Finding the best shampoo for dry scalp can be a hassle. And what’s the difference between dandruff and dry flakes? Shampoos marked as ‘anti-dandruff’ claim to work for dry scalps too. Read on to clear up your questions and get rid of flakes.
The Best Shampoos for Dry Scalp
All the shampoos in this review have several characteristics in common. They are unisex and are safe for color-treated hair. The most important thing is that these products work. They are also the most top-rated by consumers and often cost less than prescription products.
Check out our comparison chart for more info:
|Product||Daily Use||Best for||Consistency and Scent||Visible Results||Price|
|Maple Holistics - Editor’s Choice||Yes||For dry scalps, over-processed hair, lice treatment||Not runny, strong tea-tree oil scent||10+ days|
|Paul Mitchell||Yes||For all hair types; great for combination dry scalp and oily hair; frizzy and unmanageable hair||strong tea-tree oil scent (like mouth wash); very concentrated; creamy and greenish in color; cooling, tingly effect||After several washings|
|PURA D’OR||Yes||Not recommended for oily hair types, works best for very dry and sensitive scalps, good for combo hair (dry and oily)||Potent patchouli and tea-tree smell||From 2 weeks to 3 months|
|Puriya||Yes||For all hair types and ages||Clear, herbal tea tree oil & rosemary smell||Immediate|
|Head & Shoulders||Daily, at least twice a week||Thick locks (can make fine hair look flat), not always helpful for kinky curly hair||Fresh sweet almond scent, white creamy consistency||In 1-2 weeks of regular use|
|Nioxin||Either daily or 2-3 times per week||For flaky scalp and weak hair that breaks easily; great for coarse hair||Looks like white gloss paint; 'medicated' but not unpleasant minty scent; cooling, tingly effect||Immediate|
|The Wonder Seed||Yes||Any type of hair (except very oily), children & infants||Fresh green tea oil scent, light yellowish color||Several months|
|The Body Shop||1-3 times per week||Best for loose flakes||Watery; light scent of ginger; no "medicine" smell; slightly brownish in color||After 2-5 washings|
|Avalon Organics||Yes||All hair types||Clear, peppermint aroma||After regular use|
|Amplixin||Yes||All hair types - normal, damaged, color treated, ethnic hair||Clear, slightly tingling, gentle light tea tree scent||2-14 days|
#1: Maple Holistics Tea Tree Oil Shampoo — The Right Hairstyles’ Choice
What can help decrease scalp itchiness, remove flakes, prevent lice, and regrow hair? It doesn’t take a genie in a bottle because Maple Holistics shampoo with tea tree oil can do all these things and more. With rave reviews, Maple Holistics Tea Tree Oil Shampoo is the #1 product on Amazon for lice treatment. It is chemical-free and has no negative side effects. Let’s take a closer look at its healing properties.
Formula and Benefits: Maple Holistics Tea Tree Oil Shampoo works by clearing away dead skin cells on scalp, unclogs pores, cleans hair follicles, and helps to regulate natural oil production.
Tea tree oil is a well-known antifungal agent that also has antiseptic and healing properties. You can apply it directly to the scalp and roots, however, sensitive scalps may not be able to tolerate direct application of essential oils. The Maple Holistics shampoo is gentle enough for sensitive scalps and the essential oils moisturize, eliminate flakes, and “lock in” moisture.
Lavender oil improves circulation, promotes hair growth, and prevents hair loss. The fatty acids in jojoba oil clear up sebum and make hair tangle and frizz-free. Rosemary oil has antioxidants that help combat free radical damage, and argan oil prevents frizziness and repairs split ends. D-Panthenol (vitamin B5) is believed to thicken hair, increasing its diameter by up to 10 percent.
Use: Massage a quarter-sized amount of the product into wet scalp, let sit for 2 to 3 minutes to absorb, and rinse with warm water. Repeat and follow with a final rinse.
#2: Paul Mitchell Tea Tree Shampoo — Special Invigorating Cleanser
With a huge number of comments from consumers on Amazon, Paul Mitchell’s Tea Tree Shampoo is currently rated at #6 in the Daily Shampoos category (at time of publication), and is one of Harper Bazaar’s “The Beauty 150 Award” winners.
Formula and Benefits: Paul Mitchell’s dry scalp shampoo, often recommended by stylists, removes excess sebum and dirt without stripping moisture and drying out the scalp. Powerful ingredients rid hair of impurities and leave locks full of luster and vitality. Natural oils from tea tree, peppermint, and lavender invigorate the scalp, infusing hair with a pleasant scent. The refreshing tingle ‘wakes up’ struggling, limp hair. This shampoo seems to do it all. It calms down difficult, frizzy, unmanageable manes, works for combination oily hair and itchy dry scalp, and promotes hair growth.
