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shampoo for dry scalp

10 of the best shampoos for dry scalps

09 Aug 2021 • 10 min read

Want to know how to manage your dry scalp right?

In this article we'll cover: 

What is a dry scalp?

A dry scalp often occurs when the scalp doesn’t have enough sebum (skin oil) for the skin to feel lubricated and hydrated.

It is more common for people with dry skin in general to get a dry scalp.

Symptoms of a dry scalp

Getting a dry scalp is quite common; with symptoms varying in severity, from a sprinkling of dandruff to full-blown seborrheic dermatitis (when flakes of skin become visible on your hair or clothing).

Seborrheic dermatitis can also cause skin flaking in other areas like eyebrows, ears, upper chest and beard region.

What is dandruff?

Dead skin shedding from the scalp is simply a visible sign of having a dry scalp.

Dandruff can also be caused by:

  • Yeast overgrowth on the skin
  • Hormonal fluctuations
  • Stress

What causes dry scalps?

There are lots of potential causes of a dry, itchy scalps, including:

  • Seasonal changes, e.g. air in winter tends to be drier than in summer, which can dry out any exposed skin – including our scalp
  • Heating, e.g. your scalp skin can dry out when you have super-hot showers or crank up the indoor heating
  • Reactions to hair care products
  • Skin conditions like eczema, psoriasis or dermatitis

As you can see, it can be quite difficult to pinpoint the reason for your dry scalp, as it could be anything from the weather to your hair spray.

The best thing is to try and isolate which of these factors is causing your dry scalp and eliminate it.

What is a dry scalp shampoo?

Just like you get a shampoo for coloured hair or a shampoo for greasy hair, you can get a shampoo specifically formulated for dry scalps.

Dry scalp shampoos tend to be gentle formulas made with certain ingredients that dry scalps love to lap up, including:1

  • Nourishing oils

Natural oils like coconut and olive oil are very good for the scalp.

Coconut oil is full of nourishing essential fatty acids and vitamins to help moisturise the skin, whereas olive oil is rich in antioxidants that help protect the skin.2

  • Other humectants

Humectants are moisturising ingredients that get absorbed into the upper layers of the skin where they attract and retain water modules.

Look for these ingredients on product labels: hyaluronate, hyaluronic acid, urea, glycosaminoglycans, glycerine, sodium lactate, honey, sorbitol, aloe vera, flaxseed, algae extract, agave nectar or glycols.3

  • Occlusives

Another ingredient to look out for is an occlusive, which can help prevent the skin from losing hydration through evaporation.

Popular occlusives include dimethicone, petrolatum, lanolin, tea tree oil, candelilla, almond oil, beeswax and avocado oil.

  • Apple cider vinegar

Sometimes dry scalps and dandruff can be caused by bacteria and fungi growth, and it turns our apple cider vinegar could help with that.

Research suggests that apple cider vinegar could limit the growth of certain fungi and bacteria.4

And there are also ingredients that dry scalps don’t like, including:

  • Exfoliants

Exfoliants are used in skincare and haircare products to tackle flakiness and strip away dead skin cells.

However, this exfoliation process can cause the skin to dry out, so it’s best to avoid for those with dry scalps.5

If you do want to exfoliate with dry skin, then look for products containing milder exfoliators, like bromelain, willow bark, papain, allantoin and citric acid.6

  • Astringents

Astringents tone and tighten the skin by pulling water from the upper layers of the skin. They tend to dry the skin out, so should be avoided by those with dry scalps or skin. Look out for salt, alcohol and witch hazel.7

Summary

  • Dry scalps can be caused by a number of different factors, including dry wintery air, irritants in products or even indoor heating
  • Some ingredients have been proven better than others for dry scalps, like moisturising oils and humectants
  • Exfoliants and astringents should be avoided where possible if you have a dry scalp

What are the best shampoos for dry scalp?

We’ve scoured our collection of natural hair care products here at H&B and chosen the top 10 shampoos for dry scalps.

10 of the best shampoos for dry scalps

  1. Ethique Heali Kiwi Shampoo Bar For Touchy Scalps

Full of moisturising oils and extracts, and kind to your scalp – this could be the shampoo bar for you!

