Shampoos that will help soothe a dry, itchy scalp

Dry, itchy, irritated scalps are common in the winter months but that doesn’t mean you have to put up with one. These specially formulated shampoos can help…

Our skin goes through a lot in winter. Constant fluctuations in temperature and the dry air produced by central heating mean that breakouts and irritation have become a thing to expect when the cold weather rolls around; so much so that many of us use a whole specific winter skincare routine to combat it. 

But what about the skin on your head? While you might think that your scalp is more connected to your hair than your skin, it behaves in the same way as the skin on the rest of your body – meaning that those winter weather gripes our skin goes through, our scalp often does too. 

So what does a winter-ravaged scalp look like? Dry, flakey, itchy scalps and dandruff are all common complaints at this time of year. Add wearing wooly hats to the mix and scolding our heads with hot showers after a long winter walk – it’s no surprise our scalps aren’t too happy with us. 

But you don’t have to put up with a dry, itchy scalp for long if you know how to care for it. We asked trichologist Hannah Gaboardi for her top tips when it comes to choosing the best shampoo for dry scalps. 

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What causes a dry scalp?

While environmental changes can often be the cause of a dry, irritated scalp (think cold weather, sweaty headwear and central heating) certain ingredients in our shampoos and styling products might also be leading to an irritated scalp. 

“Parabens are major perpetrators of scalp irritation,” says Gaboardi. “These synthetic chemicals are often used as preservatives, keeping shampoos and conditioners free from bacterial build up. But they can also irritate your scalp and have even been linked to hair loss.”

Sulphates and silicones are other common ingredients that should be avoided if you’re suffering from a dry scalp. “ALS and SLS (common terms for sulphates) are often used to help meld the chemical compounds of a product together. These chemicals create that sudsy, foamy component to every great bath product. But sulphates are also responsible for a ton of scalp and strand damage. These chemicals strip your hair of necessary natural oils, making your scalp highly susceptible to bacterial build up and extreme dryness. As a result, they can exacerbate skin conditions like dandruff and psoriasis.

“Silicone on the other hand is used to seal the cuticle for shiny, smooth-looking tresses. Silicones like dimethicone can clog your pores, leading to increased scalp irritation, flake build up, and hair shedding. Product build up is one of the primary causes of dandruff, so it’s a good idea to also avoid silicones if possible.”

The best shampoo for a dry scalp

  • Aveda Scalp Benefits Shampoo

    Free from sulphates, this shampoo is enriched with burdock root, echinacea and sage to lift away dead skin, oils and product build-up from the roots, leaving hair looking fresh and revitalised.

    Buy Aveda Scalp Benefits Shampoo at Lookfantastic, £21.50

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  • Ameliorate Clarifying Shampoo

    Ameliorate’s Clarifying Shampoo uses the innovative LaH6 Skin Hydration Complex that Ameliorate body products are famous for. It works to clear up dry scalp flakes while gently conditioning the strands, leaving hair feeling nourished and replenished. There’s also a powerful blend of prebiotics, lactitol and xylitol to help create a natural protective barrier. 

    Shop Ameliorate Clarifying Shampoo at Space NK, £16 

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  • OWOW Shampoo & Conditioner Bundle

    Free from parabens, sulphates and silicones OWOW’s shampoo and conditioner duo are made from 90% natural ingredients and are great for cleansing and nourishing your hair, without irritating your scalp. 

    Shop OWOW Shampoo & Conditioner Bundle at OWOW, £36.90

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  • Living Proof Restore Dry Scalp Treatment

    Designed to be used alongside your scalp-friendly shampoo, this leave-on scalp treatment is enriched with hyaluronic acid and a blend of vitamin B3 to provide instant hydration to the scalp, helping to alleviate irritation, itching and flaking skin. Think of it as your scalp’s very own serum. Clever. 

    Buy Living Proof Restore Dry Scalp Treatment at Space NK, £25

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  • Löwengrip Anti-Dandruff Sensitive Shampoo

    Löwengrip’s sensitive shampoo is blended with piroctone olamine; an active substance that fights dandruff and reduces itching. Peppermint oil also helps to sooth and cool a stressed out scalp while effectively cleansing hair strands. 

    Shop Löwengrip Anti-Dandruff Sensitive Shampoo at Lookfantastic, £17

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  • Malin + Goetz Peppermint Shampoo

    This ultra hydrating shampoo hydrates and softens the hair while utilising the benefits of glycerin and olive oil to moisturise the scalp. Peppermint extract also helps to cleanse and refresh itchy scalps.

    Shop Malin + Goetz Peppermint Shampoo at Space NK, £19

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  • Neutrogena T/Gel Therapeutic Shampoo

    An oldie but a goodie, this iconic shampoo is used to treat the symptoms of dandruff, psoriasis and seborrhoeic dermatitis on the scalp. It harnesses the power of Neutar Solubilised Coal Tar extract, which offers a soothing feel to treat itchy and flaking skin, to leave the scalp comfortable.

    Shop Neutrogena T/Gel Therapeutic Shampoo at Lookfantastic, £9.92

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  • Percy & Reed Anti-Dandruff I’m No Flake Shampoo

    This vegan and sulphate-free formula harnesses chamomile and aloe vera to calm itchiness and protect against inflammation. Not only does this clarifying cleanser work to rid you of flakes in the short term, but it actually helps protect against dandruff for good. 

    Shop Percy & Reed Anti-Dandruff I’m No Flake Shampoo at Lookfantastic, £20

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  • Redken Scalp Relief Soothing Balance Shampoo

    This gentle formula helps to soothe, calm and de-stress your scalp while cleansing and removing impurities from the scalp and hair. Eucalyptus and liquiorice extracts provide an instant cooling and soothing effect, perfect for irritated scalps.

    Shop Redken Scalp Relief Soothing Balance Shampoo at Feelunique, £17

    Buy now

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