The itchiness, the telltale white flakes on your shoulders, and the frustrating sensation of a dry, flaky scalp… A common issue that affects people of all ages, dry scalp can be more than just a source of discomfort. It can contribute to problems with your hair growth: and growing healthy hair should always be a focus in your hair care routine, since in order to have healthy hair – you need to be able to grow it! In this article, we explore two main approaches for treating dry scalp: home remedies, such as dry scalp treatment at home, and commercial products. We’ll compare them to help you decide what works best for your needs. Additionally, we’ll delve into the realm of natural cures for dry scalp to provide you with a holistic perspective on combating this common issue.
Causes for dry scalp
It is important to understand the reasons behind your dry and itchy scalp first to decide on the right treatment and be sure to address the root problem behind it, and not just the symptoms. Below is a quick checklist of questions to think about when you’re dealing with a dry scalp condition:
- Has your scalp always been on the drier side, or is this a recent development? If this is recent, we strongly encourage seeing a doctor and performing a full blood panel to identify any deficiencies or larger underlying health issues.
- Have you made any changes to your diet or lifestyle?
- Has your environment changed (e.g. change of seasons can induce dry scalp)?
- How is your hormonal health (thyroid disease or menopause can cause dry skin and scalp)?
- Have you changed your hair products recently?
- Have you started medication that may affect your scalp health, necessitating a dry scalp medication?
Consider incorporating dry scalp treatment at home into your routine based on the answers to the above questions. Depending on the root cause behind your dry scalp, it will dictate the necessary approach to deal with your itchy scalp. If you have an underlying health condition, it is important to treat that first and use the below remedies as a way to support your scalp health back to its balance.
It is often referred to as “winter scalp” or “winter dry scalp.” Several factors contribute to the prevalence of dry scalp during the winter months.
- Low Humidity: During winter, the air is typically drier, both outdoors and indoors due to heating systems and cold weather. This low humidity can lead to increased evaporation of moisture from your skin, including the scalp, causing it to become dry and flaky.
- Frequent Hot Showers: You might tend to take longer and hotter showers in the winter to stay warm. However, hot water can strip the scalp of its natural oils, leaving it dry and vulnerable to flakiness. Opt for warm, instead of hot water when washing your hair instead.
- Overuse of Heated Styling Tools: In an effort to combat the cold and the time it takes to dry, you might increase your use of heated styling tools such as hairdryers, straighteners, and curling irons. Excessive heat can further contribute to dryness and scalp issues.
- Reduced Sun Exposure: Exposure to sunlight helps the body produce vitamin D, which is essential for skin health. In the winter, when you spend more time indoors and wear hats or scarves, this results in reduced sun exposure, which can impact the overall health of the scalp.
- Cold Weather Gear: Wearing hats, hoods, and scarves can lead to sweat and moisture being trapped on the scalp, creating an environment that is favorable for the growth of microorganisms that can contribute to scalp issues. Be sure to wash your cold weather gear and take it off as soon as you step indoors.
- Inadequate Hydration: During the winter, people often consume fewer fluids, leading to dehydration. Dehydration can affect the overall health of the skin, including the scalp.
Dry scalp and hair growth
Dry and flaky scalp can have a significant impact on hair growth. It can create an environment that is less conducive to healthy hair growth. Here’s how:
- Hair Follicle Health: Maintaining optimal hair follicle health is crucial, and addressing a dry scalp is paramount in this regard. A dry scalp can disrupt the natural balance of oils, hindering hair follicles from thriving. To combat this issue, it’s essential to explore effective dry scalp treatments at home, including nourishing remedies and, if necessary, dry scalp medication.
- Blocked Hair Follicles: The accumulation of flaky, dry skin on the scalp poses a risk of blocking hair follicles. This blockage not only impedes the growth of new hair but can also result in the formation of ingrown hairs, causing discomfort and hindering healthy hair growth. Seeking home remedies for dry scalp and, when needed, incorporating dry scalp medication can help mitigate these blockages.
- Inflammation and Irritation: Persistent dryness and flakiness can lead to inflammation and irritation on the scalp. This inflammation disrupts the natural hair growth cycle, causing the shedding of existing hair and preventing the emergence of new strands. Introducing suitable treatments, such as dry scalp medication, can alleviate inflammation and create a conducive environment for optimal hair growth, countering the impact of androgens on hair follicles.
- Dandruff: ry scalp often manifests as dandruff, characterized by white, flaky skin shedding from the scalp. While dandruff itself may not directly inhibit hair growth, it can indirectly contribute to hair loss. The itching and scratching associated with dandruff can lead to hair damage and breakage. Exploring home remedies for dry scalp and incorporating effective dry scalp medication can help manage dandruff and promote healthier hair.