Key benefits

  • Contains karanja and neem oils to help tackle scalp issues
  • pH balanced and suitable for colour treated hair

What our customers think:

Jo Mc – Highly recommended for sensitive hair and scalp – 5/5 stars
“I've been using this for a few years now and love it. I don't have to use conditioner anymore either. It is a great product from a caring company and is environmentally better than bottles. The ingredients are all natural.”

Raffee – Love this!! – 5/5 stars
“I was sceptical about this, but wow it is amazing! Lathers nicely and rinses out really well. I suffer from itchy skin, but this does not irritate my scalp at all.”

  1. Sea Magik Mineral Shampoo

Simple is often best when it comes to dry scalp shampoos, and this offering by sea magik could be the clean and conscious formulation to help your scalp stay healthy.

Key benefits:

  • Helps keep your scalp hydrated and itch free + your hair shiny and healthy

What our customers think:

Leanora – Great for dry scalp – 5/5 stars
“You only need to use a small drop to get a decent lather. Excellent for dry itchy scalp and leaves hair with a lovely shine.”

MB27 – Gloss and health – 5/5 stars
“Glossy locks and healthy scalp - win, win.

  1. Sukin Micellar Hair Shampoo

Gently cleanse and help reduce scalp dryness with a blend of aloe vera and chamomile extract with this gorgeously simple micellar shampoo by Sukin.

Key benefits

  • Formulated with naturally cleansing and moisturising ingredients like coconut extract, avocado oil, argan oils, micellar water and chamomile extract
  • Made for dry and sensitive scalps

What our customers think:

Juliette87978 – Good – 4/5 stars
“Froths really nicely, a little goes a long way, feels really lovely in my hair. I wouldn’t recommend the micellar conditioner though, I personally don’t find it very moisturising at all and need to use alot of it to get any effect but this shampoo is really lovely.”

  1. Fushi Scalp Soother Herbal Shampoo

A true scalp soother. This shampoo by Fushi is made with a herb-enriched formula with calming chickweed to support your scalp naturally.

Key benefits

  • Blended with soothing herbs to optimise scalp health
  • Leaves all hair types healthy and manageable
  • Comes in an earth-friendly glass bottle

What our customers think:

Jen765 – Perfect to sooth itchy scalp… 5/5 stars
“I've tried numerous shampoos for my itchy scalp but this is the only one that works, it smells lovely too as it is fragranced with essential oils... People have commented that my hair looks really healthy so I would definitely recommend this product.”

SI84 – Lovely soothing shampoo – 4/5 stars
“This is lovely shampoo and conditioner. I was having problems with a patch of very itchy skin on my scalp, it hasn't cleared it up completely, but it definitely helps to ease the itch. My hair also feels really nice after using the products too. So, I would recommend this shampoo.”

  1. Miaderma Eczema & Psoriasis Shampoo

If your dry scalp is caused by eczema or psoriasis, then this highly moisturising shampoo by Miaderma could be for you.

Key benefits

  • A topical medical device for the treatment of eczema and psoriasis
  • Helps provide relief from itchiness and dandruff 
  • This mild shampoo is free from soap, perfume, antibiotics and cortisones

What our customers think:

Jojo4499 – The only one that works for me! – 5/5 stars
“I’ve tried lots of treatments for my scalp and none seem to work except this one. It works so well for me I was worried about the reviews, but I guess every scalp is different. Other shampoos burn my scalp and don’t get rid of the dandruff, this one doesn’t hurt at all and clears flakes after first wash.”

Ann62 – Miaderma shampoo – 5/5 stars
“Love this shampoo. My scalp is so clean. Tried every anti dandruff shampoo under the sun to no avail. This one works a treat. No more itchy scalp. No more dandruff.”

  1. Earth Kind Tea Tree & Eucalyptus Shampoo Bar for Improved Scalp Health

Kind to your hair, your scalp and the planet! This Earth Kind shampoo in enriched in tea tree and eucalyptus to help keep your scalp healthy.

Key benefits

  • Developed to improve scalp health with carefully chosen ingredients like eucalyptus
  • Gentle formula that can be used daily, while not stripping the hair of natural oils

What our customers think:

Li CB – Thumbs up – 5/5 stars
“So far so good. Been using it for about 2 weeks and no itchy scalp or flakes.”

