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November 14, 2021

Best Shampoo for Dry Scalp Healing and Nourishment

Having an itchy scalp or having dandruff can get uncomfortable. Luckily, you can solve these conditions by choosing hair cleansing products that curb skin irritation and dandruff. You can simply change your usual shampoo and go for products with scalp nourishing ingredients like salicylic acid and coconut oil, among others. As such, you should invest in the best shampoo for dry scalp with nourishing ingredients.

Accordingly, we have put together an informative buying guide for the best shampoos for dry scalps. To start with, let's first understand the meaning of a dry scalp.

What is a Dry Scalp?

If you often experience itchiness on your head and see dandruff on your hair, you are most likely having a dry scalp. Dry skin on your head can be caused by different triggers, including psoriasis and seborrheic dermatitis. To some extent, dry scalps might also suffer from inflammations that cause flaking or scaling.

Moreover, cold weather, hot showers and less humid conditions might exacerbate scalp dryness. To some individuals, scalp conditions such as seborrheic dermatitis might be genetic, causing year-round skin irritation and dryness. In some cases, your dry scalp and seborrheic dermatitis can be due to a lack of adequate shampooing, causing dead skin and oil accumulation. Having understood the meaning of a dry scalp and its causes, let's look at the five best shampoos for this condition

Which is the best shampoo for dry scalp?

1. WOW Apple Cider Vinegar Shampoo

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WOW Apple Cider Vinegar Shampoo and Hair Conditioner Set Increase Gloss, Hydration, Shine, Reduce...
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Our top choice for the best shampoo for dry scalp is the WOW Apple Cider shampoo that comes in a set together with a hair conditioner. This versatile plant-powered cleanser helps fight flaky scalps by removing itchy accumulations and unclogging hair follicles to enable natural scalp moisturization. In the moisturization and cleansing process, this apple cider vinegar shampoo also fights dandruff by eliminating flake-causing fungi.

You can also use this gentle shampoo to revive your hair since it contains coconut oil and aloe vera that help heal breakage, tame frizz and prevent hair loss. Also, the scalp's pH is maintained at a natural balance through its antimicrobial feature. In the end, it has avocado extracts that help keep your scalp and hair hydrated, shiny and nourished.

Pros:

  • Natural and safe formula
  • Anti-dandruff treatment
  • Safe for color-treated hair
  • Versatile to all hair types

Cons:

  • Customer complains about increased split ends

2. Nizoral Anti-Dandruff Shampoo

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Nizoral Anti-Dandruff Shampoo, Basic, Fresh, 7 Fl Oz
  • 7-fluid ounce bottle of Nizoral A-D Anti-Dandruff Shampoo containing...
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  • The rich, thick lather of this itchy scalp shampoo rinses clean, leaves...
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Another excellent shampoo for a dry scalp is the Nizoral anti-dandruff formula. This anti-dandruff shampoo is ideal for a dry and flaky scalp since it reduces pityrosporum yeast accumulation, which causes dandruff. Subsequently, this anti-dandruff shampoo reduces the scaly patches, itching, redness, and inflammation caused by dandruff flakes.

This drugstore shampoo also prevents hair loss while leaving your hair clean and soft. Overall, its actions help restore your scalp's natural balance, thus reducing its dryness.

Pros:

  • Easy self-care application
  • Restores a scalp's natural moisturization balance
  • Clinically-tested for effectiveness
  • Fresh smell
  • Color and hair chemical friendly

Cons:

  • Can irritate the eyes

3. Aveeno Apple Cider Vinegar Sulfate-Free Shampoo

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Aveeno Apple Cider Vinegar Sulfate-Free Shampoo for Balance & High Shine, Daily Clarifying &...
  • SHINE & VOLUME: Oat is the first ingredient in this scalp-soothing,...
  • CLARIFYING BLEND: Infused with apple cider vinegar, this shampoo cleanses...
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You can also use the Aveeno Apple Cider scalp shampoo for deep scalp cleansing and hair nourishing. This shampoo has oat as the standout component that helps in soothing a flaky scalp while eliminating scalp dryness. In addition, this solution doesn't contain sulfates and parabens, making it safe for treated and dyed hair.

Moreover, this formula nourishes hair strands, adding volume and shine to dull hair. Eventually, the Aveeno shampoo will help restore the natural self-balance to your scalp and hair.

Pros:

  • Soothes itchy scalp
  • Natural and safe
  • Nourishes hair

Cons:

  • Its small might irritate some users

4. OGX Extra Strength Refreshing Scalp + Tea tree Oil Shampoo

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OGX Extra Strength Refreshing Scalp + Teatree Mint Shampoo, Invigorating Scalp Shampoo with Tea Tree...
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We also recommend the OGX tea tree oil shampoo for moisturizing your scalp and eliminating dandruff. Additionally, this shampoo removes dead-skin cells, soothes scalp irritation as it restores optimal scalp health through its anti-fungal and anti-inflammatory properties. After using this scalp shampoo, you will enjoy its tingling sensation of freshness due to its minty composition.

