If your scalp feels tight, flakey, or itchy, then you’re likely dealing with dry scalp. This occurs when your scalp’s ideal moisture balance is thrown out of whack, according to Michelle Blaisure, trichologist and product/technical specialist for Bosley Professional Strength.
Dry scalp can be caused by the weather, stress levels, and a person’s overall health. “Weather absolutely can play a role, especially during the winter months when the air is very dry inside and outside, and skin loses moisture,” says Blaisure. “During the summer months, the scalp can get sunburned, which damages the skin structure, especially when hair is thin on the top.” Certain medical conditions such as acne, rosacea, psoriasis, and eating disorders can also trigger seborrheic dermatitis, a very common inflammatory condition of the scalp, says Hadley King, MD, a dermatologist in NYC.
The best thing to use for a dry scalp is a shampoo that works for, not against, the problem. This means your shampoo should include ingredients that work to soothe and moisturize your scalp, such as vitamin E, sunflower seed oil, sage, and marula oil. Lucky for you, these dermatologists and hairstylists are sharing their best dry scalp shampoos and treatments to help relieve an irritated scalp. Check them out here:
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Best Drugstore Shampoo For All Hair Types
Head & Shoulders Dry Scalp Shampoo
“Honestly, the Head & Shoulders Dry Scalp Shampoo is the best. Use for two weeks, and your scalp will look and feel completely different,” says Tommy Buckett, a stylist at the Serge Normant at John Frieda Salon. Dr. King agrees: “It uses pyrithione zinc, which has antimicrobial and antifungal properties, and it also helps with inflammation and itch.”
Best Luxury Shampoo For All Hair Types
Shu Uemura Cleansing Oil Shampoo
“This shampoo is gentle and restores the scalp’s pH balance. Over time, it gently cleanses your hair and removes buildup from your scalp to help it reach a healthy state,” says Edgar Parra, also of the Serge Normant at John Frieda Salon.
Best for Fine Hair
Oribe Serene Scalp Shampoo
This anti-dandruff shampoo is gentle and lightweight enough to use on the finest of hair. “Caffeine energizes your scalp and refreshes your hair while sugar maple extracts aid in soothing your scalp,” says Maria Blair Serrano, colorist at Mizu New York Salon.
Best for Kinky Hair
Mizani Scalp Care Shampoo
“Cucumber and peppermint oil keep dry scalp in check while pyrithione zinc kills flake-causing bacteria and soothes scalp itch,” says Serrano. “It is also deeply hydrating shampoo so it is perfect for dry, curly, and kinky hair.”
Best for Color-Treated Hair
Innersense Organic Beauty Hydrating Hair Bath
The combination of sage and tamanu essential oils helps to hydrate your scalp and color-treated hair, which tends to be dryer. “I love that it is super lightweight but really hydrating at the same time,” says Serrano.
Best For Oily Hair
Neutrogena T Sal Shampoo
$6.36 (20% off)
“Salicylic acid may be useful when used in conjunction with other hydrating treatments. Its main benefit is that it helps to reduce scaling on the scalp,” says Dr. King, who recommends trying it out in this shampoo from Neutrogena.
Best for Bright Blondes
The Beachwaver Co. BRB Blonde Purple Shampoo
Treat your dry, sensitive scalp and brassy blonde at the same time with this shampoo. The combination of shea butter and bond builders strengthen the hair, and the purple tint counteracts any yellow tones for a brighter blonde color. “It also has an aroma experience of Brazilian berry and smells so good,” says Sarah Potempa, celebrity hairstylist and inventor of The Beachwaver Co.
Best Budget Buy for Color-Treated Hair
Redken Scalp Relief Dandruff Control Shampoo
Preserve your current dye-job with this affordable dermatologist-approved shampoo. Dr. King recommends Redken Scalp Relief Dandruff Control Shampoo to calm down a dry scalp without damaging your custom color.
Best for Curly Hair
Dove Dermacare Scalp Shampoo
“It’s formulated with pyrithione zinc and contains coconut and shea butters to make sure your scalp and hair stay moisturized and don’t dry out. And it’s moisturizing enough to be a great choice for curly hair,” says Dr. King.
Best Antibacterial Shampoo
Paul Mitchell Tea Tree Oil Shampoo
$19.99 (41% off)
Tea tree oil is a hero ingredient to help relieve an itchy, dry scalp. This essential oil is a triple-winner thanks to its antibacterial, anti-fungal, and anti-inflammatory properties. Plus there’s an fun and energizing tingly sensation while you massage the product into your scalp.
Best Hyaluronic Acid Shampoo
BC Bonacure Hyaluronic Moisture Kick Micellar Shampoo
You probably know the benefits of hyaluronic acid (HA) in your skincare routine, but did you know that it’s also a great ingredient in hair care? This hydrating shampoo, which contains a potent dose of HA to help your hair better retain moisture, is recommended by Julia Carroll, MD, dermatologist at Compass Dermatology in Toronto
Best Creamy Shampoo
Clear Strong Lengths Nourishing Shampoo
Cleanse your scalp with this creamy shampoo that is packed with 10 hair-healthy vitamins, along with nourishing sunflower and sweet almond oils. “It’s also important for consumers to know that if they have a dry scalp they need to think of conditioner as scalp moisturizer. They should put it on their scalp and let it soak in for a few minutes before rinsing it out,” says Dr. Carroll.
Best for Thinning Hair
Bosley BosRevive Nourishing Shampoo For Non Color-Treated Hair
This sulfate-free, gentle shampoo lathers well and contains nourishing botanicals. “It helps to balance the scalp and remove any kind of debris and build-up, which is great for all hair types,” says Blaisure.
Best For Itchy Scalps
Kérastase Bain Vital Dermo-Calm Shampoo
“This shampoo has calophyllum oil to calm irritation and redness, and piroctone, an antibacterial ingredient that soothes itching,” says Jennifer Yepez, Kérastase consulting hairstylist. Yepez suggests using the shampoo every few washes. In between, alternate with another shampoo that targets another haircare need.
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