- Imbalanced Scalp Environment: Maintaining a balanced scalp environment is vital for overall hair health. An imbalanced pH level can make the scalp susceptible to harmful microorganisms, potentially leading to scalp infections that adversely affect hair growth. Employing appropriate home remedies for dry scalp and, if necessary, dry scalp medication can restore the scalp’s balance and prevent the development of detrimental microorganisms.
- Nutrient Absorption: A dry and flaky scalp may impede the absorption of essential nutrients crucial for hair growth. To address this, it’s important to consider home remedies for dry scalp that promote nutrient absorption. Additionally, in cases where a dry scalp persists, exploring the option of dry scalp medication can help restore optimal conditions for nutrient absorption, fostering stronger and faster hair growth.
A dry and flaky scalp can create an unfavorable environment for your hair follicles to thrive. This can result in weaker, more fragile hair that is prone to breakage and hair loss. To promote healthy hair growth, it’s essential to maintain a well-balanced, nourished and moisturized scalp through appropriate treatments and care. Addressing the underlying causes of dry scalp, whether through home remedies or commercial products, can contribute to healthier and faster hair growth.
Home Remedies for Dry Scalp
Home remedies for dry scalp, including natural cures for dry scalp, are great for a number of reasons. First and foremost, they are often readily available, cost-effective, and use natural ingredients that are gentle on your scalp. These home remedies also allow you to take control, because you know exactly what you’re applying to your skin. This level of customization can be reassuring, especially for those with sensitive skin or allergies. Whether exploring natural cures or traditional home remedies for dry scalp, the benefit lies in their accessibility and the assurance of using gentle, skin-friendly ingredients.
1. Aloe Vera:
Aloe vera, renowned for its soothing and moisturizing properties, stands out as an exceptional home remedy for severe dry scalp. Its gel, rich in hydrating elements, can be directly applied to the scalp to effectively alleviate dryness and itching. The anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial qualities of aloe vera contribute significantly to maintaining optimal scalp health. Whether you choose to extract aloe vera gel directly from the leaves or opt for packaged aloe vera gel, incorporating this remedy into your routine can be beneficial for severe dry scalp. To maximize its effectiveness, consider applying aloe vera gel before shampooing, following these steps:
- Gently apply the gel to your scalp. Your strands can benefit from aloe vera gel too, so if you have some left over – you can definitely spread across your lengths.
- Let the gel sit for 20-25 minutes.
- Use a mild shampoo to rinse the gel off your scalp.
- Repeat the process 2 to 3 times a week for best results.
2. Natural Oil:
One of the best treatments for dry scalp would be overnight natural oil scalp soaks. Below we recommend exploring some popular choices:
Coconut oil, renowned for its numerous hair benefits, is considered one of the best remedies for dry scalp. Its effectiveness in treating dry scalp stems from its remarkable moisturizing properties, attributed to its scientific composition. The oil is abundant in fatty acids, including lauric acid, known for its exceptional emollient properties. These fatty acids not only penetrate the skin’s topmost layer, the stratum corneum but also create a protective barrier, sealing in moisture and averting water loss. In addition to its moisturizing prowess, coconut oil is a rich source of natural antioxidants that combat free radicals, thereby preserving skin integrity and enhancing hydration. This unique combination of lipid-rich content and protective qualities establishes coconut oil as a natural remedy for dry scalp, ensuring the maintenance of scalp moisture. Regular application helps keep the scalp hydrated, minimizes inflammation, and acts as a home remedy for preventing flakiness.
Sweet almond oil
Another natural oil you can explore as the best remedy for dry scalp is sweet almond oil. It is one of the most effective natural remedies for dry scalp, offering excellent benefits in maintaining scalp moisture due to its unique composition. This home remedy for dry scalp is rich in fatty acids, particularly oleic and linoleic acids, which create a protective barrier on the skin/scalp’s surface. This barrier plays a crucial role in preventing moisture loss, thereby keeping the skin hydrated and supple. In addition to being a potent remedy for severe dry scalp, sweet almond oil contains vitamin E, a powerful antioxidant that promotes overall skin & scalp health. By reducing damage caused by free radicals, it contributes to improved moisture retention and a smoother complexion, making it a preferred choice among natural remedies for dry scalp.
