Clarify from the inside out.
For far too long, our scalps have been overlooked. It’s an out of sight, out of mind situation that’s certainly understandable. But despite about 100,000 hair follicles, the skin on our scalp should really be treated as an extension of our face. Thankfully, some of the beauty industry’s best brands are starting to create innovative products that keep our scalps and hair healthy, from oils and exfoliating scrubs to soothing serums. And, of course, the best shampoos for a dry scalp.
It’s a move that was surprisingly long in the making. Studies have shown that a healthy scalp leads to better hair growth and stronger, shinier locks. And dry, flaky scalps are incredibly common, especially in the winter. Simply put, scalp care is hair care. What we love about scalp health is its ability to heal and rejuvenate when you pay attention to it. It’s amazing how good scalp skin and hair can transform how a person looks and feels.
There are all kinds of sources and stressors that might lead to an irritated scalp. From anxiety or cold weather to a lack of fatty acids in our diet, a dry situation up top could lead to frustrating follicle damage. Keep reading for the latest hair gossip for a deep dive into how to keep scalps happy and healthy from the inside out. After that, get ready to dig into the best shampoos for a clarifying clean.
What are the signs are an unhealthy scalp?
While the severity of the situation may vary, there are a few surefire signs that the skin on your scalp is in need of a little TLC.
- Accumulation of dandruff and scale
- An unpleasant odor
- Hair loss
What causes a dry or irritated scalp?
As mentioned above, there are plenty of factors that can cause our scalps to become unbalanced.
First, we’ll address the external factors…
A lot of people tend to suffer from a drier scalp during harsh winter months, so it’s important to both exfoliate and nourish your scalp with non-toxic ingredients. For scalp exfoliation, you’ll want to apply the same rule of thumb you use with skincare if your skin is naturally dry, avoid over-stripping its essential nutrients with harsh scrubs.
Now for internal factors…
Typically, a dry scalp is caused by not getting enough essential fatty acids. We need to consume adequate amounts of dietary fat to help it absorb fat-soluble vitamins (A, D, E, and K). Not getting enough healthy fats nor these essential vitamins can cause a dry scalp. In other words, it’s two-fold — we need to be eating enough omega-3 fatty acid-rich foods and make sure we don’t have vitamin deficiencies. In terms of vitamins, specifically, low levels of B Vitamins and zinc are correlated with scalp issues.
Stress has a harmful effect on everything in your body, so your hair and scalp are no different. Stress can increase hormones in the body that can cause everything from itchy scalp to hair loss or thinning.
What ingredients should we have in our diets to improve scalp health?
For omega-3 fatty acids:
- Wild-Caught Salmon
- Ground Flaxseeds
- Chia Seeds
- Raw Pumpkin Seeds
- Raw Walnuts
For a healthy dose of B Vitamins:
- Leafy Greens
- Pasture-Raised Beef
- Wild-Caught Salmon
- Pumpkin Seeds
- Pine Nuts
Getting enough protein is really important too. After all, hair is made of protein! As for what ingredients to avoid to prevent scalp irritation, we want to warn you against most pro-inflammatory foods, such as sugar, vegetable oils, and grains stripped of their fiber. Too much alcohol can also lead to an itchy, dry scalp as it reduces the amount of zinc in your body. Plus, zinc is fundamental to a healthy scalp and hair growth.
What ingredients do the best shampoos for dry scalps have in common?
It’s not so much what to look for, but what to steer clear of. Avoid sulfates, synthetic fragrances, and parabens. These chemicals can do more harm than good and tend to add more dryness to your scalp.
The best shampoos for dry scalp:
Stocked with ingredients that nourish, soothe, and gently exfoliate, these scalp-first products get right to the root of it.
Christophe Robin Hydrating Shampoo with Aloe Vera for Dehydrated Hair
It’s soothing and strengthening aloe vera is gentle enough to treat the scalp as often as you need.
Act + Acre Cold Processed Hair Cleanse
Horstman, a Colorado dweller who deals with dry conditions, swears by this innovative product for gentle exfoliation and pure, clarifying hydration.
Dove DermaCare Scalp Anti Dandruff Shampoo
As mentioned above, zinc is vital to a healthy scalp and hair growth. It’s also highly effective against dandruff and general skin irritation.
Briogeo Scalp Revival Charcoal + Coconut Oil Micro-blading Shampoo
This hardworking product draws out any impurities with charcoal while nourishing the scalp for a well-balanced cleanse. A touch of peppermint tops things off with a pleasant cooling effect.
R + Co Acid Wash Cleansing Rinse
The apple fruit extract acts as a natural exfoliant to slough off dry skin, while aloe vera soothes and strengthens strands.
Briogeo Be Gentle Be Kind Aloe Oat Milk Ultra Soothing Shampoo
With the potent power of anti-inflammatory aloe and oats which are rich in omega-6 fatty acids — this soothing, fragrance-free shampoo will get you back to healthy, stat.
Oribe Serene Scalp Anti-Dandruff Shampoo
More than just a pretty bottle, this purifying shampoo features 2% salicylic acid, a tried-and-true ingredientwhen it comes to gentle sloughing.
Biolage All-In-One Shampoo & Body Scrub
Turns out, oatmeal is as beneficial for your skin and scalp health as it is for your diet. The gentle exfoliator also detoxifies for ultra-soothing results.
Packed with nourishing ingredients, this treatment works on all hair types, including weaves, wigs, and extensions. The applicator also helps you target the product directly to your scalp.
Hairstory New Wash Rich
This is a great sulfate-free option to use on days when my hair isn’t too dirty, but just needs to feel healthy and balanced. Be sure to double cleanse. For dry hair and scalps, the brand makes a “rich” version of their cult-favorite product.
Virtue Recovery Shampoo
In addition to its nourishing ingredients, this restorative shampoo features grapefruit extract, which is loaded with Vitamin C and antioxidants to revitalize the scalp.
Shu Uemura Urban Moisture Shampoo
In Shu Uemura we trust. This particular product targets pollutants that can cause dryness while stimulating cell regeneration with red micro-algae extract.
Goop G.Tox Himalayan Salt Scalp Scrub Shampoo
This rosy scrub sits pretty on your shower shelf, but the sulfate-free, salt-rich shampoo lathers into a mouse-like foam and works hard to exfoliate and cleanse impurities. It also works beautifully with all hair types.
Kevin Murphy Scalp Spa Wash
While celery root extract and micellar water work to cleanse the scalp, coconut oil moisturizes the hair and scalp for top-to-bottom hydration.
Sisley-Paris Soothing Rebalancing Shampoo
Though not exactly cost-effective, we can attest to how gentle and balancing this luxurious, sulfate-free shampoo is. Bonus points for lasting forever.
How often should you wash your hair?
The eternal question, and an impossible one to answer definitively. But we’ll settle for a rule of thumb. Most of the time, every three days is the sweet spot.
Do you experience dry scalp? Share which foods and products you can’t wait to bring into your routine.
Stay safe, healthy, and live life to the fullest.