Use: Massage a small amount into damp hair and scalp. Leave on for 3 to 5 minutes before rinsing.
#3: PURA D’OR Organic Shampoo — Argan Oil Scalp Therapy
Pura D’or shampoo is established as an everyday dry scalp treatment. The company uses only certified natural ingredients and no harsh chemicals. The formula’s special bioactive organic ingredients combine both science and nature to relieve symptoms of dandruff and psoriasis.
Formula and Benefits: Biotin and vitamins encourage a healthier scalp while natural oils calm itchiness. Anti-fungal agents include cedarwood and patchouli oil, peppermint oil soothes the scalp, aloe vera adds moisture, and antioxidants protect hair from environmental factors. Zinc is the secret ingredient that helps prevent the scalp from flaking and argan oil effectively heals scalp. Lactic acid, which naturally occurs in yogurt, acts as an exfoliator and improves the scalp’s ability to absorb the restorative components.
This shampoo has to be used on a regular basis or its effect will fade because the vitamins and nutrients must accumulate in the hair to be effective.
Use: Massage into wet hair and scalp and leave on for several minutes for deeper penetration and better absorption. Rinse with warm water.
#4: Puriya Scalp Therapy Shampoo — Anti-Dandruff and Dry Scalp Cleanser
Puriya is a family-owned business that creates natural beauty products, such as, creams, balms, and hair cleansers with highly-concentrated, fast-acting ingredients.
The natural ingredients in Puriya’s shampoo make it a good choice for both adults and kids. The product gently moisturizes to soften locks, removes build-up, and helps to get rid of scaling. Results are visible in only a few applications with this potent herbal blend.
Formula and Benefits: Puriya Shampoo is beneficial for several different skin irritations including dandruff, itchy dry scalp, psoriasis, symptoms of contact dermatitis, and scabs, as well as, hydrates dry and very damaged, colored, and bleached hair.
Tea tree oil, arnica, sage leaf, and rosemary extracts work as moisturizers and antiseptics that stop itching and flaking, and citric acid adjusts pH levels in hair. These ingredients improve blood circulation to help hair become stronger, thicker, shinier, and more manageable.
Use: Gently massage shampoo into hair and scalp. The shampoo contains a high dose of therapeutic ingredients, so rinse without leaving it on your scalp for an extended time.
#5: Head & Shoulders Almond Oil Shampoo — 2-in-1 Dry Scalp Care
If you have already looked for an effective drugstore dry scalp treatment, you have probably come across recommendations to try Head & Shoulders Almond Oil Shampoo. People swear it helps: it cleanses and conditions hair, removes flakes, and calms itchiness. This clinically tested shampoo also helps to prevent the recurrence of these unpleasant symptoms. By locking in moisture 75% better than any other moisturizing shampoo, it leaves hair silky, soft, and flake-free.
Formula and Benefits: The new 3-action formula cleanses flakes and oil from hair, protects scalp from damage and infections, and moisturizes locks. The key active ingredient, pyrithione zinc, prevents scalp irritation and glycerin helps seal in moisture. Customers also mention, that almond oil shampoo is lighter than other Head & Shoulders versions and easier to use.
Use: Shake the bottle before use. Wet hair, massage a small amount of shampoo into scalp, rinse.
#6: Nioxin Scalp-Recovery Shampoo — Perfect Cleanser for Itchy Scalp
Recommended as a daily shampoo for dry scalp by Wella Education, Nioxin Scalp-Recovery Shampoo has a loyal following with customers that report using the product for over ten years. Regular use of this product can eliminate dryness up to 90% in two weeks.
Formula and Benefits: Nioxin’s advanced cleansing technology with pyrithione zinc helps to get rid of excess follicle-clogging sebum and “detoxifies” hair by removing environmental residue from locks and scalp. The cleanser contains seven different moisturizers that soothe irritation, provide balance to an itchy dry scalp, and reduce hair breakage and hair loss associated with severe itching. Polypeptides enrich hair with proteins, vitamin B, and iron. Magnesium ferment is a known antioxidant, Epsom salt exfoliates, and smithsonite mineral extract helps heal sores.
Use: Use as a normal shampoo about 2 to 3 times per week. Some users advise to apply it only to the scalp and to leave it in for 3 minutes before rinsing.
#7: The Wonder Seed Shampoo — Green Tea and Hemp Oil Dry Scalp Solution
Hemp is a product with a lot of controversy, however, it is not the same as marijuana. You can safely eat hemp seeds, apply hemp oil to your body, use it in hair products, and the manufacturer of the Wonder Seed Shampoo claims that hemp seed oil is “a superfood for the scalp”.
