Whether due to genetics, environmental factors, or wearing leave-in products in your hair, scalp conditions like dryness and flaking are much more common than you think. Luckily, they're also easy to treat once you incorporate one of the best shampoos for a dry scalp into your hair-washing routine. In addition to knowing which ingredients will soothe a dry, itchy scalp, it's also helpful to figure out what's causing the condition in the first place. If the condition worsens or persists, always schedule a visit with your dermatologist.
"Poor diet, using the wrong products, and genetics can all cause dry scalp," hair and scalp expert Philip B tells Bustle. "A dry climate can be a contributing factor, as can indoor heating in the winter because it tends to dry out the moisture in the air," he adds.
To get your scalp back on track, Philip recommends reaching for a treatment shampoo at the first signs of dryness. "Use a treatment shampoo for a dry scalp every two to three days, washing with warm water," he suggests, noting that showering with water that's too hot can further irritate your scalp.
When choosing a formula, Philip says to look for heavy-duty moisturizing ingredients: two of his favorites are aloe vera and African shea butter. He also advises that you be wary of your run-of-the-mill drugstore shampoos. "Those formulations tend to contain a mix of water and detergent with a minute amount of healing ingredients," he explains. "As a result, that can dry out the scalp and throw off its natural moisture balance." That means, if you do plan on picking up a drugstore shampoo, make sure it's specifically formulated to moisturize and soothe dry scalps.
Ahead, find five of the best scalp shampoos that will make dryness and itching a thing of the past.
1. The Best Shampoo For a Dry Scalp & Dry Hair
This shampoo comes courtesy of Philip B's own line, and it's moisturizing yet gentle enough for everyday use. The Philip B. African Shea Butter Shampoo uses a blend of botanical ingredients to lift away dirt, oil, and product build-up on your scalp. African shea butter and vitamin B5 moisturize and restore elasticity to the hair, while ingredients like green tea extract and rosemary leaf extract contain natural anti-inflammatory properties to soothe dry skin and itching. If you have a dry scalp but also want smooth, soft hair, this rich conditioning shampoo is the one for you.
2. Best Drugstore Shampoo For A Dry, Flaky Scalp
For a drugstore formula that treats dry scalps accompanied by itchiness and flakes, the Neutrogena T/Gel Therapeutic Shampoo is a dermatologist-recommended classic you can count on. Active ingredients neutar and coal tar are strong enough to treat chronic scalp psoriasis and seborrheic dermatitis, but gentle enough to relieve the itching and flaking that come with more common issues like a dry scalp in the winter. The shampoo promises to start working with just one use, continuing to help your scalp even hours after you've rinsed it off. And, you only need to use the treatment shampoo twice weekly to notice its full benefits.
Keep in mind that, while this is among the most effective treatments for a dry, irritated scalp, it won't be as nourishing to your hair, so be sure to alternative with a moisturizing shampoo and always use conditioner.
Neutrogena T/Gel also has nearly 1,000 five-star reviews on Amazon. One reviewer wrote, "After two uses and less than a week, my psoriasis-covered scalp has almost completely disappeared. The red sores are almost gone, and I have no flakes or dandruff anymore."
3. Best Shampoo Alternative For A Dry Scalp
If tend to wear your hair in braids or have a weave or extensions, finding a shampoo that will help your dry scalp can be tricky. The Cantu Root Rinse was specifically designed to detox your scalp in place of shampoo thanks to its nourishing formula that doesn't require rinsing or water. Instead, the root rinse contains apple cider vinegar, tea tree oil, and malic, glycolic, and lactic acids to clear away follicle-clogging dead skin and dandruff while preserving your hair style. It's also full of soothing and hydrating ingredients like shea butter, argan oil, jojoba seed oil, and avocado oil, which help keep the skin on your scalp moisturized.
"I'm currently transitioning to natural hair, [and] my scalp got super dry and itchy recently," wrote one reviewer. "I used this once a week and haven't seen a flake since. My head no longer itches, and it makes my curls pop even though I still have my relaxed ends."
Another user commented, "I wear cornrows quite often as a protective style, [and] after using this product, my scalp feels fresh, no itching, and dandruff-free."
4. Best Shampoo For A Dry Scalp & Thinning Hair
For hair that's finer or even appears to be thinning, Paul Mitchell's Tea Tree Scalp Care Anti-Thinning Shampoo will be your dry scalp match. The paraben-free and color-safe formula removes impurities from the scalp with natural anti-inflammatory and follicle-clearing ingredients like tea tree oil and turmeric root extract. To help stimulate hair growth while leaving hair looking instantly thicker, Paul Mitchell developed their Regeniplex complex, which includes a blend of Kakadu plum, pea peptides, clover flower, turmeric, and ginseng.
Though a handful of reviewers have reported skepticism about the authenticity of this product, it's important to note that it does boast the "ships from and sold by Amazon.com" indicator, which typically guarantees a products' legitimacy. Plus, over 50 percent of reviewers gave it a five-star rating.
5. Best Clarifying Shampoo For A Dry Scalp
For a more concentrated treatment, Sachajuan's Scalp Shampoo uses active ingredients like piroctone olamine and climbazole to remove dry skin from the scalp, kill dandruff-causing bacteria, and provide relief from itchiness. This shampoo also contains salicylic and lactic acids to gently remove dead skin cells and regulate oil production. To further soothe your scalp and leave hair shiny, Sachajuan added rosemary oil, ginger extract, and hydrolyzed wheat protein to the formula.
One reviewer commented, "I've tried so many shampoos and scrubs to work on my dry/itchy scalp and nothing has helped. But this is the first one that has worked for me without making my hair super dry!"
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