The 13 Best Shampoos To Treat a Dry Scalp

Karan Kapoor

There’s nothing a dry scalp can’t ruin. Perhaps, you have flakes falling onto your shoulders that leave friends saying, “Is it snowing outside?” Or maybe your scalp is so dry and irritated that the slightest bit of sun exposure can leave your head burning and in need of protection. Whatever the case, a hydrated scalp is a healthy scalp, and good thing there are some ultra-moisturizing shampoos on the market that can come to your aid.

When it comes to a dry scalp, a number of factors can cause added irritation, so it’s important to stay hydrated and make sure you are caring for your strands. Opting for a hydrating shampoo that helps get down to the bottom of the irritation is a great place to start. For the ultimate moisture boost, scroll on and check out 13 of the best hydrating shampoos that you can add to your cart right now.

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Best Shampoo Bar

Radiance for Sensitive Skin Set


Best For Shiny Strands

Gloss.Me Hydrating Shampoo


Best For Dandruff-Prone Hair

Serene Scalp Anti-Dandruff Shampoo


Best For Curls

Hair Wash Gentle Milky Hair Cleanser

Bread Beauty Supply


Best For Thick Hair

African Black Soap Reviving Shampoo

Melanin Haircare


Best For A Scalp Detox

Papaya Scalp Scrub


Best For Blondes

Balancing Shampoo



Best For Thick And Frizzy Hair

Nurture Hydrating Shampoo


Best For All Hair Types

The Ritual Shampoo

Crown Affair


Best For Hair-Repair

De Luxe Reparative Shampoo


Best For Soothing The Scalp

Anti-Dandruff Shampoo

First Aid Beauty


Best For Ultimate Hydration

Hydration Shampoo


Best For Moisture And Repair

Don’t Despair, Repair! Super Moisture Shampoo

Meet The Experts

What causes a dry scalp?

A dry scalp “is caused by a loss of the natural oils that moisturize the scalp. This can occur for a myriad of reasons,” explains Dr. Rodney. She says factors may include a change in your environment (maybe the weather), stress, aging, over-washing, contact dermatitis (a reaction to a product), or a skin condition like eczema or psoriasis. Cohen notes the scalp is often dryer during the winter, so opting for hydrating, nourishing products during the colder months is always a good idea.

Dr. Frey explains a dry scalp is often attributed to seborrheic dermatitis, aka our worst enemy: dandruff. Dandruff is basically caused by a yeast called malassezia that occurs on the scalp and eats up the healthy oils, leaving you with a dry scalp and lots of flakes.

How can you prevent a dry scalp?

Dr. Rodney says there are some precautions we can take to ensure our scalps stay hydrated and healthy. She recommends drinking lots of water, managing your stress levels, avoiding harsh hair products, using a humidifier to add some moisture back into your environment, and if irritation persists or something seems abnormal, see a dermatologist.

Are there ingredients we should avoid?

Cohen recommends opting for something gentle and avoiding harsh sulfates which strip your hair of oils and shine. “Most shampoos in this country use a detergent-based surfactant system like sulfates or PEGs,” she says. “This type of cleansing system is what you see in 90s shampoo commercials—excessive lather and that squeaky clean feel. I know it can make you feel super clean, but it’s over-stripping your scalp of all the good, healthy oils in the process. I recommend a naturally-derived surfactant system for cleansing.”

What should we look for in a dry scalp shampoo?

Dr. Frey recommends looking for a shampoo with zinc pyrithione, which helps to stop dandruff in its tracks and remove excess flaking. Dr. Rodney likes formulas with salicylic acid, which “promotes cell turnover, reducing flaking and redness.” Salicylic acid and other exfoliants like glycolic acid can help to remove buildup on the scalp so you can start fresh. Rodney also recommends avocado oil, argan oil, aloe vera, pantothenic acid, and oatmeal to provide a boost of hydration.

Is there anything else we should add to our haircare routine?

“It’s important to keep the scalp hydrated and nourished—like a garden, you want to take care of the soil to keep the environment thriving,” says Cohen. She recommends opting for a hyaluronic acid scalp serum for added moisture and trying out peppermint or tea tree oil for a dry, itchy scalp. Simply apply the oil to your scalp like a spot treatment to help with irritation.

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