Formula and Benefits: Hemp seed oil contains a whole variety of different vitamins (A, B1, B2, B3, B6, C, D, and E), minerals (calcium, magnesium, iron, zinc), amino acids, and omega 3 and omega 6 fatty acids. It has anti-aging, anti-inflammatory, and antioxidant properties. Hemp seed oil balances scalp oil levels no matter what type of scalp you have. It also has a soothing effect for different skin irritations such as eczema, psoriasis, and dry itchy scalp.
The shampoo includes other oils that when combined with hemp oil, create the best moisturizer you can get. Use this shampoo for several months and your hair’s natural oils will return to normal. Green tea extract also prevents hair loss.
Use: Massage into wet hair, lather, and rinse thoroughly.
#8: The Body Shop Ginger Shampoo — Mega-Effective Dry Scalp Moisturizer
Meet The Body Shop’s top-rated and best-selling shampoo. Whether your dry scalp is caused by seasonal cold weather changes or is a chronic, ongoing issue, The Body Shop’s Ginger Shampoo can help.
This shampoo refreshes hair, soothes the scalp, and balances sebum production, leaving hair feeling soft and free from frizziness. Customers enjoy the lathering properties and the high-quality feel of the product.
Formula and Benefits: Key ingredients of this shampoo are known for their ‘astringent’ properties that help control oil and promote a balanced, healthy scalp. Piroctone olamine and sodium salicylate are good antifungal agents for those who suffer from seborrheic dermatitis. Panthenol nourishes hair and reduces breakage and organic honey moisturizes and conditions locks. Ginger, an old remedy that has stood the test of time, works to fight bacteria that can cause itchiness.
The Body Shop’s Ginger Shampoo improves the condition of hair within 3 to 5 washes and works best for those who want to remove loose flakes.
Use: Massage directly into wet hair and scalp. Leave the refreshing ginger shampoo in for about 2 minutes before rinsing.
Reviewers recommend: pairing this shampoo with The Body Shop’s pleasant-smelling Banana Conditioner to restore softness and manageability after shampooing.
#9: Avalon Organics Anti-Dandruff Shampoo — Rich in Oils Nourishing Product
The Avalon Organics Anti-dandruff shampoo promises to nourish not only your scalp but also ‘the mind and the soul’. This medicated Avalon Organics shampoo cleanses the scalp, balances moisture levels, and soothes irritation. Although its formula was created for anti-dandruff purposes, the mix of organic botanicals and essential oils also makes it effective on dry, itchy scalp. This shampoo is reported to relieve scalp discomfort, soothe dermatitis and psoriasis, add shine and softness to locks, and make hair manageable.
Formula and Benefits: A well-balanced mix of 2% salicylic acid, tea tree oil, aloe vera, mint and chamomile helps to relieve the discomfort of a dry scalp, as well as, cleanse and restore hydration levels in hair. It includes babassu, an antistatic agent, antibacterial properties from coriander, and menthol for a fresh, tingly feeling.
Use: Gently massage into wet hair, lather and rinse.
#10: Amplixin Dry Scalp Shampoo — Caffeine Scalp Therapy
Suitable for both genders, Amplixin Dry Scalp Shampoo leaves hair feeling lighter, soft, silky, and more manageable.
Formula and Benefits: Caffeine is easily absorbed by the outer layer of skin, deeply cleanses follicles, and is a potent hair growth stimulant. It blocks the chemical DHT, a derivative of testosterone, that is thought to be responsible for both men’s and women’s hair loss. Tea tree oil’s antiseptic and antioxidant properties heal the scalp, and creates a light, pleasant tingling effect. Rosemary oil is believed to prevent hair thinning, slow down hair aging, and decelerate graying. Sage leaf, full of nutrients, thickens strands and adds moisture.
Use: Massage a generous amount into wet into hair and scalp, then rinse thoroughly.
Buyer’s Guide to the Best Shampoos for Dry Scalp
To help you better understand what causes dry scalp and how to resolve the issue, check out our FAQ section.
Dry Scalp and Dandruff: What’s the Difference?
The majority of commercials do not distinguish between these two conditions and the word “dandruff” usually means either itchy scalp or flakes. But the main cause of dandruff is actually the excess production of scalp oil, called sebum. Skin cells build up in the sebum and shed as dandruff. Flaking can be caused, for example, by seborrheic dermatitis or fungus Malassezia. The main symptoms of dandruff are:
- itchy scalp,
- large white or yellow flakes that often smell bad,
- waxy, oily, sticky flakes,
- red, oily skin.
Dry scalp results from the lack of moisture in the scalp and dehydration. The main symptoms of dry scalp are:
- dry, irritated scalp,
- small white flakes that are dry and loose.