Also, this tea tree shampoo removes residues on your scalp for its natural balance restoration without stripping hair strands. In the end, this nourishing shampoo will also cleanse your hair and leave it refreshed.

Pros:

  • Gentle to the scalp and hair
  • Soothes irritations
  • Extra minty sensation after cleansing

Cons:

  • Causes irritation to the eyes

5. MAJESTIC PURE Apple Cider Vinegar Shampoo

MAJESTIC PURE Apple Cider Vinegar Shampoo and Avocado Coconut Conditioner Set - Restores Shine &...
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Another gentle cleansing formula for a dry scalp is the MAJESTIC Pure Apple Cider shampoo. This versatile scalp cleanser also combats frizz and curbs dandruff. You can use this shampoo daily to remove scalp build-ups that prevent its hydration and that of the hair. You can be sure that this shampoo will be gentle for your itchy scalp and will also restore your hair's shine. Overall, we love the MAJESTIC PURE since it is safe and applicable to all hair types.

Pros:

  • Ideal for daily use
  • Versatile to all hair types
  • Gentle on itchy skin
  • Restores hair's shine

Cons:

  • Might be allergic to some skins
  • Cause irritation to the eyes

6. Design Essentials Scalp and Skin Care Detoxifier

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Design Essentials Scalp and Skin Care Detoxifying Tonic with Peppermint Oil, 4 Ounces
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Sometimes, too much use of hair shampoo can exacerbate dryness and flaking and thus the introduction of the Design Essentials detoxifier. Accordingly, this infused scalp tonic removes any product build-up and excess grease that cause irritation and dehydration. As a result of its cleansing, it reduces seborrheic dermatitis and psoriasis.

Additionally, this gentle formula also restores the skin's natural foundation and promotes healthy hair. Overall, it maintains a healthy scalp that is well hydrated and oiled.

Pros:

  • Gentle on scalp and hair
  • Versatile to diverse hair needs
  • Nourishes hair
  • Easy nozzle application

Cons:

  • Strong scent

7. Free & Clear Hair Shampoo 

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Free & Clear Hair Shampoo | Fragrance, Gluten and Sulfate Free | For Sensitive Skin | 12 Ounce
  • Free of common chemical irritants such as dyes, fragrance, masking...
  • pH balanced. For all hair types.
  • Cocamidopropyl betaine-free. Sulfate-free. Phosphate-free. Protein-free....
  • Dermatologist tested.

So far, we agree dry and irritated scalps are discomforting. Even more, we have a sulfate-free shampoo that is suitable for alleviating dehydration from a sensitive scalp. Considerably, a dry scalp can be due to sensitive skin reacting to diverse hair care ingredients such as fragrances, dyes and sulfates.

Therefore, the Free & Clear hair shampoo comes with a balanced pH to suit any sensitive skin. In some cases, even a board-certified dermatologist might go for this shampoo to cure contact dermatitis and psoriasis of the scalp. As a product safe for daily use, it can also control oil on your scalp and hair.

Pros:

  • Ideal for both dry and oily scalps
  • Gentle on itchy scalps
  • Nourishes hair
  • It can be used daily
  • Works safely with other hair products

Cons:

  • Can irritate the eyes

8. BIOLAGE Ultra Hydrasource Shampoo

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BIOLAGE Ultra Hydrasource Shampoo | Extremely Moisturizes Hair To Prevent Breakage | For Very Dry...
  • Gently cleanses and moisturizes very dry
  • Rinse thoroughly
  • Apply to wet hair and latherĀ 

You might not have an itchy scalp, but it constantly feels dry. The reason for this is that your scalp doesn't retain enough moisture to keep it fresh and nourished. Also, as we advance in age, our scalps naturally lose their balance of staying hydrated.

It is for these reasons that we recommend the BIOLAGE ultra-hydrating shampoo for keeping your scalp hydrated. Asides from the scalp, this formula also gently cleanses and restores moisture in the hair, making it incredibly soft.

Pros:

  • Hydrates the scalp
  • Eliminates frizzy hair
  • Friendly to curly and color-treated hair
  • Ideal for daily application
  • Prevents breakage

Cons:

  • The formula might not be ideal for sensitive skin

9. Selsun Blue Medicated Dandruff and Seborrheic Dermatitis Shampoo

Selsun Blue Medicated Dandruff and seborrheic dermatitis Shampoo/Conditioner 2-in-1 Treatment, 11 Fl...
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If you desire a medicated formula to deal with your dry scalp, you can use the Selsun medicated shampoo. This product for dry skin contains 1% selenium sulfide for curbing inflammation and dandruff accumulation. Notably, this shampoo also serves as a conditioner for your hair.

Pros:

  • Treatment for seborrheic dermatitis
  • Curbs dandruff
  • Extra hair conditioning

Cons:

  • Not entirely ideal for colored hair

10. DHS Zinc Shampoo

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DHS Zinc Shampoo 8 oz
  • Dermatologist recommended for fast-acting relief from dandruff and...
  • Convenient 8 oz bottle. Soothing nourishing formula contains 2% Zinc...
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  • Wash your hair with DHS Zinc Shampoo 3-4 times a week, or as directed by...
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Lastly, we recommend the DHS Zinc shampoo, which has the active ingredient pyrithione zinc for curbing dandruff and alleviating seborrheic dermatitis. This shampoo is fast-acting with instant relief after first use. You can enjoy its calming effects on an itchy scalp and overall gentle cleansing.