Emmalouiseshair – One of the best shampoo bars I’ve ever tried! – 5/5 stars
“I’m really happy I purchased this a few weeks ago. I’ve used it consistently since then and it has really improved the condition of my scalp. It has a very strong tea tree scent but it doesn’t linger in your hair. Most shampoo bars take a while to get them to lather, but not with this one! It’s a game changer!”

  1. Avalon Tea Tree Scalp Treatment Shampoo

A real treat for your scalp! This shampoo is enriched with tea tree essential oil, vitamin E, quinoa protein and more to help soothe irritation and support your scalp.

Key benefits

  • Balances and cleanses scalp while soothing sensitive skin
  • Includes beta-glucan, tea tree essential oil, aloe vera, vitamin E and quinoa protein
  • EWG VERIFIED™, which means it meets the Environmental Working Group's strict ingredient standards

What our customers think:

Laura2487 – Amazing – 5/5 stars
“Lovely smell and really helped my sore dry scalp after one use! Highly recommend.”

Dot jay – Lovely – 5/5 stars
“This smells lovely and leaves your hair and scalp really clean.”

  1. Sukin Hydrating Shampoo

Look after your scalp, fight frizz and help repair dry and damaged hair with this natural, hydrating shampoo!

Key benefits

  • Infused with coconut extract, olive oil and shea butter to help keep hair and scalp moisturised
  • Natural coconut and lime fragrance

What our customers think:

Sotontraveler – Good general shampoo – 5/5 stars
“I've been using this shampoo for a few years now and really like it. It is gentle on my hair, low perfumed and gentle on the environment.”

Antoman – Great value and quality – 5/5 stars
“I'm really happy with it, it is hydrating and sulphate free while also creating a good lather so leaves curly my hair feeling clean!”

  1. Faith in Nature Shea & Argan Shampoo

Rich and indulgent, this shampoo contains organic shea extracts and argan oils to gently cleanse, soothe and nourish dry hair and scalp.

Key benefits

  • Made with 100% essential oils and natural fragrances
  • Contains shea butter and argan oil to help nourish and soothe dry/very dry hair and scalps

What our customers think:

Em Louise – Great shampoo for frizzy, curly hair! – 5/5 stars
“Love this shampoo and the conditioner. Always on the look-out for affordable paraben & SLS free hair care. I have naturally curly hair that is prone to frizz! This really helps to tame it & I can even let it dry naturally - I now have more good hair days than bad!”

Paula0151 – Nice product – 5/5 stars
“Made my hair feel lovely. Smell was not overpowering. Styled easily and kept the shape for longer than normal. I don’t have to wash my hair as often.”

  1. Odylique Gentle Herb Shampoo

This is an award-winning shampoo with beautifully simple herbal ingredients and coconut oil to soothe and nourish sensitive scalps and hair.

Key benefits

  • Formulated for ultra-sensitive and dry scalps with herbs and coconut oil
  • Can restore vitality and shine to the most sensitive scalps and challenged hair

What our customers think:

StellaM – Calms irritable scalp – 5/5 stars
“This shampoo does have an unusual colour which is probably all the herbal ingredients. But no other shampoo calms my irritable scalp like this one. Leaves my hair looking so shiny and soft too. Will definitely be buying again.”

Kb333 – Thicker, cleaner hair! – 5/5 stars
“This shampoo does have an unusual colour which is probably all the herbal ingredients. But no other shampoo calms my irritable scalp like this one. Leaves my hair looking so shiny and soft too. Will definitely be buying again.”

Other dry scalp tips

  • Use warm water in the shower/bath rather than piping hot water, as this can strip more oil from the skin and increase the chances of it becoming more dehydrated
  • Pop your hat (or other head covering) on in the winter to protect your scalp from harsh winter air
  • Try an air humidifier when you’re indoors to promote skin moisturization

Eat more omega-3s and omega-6s. These essential fatty acids help retain water in the skin and keep it moisturised.

Handpicked content: Omega 3 benefits for hair, skin & nails

The advice in this article is for information only and should not replace medical care. Please check with your GP or healthcare professional before trying any supplements, treatments or remedies. Food supplements must not be used as a substitute for a varied and balanced diet and a healthy lifestyle.

Last updated: 6 August 2021

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