You may also notice dry patches on other parts of your body.
Both conditions are flaky, itchy, and annoying, but they have very different causes. That is why anti-dandruff shampoo is not always effective remedy for a dry, itchy scalp.
Why Does Scalp Get Dry?
The main causes of scalp dryness are:
- contact dermatitis most often caused from using hair products with harsh chemicals or allergens,
- washing hair too often or with water that’s too hot,
- using brushes that scratch and irritate skin,
- dry, cold weather,
- not rinsing your hair well,
- age, hormonal changes.
What Are General Recommendations for Those Who Suffer from Dry Scalp?
- treat the cause,
- use a gentle shampoo,
- rinse hair thoroughly,
- blow dry and style hair gently,
- avoid stressful situations.
What Kind of Shampoo Is Good for Dry Scalp?
Dry scalp is dehydrated. It needs moisture and the best shampoos for this contain a lot of oils and natural extracts.
What to Avoid When Looking for a Good Dry Scalp Shampoo?
One of the causes of scalp dryness is using shampoos with harsh ingredients for a long period of time. Opt for products without sulfates, parabens, preservatives, or fragrances.
Ingredients such as pyrithione zinc and citric acid can also dry scalp a bit, but moisturizing shampoos counteract this by adding nourishing natural oils and extracts.
Can You Use Any Anti-Dandruff Shampoo to Cure Dry Scalp?
To choose the right product, read the description, reviews, and ingredients carefully. If the shampoo washes away excess oil, it’s not the right shampoo for dry scalp. There are a lot of anti-dandruff shampoos with antifungal properties that also work for dry scalp. All products reviewed in this article are good for either dry scalp or dandruff.
Can Men Use the Same Dry-Scalp Shampoos as Women?
Yes, reviewers report that all the shampoos described here work great for both genders.
Does Scalp Dryness Trigger Dry Hair?
No. Actually, you can have dry scalp and oily hair, or oily scalp and dry hair. It’s harder to choose the right shampoo in these cases, as you’ll need to get rid of grease, but not dry out the scalp or vice versa.
Can Sulfates and Preservatives in Shampoos Damage Hair?
Not always. Sodium lauryl and sodium laureth sulfates help to clean hair more effectively, but they can dry out the scalp and hair. If you have flaky scalp, be sure that the shampoo with sulfates you want to buy contains a lot of moisturizers.
Preservatives are included to protect both raw ingredients at the production stage and the final product from bacteria. The amounts of sulfates and preservatives used in the products are within safe ranges, however, any amount of added chemicals can cause irritation to sensitive scalps. Look for sulfate-free shampoos, or those that contain sodium coco sulfate or ammonium lauryl sulfate, and natural preservatives.
Do Dry Scalp Shampoos Lose Their Effectiveness over Time?
Scientists have studied this and there isn’t any evidence that the scalp can build up a tolerance to some ingredients. However, many users combine and/or change shampoos from time to time. It depends on your scalp’s sensitivity.
One thing to keep in mind is that your hair needs some time to get used to 100% natural hair care products. Switching back and forth from sulfate-free products to ones with chemicals can be frustrating when you are not getting the results you expect.
Are There Any Disadvantages of Using 100% Natural Hair Products?
Since natural shampoos do not contain chemical preservatives, the shelf-life of organic products is shorter, usually 6 months to 3 years. If there is no expiry date on packaging, ask the seller for an estimated time frame for product freshness. Using expired hair care products can worsen the condition of your locks and scalp.
Is There a Need to Use a Dry Scalp Shampoo Daily?
Initially, you may use the moisturizing, anti-flake shampoo every day. Then, when your scalp condition is under control, you can reduce it to 1 to 3 times per week.
Is It Normal to Feel Stinging During Washing Hair with the Dry Scalp Shampoo?
A light, tingly feeling is normal if you are using a shampoo with tea tree oil, peppermint oil, and menthol. If the shampoo does not contain these ingredients, or if your irritation worsens or you have any other discomfort, stop using the product immediately.
How Can You Know If You Are Allergic to the Dry Scalp Product?
Check with a patch test of your new shampoo. Apply a few drops of the shampoo to your inner arm and wait 24 hours to see if irritation develops. You can also test-wash your dry scalp treatment on one small section around the bang, ear, or nape areas to see if irritation develops.
Healthy hair starts at the scalp. If you see even the smallest of dry flakes in your locks, it means the scalp is dehydrated. The outer layer of epidermis is irritated, can’t lock in moisture and starts to itch. Scratching can lead to infections, fungi, and thinning hair. Try one of the best shampoos for dry scalp reviewed here to fix the problem.