Nécessaire’s New Scalp Shampoo and Conditioner Are as Soothing as Aloe on a Sunburn

When “scalp-care” first became a thing about two years ago, I rarely thought about the skin under my hair. Of course, the scalp—along with every other inch of flesh—is skin, and should be treated as such. It’s a point of passion for Nécessaire, a body-care brand whose slogan, after all, is: “Treat your body like your face.” Until now, the company’s focused on the skin below your chin with serums, lotions, and exfoliators. But they’ve just launched their first hair-care products, collectively dubbed “The Scalp Duo” ($40).

The combo consists of two new in-shower items, which are also sold separately: The Shampoo ($25) and The Conditioner ($25). In true Nécessaire fashion, they’re both decidedly skin-centric, which is something I was looking for after a year of DIY bleach jobs that’ve left my scalp in a subpar state—moisture-sapped, jute-rug-rough, and sensitive to being brushed. Given what I was working with, I was eager to try a system designed specifically to help soothe and restore it.

Here are my first thoughts on The Scalp Duo from Nécessaire

I’ll be upfront about something that could be a dealbreaker for some people: The Scalp Duo is fragrance free...as in, literally devoid of any scent whatsoever. Of course, this is an intentional choice on Nécessaire’s part, as fragrance is often a culprit behind skin irritation.

Honestly, unscented shampoo was initially a bit strange to me, like rubbing CeraVe through my strands. In the absence of an olfactory experience, however, I’ve come to luxuriate in the tactile pleasures of a DIY scalp massage. As per the packaging instructions, I work each product into my head—methodically, intentionally, as if I’m giving my scalp a facial.

Unlike many sulfate-free shampoos, this one satisfies in the suds department—and does so without stripping the skin of moisture. In fact, I swear my scalp feels more supple since using The Shampoo—or, at least, less tight. A true testament to its soothing nature: I’ve used it immediately after bleaching my roots—a delicate period in which my scalp is at its most vulnerable—and it’s like aloe to a sunburn.

Similarly, The Conditioner feels thick and comforting without being heavy. FWIW, I typically avoid using conditioner on my scalp for fear that my hair will look limp, but this one seems to sink into my scalp instead of sit on my strands. Once I’ve rinsed and dried my hair, it feels comfortably clean. There’s no gummy, greasy residue, nor is there any squeaky-clean tightness.

When I turn the bottles around to look at the ingredient lists, unsurprisingly, as with all of Nécessaire’s products, The Scalp Duo is made with calming, plant-based hydrators like aloe and avocado oil, as well as B vitamins including niacinamide, an antioxidant that can help soothe inflammation and promote skin elasticity and hydration. Notably absent? Sulfates, parabens, silicones, and PEGs (a chemical compound derived from petroleum that can irritate skin)...and—I think it bears repeating—fragrance.

Ultimately, massaging Nécessaire’s skin-friendly formulas into my scalp feels like a big “I’m sorry” to the swath of skin I’ve treated recklessly over the past year.

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