Essential peppermint oil can be beneficial for itchy and dry scalp due to several reasons, making it a valuable addition to dry scalp medication. It has a natural cooling effect when applied to the skin, offering a refreshing sensation. This cooling effect can help soothe itching and provide relief from the discomfort associated with an itchy scalp. Peppermint oil contains compounds like menthol, known for their anti-inflammatory properties, which can aid in reducing inflammation on the scalp—a common factor contributing to itching and dryness. Furthermore, the oil’s antimicrobial properties make it effective in combating microorganisms that may contribute to scalp issues. By incorporating essential peppermint oil into your dry scalp medication routine, you can promote a healthier and cleaner scalp environment, thereby reducing the likelihood of itchiness and dryness. Remember to dilute peppermint oil with a carrier oil, such as sweet almond or coconut oil, using approximately 10-15 drops of essential peppermint oil per 1 tbsp of carrier oil.
How to use natural oil as a dry scalp treatment:
- Use about 2-3 tablespoons of liquid oil for the entire scalp, depending on the density of your hair: you might need more (for more dense and coarse hair) or less (for more fine and sparse hair).
- Warm up your oil of choice to a warm (but not hot!) temperature, either on the stove or microwave, or simply rubbing between your palms and fingers.
- Apply on your scalp & hair roots.
- Put on a shower cap and leave it for a few hours or overnight.
- Rinse off the oil with shampoo.
3. Apple Cider Vinegar:
Apple cider vinegar can help restore the pH balance of your scalp and eliminate dandruff. Mixing it with water (this article > gives you guidance on the right proportions) and applying it as a final rinse after shampooing can leave your scalp feeling refreshed and free from dryness.
Dr. Emily Lewis, a board-certified dermatologist, emphasizes the effectiveness of home remedies for some individuals: “Many patients with mild to moderate dry scalp can find relief through natural remedies. Aloe vera and coconut oil, for example, have soothing and moisturizing properties that can be highly beneficial.”
4. Mustard Powder Seed
Mustard seed powder extract is believed to have potential benefits for itchy scalp due to its antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties. It may help in soothing scalp irritation and addressing the underlying causes of itching. Mustard seed powder contains compounds like allyl isothiocyanate, which possess these properties.
However, it’s essential to use mustard seed powder extract cautiously and in moderation, as it can be potent and may cause skin irritation or burning sensations in some individuals. It’s also advisable to perform a patch test on a small area of your skin before applying it to your scalp to check for any adverse reactions.
Commercial Products for Dry Scalp
Commercial scalp-soothing products offer convenience and are readily available in most drugstores and supermarkets. They come in various forms, including shampoos, conditioners, serums, and specialized scalp treatments. These products are often formulated with specific ingredients that target dry scalp issues and may provide a quick and hassle-free solution.
Specialized dry scalp shampoos, including natural remedies for dry scalp, are formulated with ingredients like salicylic acid, zinc pyrithione, or ketoconazole to tackle dryness and dandruff. You need to understand the reasons behind your dry scalp first before making a choice for any of those. These shampoos, along with natural remedies for dry scalp, can be used as part of your regular hair care routine.
However, normal, non-medicated shampoos that contain harsh sulphates (SLS and SLES) can make your dry scalp problem worse, too. Some sulphates strip down the lipid (fatty) layer of the natural hair oil from your scalp – which causes scalp dryness. Check the ingredients on your shampoo, and if you see SLS or SLES components there, try a milder shampoo instead. Incorporating natural remedies for dry scalp into your routine can also contribute to healthier scalp conditions.
It is effective in combating dry scalp conditions through its exfoliating and moisturizing properties. It exfoliates the skin’s top layer, removing dry and flaky skin while unclogging pores and hair follicles and promoting enhanced moisture retention. By reducing inflammation and stimulating skin renewal, it can alleviate discomfort and improve skin texture. When used correctly, products containing salicylic acid can help you manage and address dry skin issues. Consult a dermatologist for severe or persistent dry skin concerns to receive personalized treatment guidance.
This ingredient is typically used to treat conditions associated with dandruff and flaky scalp, such as seborrheic dermatitis or scalp psoriasis, rather than dry skin. It is an antifungal and antibacterial agent that helps control the growth of microorganisms on the scalp, which can be associated with dandruff. But, it also can sometimes contribute to dryness or irritation when used on the skin. If you have dandruff and flaky scalp as well as above-mentioned conditions, look for treatments that contain moisturising agents, such as hyaluronic acid, as well.
Ketoconazole is an antifungal medication that can be highly effective in addressing dry and flaky scalp conditions. It works by targeting and inhibiting the growth of a specific type of yeast known as Malassezia, which is often associated with dandruff and seborrheic dermatitis, conditions that can cause dryness and flakiness. By reducing the population of Malassezia on the scalp, ketoconazole helps to alleviate inflammation and irritation, which are common symptoms of these conditions. This, in turn, leads to a healthier scalp environment, resulting in reduced dryness and flakiness, and promoting overall scalp health.
