If your scalp is itchy, inflamed, and constantly sheds white flakes, you’re not alone. In fact, it’s much more common than you’d think. “Some causes of dry scalp include [dead cell] buildup from products, seborrheic dermatitis, psoriasis, eczema, and truly dry scalp skin,” Mona Gohara, a board-certified dermatologist and associate clinical professor of dermatology at Yale School of Medicine tells Allure. “Some [cases] have nothing to do with what you do or put in your hair, and the others do,” she adds, pointing out that irritation can stem from using hair dye or even a new dry shampoo or overwashing your hair with sulfate-based products.
People with a history of eczema or psoriasis are also more likely to experience flakes, Gohara adds. She recommends making an appointment with your board-certified dermatologist to determine whether or not your dry scalp is caused by a skin condition.
The good news, though, is that brands are starting to realize this, and thankfully, they’re taking action by bringing us innovative solutions to help remedy or ease our scalp issues at home. Powerhouses like Head & Shoulders, Ouai, Bread Beauty Supply, and Dove have developed tonics, oils, and exfoliators (both chemical and physical, just like skin-care products for your face), all of which are specifically designed to soothe the scalp and maintain a healthy balance so that the hair can flourish. Because a happy scalp equals happy hair — period.
But when it comes to scrubs, in particular, heed one piece of important advice: Be conservative with how often you use a scrub — no more than two times a week for very oily hair. Scrubs “can strip the skin on the scalp of its natural oils and can aggravate an itchy scalp if used improperly,” Jeanine Downie, a board-certified dermatologist in Montclair, New Jersey, previously told Allure. In terms of maintaining a healthy scalp, Gohara recommends using sulfate-free products and reaching for moisturizing scalp oils or hair masks to soothe your scalp on the regular.
If you’ve been struggling with any of the scalp concerns mentioned above, we’ve got you covered. Ahead, find the 23 best scalp treatments available, according to experts and Allure editors.