review. This shampoo is also (I’m pretty sure) reformulated.

Now, you’ll notice I said “begrudgingly used the treatment as directed.” Because when I did? I’d be oily again within HOURS. It was like I hadn’t even washed my hair. Many people do great with this as a serum when done washing, like it’s supposed to be used. But for those of us who tend to get oily roots rather quickly, there’s an alternative method: using it as a pre-wash treatment. You’ll still get the benefit without looking like you just finished a hot oil treatment. However, there used to be some fine print on the webpage: it could also be used as a pre-shampoo oil. The concept of that when I was using this shampoo last time was just bizarre, but now that I know better it seemed like the perfect opportunity to try this method out.

So, it’s been a week. My hair is so oily and full of dandruff that it actually HURTS. I knew this was the perfect time to test this kit.

I started by using the treatment on my scalp almost like you apply an oil cleanser. A few drops, massage, move to the next area. I have a lot of hair, so this took a lot of treatment. The mini size bottle in the kit? Demolished. I had to get my big bottle of serum and pull a few dropperfuls from that! But it’s delightfully refreshing and you can almost feel it working to break apart the oil, dandruff, and other buildup. Then I let it sit for 15-ish minutes while I entertained my kid in the tub, because one of the hidden rules of toddlerhood is you can’t let your mom take a bath alone. So that’s fun

After that I thoroughly saturated my hair. Gently warm water is what I recommend for face and hair washing. A little warmer than lukewarm, but not warm enough to be causing redness or seeing steam (unless you too are afflicted with the “if you look at me funny my skin turns red” gene). I open the jar and YUM. It smells like thin mints, I kid you not. I used a plastic skin care spatula because this has no hygienic way to dispense it – honestly my only complaint about the old formula – and got to work massaging it in area by area with the massager. If I didn’t feel any suds forming, I added more water. I also worked from the nape of my neck to the front, and I thought that would make a difference in how clean my hair got since that usually works for my shampoo.

Usually

So, with the old shampoo, my hair would be SQUEAKY clean. Like, just on the verge of too clean. Which made it absolutely perfect for a once a month or once every other month clarifying session. It also used to come with a lightweight conditioner for your ends instead of the scalp mask, and the dry shampoo was a layer addition. Honestly, the lightweight conditioner was better as a leave-in before heat styling and really needed a deep conditioner, so I was interested to see the scalp mask. However, my train of thought ran off the rails when I realized…it was my washing squeaky clean. It was clean, but still very hydrated. A bit too hydrated for a clarifying shampoo. My eyebrow raised. And so, I bit the bullet and washed again. Surely that would make a difference, right

I was wrong.

Completely befuddled, I looked at the shampoo. Coconut oil used to be a component that was decently low on the list. Now? It’s in the top five. There’s no way this can properly clarify, and it’s no wonder I was so frustrated. I followed with the scalp mask anyway, which was indeed thoroughly soothing and honestly, my scalp felt that good kind of clean like you get after a nice facial. My hair, however? It didn’t feel as clean as it should. I even rinsed extra to make sure.

And here, I realized I hadn’t planned properly. Because this pack has no conditioner in sight. Maybe they were trying to make the formulas extra hydrating to compensate, but you still need a conditioner. A hydrating cleanser for your face still needs to be followed with a moisturizer. So I grabbed a travel sized bottle I hadn’t opened of Briogeo’s Don’t Despair, Repair Deep Conditioning Mask and got to work on my ends. I even secured my hair in a plastic shower cap (which my kid thought was HILARIOUS) and let it sit for 30 minutes. I expected some wonderful results from the Allure Reader’s Choice 2021 Award Winner product, and was sorely let down. It was like my hair had been coated on the outside and still felt dry and thirsty underneath. Like coating massively scaly skin in oil, it was essentially pointless.

Drying my hair was…a disaster. I specifically used no product (a nightmare for my wavy/curly hair) to ensure I could see exactly what these products did. My hair stuck to my scalp. It was clean – no trace of dandruff in sight! But completely lifeless, lacking volume, and my ends looked just as dry as they did before. And worse? In two days I had no choice BUT to try the dry shampoo because my hair was so oily. I’ve gotten pretty good at non-aerosol dry shampoo, and this was abysmal. Use it for texture on clean hair when styling, maybe, but as a dry shampoo it’s sorely lacking

So, can I recommend this? Yes and no. For it’s advertised purpose? Absolutely not. But with some finagling? Absolutely! A nice routine for this would be the scalp treatment as a pre-shampoo hair oil, a separate clarifying shampoo (the Adwoa Beauty Blue Tansy Clarifying Gel Shampoo sounds divine), the exfoliating shampoo in this kit as a separate scalp scrub step, the scalp mask, and then a deep conditioner on the ends (either the Adwoa Beauty Baomint Deep Conditioning Treatment or the Adwoa Blue Tansy Reparative Mask would be perfect fits)

However…I’d still only give it 3 out of 5 stars even with those adjustments. The amount of coconut oil in these products just isn’t conducive to properly clarifying. It used to be a small amount, enough to help protect the hair from being overcleansed. However, coconut oil isn’t actually *good* for skin and hair. It sits on the surface, creating a film and keeping skin and hair from actually being hydrated. The most I recommend it for is shaving, and even that’s a stretch. So when these run out, I’ll be on the hunt for something new. The scalp mask is, in my opinion, really the one thing I’m looking at repurchasing, which makes me rather sad if I’m honest. I’ve referred this set to a lot of people, and knowing they move made the changes they did – and not for the better – makes me mad at myself for not researching these changes and just assuming a brand I’ve loved made the right calls.

Charlotte Smith is an esthetician licensed in Tennessee and Georgia. She’s married to a lumberjack version of Deadpool, is obsessed with huskies, is straight up in quarter-life crisis mode, and loves pretty much anything that could be considered creepy.

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