Conditioners designed for dry scalps provide added moisture and hydration. They often contain nourishing ingredients like shea butter, jojoba oil, or glycerin to help maintain a healthy scalp. However note that most conditioners are applied only on your hair lengths, so whether your conditioner has scalp-soothing ingredients or not may be unimportant since they would never reach your scalp. Read the instructions of your conditioner if you intend to use it to sooth dry scalp.
3. Serums and Treatments:
Scalp serums and treatments could be one of the best intensive solutions that can be applied directly to sooth your dry scalp. They are usually enriched with active ingredients: such as hyaluronic acid, squalane, niacinamide, collagen peptides, to address scalp dryness.
Hyaluronic acid for dry scalp
Hyaluronic acid is a molecule naturally found in our skin and is a powerful ally in combatting dry skin & scalp. It has a remarkable ability to attract and retain water molecules, holding up to 1,000 times its weight in water. When applied topically, hyaluronic acid acts as a humectant, drawing moisture from the surroundings and binding it to the skin of your scalp. This moisture-binding property helps to keep it well-hydrated, preventing water loss and the resultant dryness.
Furthermore, hyaluronic acid aids in improving skin barrier function, which is crucial in sealing in moisture and protecting it from environmental factors that can exacerbate dryness. By replenishing and retaining moisture within the skin, hyaluronic acid not only alleviates dryness but also contributes to a smoother, plumper, and healthier complexion.
Niacinamide, also known as vitamin B3, offers several benefits for dry skin and scalp. It enhances the production of ceramides, fatty molecules on your skin, which are essential components of the skin barrier. This reinforced barrier acts as a shield against moisture loss, helping to lock in hydration and prevent dryness of your scalp.
Moreover, niacinamide aids in diminishing inflammation and redness associated with dry scalp. It supports a healthier skin structure by increasing the production of collagen, improving the scalp’s elasticity. Niacinamide’s anti-inflammatory and barrier-strengthening properties make it an effective option for those with dry scalp.
When looking for commercial products to treat dry scalp, seek those containing ingredients like tea tree oil, hyaluronic acid, aloe vera, or salicylic acid. These ingredients are known for their hydrating and exfoliating properties.
Dr. James Martinez, a leading trichologist, adds, “Commercial products, especially those formulated for dry scalps, have come a long way. They often contain active ingredients and have undergone rigorous testing to ensure they address the issue effectively. For those seeking quick results, these products can be a game-changer.”
Home remedies vs. Commercial products dry scalp treatments
To help you make an informed decision about the best approach for treating your dry scalp, let’s take a closer look at the advantages and drawbacks of home remedies versus commercial products:
Scientific studies have explored the effectiveness of both home remedies and commercial products for dry scalp, aiming to identify the best treatment for dry scalp. A study published in the “Journal of Dermatological Treatment” found that certain natural remedies, such as aloe vera and apple cider vinegar, could significantly reduce scalp dryness and itching. Conversely, a study in the “Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology” demonstrated the effectiveness of shampoos with salicylic acid and zinc pyrithione in treating dandruff and dry scalp.
The choice between home remedies and commercial products ultimately depends on your preferences, the severity of your dry scalp, as well as underlying health conditions. If you’re looking for the best treatment for dry scalp, a cost-effective and customizable solution may be found in home remedies like aloe vera and natural oils (coconut and sweet almond). On the other hand, if convenience and quick results are a priority in your search for the best treatment for dry scalp, commercial products such as specialized shampoos and serums could be your solution.
In the ongoing battle against dry scalp, the choice between home remedies and commercial products ultimately comes down to your preferences and the severity of your condition. Home remedies, including tried-and-true dry scalp remedies, are cost-effective and offer a more natural approach, while commercial products provide convenience and quick results. It’s essential to weigh the pros and cons and consider the advice of dermatologists and hair care experts.
In closing, we encourage you to experiment with various dry scalp remedies and find the best solution for your specific needs. What works for one person may not work for another, so be patient and persistent in your pursuit of a healthier, flake-free scalp.
Improving dermal delivery of hyaluronic acid by ionic liquids for attenuating skin dehydration, (1)
Physiochemical properties and application of hyaluronic acid: a systematic review, (2)
Health Effects of Coconut Oil—A Narrative Review of Current Evidence, (3)
Almond oil: A comprehensive review of chemical composition, extraction methods, preservation conditions, potential health benefits, and safety, (4)