Beauty & Skincare

Save Your Scalp: How to Prevent and Treat Dry Scalp All Winter Long


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Graphics by: Caitlin Schneider
Graphics by: Caitlin Schneider

Everyone experiences mild to moderate dry scalp at some point, but for some, it’s a chronic problem, especially this time of year, as the weather zaps moisture out of everything—including our skin, our hair, and our scalp.

Since winter can bring the dreaded dry scalp or worsen an existing scalp condition, we’ve compiled a list of treatments to clear your scalp and keep dryness at bay. These solutions should work for you if your condition is truly dry scalp and not a more serious problem like dandruff (which is usually caused by oily scalp) or eczema (which may call for a prescribed medicated shampoo).

Keep scrolling for products and remedies that can help prevent and treat stubborn dry scalp all winter long—with the added bonus of normalizing your scalp to regain bounce, smoothness, and overall health of your hair.

What Is Dry Scalp?

According to The Mayo Clinic, dry scalp is more prevalent in winter and is often marked by small white flakes caused by cold weather, excessive dry heat, or diet. One may also experience some itch and tightness with a dry scalp (but not excessive itching which is often caused by dandruff or eczema). Sometimes, you will find some flakes of dead skin, like dandruff. However, dry scalp is not dandruff. Your hair can also look lifeless, frizzy, dull, and easily break and fall out. Dry scalp can even lead to hair loss, if this condition is left untreated.

How to Treat Dry Scalp

Internal Remedies and Diet

  • Fatty Acids: A diet rich in essential fatty acids (like flaxseeds, walnuts, and salmon) and minimizing coffee and alcohol can help alleviate dry scalp.
  • Kelp: Kelp, a seaweed, is an excellent source of essential and trace minerals needed for proper functioning of many bodily systems. Kelp is especially high in iodine, which is known to support hair growth and scalp healing. To be safe, talk to a doctor or dietitian about using kelp for scalp health, and check the label of your kelp supplement for the exact iodine content.
  • Drink More Water: Keeping yourself hydrated with water is a complete skin savior, especially when it comes to your scalp. Adding some serious hydration to your diet will balance out scalp issues and is the most effective, inexpensive, and easiest thing one can do!

Pre-Wash Treatments

  • Scalp Massage: The key to properly shampooing a dry scalp is in the prep. Massage your scalp with a soft pure boar bristle brush before washing to remove buildup of oil, hair products, and skin cells. Pure boar bristles are designed to lift away dirt and dust and distribute the natural oil from your scalp.
  • DIY Hair Masks: An oil treatment for your scalp will help to deeply moisturize your scalp and lock in that natural moisture balance. We recommend using coconut oil as a highly-effective, intense natural conditioner for the hair and scalp. Rub directly onto dry scalp and hair, put a shower cap on, and leave for a minimum of 45 minutes for a deep moisture mask. Another home remedy involves mixing equal parts apple cider vinegar with water, spraying the solution onto the scalp, and waiting at least 15 minutes before rinsing. Regardless of the mask you choose, try keeping with a mask once a week until you’ve noticed an improvement—and you will!
Sephora | Crown Affair
The Brush No. 001

If you’re ready to make an investment in your hair and scalp health, consider Crown Affair’s original brush. Handmade in Italy with both boar and nylon bristles and a special ergonomic pad, this brush works to stimulate your scalp and distribute your hair’s natural oils.

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Amazon | Belula
100% Boar Bristle Hair Brush Set

For a more budget-friendly option, this 100% natural boar bristle brush is ideal for your pre-wash scalp massage routine.

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Proper Shampoos and Conditioners for Dry Scalp

  • Detox/Moisturizing Shampoo: You may have to experiment or alternate between shampoos, but professional detoxing and/or quality moisturizing shampoos can make all the difference. For a good detox, try a cleansing shampoo. For restoring moisture, try a hydrating option that is free of sulfates and parabens.
  • Medicated Shampoo: Sometimes a medicated shampoo is necessary for stubborn dryness, or when dry scalp is caused by dandruff or eczema. Speak to your dermatologist about what might be best for you.
  • Natural Ingredients: According to Medical News Today, some natural ingredients and home remedies can help to relieve a dry and itchy scalp. These include coconut oil, tea tree oil, jojoba oil, aloe vera, and more. These ingredients can be used in home remedies, or found in shampoos and other products for dry scalp.
Cleanse, Condition & Purify Combo

Jupiter’s medicated Balancing Shampoo includes Zinc Pyrithione 1%, which treats flakiness, irritation, and dry scalp (and helps control dandruff), as well as other moisturizing ingredients. Pair it with the Nourishing Conditioner to soothe your scalp and the Purifying Mask—which is formulated with volcanic ash—to exfoliate and eliminate build-up.

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Sephora | Kérastase
Symbiose Antidandruff Hydrating Shampoo

Say goodbye to dandruff with this sulfate-free shampoo that gently purifies, cleanses, and hydrates your hair. For best results, grab the matching conditioner as well.

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Amazon | TeaTree
Tea Tree Special Shampoo & Conditioner

With over 55,000 reviews and an average rating of 4.7 stars on Amazon, you can trust that you won’t be disappointed in this combo from Tea Tree. Its iconic combination of tea tree oil, peppermint, and lavender creates a tingling sensation that leaves you (and your scalp) invigorated.

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Scalp Relief Tea Tree Leave-In Conditioner

Speaking from experience as someone who has gone through an entire bottle of this, it’s one of the best budget-friendly scalp products out there. The tea tree oil and mint provide instant, soothing relief to the scalp, while simultaneously working to hydrate and moisturize hair.

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Amazon | AIMIKE
Scalp Massager Shampoo Brush

Use a boar bristle brush before washing, but don’t forget a scalp massager to be used in the shower with your shampoo as well.

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More of the Best Products for Dry Scalp

Dry scalp care doesn’t stop at shampoo and conditioner. Add a scalp serum, exfoliant or scrub, or leave-in treatment to your hair routine for extra care during the winter. These products can help to soothe dry skin or itchiness, prevent flakes, and remove buildup for overall hair health.

Scalp Soothing Solutions Set

Includes five of Briogeo’s best-sellers: the Micro-exfoliating Shampoo, Cooling Hydration Scalp Mask, Scalp Treatment Drops, Dry Shampoo, and a scalp massager.

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Target | Kristen Ess
Instant Exfoliating Scalp Scrub
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Sephora | OUAI
Cleansing Scalp & Body Scrub
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Magic Elixir Scalp and Hair Oil Treatment
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Sephora | The Ordinary
Natural Moisturizing Factors + HA Scalp Serum
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Sephora | Kérastase
Symbiose Antidandruff Hydrating Night Serum
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Sephora | Living Proof
Dry Scalp Treatment
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Amazon | Fable & Mane
Amla Soothing Scalp Serum
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Sephora | Oribe
Serene Scalp Soothing Leave-On Hair Treatment
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Sephora | The Crown Affair
The Calming Scalp Serum
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