After applying this DHS shampoo, your hair will be flake-free and shiny. For optimal results, you should use this dermatologist-recommended as directed by your doctor.

Pros:

  • Curbs dandruff
  • Fast-acting formula
  • Cleanses gently

Cons:

  • Not ideal for daily use

Factors to Consider Before Buying the Best Shampoo for Dry Scalp

1. Moisture-Boosting Lipids

First and foremost, the best shampoo for dry scalp issues should contain moisture-boosting lipids. Any cosmetic dermatologist can tell you a dry scalp means a lack of moisture and lipids. Therefore, we recommend investing in a shampoo that will retain moisture in your scalp while adding a balanced amount of fatty acids to avoid being too oily. Nonetheless, if a scalp is dehydrated, probably because of the sun's heat, a gentle and regular shampoo would be adequate for itch relief.

2. Low pH

Having a dry scalp might sound straightforward concerning dehydration, but some cases involve intricate causes, including pH level. Ideally, you should aim to maintain a low pH level for your scalp, and this will require you to remove impurities that might be raising it. Also, a higher pH can damage the hair's cuticles leading to an unhealthy scalp. Furthermore, it is essential to identify the root cause of any rise in pH that might cause your scalp to be dry.

In light of the pH, the best shampoos for a dry scalp should have low pH levels. Moreover, higher moisturizer contents in shampoos give your hair a gentle cleanse. For instance, a natural and gentle shampoo with essential oils such as jojoba oil, tea tree oils, olive oil, keratin oil, coconut oil, Argan oil and rosemary oil can foster a healthy scalp free of dead skin cells and dirt. Also, a gently cleansing shampoo with anti-inflammatory and anti-fungal contents such as pyrithione zinc can help lower the pH, which subsequently eliminates scalp irritation

3. Non-Sulphate Shampoos

Furthermore, dry scalps don't go well with sulfates. Therefore, as you buy shampoo for dry hair and scalp, you should always consider sulfate-free options. Notably, sulfates in a scalp shampoo make it lather, reducing its moisturizing capabilities.

To help you with this, the best shampoos on our list indicate this on their ingredient list. But you should always double-check on the same for your benefit.

4. Dandruff-Fighting Actives

In most cases, scalps are plagued with dandruff flakes. In such cases, we recommend using a shampoo with anti-dandruff components such as salicylic acid, glycolic acid and pyrithione zinc. Such contents help keep your hair flake-free while maintaining a gentle moisturization action for a balanced scalp microbiome.

Nevertheless, if you are dealing with dandruff on an oily scalp, it is best to invest in an anti-dandruff shampoo with fewer natural oils such as olive oil for balance moisturization. Ideally, a balanced and gentle shampoo helps provide your hair with the required balanced of moisturization and oiliness.

5. Friendly to Treated and Dyed Hair

Having a dry scalp doesn't mean that you don't style your hair. Accordingly, the best shampoo for dry scalp is compatible with either dyed, treated, or curly hair. Shampoos for this utility preserve the hair color while nourishing your hair.

So, a protein-based shampoo containing silk amino acids would be adequate in reinforcing weakened hair. Also, such will keep your scalp moisturized without irritating while interacting with the applied chemicals. Moreover, you can also consider shampoos with hair strengthening contents such as shea butter. Subsequently, shea butter helps boost the natural hair color for more natural maintenance.

6. Nozzle Tip

Lastly, we consider shampoos with a nozzle tip to be more effective in alleviating a dry scalp. As such, they help apply the active ingredients such as glycolic acid, pyrithione zinc and other nourishing contents directly to the target areas. As a result, these contents will be effective before you emulsify with water. Nonetheless, a nozzle tip isn't as primary as the shampoo contents and the process followed while washing your head.


Frequently Asked Questions (FAQS) on the Best Shampoo for Dry Scalp

1. Is livSo moisturizing shampoo sulfate-free?

Yes, it is an effective sulfate-free shampoo that gently cleanses and moisturizes your scalp and hair. It effectively separates oil from hair and scalp and promotes optimal moisturization without causing irritation.

2. Is salicylic acid good for hair scalp?

Salicylic acid, an active ingredient in shampoos, curbs dandruff and dry skin. Subsequently, salicylic acid helps scalp irritation and itchiness. This acid may also help in dealing with dermatitis that causes inflammation, redness, dehydration and discomfort. Generally, shampoos with salicylic acid are ideal for tackling dandruff.

Image source: the-socialites-closet.com

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Antonio Rodriguez


Antonio is a graduate of University of British Columbia and is currently getting his PHD in biomechanics at NYU. He has been covering health, fitness, and sports performance for over 3 years. He has been a contributor for several health and fitness publications.

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