Looking for a Dry Scalp Treatment? Here are 18 Soothing Options
Tired of dusting white flakes off your favorite shirt? Luckily, there are plenty of products that target dry scalps at the root. But before we jump into the various ways to treat dryness, let’s get one thing clear: Dry scalp and dandruff are not the same thing.
Though many of the symptoms are similar (namely itchiness and flakiness), the causes are different. Dandruff, also known as seborrheic dermatitis, can be brought on by a number of factors such as an overgrowth of fungus on the scalp or a skin condition like psoriasis or eczema, whereas a dry scalp is just, well, dry skin that’s typically brought on by environmental factors like a change in seasons or a reaction to a new product.
That said, we culled a comprehensive shopping guide that troubleshoots for both issues, so you’ll get some much-needed relief either way. From soothing shampoos to purifying scrubs, here are 18 dry scalp treatments that actually work.
1. Headquarters Nourishing Lotion
Treat this leave-in lotion as the final step of your haircare routine. The lightweight formula is packed with nourishing ingredients like sunflower seed oil and panthenol to give your roots a boost of moisture without weighing them down. The calming, beachy scent is a nice bonus.
2. G.Tox Himalayan Salt Scalp Scrub Shampoo
Does one actually need a scalp scrub? Why yes, it turns out we do. This one has a whipped texture that lathers nicely as you massage it into your scalp. With Himalayan pink salt, cold-pressed moringa oil and unfiltered rosehip oil (this is GP, after all), it makes our hair feel shiny and new.
3. Briogeo Scalp Revival Charcoal + Tea Tree Scalp Treatment
This soothing solution uses Binchotan charcoal, witch hazel and biotin to target dry, itchy scalps at the root and promote a healthier head of hair—all while delivering a refreshing tingle. Use it after shampooing as a leave-in or as a pre-bedtime treatment if you prefer morning showers.
4. Dove Dermacare Scalp Dryness and Itch Relief Anti-Dandruff Shampoo
“I like this shampoo because it's a mild, pH-balanced formulation with pyrithione zinc that can decrease yeast on the skin without causing irritation,” shares Dr. Hadley King, a board-certified dermatologist in New York City.
5. Dr. Marder Total Relief Conditioner
It can be tricky to find a powerful anti-dandruff formula that won’t strip color-treated hair. Luckily, this conditioner gets the job done—and then some—thanks to a blend of zinc pyrithione and botanical ingredients like coconut oil, vitamins and antioxidants in the formula.
6. RE-fresh Anti-Dandruff Shampoo
Another favorite of Dr. King’s, the RE-fresh Anti-Dandruff Shampoo contains apple cider vinegar and salicylic acid “to exfoliate and offer anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties, as well as moisturizing ingredients that keep the scalp and hair from getting dried out,” she explains.
7. SheaMoisture Jamaican Black Castor Oil Strengthen & Restore Shampoo
Though it’s not specified as a dandruff shampoo, it has many dandruff fighting ingredients like apple cider vinegar to remove extra buildup and castor oil to quell inflammation. Add soothing ingredients like aloe vera and hydrating shea butter and it’s easy to see why this shampoo has a cult following. Plus, the sulfate-free formula is gentle on color.
8. DS Laboratories Dandrene High-Performance Anti Dandruff Shampoo
This anti-fungal formula uses vitamins A, B12 and C to fortify your strands and soothe any inflammation that accompanies your dandruff. (Note: As with any dandruff shampoo, you want to massage it gently into your scalp and let it sit for a couple of minutes so the active ingredients can do their job before rinsing.)
9. DermaHarmony 2% Pyrithione Zinc Bar Soap
Seborrheic dermatitis can affect other parts of your body from your head to your face, upper chest, upper back, armpits and groin. So, if you’re experiencing flakes on multiple areas, you may want to try this soap. Formulated with two percent pyrithione zinc and other skin-soothing ingredients like oatmeal and olive oil, it’s also fragrance-free, making it a better pick for those with sensitive skin. To use, create a lather using warm water, gently massaging it into any affected areas for at least 30 seconds before rinsing thoroughly.
10. L'Oréal EverPure Sulfate-Free Scalp Care + Detox Scrub
When your facial skin is dry, you use an exfoliator to help scrub away the dead skin cells, so it makes sense to add the same step to your hair care routine. This apricot-seed-filled scrub gently remove flakes, buildup and excess oils, leaving behind nothing but a refreshing tingle.
11. Earth's Nectar Mint Leaves Scalp Oil
Fast absorbing yet still ultra-nourishing, this blend of rosemary, peppermint and jojoba oils supports natural blood circulation to help hair growth while combating dryness, breakage and flaking. We're also fans of the cooling sensation it leaves behind.
12. Living Proof Scalp Care Dry Scalp Treatment
Get instant and lasting relief with this lightweight leave-in. Apply it to freshly washed hair, using the pointed nozzle to distribute the formula evenly; style or let dry as usual. Hyaluronic acid and vitamin B3 deliver rich hydration, while soothing any itching or irritation.
13. Leonor Greyl Bain Traitant à la Propolis Gentle Anti-Dandruff Shampoo
Gently massage this luxe shampoo into your roots to produce a delicate lather. The signature ingredient, bee propolis, has antiseptic properties to help prevent further scalp conditions, while treating any existing flakes and dryness.
14. ArtNaturals Therapeutic Scalp 18 Shampoo
Admittedly, “Scalp 18” is a funny-sounding name for a shampoo, but the fans of this coal and tar-infused formula swear by its dandruff clearing prowess. It also includes jojoba oil, which is known for its hydrating and anti-bacterial properties, as well as argan oil to soothe any irritation on your scalp. The end result? Flake-free, soft hair that’s easier to style and manage.
15. Philip B. Anti-Flake Relief Shampoo Coal Tar Free
Safe for color or keratin treatments, this shampoo pulls out the big guns. It uses active plant concentrates to not only calm an itchy scalp but also prevent bacteria growth that can further aggravate the situation. We're also partial to the refreshing scent and generous lather it provides.
16. Body Blendz Scalp & Hair Scrub Shampoo
Swap in this scrub every third shampoo to keep any pesky flakes away. Made with ultra-fine Himalayan salt crystals that don't feel too scratchy against your skin and Abyssinia oil to strengthen your strands, it swiftly clears up any residue, so all you're left with is a super clean head of hair (and extra volume).
17. Nioxin Scalp Relief Haircare Kit
This kit is great for people who have a sensitive and flaky scalp. It contains aloe to soothe any irritation. The three-part system includes a shampoo, conditioner (that you use on both the scalp and lengths of your hair) and a leave-in serum.
18. dpHUE Apple Cider Vinegar Scalp Scrub With Pink Himalayan Sea Salt
If you’ve ever tried an apple cider vinegar rinse, this scrub is sort of like that, but you won’t smell like salad dressing for the rest of the day. It’s formulated with ACV to clarify and balance the scalp pH and sea salt to gently exfoliate and remove any buildup that’s sitting on the surface. (Rest assured, it won’t strip out color in the process.)